AAW 25th Anniversary Symposium

Monday 9 July 2018

The AAW (American Association of Woodturners) is 25 this year so it should come as no surprise that they pulled out all the stops for their annual Symposium, which was held in St. Paul, Minnesota, on June 24-26 this year.

To say that the AAW Symposium is the largest of its kind in the world is correct, but from that it is difficult to visualise what happens and what is available to attendees over the three days of the event.

There are over 150 rotations to choose from; a large trade vendor area which also includes a range of demonstrations as well as an instant gallery – typically with over 1,000 pieces on display. Special exhibits of work this year included David Ellsworth, Roots – An Artist's Voice; Turning 25 – A Celebration; National Treasures, and Empty Bowls.

There were also 14 specialist discussion panels and forum events, a youth program which ran for the whole duration of the Symposium and then of course there is the auction, the evening banquet, and so much more.

There is one other thing that makes this event important and that is catching up with friends. I must admit to having been absolutely exhausted after the event,but what a wonderful, rich experience. People were dashing here and there trying to get to places. Conversations were snatched and continued over the few days there as people went to rotations and events; the Instant Gallery and special exhibits were places of wonder, awe and realisation that woodturning is a very broad church where there is a vibrant community of people trying out all sorts of routes and ideas. Everyone I spoke to was fired up to try out new things, experiment, and of course the most important thing is to have fun. Did I have fun? Yes! Am I looking forward to going again and recommending it to others? Yes! Here are some selected highlights of a few of the things I saw.