A Celebration of Woodturning
at the feet (foots?) of the Rockies

Anyone who turns on a lathe already knows the names - Cindy Drozda, Curt Theobald, Stuart Batty, Kurt Hertzog...

For wood spinners, these are the Muses. The ones with a gift. And eleven of them are featured presenters this September at the eighteenth annual Rocky Mountain Woodturning Symposium. The event runs from the 15th through the 17th at an exceptional facility in Loveland, Colorado - which is ridiculously easy to reach: just drive straight north out of Denver on I-25 for 52 miles, and then look to your right. It's the McKee building at the Larimer County Fairgrounds, also known as The Ranch, and parking is free.


So is the massive gallery of turned work on display. Attendees are asked to bring at least three pieces each. And there's an impressive vendor area (shown at left, from a previous symposium) where new and seasoned turners can pick up tools, machines, supplies, and even a few tips.

But the real learning takes place in the more than forty rotations (classes) being presented by some of the finest wood artists on the planet, including Cynthia Carden Gibson, Keith Gotschall, Joe Fleming, Eric Lofstrom, Jonathan Medina, Rick Orr and Tom Wirsing.

The symposium is intense, but laid back. It's well attended but not overcrowded, and well organized without too many rules. The idea is to make woodturning, and the experts on hand, as accessible as possible to the rest of us. It's a unique blend of art, fun, learning, work, play and vision: the kind of mix that grabs your attention and holds it so intensely that it's time to go home before you know it. There's a day alone in the Instant Gallery, just walking through hundreds of works and trying to figure out just how the heck they did that.  


Most of the presenters are old hands at addressing crowds, and the topics covered are wide-ranging. It's a very hands-on experience, up close and personal. Attendees can ask questions, and they can either get physically close enough to see everything, or watch the details on some pretty decent video equipment.

Theobold will present on a couple of aspects of segmented turning, Hertzog takes penmaking to extremes, Loftstrum does boxes and bowls and how to make a skew sing, and Stuart Batty will demonstrate off-center and square-winged bowls. Drozda will demo her signature spindles and illustrate inlay, while Gibson burns through several sections on pyrography and color. Wirsing and Batty are going to talk about changes in tool steel and grinder technologies that are changing the ways we choose and use tools, and Orr is doing two sessions on the threaded antler box. Medina's presentation is about grain in wood, Gotschall will turn a lidded bowl, and there are other rotations on everything from platters to ornaments and even segmented stone.

Registration can be done online. The cost of a three-day ticket, where one can pick and choose among the classes, is $170 (prior to August 30), or $290 for a couple. If you'll only be there on Saturday, it's $110. Students under 18 are free, and those between 18 and 25 are $85. Teachers are $120. The gallery and trade show are free and open to the public. Several meal packages are available.

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