Turning Archive 2005

Symposium Report (LONG)

Bill Grumbine (Kutztown PA)
>Greetings all

I just arrived home this morning from the Totally Turning weekend up in Albany, and am catching up on the pile of email and such waiting for me. Since I am here at the machine, I thought it would be a good time to report on my experience at the symposium. I would like to preface my remarks that what I am about to write adds to my previous experiences. It does not negate them. I write that because things I have experienced in the past duing my interactions with certain people and groups have been, shall we say, less than positive, and I have been very vocal about that. This one was different, and I intend to be just as vocal.

Simply put, I had a blast. I got to meet a lot of people, see a lot of turnings, and even learnt a thing or two. It was a little disconcerting to have a continual stream of people coming up to me who I had never seen before in my life and calling me by name, but I got used to it after a little while. If you are one of those folks who did so, I would like to thank you again for stepping up and introducing yourselves, and I thank you for all the kind and positive things you all had to say about the DVD. For the record no one said anything negative about the DVD, and that is a good thing too.

I got to see some friends of mine I hadn't seen for a while, as well as a number of past students. It would have been nice to see some of them bringing work along for the instant gallery, but that is a personal decision. I will write more about the gallery in a bit. I got to meet some people who I only knew through this medium, by their postings and their pictures. With some there was some private correspondence as well, but in all cases, it was great to be able to put a face and a voice with the name. I got to meet some really big shots in the AAW - at least people who are very well known. I was quite surprised to learn that most of them already knew who I was as well. I don't know if that is a good or a bad thing. A number of people asked me if I was having a good time, as if I was some sort of guest as a special resort and they were all employees. I can't help but think that those inquiries were a result of past postings on my part. I know that at least some of them were, since the questioners sometimes referred to them.

I had a running conversation for much of the weekend with Andi Wolfe. She came up and introduced herself to me with a nice big smile, and then delivered a well deserved shot about artsy fartsy stuff, which got the conversation going. We got to clarify a few things, and overall have a very pleasant time together. I even made it to one of her rotations, although I will have to speak to the organizers next year about how they schedule those things. They need to make sure that the ones I want to go to don't take place simultaneously! But Andi and I got to talk about turning in general, art, attitudes and experiences, and all that goes along with it. While I cannot speak for her with any authority, I know I left with a better understanding of some of the art aspect, and I think she understands my perspective a little more. A while ago I was challenged by another poster on this forum to name the names of some who had treated me the way I described, and I would not, so as not to fan the flames. I did so for Andi in a person to person conversation.

The instant gallery was crammed with very good work at all levels of quality. I write it that way because people brought in stuff that was the best they could do, and that is what counts. It does not matter where a person is in their development as a turner, but it does matter that they are turning and developing. I heard a lot of people saying that they didn't want to bring something in because they would be embarassed in some way, and I do not think that would have been the case. Andi and Stuart Batty did an extensive critique of many of the pieces brought in, and they did a fantastic job I think. Of course that is easy enough for me to write. All three of my pieces came up for examination, and with a very few minor points, I got what I consider to be very high praise indeed. How did it affect me? Well let's just say I had to go down to the parking deck in the freight elevator so my head would fit in the doors. Overall, they found positive and encouraging things to say about every piece that was held up, although I do not think that anyone got away completely unscathed. But that is what a critique is supposed to do, right?

I spent a lot more money than I had intended, although I did keep my promise to SWMBO not to buy any wood. I never said a word about tools though, and I came home with a monster spur center for my Talon, a keyless chuck, and a random orbit air powered sander with 2" and 3" velcro disks. Oh yeah, at the last minute a gallon of Bush Oil fell into my bag too. I'll be interested to see how it stacks up against my current favorite Watco.

There was one black blot however. Ruth Niles was gracious enough to sell the DVD for me from her table, and some criminal made off with one without paying for it. So human nature really is still the same, even at a symposium. But overall, this was a very good experience, and I would have to say that it outweighs my bad experiences. I am sure I will still meet snobs, and those who make themselves better by putting others down, and I will meet those who think they have a patent on something they think is original, but I was very much gratified to see that things were better than they seemed in the past, and I will smile as I send in my check for next year's membership. Why, I might even go to another symposium sometime!


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