Sunday, August 04, 2013

AWFS Fresh Wood Show - and the final show wrap up!

One of the highlights of the AWFS show is the Fresh Wood Competition, which features an industry sponsored competition of high school and college students work. The quality of some of these pieces is so high, it's hard to imagine that these pieces are being made by such new-to-the-craft woodworkers. 

This chest of drawers by Preston Drage was really gorgeous,

 but the winner in the case goods category was this desk, Graham Lutz.

There were some terrific chairs entered into the competition this year, some of my favorites were Vidar's chairs by Ben Cooper, which incidentally won first place in the reproduction category. 

I have a soft spot in my heart for Tage Frid's Three-Legged Music Chair, and John Barry did a very nice job on his. 

 Making those stools is rite of passage into becoming a real woodworker - here are mine.

This "Lolita" chair was lovely in its simplicity and craftsmanship. It won an Honorable Mention award -  nice work, Greg Laird!


In the truly quirky category - these Cow Horn Chairs by Rossel Berard were sweet. 

This chair, called The Rumper by Darcy McDonough, didn't look very comfortable, but was apparently built with ergonomics and proper posture in mind. I would have loved the opportunity to sit in it!


And this "Keep on Rockin'" chair by Justin Chin was just plain fun. Hard to completely appreciate it from this photo, but it is in the shape of a musical note, and quite innovative. In fact, he won First Place in the Chair category. 

 This inlaid table by Thaddius Berglund - a high school student - was pretty amazing! And it won First Place in the Table category. 

 A few people I spoke with really loved this Conversationalist Bench by Andrew Prioli of the Rhode Island School of Design program. Its gracefulness and craftsmanship made this a stunning piece. 

Musical Instruments made a strong statement in this year's show, with Mark Hudson's "Gui2ar" winning second place. 

This Les Paul PurpleHeart electric guitar, by Ed McCravy, won first place in the Musical Instrument category. Deservedly so!

Visitors to the Fresh Wood Booth were allowed to vote on their favorite piece, and this low table by Kristoffer Edlund won the People's Choice award. This bent lamination base turned Walnut (and Maple!) into a giant pretzel. And combined with its glass top - so you could see the table from above - it was gorgeous. Every time I tried to shoot a picture of this piece, it was surrounded by people, checking out its complexity. Really nice work, Kristoffer!

Finally - Mollie Ferguson's"dulcius ex asperis" chair in Madrone won best of show. A gorgeous piece with impeccable craftsmanship. Again - the College of the Redwoods continues to produce some of the best woodworkers in the world. 

All in all, with the exception of a few AMAZING pieces, the quality of work this year didn't seem quite as high as in the past. But still - considering that these pieces are being built by people with ten years of experience or less (some MUCH less!) - their pieces are still quite amazing. 

Finally - some people have asked about my overall observations about this years AWFS show. So here goes -

- There were so many glaring omissions of tool manufacturers, it felt as if this show was in the grip of a horrible recession. At the last few shows, both exhibition halls were filled. This year - not so much. We were down to one hall, with many "regulars" missing. I was really looking forward to seeing some of my favorite booths - like the MilkPaint people, for example, but many of them were missing. Still, I loved checking out Doug Mocket's latest gear, as well as chatting with the Mohawk people. And of course, I loved the Box on Demand dudes. 

- Some of the exhibitors were downright crabby - but I think I would be too, if I had to stand on the floor, BSing with people for five straight days. I could never do what they do! As I was walking around, in search of a cold beer - I realized I couldn't find one. I'm pretty sure they sold cold ones in the past - so maybe that's a change that they might want to reinstate, if only to make some of the salespeople a little more friendly. 

- From talking to a few people who also attended classes - I think the quality of the individual classes has gotten better and better. Both of the classes I attended were excellent, and the instructors were quite open and available for discussion afterward. It didn't seem like there were some of the bigger names from the past, like Michael Fortune or Jeff Miller, but this new round of instructors were really on their game. 

- I brought home much less swag than ever before, but that's probably because the last thing I need is another cloth bag, packet of sandpaper samples, or pamphlet on a $40,000 tool. By the way, many thanks to Patty at SawStop's booth, who sent me a cool banner for my school. Patty continually hooks me up with nice promotional items and I appreciate it. 

- My favorite booth? Lee Valley, without question! 

I'm already looking forward to the 2015 AWFS show! Mark your calendar - 

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