How it all began, 2007
The Pacific Northwest Woodturning Guild began planning to hold this mixed-media collaborative event in 2007. Conceived as a weekend activity attended primarily by woodturners, Frogwood has since evolved into a five day event that draws participants who work in a wide variety of media and techniques from around the world every year. Interest in participation now exceeds the capacity of the facility where the event takes place, making it necessary to limit registration to 30 artists. Our belief in the benefits of intensively creative experiences for artists drives our plan to establish Frogwood as a premier event in the regional and international art scene.
Our first collaboration, called “Exploring Art and Woodturning”, was held at Dale Larson’s shop in Gresham, Oregon, on August 9 and 10, 2008. Here is an excerpt from the original announcement on our website.
The Pacific Northwest Woodturning Guild is hosting an innovative and, we hope, exciting, event called “Exploring Art and Woodturning.” The goal of this event is somewhat unusual: it is directed towards woodturners who are struggling to find their artistic voice, or are stuck in a rut in terms of what they create, and those who perhaps have not even thought about or explored the artistic possibilities that lie in front of them.
We invited two well-known Northwest woodturners who had experience with other collaborations to be guides and mentors. We also supplied a wide variety of materials in addition to wood, to spur creativity and encourage exploration of new media.
The results of a survey filled out by many of the participants indicated we had a viable concept and identified those areas which could be tweaked to improve the next one.
A year of expansion
Frogwood 2018 was our largest event to date. Attended by 36 artists, the event produced over 100 works of fine mixed media art.
From our humble beginnings as a gathering of woodturners, Frogwood, now draws a wide range of world-class international artists and an exciting group of national and regional artists.
Our new location at Camp Colton is well suited for continued growth, including the addition of a hot studio and on-site lodging.
So in 2009, we did it again, only better. The event was expanded to three full days, August 7-9, with an orientation meeting on Thursday evening, August 6, in Portland. And we invited selected local artists in other media to join us.
The website announcement of the second “Exploring Art and Woodturning” read in part:
The Pacific Northwest Woodturning Guild will be sponsoring the 2nd annual Exploring Art & Woodturning. This 3-day collaboration event is geared to woodturners with solid skills and a good sense of design who are ready to explore new avenues of artistic expression by sharing their vision and their efforts with others who work in a different style or medium. This year’s focus will be on the fusion of woodturning and metalworking and will be led by woodturner Christian Burchard and metalsmith Greg Wilbur.
As a way to encourage collaboration between attendees and across media, we introduced a theme project, “A Workingman’s Chalice”. Teams made a selection from a list of occupations and were encouraged to interpret it in any manner they wished to create an object in some way resembling a chalice. Prepped wood blanks of appropriate size were made available as the foundation. In addition to this focal object, attendees were welcome to work on anything else they wished with whomever they wanted.
The 2010 EAW event was held August 12-15, and once again we used the concept of a chalice as a focal theme. Our guest woodturner this time was Don Derry, who participated enthusiastically as a collaborator as well as a mentor who encouraged us to push our creativity into new directions and beyond our previous comfort zones.
Other attendees of note were metalsmith Greg Wilbur, and woodturners Bonnie Klein and Gorst du Plessis, who demonstrated the use of a Rose Engine. Media represented included blacksmithing, coppersmithing, and fabric arts, as well as woodturning.
In addition to working on a theme project, all attendees were encouraged to try out any of the other media available, and those artists were quite happy to demonstrate and coach others in their specialties. This broadening of skills and interests is one of the primary reasons the Guild began hosting these collaborative events, and it has continued to be an important part of the event.