Since joining the Popular Woodworking Magazine staff, I’ve missed out on a few of my regular extracurricular activities from the last few years. I haven’t seen my fellow presenters at a bunch of the Woodworking Shows (or the attendees either) and I’ve missed out on all that travel, carrying heavy furniture into convention centers and all those hotel rooms. One of my favorite shows I’ll be missing this year is the Northeastern Woodworkers Association‘s (NWA) Showcase in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on March 29th and 30th.
If you are unfamiliar with Showcase, it’s a show unlike any other. There’s a marketplace, of course, where you can leave behind some cash, and there are classes you can take (most of which are free). I know, you’re saying, “That’s not different than the shows I usually attend.” What I haven’t told you about is what I consider the best part of Showcase, and that’s…wait for it…the showcase.
The NWA Showcase has a huge gallery of work from woodworkers and artists from all over. The breadth and depth of the exhibit is astounding. You can find virtually every type of woodworking represented. I mean everything from intarsia to fine period and contemporary pieces to the occasional boat (a canoe qualifies as a boat, doesn’t it?).
There are prizes given in many different categories and the competition is fierce (but friendly). So, if you decide to enter your Shaker nightstand you won’t have to worry about competing with segmented turnings.
The most amazing thing about the gallery is the vast number of pieces presented. Unless I was exhibiting at a high-end “craft” show, I’m used to seeing 10 to 20 pieces displayed as part of a woodworking showcase. The NWA manages to get hundreds of pieces to display (there are individual categories that contain hundreds of entries). And we’re not talking about “pumpkins on a stick” (a Malcolm Huey-ism for crafty items – yep, I mean Glen’s dad) – the quality of everything in the show is amazing.
I don’t mean to downplay the educational aspect of the Showcase nor am I forgetting about the marketplace. NWA brings in top woodworkers from all over to teach their classes. This year Garret Hack and Sheila Landry are both teaching (for which there is a separate fee) but you’ll also get the likes of Bob Van Dyke and Geoffrey Noden (included in your admission ticket). When I’ve attended in the past, the classes are well attended and top notch.
In the market, you’ll find a wide variety of vendors selling all sorts of great products. There’s lots of educating going on in there as well. Sometimes that happens as an interaction between the vendors and the attendees, and other times it’s vendor to vendor – as in this picture of Catharine Kennedy and Raney Nelson discussing the details of Catherine’s work.
The Showcase is a truly special woodworking experience. The show is the NWA’s primary fundraiser, but they put on a heck of a show. It’s a great place to check out new tools, learn from some of the best woodworkers in the business and see some outstanding woodworking from a wide variety of craftspeople. And you’ll never know who you’ll run into as you walk through the market.
If you’re within a day’s drive (or so) of Saratoga Springs, it’s worth the time and effort to get to the NWA Showcase.
p.s. I forgot to mention, if you are into turning, the Showcase is held in the same place concurrent with the Totally Turning Symposium. They have the likes of David Marks (and other notable turners) teaching this year.
p.p.s. And if you’ve a traveling and woodworking mindset, don’t forget Woodworking in America. It’s going to be a blast this year! (Sept. 12-14, Winston-Salem, N.C.)