The American Association of Woodturners (AAW) was founded in 1986. It is an educational organization dedicated to the promotion of woodturning. From our bylaws: "The Association's purpose is to foster a wider understanding and appreciation of lathe-turning as a traditional and contemporary craft and a form of art among the general public, amateur turners, part-time turners and professional turners."
The AAW provides a basis for woodturners from around the United States and the world to get together, support each other and to learn from each other in all areas related to woodturning. Currently the AAW has over 13,000 members in over 315 chapters all over the world. Each chapter is an independent, locally run organization. Local members typically meet once a month to watch demonstrations of woodturning and related subjects.
A growing part of AAW is the regional symposiums where several chapters will put on a multiple day seminar covering all areas of woodturning. The AAW puts on an annual symposium each year rotating around the United States. They try to plan the symposiums so that every five years a member can drive to the symposium.
These symposiums bring in demonstrators from all over the world. Typically, there are 15 classrooms with different demonstrations going on for three days. There are related art shows of turned art. There is a huge Instant Gallery where each member can put three turned items for show or sale. The symposium has the largest woodturning vendor show in the world where all kinds of lathes, wood and related equipment is for demonstration and sale.
The AAW is a big supporter of education and we have a youth turning room where classes go on during the symposium. At the end, all the kids that took a turning class have their names are put into a hat and 25 lathes, chucks, tools and face shields are given to the winning kids.
The members of AAW are not a physical community but they are a community related by a common love of turning. While the name is the American Association of Woodturners, anything that can be stuck on a lathe gets turned. It is generally wood, but fiber, plastic, stone, bone, and pinecones are turned, and I have seen fruits and vegetables turned. There are also special interest groups within AAW that cover such topics as ornamental turning, segmented turning and collecting.
The AAW has a great journal that has articles covering a wide range of topics from beginning turning to advanced art work. Each year at the annual symposium we have an auction of turned art. The proceeds from the auction go the Educational Opportunity Grant program. In 2009 AAW handed out about $60,000 to individuals, schools and chapters for programs related to woodturning.
You can learn more about the American Association of Woodturners and its programs by going to www.woodturner.org. Here you will find out how to join and other information about AAW.
Dale is on the Board of Directors for the AAW. More about Dale can be found in his gallery-