The 25th Anniversary Symposium is over. The lineup looked great. Did you go? What demonstrations did you see? What events did you attend? If you were at the AAW Symposium leave a comment below and let us know what your experiences were.
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I was fortunate enough to attend the St. Paul Symposium. I had been able to go to the Utah Symposium earlier this year and really had a great time but everyone said that the AAW was different. It was.
For one thing, it was huge. There were 1700+ woodturners and others with an interest in woodturning (i.e. collectors, museum staff, gallery owners, etc.). While Utah put the emphasis on technique, the AAW added to that a lot of focus on the business and artistic side. Woodturning is a “big tent” as exemplified by the Instant Gallery. There was a large and amazingly diverse range of work shown which was both energizing and daunting at the same time. It was great to see some of the work I’d only seen in books or websites and to meet some of the people, like David Ellsworth, Jaques Vesery, Binh Pho and John Jordan who have helped shape the woodturning world and who have inspired me.
The demonstrations I was able to attend were great, especially, Michael Hosaluk and Malcolm Tibbetts, and John Jordan’s slide show on Inspirations and Ideas was, well, inspiring. The panels on the ArtistCollector and Woodturning Conventional to Art were eye-opening and showed that there was a lot of serious thought on how the gallery and museum world viewed wood art on both sides of the fence.
Then there was the candy store–the vendor area was huge and my credit card kept jumping out of my wallet. Beside the tools (which were almost all discounted) there was a ton of wood (well, probably more than a ton–let’s just call it a buttload). It’s a testament to ballistic nylon that I was able to get several good size chunks of ash burl, some spalted birch and sundry other blanks home in my suitcase.
The only disappointment was that the auction prices were pretty low. Some people got some great deals on some pieces but a lot of the turners were concerned that, even with collectors there, the bidding was pretty weak especially given that they had donated their work and that the funds raised were for the AAW Educational Opportunity Grants. Three of the people at the table where I sat had pieces in the auction and they all felt that their pieces should have raised a lot more money.
I ran into a lot of folks from the Northwest including SPSW President Dan Stromstad and a number of folks I’d met at the Utah Symposium. They were all very gracious to me and as one of the new guys I never felt excluded or that my contributions weren’t welcome. Both in Utah and St. Paul the open, welcoming and sharing nature nature of the woodturning community was on display, from the loftiest lathe superstar to the starstruck newbies like me. Did I feel I got my money’s worth? I had already gotten my money’s worth by the time they gave us the Handout Book at registration on the first day! Everything else was gravy.
PS–Next year the Symposium will be in San Jose. Given the closeness I hope that an even larger contingent of folks from Washington will be there–it’s a quick 2 hour flight or a nice two day drive from here on I-5 and an even nicer longer drive on the coast and through the redwoods. If your spouse is understanding (mine is, within limits) they may let you stop and buy burls along the way.