International Wood Collectors Society

A Dedicated Group of Wood Collectors and Crafters

Wood being prepared for the auction.

Driving past the cascading Spanish moss hanging from giant live oaks, I entered Lake Yale Baptist Convention Center in mid February when Florida weather is a mixture of warm and cool. To get there you must pass by endless orange groves that seem ready for harvest with their bending branches and many oranges having already fallen on the ground. As host for this event I decided to get there a day early to make sure all the facilities were ready to go for lodging, classroom teaching, demonstrations, computer projection, sawmill, auction tent, and exhibits. The staff at Lake Yale are second to none for their cooperation and hospitality as well as their accessibility to handle any snafus on a moment's notice. Stopping by the main office, Pam, Paula, and Cheryl politely and professionally led me through all the steps of introduction that a Host of a large group was required to do in order to successfully run a convention there. I proceeded to the main auditorium and unloaded my truck full of tools for demonstrations and exhibit items to be displayed and talked about. At the registration desk I left the master list of attendees and picked up all the keys for rooms that would be occupied by IWCS members. After the 800 mile drive, I was glad that everything was ready to go and walked the peaceful grounds enjoying moments of bird watching by the shoreline of Lake Yale. After a good night's rest I was ready to go and started meeting the many attendees of which I was well acquainted with from my 25 years in the IWCS. Two volunteers, Pauline Sawbridge of the U.K., Romalita James of Alabama, and Elaine Hunt of Florida quickly took over the registration desk and efficiently prepared attendees to find their rooms and set up their displays. Many had traveled a very long distance and greeted one another with a hug reinforcing old friendships. One by one exhibits appeared in the main auditorium and after a hearty Lake Yale supper Janet Hinchee of the National Forestry Service gave a very interesting talk on the life cycle of the native Sand Pine that inhabits Central Florida. A vulnerable species of bird, the Scrub Jay, needs the tree at a particular height to cope with predators and the National Forestry Service attempts to keep enough stands to be at optimal heights in Florida to keep the birds in their preferred nesting sites.

On Thursday, classes filled the day with Bob Winter, our auctioneer, performing a turning demonstration, Ted Spangenberg teaching a stool construction class, Bob Chastain teaching a carving class and Robert Parker demonstrating bowl hewing.
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In the afternoon our special guest speaker, Regis Miller from Wisconsin gave a power point presentation on wood forensics. He showed how a serial killer was identified as being in a certain area at a certain time by his carving of his name in a tree and being able to determine its age by growth stages in the bark. Regis is one of the world premier wood identifiers and he was a pleasure to speak with as he shared his vast knowledge with all he came in contact with.  After his  presentation,  past  President  Art Lee

gave a class on hand carving letter openers and Robert Goddard Jr. of the U.K. gave a demonstration of how to make miniatures similar to Terry Henderson of Australia. Alan Curtis gave a talk as wood explorer in the Amazon showing slides of interesting locales and wood species and Pam Munger gave a woodburning class that was well received. After supper, Bluegrass entertainment by the Lance Graham Band brought the house down after a day of education.

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On Friday you woke up to the sound of the portable Woodmizer preparing wood for the auction by Manley Hunt. He worked tirelessly for 3 days at the sawmill so that the wealth could be shared by all to the benefit of IWCS members. Regis Miller at 9:00 gave his KEYNOTE speech on wood identification which was highly enriching to what our IWCS roots are all about. After listening to him you wanted to get out a hand lens and start studying end grain samples. One of the main thrusts of IWCS is education which connects all the facets of wood identification, environment, and preservation. A secondary thrust that ties many members together is all the learning that is involved with woodworking and the bonds created in the society as we help one another fashion works with our hands.

After the Keynote speech, Chris Nothnagle taught a class on the history and construction of Cabriole legs. Tom Fortenberry gave a lathe turning demonstration while Tim Heggarton gave a talk on how to get unusual woods from far off places. For the final Friday class, Bill Perkins taught a youth segment on bird house building. After supper Mike Drayton gave an interesting talk on how the National Forestry Service in Florida sets carefully controlled prescribed fires to maintain the proper balance of Sand Pines of old and new growth.

On Saturday all the wood was ready at the auction tent with Bob Winter masterfully leading the troops. Manley Hunt and a troupe of muscular helpers had prepared all the wood ready to be hauled out, by the truck load. Many exotic interesting species were available to everyone willing to bid. After 6 hours we were finished and exhausted, thrilled to have participated in finding treasures we could not find elsewhere. After dinner Garry Roux gave certificates of meritus service to Myrtle Cockrell for her dedication as financial officer, Marven Smith who collects wood samples for the society to be part of new collections, Jerry Zipprich for his life service to the society, and Jim Zoellner for his background work in the society that does not go unnoticed. We then had the Craft Auction with many of our members giving their best work for the sake of the society. I give full credit for any success at Lake Yale to the abundance of willing helpers that made my job as Host much easier. Next year the Lake Yale event is scheduled for February 17th-21st. I hope to see you there!