AWGB International Seminar 2018


Well that was a trip and a half, in a good way. I think writing this blog will help me to organize the busy week we have had in my head as it’s all just a blur right now.

We left on the early ferry on the Thursday morning, allowing ourselves a few stops, we drove south for our 1st night in Carlisle. After checking in we went for a walk to get some fresh air and a stretch after sitting all day.

The Seminar was to be held at Yarnfield Park near Stone, Staffordshire and registration started at 10am so an early start was on the cards again. We woke to heavy rain and after enjoying a good breakfast we quickly loaded the car and got on our way. By the time we arrived the weather had improved. We collected our Lanyards and took a look round. We had taken 3 pieces along to enter in the  Instant Gallery, then after that we went through for lunch. It was a buffet arrangement, very tasty and very busy, this is a well attended Seminar.


The trade stands were set up, so a little browsing was done by Mr Orkwoodturner while I queued at reception to register for our room. Here I met two woodturners from Canada, BJ Danylchuk and Kade Bolger, he had been back packing round Europe for a few weeks. During the weekend I had several conversations with BJ, very interesting and I hope our paths will cross again, would love to welcome her in Orkney.

We all then attended the Welcome address after which Michael went to a demonstration by Benoit Averly -Little boxes with a french accent. I purchased some rough turned bowls by Ray Key. Ray, an incredible Woodturner, who was a founder member of the AWGB. His books and videos encouraged Michael to take his  1st steps into woodturning. Ray had unfortunately passed away just a few weeks before the seminar. Although we had purchased a bowl by him a few years ago the Association were selling rough turned bowls from his workshop, an opportunity not to be missed. I then collected our bags and sorted out our room for the weekend. Although it was on the small side it was warm, clean and had everything we needed. I had arranged to meet Michael in the open seating area so I made my way there and settled down with a coffee. John from  Woodart came across for a chat, it was great to meet him in person, a top guy.

For the next demonstration by Max Brosi, I joined Michael. We both really enjoyed Max’s concept and style.


Max Brosi – Whalebone form

The afternoon was completed by the opening of the Instant Gallery, wow some amazing pieces.



Shower, change, supper and then off to the bar. We spent most of the evening chatting to the guys from The Society of Ornamental Turners. We had popped in to see them earlier, Michael is very interested in exploring this area of turning. For me it was fascinating seeing their lathes and display of work. The evening just flew by and we had to excuse ourselves and go and get our heads down.


Saturday – The 1st demonstration was at 8.30am, so we had breakfast and managed to spend money at the trade stands, Woodart, Henry Taylor tools, Axminster, Ashley Iles, House of Resin, Flutterby Crafts and M Pidgen wood, another opportunity not to be missed. I took the chance to put the purchases in the car along with the bowl that had been on the last Instant Gallery tour while Michael attended a second demonstration by Benoit Averly this time on Hut boxes. A check on the emails and a coffee before I joined Michael for the 2nd demonstration of the day by  Mike Hosaluk a great turner and demonstrator.



Mike Hosaluk – Turn an end grain bowl with carved feet and decorative elements


Michael started the afternoon with a Masterclass by Gary Rance so I went along to Benoit Averly who was showing a slide show of his photography, textures, patterns and proportions in everyday life. He uses textures a lot in his work and it was fascination to see what influenced him and he takes incredible photographs.


A quick cuppa and we both then went to see a demonstration by Rod Page.


Rod Page – Lattice ball box

The afternoon was finished off with Instant Gallery critique and the top 50 selection. This was really interesting with the pieces chosen to critique for both excellence and faults. Michael didn’t have a piece critiqued, but has one in the top 50 which will now be touring England for the next 2 years, great.

The day was to end with an informal dinner. This was a set meal with all the tables waited on. It was exceptional food and a great laugh, we had excellent company on our table, delegates and officials. The AWGB officials were Sheila Hughes, editor of the AWGB magazine Revolutions and the life and sole of the party and David Atkinson a former Chairman of the AWGB and a very active representative, who was surprised with the presentation of a life time membership award, a lovely guy. The final part of the evening was an auction. We managed to acquire a  Benoit Averly piece, very happy, ready for bed now.

Beautiful box by Benoit Avery and an equally beautiful rough turned bowl by Ray Key.

Sunday – same format as yesterday 1st demo 8.30am only this time we had to breakfast and check out of our room. We pushed everything into bags and into the car then off to the dining room. We both attended the next demonstration by Glenn Lucas,


Glenn Lucas – Dublin viking thin wall bowl

-but decided to give the last demonstration a miss. Instead we collected some purchases, picked up the 2 pieces from the Instant Gallery that were not going on tour and caught up with a few people. We had a quick chat at the Register of Professional Turners stand as they were clearing up. There was a farewell meeting and raffle, no joy there as usual, then we decided to skip lunch and hit the road, we still had so much to do.

Living in Orkney is wonderful, but it has its challenges and one main one for us is getting some of the things for the business, tools, finishes and although we had done well at the seminar we still needed other gear.

As a treat and an inspiration hit we once again visited The Hepworth in Wakefield


and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park,


with an added bonus of installations by Giuseppe Penone who does a  lot with trees, so it was a real hit of wood and textures.


Unfortunately due to a poor forecast we had to bail out and get home so we didn’t get everything collected including a run to the sawmill, but never mind there is always another day.

So there you go, now you can see why our heads are spinning. I am so glad I took about 800 photos so we can relive it all at a slower pace. We have had chance to discuss it and have agreed it was well worth it. Michael had never attended any live demonstrations, so it was good to see and he found it very inspirational and interesting if not a bit full on (just slightly out of his comfort zone!!!) Next seminar 2020👍