Editor’s Note: It’s the height of summer, and of county/state fair season. We know a lot of you are likely entering your woodworking in competitions and showcases at these events, but we wanted to remind you to also check out your local woodworking store for information on other woodworking contests. Here’s a report from one held in Indiana earlier this year.
The crowd at this year’s Adventures in Wood Contest at the Rockler Woodworking and Hardware store in Indianapolis, Indiana was pretty typical of woodworking folks! I say this as a very good thing. Everyone was friendly, interested in what other people made, and a little competitive, too.
The projects ranged in style, as did the competitive categories. There were 30 participants (up from 19 from last year) competing for seven awards. The projects were divided into three categories: furniture, turning/ miscellaneous, and boxes. For each of those categories one could win 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, place. Plus, one lucky winner was awarded best of show. First place winner of each category took home $200 of Rockler store credit, and Best of Show was awarded separately with the prize of $250 Rockler store credit! Second and third places also got Rockler gift cards.
Dale Smith won Best of Show as well as first place in the turning/ miscellaneous category. His project, “Google Locomotive,” was a sculptural piece made out of solid walnut. The use of the word “Google” in the sculpture was subtle, and the walnut was beautifully finished with Watco® Danish Oil.
A common theme in the projects was the use of reclaimed wood. Don Solomon, who won the box category, regularly uses reclaimed wood, including wood from an old smokehouse. His winning entry was “Basketweave with White Roses and Swallowtail,” made from 1890s oak. Mark Bachman, who won the furniture category with a sideboard, uses a lot of lumber straight from his property. Second place in the turning/ miscellaneous category went to Rallie Murphy for his folk art banjo.
Mark Hensley won in both the turning/ miscellaneous category, with third place for his “Pastry Board and French Rolling Pin,” and in the furniture category, with second place for his kitchen storage cabinet. His motto is, “You gotta make sawdust. You won’t learn unless you are doing.” It is safe to say that his experimentation paid off!
We all have different motivation for making things. Family inspiration is a common theme. Matthew Heimann didn’t win this year, but his seven-year-old son, Oliver, was there for the opening in full support. Oliver liked his dad’s piece the best because of the cool sliding lid. Mark Hensley started woodworking because his father-in-law put him to work. Don Solomon’s first woodworking project was a paddle for his mom to use because he was the oldest of four children, and she needed all the help she could get. Jim Harper, who placed both second and third third in the box category with his “Lacewood Box” and “Jewelry Box,” makes a lot of projects for his wife, and she even selects and purchases the unique beautiful wood species herself.
Whatever the inspiration is for making things, we make things. The Adventures in Wood Contest is a great way to show off, share camaraderie as makers, and compete for some new tools from our local Rockler woodworking store.