Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2010 Rocky Mountain Woodturning Symposium

Well, Turning Season is over for the year...

What's "Turning Season?" It's a term I use to describe the period of the year that encompasses some of the most special events in woodturning. Turning Season begins in May with the incredible Utah Woodturning Symposium. (I must admit to this event being my favorite of all -- the camaraderie and family atmosphere is truly unique and makes it such a lovely gathering).

June brings the annual AAW National Symposium, a huge gathering of turners from around the world, a veritable cornucopia of color and delight! We are given a bit of time to "relax," (meaning "make more work and prepare new presentations"), and then comes the Rocky Mountain Woodturning Symposium (RMWT), which is just up the street -- our local event that draws a wide variety of both local and world-renowned turners.

This year, September was a veritable odyssey of loveliness! The journey began in the first week when the wonderful Stuart Mortimer came to demonstrate for our turning club. Wow! He's an absolute dynamo! He's an incredibly fast turner, and creates the most gorgeous twist-work, (and is a master of the skew)! Stuart also gave an all-day demonstration + evening presentation at our Denver club the next Tuesday, (and was a major demonstrator at the Symposium).

I had the distinct and glorious pleasure of being able to take his class on Friday, the 10th. I have to say that Stuart is an absolutely incredible teacher! He is simply amazing! The photo to the left is of the goblet I created in Stuart's class: Osage Orange, unsanded, unfinished.

Stuart demonstrated all manner of twist-work, including twisted hollow forms, goblets, and boxes, twisted finials, pigtail and pig's-ear finials, open and laminated twists, and also creating hollow forms with light as the "calipers."

I am in awe of Stuart Mortimer -- his quick turning technique, the ease in which he makes cuts and his friendly and sharing demeanor! (If you are ever have an opportunity to take his class -- DO NOT hesitate -- sign up right away!)

The RMWT Symposium was just wonderful! There is something special about a smaller symposium -- you can meet people that you never thought you would. On occasion, at the larger events, I've wanted to talk to presenters but there were so many people around and so little time between rotations that I often wasn't able to introduce myself. No so with a smaller event -- not only was there plenty of time, the smaller venue allowed me to "run into" folks everywhere I went!

The photo on the right is of AAW President Tom Wirsing. He was one of two representatives of the AAW this year to visit our symposium, and spoke briefly at our Opening Ceremonies on Saturday morning. I was thrilled to be able to meet all of our wonderful demonstrators: Jimmy Clewes, David Nittmann, David Marks, James McClure, Sam Angelo, and Larry Fox, and of course, the inimitable Stuart Mortimer.

I was "on stage" first thing Saturday morning, and presented "Skew-less Spindlework," a demonstration in which I showed how to make nearly-identical skew cuts with use of a gouge instead. (I know how fearful most people are of that dreaded four-letter word -- "skew!") That's me in the picture.

In the afternoon I gave a hands-on demonstration to help turners "tune-up" their spindlework. This is one of the neat and unique features of the Rocky Mountain Woodturning Symposium -- we have a classroom in which a professional demonstrator/teacher does a mini-class (90 minutes) and each participant has a lathe, tools, and wood to learn with. At our new venue this year, we had a large room with lots of space, and everyone who participated was able to get a tool in their hands an immediately try the new techniques that the presenters were showing.

The Saturday-night auction was a great success -- the demonstrators & vendors in the community were very generous with their donations, and we raised a large sum for our club's Educational Opportunity Grant Fund. (And the trade show was fantastic!)

I can't tell you what a wonderful time I've had meeting people at all of the symposia this year... it's like a family reunion, and discovering new relatives all the time! Thank you demonstrators and everyone else in the community for sharing your knowledge... and the love... of woodturning.

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