The American Association of Woodturners 2012 Symposium

The American Association of Woodturners (AAW) held its 26thannual International  Symposium in California’s Silicon Valley this past June at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.

With over 14,500 members, this international nonprofit organization is dedicated to the advancement of excellence in woodturning with the mission of providing education, inspiration, information, and organization to those interested in the art of traditional woodturning. This show provides the opportunity to learn new techniques, improve skills, and share the knowledge of woodturning.

Many world renowned woodturners taught their skills in workshops that were available to the attendees. The onsite wizards of woodturning included Richard Raffen from Australia, Jean Francois EscoulenAlain Mailland Benoit Averly, all from France, Hawaiian carving specialist,Mike LeeStuart Mortimer from Europe, Israel’s Eli AviseraWillaim Hunter Mike Jackofsky of California, just to name a few.

The symposium offered the instant gallery showing the largest turned art collection that you could possibly find in one facility. Attendees were allowed to bring up to 3 turned items to be put up for sale on the gallery floor in addition to the professional turnings shown. A walk through critique was done by a renowned woodturning artist appointed by the AAW. This process is an honorary award so that the artisans may learn from the educational critiqued value.

Some professional turnings were bid on by the public attendees and others were auctioned off at the AAW banquet later in the evening. Auction proceeds are turned into the AAW Educational Opportunity Grant (EOG) Program, chaired by Kurt Hertzog. Hertzog said, “This program is the vehicle for woodturning educational needs, where sharing is the cornerstone of the AAW. Grants are open to AAW members, chapters, students, schools, churches and organizations.”

All that is asked of the recipients is that they share what they have learned with others. Since the EOG first grants in 1988, the program has awarded over $1 million to many hundreds of applicants. Each year approximately $60,000 to $70,000 are given away in educational grants. Hertzog stated, “We’ve helped schools and churches implement training programs for youngsters needing guidance. We’ve helped members enhance their turning abilities and branch out into new arenas. The needs continue to grow but so does the generosity of our supporters. From the humble beginnings, the program has grown and prospered and will continue to foster the legacy of sharing woodturning knowledge. Woodturning education is what we are all about.”

Also at the banquet each year, a lifetime member is selected by the AAW Board of Directors based on what is given by an individual in the field of woodturning. This year’s recipient was  John Jordon from Tennessee for his vast contribution in woodturning , moving the craft forward, teaching people, sharing, and writing about his woodturning talents.

Inside the main gallery was the 2012 Chapter Collaborative Challenge Winners. Four groups were named in each of the categories offered, which were; Fantasy, Technical, Artistic and Best of Show.

Additionally, a separate juried & invitational only exhibition is held by the AAW Professional Outreach Program (POP). This special exhibit offered a forest of different species, concepts and turning techniques and was themed, “A Walk in the Woods” honoring the many parks in California with 20-30 items permitted for entry. Raffen was the special merit award winner for this exhibit. To be chosen for this exhibit is an honor among your peers event. The American Association of Woodturners Professional Outreach Program Merit Award is given to an artist or artists whose body of work has contributed significantly to the growth of woodturning as an art form.

Also at the symposium was a Youth  Program sponsored by the AAW. The way the program works is any child can sign up with the payed member sponsor from the AAW organization. The child is then enrolled into all the classes. Volunteer instructors join the mix, the kids show up and the saw dust flies with 7 different turning projects consisting of plates, bowls, pens, ice cream cones, finials, history sticks and an old fashioned string top project. Ten different classes were held with the use of 25 jet lathes. That’s 250 turning opportunities for the kids to take advantage of!

At the end of the program, 25 kids’ names were chosen at random to take home a winning package inclusive of the Jet Mini-Lathe and stand, a set of 5 Crown Turning Toolsa Teknatool Lathe ChuckWoodcraft Safety ShieldsSandpaper from Vince’s Wooden Wonders and wood glue from the Sanding Glove were given away. Below Nick Cook assists one of the boys turning in the program.

On the Trade Show Floor were many vendors, demonstrations, and kids of all ages trying their hands at woodturning.

Here is 9 year old Colin Kidwell from Claremont California turning a vessel with the help of his dad, Kelley, his brother, Patrick and instructor Stan Record.

Leo Frilot demonstrates the turning qualities of the Easy Wood Tools.

Other vendors & tools present were Powermatic, Teknatool demonstrating the Nova DVR with Sarah Dulcey and Sorby was demoing their ProEdge Plus Sharpening System.

Some products featured at the Woodcraft (San Carlos store) booth were General Finishes Woodturners Finish, and our new screw top thermos kit, which will be at Woodcraft stores and online later this summer.

Exotic and Domestic Wood was found everywhere and from every area including Hawaiian Koa, Yew, Olivewood, Mulberry and Pistachio.

Above Irwin & Linda Wright from High-West Wood Products helped us out with some of the wood mentioned. We stuffed our bags with wood and returning home, the airlines searched our bags! We need more airline folks to be woodworkers!

And last but not least, Woodcraft Product Development Manager, Ben Bice and myself took our “turn” on the Hollow Roller Vessel Turning System! Pardon the pun!

For all the photos we took at the AAW Symposium click here to go to our AAW Facebook Gallery.

Mark your calendar for next years 28th annual American Association of Woodturners Symposium at the Tampa, Florida Convention Center, Friday, June 28th through Sunday, June 30th, 2013.

Stay linked, We’ll have more from the AAW Symposium with Woodturner Malcolm J. Tibbetts.
auf Wiedersehen…Frank!

Back to blog