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Longtime artist works as liaison to recruit volunteers for Portland symposium.

Intricate pieces of wood turned bowls, artwork, and even wood-turned chairs will be on display at the annual American Association of Woodturners next week.

Dale Larson, a longtime woodturner and Gresham resident, is helping to organize the AAW's 32nd annual convention in Portland as the event's local liaison. The symposium will be held Thursday through Sunday, June 13-17, at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. OUTLOOK PHOTO: MATT DEBOW - Dale Larson turns a piece of wood at his shop in his south Gresham home.

The event is held for participants to discover the craft, learn how to turn wood and to showcase their works.

Larson's job is to recruit local volunteers, organize their schedule, and have materials shipped to his house before the show.

Every year, as the host city rotates from anywhere in the U.S., materials are sent to a local address.

Weeks before the symposium, Larson's woodturning shop was crowded by 25 boxed up wood lathes.

Those lathes will be hauled to the symposium on Monday, June 11, where they will be assembled for youth woodturning classes.

"We set up 25 lathes and there are nine classes over the three days where kids from 10 to 18 years can turn," Larson said. 

One of those demonstrations will show the young learners how to make the classic "ball and cup" game.

Other youth classes include how to make candlesticks and ring holders.

Larson said wood turning is a great way to get children's minds engaged and away from computer screens.

At the show

At every annual gathering, part of the show is used to raise money for a nonprofit organization.

"Our members turn wood bowls and they are sold at the symposium with the money going to a local charity in that community," Larson said. 

Larson prepared for this by hosting a bowl-turning event on May 12 at his shop. Those pieces will be sold at the symposium with proceeds going to Portland Meals on Wheels. 

While there will be a variety of wood-turned bowls on display, many professional artists will showcase more advanced pieces, some of which incorporate three pieces of wood into one design.

"We got artwork coming from all around the world," Larson said. OUTLOOK PHOTO: MATT DEBOW - Here is a close up of a piece of wood Dale Larson turns into a wood ball.

Several levels of woodturners will be at the event ranging from amateurs, professionals and "semi-professionals," which is what Larson calls himself.

"(About) 85 percent will be hobbyists and new turners, 10 percent will be semi-pro, and the top 5 percent — that's where the inspiration comes from," he said.

Even though not everyone may be a professional, all participants will get a chance to show off their work in the symposium's instant gallery.

About woodturning

Woodturning is the art of spinning a piece of wood on a lathe to create a basic shape. Hand-held tools are then used to refine or carve the wood into a form that is usually symmetrical, like a bowl or candlestick holder. 

Wood turning has been around for thousands of years, but Gresham resident and longtime woodturner Dale Larson noted that electricity helps the lathe spin a bit faster.

For more information about wood turning, visit

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