Monthly Archives: June 2007

AAW 2007 Symposium, Day 1

img_2004.JPGRight now, I’m in Portland, OR attending the American Association of Woodturner’s (AAW) 2007 Symposium. Since 2001, I’ve tried to go every year, and only missed last year’s. It’s 3 days of demonstrations and instructions by the finest woodturners in the world. It’s both educational and inspirational.

I arrived in Portland today (June 28) for the first time. As soon as I left the airport I felt like I’d validated most of my stereotypes about Oregon: Hills, lots of woods, overcast & rainy, fairly small and intimate. But, as you get into the downtown area, then it feels like most urban cities – too much traffic, high rise buildings in various states of disrepair, lots of downtown renovation, and people.

img_2000.JPGI checked into the hotel for the symposium (the DoubleTree – very nice) and walked over to the conference center to register. The Oregon Convention Center is on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, and on the grounds is this statue commemorating him. It’s a lovely entry into the center.

The photo at the top of this post was taken just after I registered. Not too crowded yet, and everyone is still getting oriented, finding the demonstration areas, and meeting up with friends and acquaintances. The demonstrations don’t start until tomorrow, so everything is still pretty relaxed.

img_2042.JPGThree of the exhibits are open and located in the convention center. They aren’t too crowded yet, and so it’s a good time to see the pieces up close. Here is a small sampling of some of the exceptional turnings in the exhibit.

img_2034.JPG Study in Boundaries, 2006 by Giles Gilson. This is part of the 2007 POP Merit Award Exhibition. The Professional Outreach Program (POP) is a new program of the AAW which seeks to encourage and support the professional woodturning artist, and this is the first year that merit awards have been given out. Giles is one of the first three recipients.

img_2027.JPGAscending Bowl #4, 1981 by Mark Lindquist. Another one of the inaugural POP Merit Award recipients, Mark’s work has been around for quite awhile. I’ve always liked his work, especially his emphasis on textures. I particularly liked this piece.
img_2024.JPGNext is the Japanese Demonstrator Exhibit. There are four urushi artists from Yamanaka Japan that are attending and demonstrating at the symposium this year. One has the title Living National Treasure which is awarded in Japan to someone who has reached the highest level of achievement in their craft. This is a small sample of their work.

img_2016.JPGThis piece by Binh Pho is from the Japanese Bowls, A Western Perspective exhibit. This is a pretty interesting display. At a Japanese urushi exhibit in New York, the president of the AAW was given a large number of roughed out bowls. These are bowls that have been turned to roughly the same shape and size by a production facility, and would normally be presented to the urushi artist for final shaping and their finishing process. However, these roughs were given to a group of studio artists to finish in their unique (and western) styles.

img_2007.JPGThe pieces finished by Ann Wolfe (left) and Sharon Doughtie (right). This exhibit was an amazing showcase of the distinctive styles and techniques of these artists. I’m only picking out a few to show here.

img_2005.JPGOne of my favorite artists is Jaques Vesery. He’s known for his amazing surface carvings, which place natural textures (feathers, scales, rocks) on a variety of vessels and objects. This picture may not make it clear that he has carved and painted the surface of his vessel to look like rice. Up close, it looks like rice has been glued onto the surface of the bowl. What’s is most impressive about his work, and why his work commands such amazing prices, is that instead of just being a gimmick enhancement, his technique is an integral part of his artwork. It is beautiful work. My photo doesn’t do justice to this exquisite piece.

I’ve only shown you a few pieces from these larger exhibits. They are nothing more that a brief taste of the amazing work in these exhibits. I’ve picked a few of my favorite pieces to represent the show. And besides, the less time I prepare these posts, the more time I can participate in this wonderful symposium.

Welcome to my Office

img_1465.JPGIt’s been awhile since my last posting, mainly due to some intense deadlines at work. At some point I’ll make some sort of a post trying to explain the project that has been taking up so much time, but for now, as a start to some catch-up posts, I thought I’d introduce my office. Since I’ve been spending a lot of time there, it seems only natural to make it a blog posting.

I’m not going to give an overview to my company, Santa Barbara Infrared, Inc. (SBIR), here. That will be another post at another time. For now, I just want to show off my cubicle. The leading picture at the top of the post is the entryway. And yes, that is a giant cutout of Darth Vader with a brightly colored boa. Just inside is C3PO and in the back, standing on my desk (right next to the computer) is Captain Jean-Luc Picard, also with a boa.

img_1466.JPGLet’s go inside, shall we? As you can see, It’s a fairly basic cubicle with some customization (pimp my cube!). On the left is my workbench, complete with anti-static mat (checked regularly for grounding) and currently occupied by several pieces of equipment. There is a file cabinet at the far end. On the right is my main work table with the computer and some references. Further to the right (behind C3PO) is a bookshelf with references, and in the back is an additional work table with some files and my calendar. All fairly normal. You can even see my (in)famous blue mug on the back table.

img_1467.JPGA better view of my main work space: computer with two monitors, chair, references, piles of paper for currently active projects. On the right, taped to the upper shelf is a set of comic strips I write and draw for our newsletter. It’s amazingly geeky, and the jokes are very “inside” for the IR community. Someday I’ll collect and post them, but we’re not talking Dilbert here.

img_1468.JPGThis is the shelf above my workbench and the top of my file cabinet. I’m of the “shovel it on” school of decorating. No subtle layout focusing on a specific genre or even specific interest of mine. Nope, you’ll get some kind of prize if you can even identify all the geek-topics represented in the chaos of those figures. And this is just one side of the cubicle. On the other side…

img_1469.JPG…is my bookshelf. Reference materials are on the bottom 3 shelves. The upper levels are all toys, figures, and memorabilia. There’s more up higher, but the light washed out the pictures of the top shelf. One of the interesting aspects of this collection is the way many of my co-workers hand over items with the phrase, “this belongs in that collection”. I don’t know if their spouses force them to unload items to which they’re attached or whether there is some sort of chaos threshold where this kind of non-sense become altar-like. But, I have to admit that many of the items on the shelves are more like offerings made by other folks at work. Along with that odd sense of reverence, many folks include my office in the tours they give friends and relatives (customers are “stuck” coming to my office).

img_1470.JPGJust to complete the tour, I’ll give you three quick close-up shots of the characters in my office that have been given boas. I did not think to put the boas on the characters, myself. That came from co-workers who had the boas and asked if I would be willing to give them a home. It was the perfect accessory to make my office-mates fabulous. Admiral Ackbar is from the third Star Wars film (Episode 6, Return of the Jedi in the wacky naming scheme). I use him as the super-secret password of the IRWindows program (which is an indication of how broadly I believe this blog is being read).

img_1471.JPGNo doubt about it, Jean-Luc Picard with a boa looks fabulous. You can probably tell from this shot that the cutout stands “head and shoulders” above the cubicle walls. I use him as a landmark when giving directions – “head towards Picard and you’ll find my office”.

The man in black needs the multi-color boa. Darth is the official greeter to my office and so you get a sense of the dread folks feel coming to see me. As an additional feature, I added our official company ISO-9001 Commitment to Quality Statement in a word bubble. Nothing says commitment like hearing your official statement come from Darth Vader’s mouth.
img_1472.JPGSo that’s the tour. I like to think of my cubicle as “Geeky Chaos Surrounding a Passive Aggressive Core”. It somehow says “come on in, it’s fun in here” and at the same time also says “keep out – I’m on a hair trigger and could bite your head off”. I like to think that it keeps my managers and co-workers on their toes.