Tuesday, July 28, 2015

AWFS Show - Day One thoughts about the Fresh Wood Competition

Last week was the week we've all been waiting for - the opening of the AWFS show here in Las Vegas. 

As they say, it's woodworking's largest North American trade show, and it's filled with everything wood related under the sun - tools, fasteners, hardware, building materials, software, maintenance equipment, packing supplies, and more.  

Honestly, if you can't find what you're looking for here, you probably don't need it!

One of my favorite things to see right off the bat is the FreshWood woodworking competition. That must've been on everyone else's mind too, as I ran into so many friends, students and peers that it felt like one giant reunion. 

Here's what the AWFS show website had to say about this competition:

AWFS sponsors the biennial Fresh Wood woodworking competition for high school and post secondary students in conjunction with the AWFS Fair for the purpose of showcasing student woodworking talent and introducing students who are interested in woodworking careers to the industry and to a national trade show.

Fresh Wood entries are separated into six different categories: Case Goods, Seating, Tables, Design for Production, Open, and Musical Instruments.  For the 2015 Fresh Wood competition, the most popular category for high school entries was Tables, with 16 entries, and AWFS received 39 Post Secondary Seating entries, the highest for that school level. Entries from the high school level and the post-secondary level are scored separately in both competitions.

Fresh Wood judges include a professional guitar maker and musician, custom and production furniture makers and an architectural millworker which lend a variety of perspectives to the judging process.
Trust me - this is one of the coolest parts of the whole show! 

And this year, it didn't disappoint.  Walking into the space and seeing a Maloof Rocking Chair right in front set the tone. This upped the game for everything! 

BTW - If I forget to mention someone's work here, or I screw up some detail - I want to apologize in advance. Each and every piece in this show was amazing and deserved its individual recognition. This isn't your simple state fair woodshop competition - these pieces are extremely well designed and built, and went through some pretty tough hoops to get here in the first place. So - congrats to all. 

Imagine this chair being built by a young woman, in high school no less! - and you know that the future of woodworking has some bright spots coming up. 

The back slats she created were particularly gorgeous. If this is her vision at 16 or 17, what the hell is she going to be making at 30?  I want to be around to see her stuff then! 

This Eclipse bench was not only gorgeous, but required quite a bit of engineering. 

Some of the other outstanding pieces includes The Herring, a lovely, well-crafted bed.

There seemed to be a lot of mid-century modern pieces, this bench was quite nice, 

as was this stereo cabinet. I felt like I was on the set of Mad Men. 

Musical instruments were well represented - there were three guitars all made by high school students from the same school. I can barely wrap my head around that! 

The pieces that combine a few technical elements always interest me - like this small table that was very nicely inlaid. This piece was the complete package - style, perfect execution, and a nice balance between symmetry and imbalance. 

The grain matching and inlay work was impressive - this is a college kid!

I love how so many of the pieces were built by women - this is a trend that's been ramping up for a long time. Consider the fact that 40 years ago, women weren't allowed in a woodshop, and now check out the work they're doing. Wow.  I wonder what kinds of furniture would have been popular if women had always worked in the industry.

This might have been my favorite piece - very small cabinet with a ton of things contained in it - dovetails, crown molding, inlay. I like everything about it - its proportions, its color choices, 

the inlay, especially. 

This cradle was quite impressive, too. 

While I don't love glass topped pieces (or acrylic, in this case) - this table was pretty great.  Three "acorns" nestled together to form a base.

 I'm not a huge fan of period pieces, but it's hard to ignore all he work that went into these two. It's just a personal preference - I prefer cleaner lines and less adornment. Probably has something to do with my aversion to dusting!

This rocker was quite nicely made - someone said they thought it looks uncomfortable, but I think not. There is amazing work coming out of BYU these days. 

A couple more beauties... this makeup table was quite nice.

This game table was a mind-blower, with its inlay, pop up storage areas, and individually carved pieces. Someone spent hundreds of hours on this piece, and it shows. 

Here are a few more...

OK, so what was my favorite piece? As much as people complain that The College of the Redwoods turns out clones of James Krenov, I am an absolute sucker for that style. Everything about it interests me - the clean lines, the subtle curves of the legs, the book matching, the scale and sense of grace. So this cabinet did it all for me.

 The question I always ask myself is  - would you put this piece in your home? And this piece got a definite affirmative response!

 Just the simple book matched drawer fronts were enough to make me love this piece!

 Congrats to each and every one of these amazing (young!) woodworkers. The future seems pretty bright, if we judge it by the work that they're creating. And - a huge hat tip to their teachers, too!

Stay tuned for Part II of the AWFS event...