Oregon Woodturning Symposium 2017

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by magaoitin posted 03-22-2017 07:34 PM 582 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So this last weekend (March 17-19) I attended the Oregon Woodturning Symposium in Albany OR. Due to my work schedule and living in another State, I couldn’t take off Friday to attend all of the shows on Friday, but I was able to get in some phenomenal demonstrations, meet some amazing pro turners and even got to say hi to Youtube phenom Carl Jacobson. It’s hard not to fanboy too much when meeting these guys, but I have to say they are all fantastic people along with being amazing turners.

Stuart Mortimer

Dixie Biggs

Dixie Biggs

Dixie Biggs

Jim Piper

Stuart Mortimer

Stuart Mortimer

Stuart Mortimer

I am new to turning. Apart from a woodshop class in high school, 30 years ago, I have only been turning for about 18 months. You can better believe that I remember nothing from High school shop. A friend gave me his Jet JWL 1220 and I spent the time leading up to moving into my current house, turning pens and trying to remember what each tool was for. All I can say is Thank god for Youtube! Now that my shop build-out is nearly done, I have broken the lathe out and have started to setup tools.

Nearly everything at this show was over my head in ability (for now) but it was incredible to see what these pros can do in such a short time. This Symposium was a bit of a mix of Tutorials, practical turning advice, and just watching what some of the world’s best turners can do in 90 minutes. I found myself on more than one occasions trying to take notes, but then my jaw just dropped at what they were doing and I completely forgot to write anything down. It is a shame that the OWS doesn’t record the demonstrations and allow the people that paid for the show to download them.

I bought tickets back in December and paid $210 for the three day symposium and feel it was worth it, even missing almost all of the classes on Friday. It definitely showed me what direction I want to focus with turning

The presenters were:
Al Stirt
Dixie Biggs
Nick Cook
Binh Pho
Stuart Mortimer
Stuart Batty
Don Ward
Michael Blankenship
Jon Magill
Christian Burchard

Due to how the Symposium is setup you have to choose between 4 demonstrations going on at once, and with missing out on almost all of the classes on Friday, some hard decisions were made on what to see. I am kicking myself for missing Dixie Biggs demonstrations. She has been on the cover of AWW before with the red and black maple leaf vessel. It is truly stunning to see in person.

I ended up watching:
Al Stirt – Open Bowl Turning / Grain Balancing
Don Ward – Pen Casting with Acrylic
Michael Blankenship –Crock rimmed style bowl
Stuart Batty – Seven Setup fundimentals
Stuart Mortimer – Twisted Hollow form & Introduction to Spiral work, double twist, triple twist, double open twist and triple twist goblet.

Without turning this into a 30 page post gushing over these guys, I recommend any turners on LJ’s to check out a couple of websites of the turners

Stuart Batty’s Vimeo feed. He has uploaded (FOR FREE) 18 hours of his class “Seven Setup Fundamentals” or “Seven Principles that lead to perfect cuts Since this was only a 90 minute demonstration he focused on part of one of his 7 steps “Technique”

Stuart Mortimer has a couple videos on Vimeo as well as well as a couple on youtube for spirals that are great.

This is a 30 minute video done on Michael Blankenship, who has to be one of the most inspirational turners I have heard of. He went blind about 13 years ago (100%) and then decided to take up wood turning, without ever seeing someone use a lathe.

The only parts of the show that I was disappointed with were the handout/demonstration booklet and the number of vendors. All of the demonstrators I was lucky enough to see were fantastic.

I took in two of Stuart Mortimer’s presentations and I was so mesmerized by watching him craft this open twisted vessel that I didn’t take any photos during the show.

This is the twisted open vessel he turned in 90 freaking minutes. 6×6x12 Box Elder Blank, and he only caught the lathe on fire once! (it was really funny and no one was hurt, the light on the Powermatic caught a bunch of sanding fines)

He also turned a pig tail in about 7 minutes that was incredible to watch as well. It was almost an afterthought, but I guess after turning hundreds, if not thousands of these you really get it down.

one of his finished pigtails

If you are a “left coaster” I would recommend going to next year’s show. I am not sure I would have flown out to see it, but only having to drive 3-4 hours made the decision for me.

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.

2 comments so far

View HankLP's profile


46 posts in 437 days

#1 posted 03-23-2017 10:41 PM

Is this an annual event? I’m only a state away.

View magaoitin's profile


246 posts in 885 days

#2 posted 03-23-2017 11:39 PM

Yes it is. The first one was 2015 from what I can tell.

Depending on which direction-adjacent state you are in (I’m in Washington) Utah’s Woodturning Symposium is in May. and it looks similar to this one. It’s too far for me to drive, and I’m not sure I would pay for a plane ticket, rental car, and hotel, on top of the Symposium price.

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics