A brief retrospective of
the 2004 AAW Symposium

The 18th annual symposium of the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) was held in Orlando, Florida at the Caribe Royale Convention Center from July 23 through 25th, 2004. This year's event, one of the larger symposia in recent years, attracted over 900 attendees from North America and around the world.

    As usual, the conference agenda was packed with live demonstrations by well-known turners whose work spans a huge range of turning styles and techniques. Included in this year's lineup were demos by such notables as Soren Berger from New Zealand, Marilyn Campbell from Canada, Irene Gafert from Denmark, George Hatfield from Australia, Philip Moulthroup from Georgia, and Mark Sfirri from Pennsylvania. Closed circuit video displays at the demos made it easier for attendees to view the techniques from a variety of camera angles.

    One popular feature of the annual symposium is the "Instant Gallery," where attendees display examples of their work on long rows of tables in the main lobby of the event. This year's gallery included over 500 pieces. CLICK HERE for a photo tour of some of this year's instant gallery entries.
    Besides the instant gallery, there was also a juried exhibition entitled "From Sea to Odyssey," featuring 53 pieces by 40 turners from six countries. A DVD of the exhibit will be available in September 2004.
    Each year, the AAW promotes a community outreach program called its "Return to the Community" project. The idea is to leave something to the local host community as a goodwill gesture. This year's effort -- on the theme of "bowls" -- produced 129 bowls by as many turners. The bowls will be raffled off to raise funds for the Edgewood Children's Ranch, a local school.

    Another feature of the symposium that attracts more attention every year is the commercial vendor area. This year there were 43 businesses, occupying 90 booths, selling wood, tools and turning equipment and accessories.

    On the final night of the symposium, over 1000 attendees gathered in main banquet hall for the annual member's dinner and benefit auction. This year's auction set a record, raising over $48,000 for the AAW's Educational Opporutnity Grant Program which funds scholarships for members.

    When the symposium finally drew to a close, the general feeling of the attendees was that this year's event was another unqualified success. No wonder it is the largest turning event in the world.
    Next year's symposium will be held at Overland Park, Kansas, from July 21 to 24, 2005. For more details visit the AAW website.
    And, if you happen to be in the Minnesota area, you are invited to visit the brand new AAW headquarters in downtown St. Paul. The new headquarters features a roomy, 2,500 square-foot turning gallery, which will feature this year's "From Sea to Odyssey" exhibit as its first major turning exhibition.

. . . Ellis Walentine

[EDITOR'S NOTE: If anyone else would like to submit photos or stories about their experience at this year's symposium, please send them along to shots@woodcentral.com and we will try to add them to this report.]



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