USA demonstration trip.

The American Association of Woodturners Symposium trip was a dream come true!

Well, now that we’ve been home for a week or two, it’s time to reflect on an incredible trip.

Firstly, it is difficult to explain my surprise and delight when I opened the e-mail where I was asked whether I would like to attend the AAW’s 31st Annual Symposium as an invited demonstrator… OF COURSE, what a question to ask!!

The following eighteen plus months involved numerous e-mails, deadlines and an increasing level of anxiety on my part as to whether I could perform to the level expected as a lead demonstrator. The pressure increased once the list of demonstrators was released and I thought, gee look at those names… and mine was there too!

A FB ‘friend’ with whom I’d established a Slovenian heritage connection asked whether I’d like to do some extra demos whilst in the US –YES! Hence a four day appointment, including a demonstration and teaching days evolved, giving me a chance to get a feel of what US audiences do and don’t like. Teaching has been my game for twenty-five years, but you still need to get an insight into the people you’re working with, and this was my opportunity.

Huge thanks to Frank Kobilsek and members of the Chicago Woodturners for their hospitality and four days of wonderful company while we shared jokes, knowledge and metric/imperial conversions of temperatures I was comfortable with, but extraordinarily high for locals.

Next a demonstration at Frank’s local club, a bed at his place, and best of all…’potica’ made by his wife Anita. ‘Potica’ is a traditional cake made in Slovenia which ‘Nita makes a fantastic version of, even though Mum’s will always be hard to beat.

Arriving in Kansas City and facing up to the reality of performing for the AAW audience alongside those great names was the moment of truth for me.

Right from the word go, I could not believe how well this event was organised. My assistants (yes, people who were there to help me during demonstrations) and videographers were fantastic! All I had to do was think out loud and my thoughts were fulfilled. And cameras mounted on booms that zoomed in to show the audience exactly what I was doing, including highlighting the hairs on my fingers and fingernails that needed a trim. Demonstrating at this level exposes much more than the obvious.

Not only was this an honour to present my skills and concepts to a voracious audience, but it was a chance to make new friends, catch up with those made during the last twenty years of visiting the US, and others who I’ve met here and in other countries. Friendships are something to be treasured above all else, especially as age catches up and some are now in ill health. All the more reason to treasure this opportunity to see so many of them in one visit. The world of woodturning is a very generous one filled with many people happy to share friendship, knowledge and skills –unreservedly!

And the travels in the Mid-west were fantastic too. Kate and I managed to stumble on Route 66, visit Graceland, fly over the Grand Canyon, but best of all, was meeting so many wonderful and hospitable folks who made this visit a wonderful experience, y’all!

Fingers crossed; there will be a reason and opportunity to return in the not so distant future.

Our beast, even though it looked like a baby compared to some of the other vehicles on US roads, but it served our needs. Can you believe it only took $20-00 to fill the tank?

The first of many bridges we crossed. This one took us from one side of the Mississippi River to the other.

We went to Graceland, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee.

It would have been nice to have been able to bring some of this wood home - from Graceland, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee.

On the Banks of the Ohio. Looking from Louisville, Kentucky to New Albany, Indiana. Another of the big US bridges.

The big sky that followed us wherever we went.

Big machines and big sunsets in Indiana.

Big trains - consisting of 165 goods wagons in Lafayette, Indiana.

Corn fields as far as the eye could see, and the ever present big fluffy clouds, in Mendota, Illinois.

Not only did we have beautiful sunny weather, but we had some big heavy storms too!

Pity about the spelling......

A lucky surprise, but well worth the detour.

Another of the big bridges, this one taking us from Illinois into Missouri, and then onto Kansas City.

Catching up with old friends at the AAW Symposium. I hadn't seen Binh since 2004.

Maybe one day I will actually make it onto the cover of the AAW Magazine????

Demonstrating on the last day of the AAW Symposium in Kansas City 2017. My last demonstration out of six. What an amazing experience, with very appreciative audiences, and excellent assistants.

Thank-you AAW.

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