Past Article from the Daily HeraldBeautifully carved wood crafts on display during the Utah Woodturning Symposium at the UCCU Center in Orem Thursday, May 17, 2012. MARK JOHNSTON/Daily Herald Debbie Balzotti - Correspondent
Dale Nish attended a woodturning symposium held back east in 1978 and decided to bring the event to this side of the Mississippi with "Symposium West '79." After 19 years, Nish retired as coordinator but others have stepped in to continue the symposium's success. The event, now named the Utah Woodturning Symposium, began at BYU but is currently held at the UCCU Center on the campus of Utah Valley University. More than 400 people are attending this year's event, which began Thursday. "This is the longest consecutive woodturning conference in the world," said Kip Christensen, a member of the symposium's board of directors and a former coordinator. "We have 14 presenters from around the world -- from England, Canada and Australia as well as from the United States. They will give 100 different demonstrations which makes it difficult for those who attend to choose which ones to go to since they can only choose 11." Christensen talked about the renewed interest in woodturning for artists and collectors. Museum visitors are seeing more pieces in exhibits and in private collections. "In the mid-1970s there was a renaissance in woodturning," Christensen said. "Most people think of chair legs when you talk about creating wooden objects on a lathe, but today there are many utilitarian and artistic components." The Nish family continues to be involved in woodturning and has a business called Craft Supplies, which is sponsoring many of the demonstrations. According to Christensen, Craft Supplies and BYU are generously loaning lathes and other items for the symposium presentations. This year's event coordinator, Susan Hendrix, also a wood carver and turner, is excited for the symposium. "It's a great opportunity for woodturners to gather, and learn and share what they are doing," she said. "This symposium is very well respected throughout the United States and even internationally. It's grown through the great leadership and many volunteers that we have." One free event open to the public is the Instant Gallery. The public is invited to view selected works from the Dale Nish Collection, which includes turnings from many of the world's greatest woodturners -- including Ray Allen, David Ellsworth, Dell Stubbs, Bonnie Klein and others. Instant Gallery participants attending the symposium are invited to display and sell their work. A short biographical sketch at each booth will give gallery visitors useful information about the turners and their work. The symposium runs through Saturday afternoon in the UCCU Center. For more information, www.utahwoodturning.com
Utah Woodturning SymposiumMark Baker reports from the Utah Woodturning Symposium
The Utah Woodturning Symposium has gained a superb reputation as a quality, well-run and friendly event. This is due, I think, to Kip Christensen, Dale Nish (who started the event off) and Craft Supplies USA who have developed the event over 25 years to be more like an event for friends - and those friends are called woodturners - who share a like mind for learning, having fun and sharing experiences. So, in my mind this attitude means that the event is like a once yearly club where everyone is welcome.
At the opening ceremony Kip asks the question of the audience how many have been to every one. There are many who have so it must be good. I also like the fact that there are those that come for the first time and are immediately made to feel welcome as automatic members of the worldwide woodturning club. I think everyone involved should be justly proud that their efforts bear such fruit.
There is no trade show at this event. There is a special event the day before put on by Craft Supplies USA called Super Wednesday. Bargains galore are on offer in a special area and it is like bees to a honey pot. The hustle and bustle in there is intense for a few hours as people pore over the goodies. I partook of this and had great fun. I would have bought more were it not for the ever-restrictive airline baggage allowances.
The event runs from Thursday to Saturday and is held at the Brigham Young University. The venue is excellent, seating is tiered so you can see everything, there are also two screens relaying the close-up detail at any one time. The camera crews do a sterling job. The fact that they are turners helps, as they know what to look for when working.
There were 22 demonstrators in all from around the world, which meant that there was a diverse mix of subjects covered so there was something for everyone. I always get a lot from these seeing these techniques and hints - how that person works is always fun and sometimes challenging.
One of the parts of any symposia that always takes my breath away is the gallery. The gallery here was everything I expected and more. Someone quipped I was like a kid in a candy store.
Author: Mark Baker © Copyright 2008 Woodturning, The GMC Group LTD. All rights reserved. www.woodworkersinstitute.com