A Brief History of PNWG

In February, 2004, a small group of Portland-area woodturners met to discuss how to pool their knowledge and resources in order to market woodturning art in local art and craft shows. As individuals, none of us had the necessary equipment, experience, or expertise for setting up a good display, nor did any one of us have sufficient inventory of work available to stock a booth and make it pay. Yet each of us wanted to sell what we so enjoyed making and we all felt there was a niche waiting to be filled.

By mid-2004, the Pacific Northwest Woodturning Guild was officially chartered as a chapter of the American Association of Woodturners. We had by-laws and a logo, we had honed the evaluation process for the Guild’s Certification program, and we were soon to have a website.

Our first appearances under the Guild banner were non-sales venues. In June, 2005, the Guild helped materially in the organization and setup of the feature woodturning exhibition at that year’s Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts. Several of our members functioned as docents at the show, and several also entered their own work in the main art show. Owen Lowe’s “Lilypad Candlesticks” were the high-selling item in the Festival’s juried show that year.

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Other 2005 appearances included a month-long exhibit at the Hillsdale Public Library, and a demonstration table at The Woodworking Show in October.

In 2006, our group sales activities included booths at the first annual “Art in the Orchard” at St. Mary’s Home for Boys, and the Division/Clinton Street Fair. We demonstrated again at The Woodworking Show. Guild members also participated as individuals in various Farmer’s Markets and Craft Fairs during the year, activity that continues today.

Two month-long exhibits of Guild members’ work occurred back-to-back in 2007. The first was an informal display at the Space Monkey Coffee Shop, from July 20th through August 17th. Next came a formal exhibit at the Multnomah Arts Center, which opened August 21st and closed September 19th.

In October, 2007, Guild members displayed their work at The Museum of Contemporary Craft, and Guild members gave a woodturning demonstration there on October 13th.

One notable event during this period was the creation of “Gallery 825″. Due to fortuitous circumstances, the Guild had periodic access to a storefront with windows on Glisan Street, just west of the Park Blocks in Northwest Portland. For several months we were able to set up and staff a creditable display of our work for the “First Thursday Art Walk” in the Pearl District, a long-running Portland tradition. Many people stopped in to see what we were about, gaining knowledge about woodturning as an art form as a result. We closed 2008 with a return to The Space Monkey Coffee Shop for a holiday display of Guild members’ work from November 21st – December 18th. The Gallery 825 space was lost when the building was sold.

A longer-lasting change in the Guild’s direction as an arts-oriented entity was the decision in 2008 to host an artists’ collaborative weekend retreat called “Exploring Art and Woodturning.” First held in August, in Gresham, Oregon, it was well received by the participants, so we opted to make it an annual event. Renamed “Frogwood” in 2011, the event’s participation has grown from a handful of local artists to over 35 artists drawn from all over the world. Between 2015 and 2018, the Guild commenced and completed the transition of Frogwood from a self-contained entity, operating under the auspices of the Guild organization, to a fully independent 501(c)(3) Public Charitable Non-profit Arts Education Organization.

While Frogwood has been successfully spun off from the Guild, strong ties remain between the two organizations. To learn more about Frogwood, please visit frogwoodcollab.com.

Over the past several years, the Guild has participated in shows at larger venues, most notably the “Gathering of The Guilds,” an annual show held in conjunction with the Oregon Potters’ Association Ceramic Showcase, and the “Vancouver Recycled Arts Festival,” held annually in June in Vancouver, Washington. We have a demonstration booth at “Art in the Pearl” each year. 

Today, the Guild and its members frequently participate in gallery shows and demonstration events throughout the region. Venues include the Multnomah Arts Center, the Arts Council of Lake Oswego, and the Portland Art Museum. More information about our upcoming show and demonstration activities can be found in the “News” page of this website.