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AAW 2001 Honorary Lifetime Member: Ray Key
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Honorary Lifetime Members

AAW 2001 Honorary Lifetime Member: Ray Key



Ray Key grew up near Birmingham, England, a city of tradesmen who practiced knife and tool-making as early as 1538. At age 10, he was fascinated by the work of a local woodturner and realized that he would always work with his hands.


Ray began his career as a pattern-maker, learning to make objects to fine tolerances. By 1965 he was working as a clay modeler for a British automaker, had bought his first lathe, and met Liz, his wife to be. With her encouragement, he began teaching himself to turn. In 1971, following a local exhibition featuring his work, Ray began production turning of all types and continued until 1984, when he narrowed his work to the bowls, platters, vessels, and boxes for which he is now known.


Ray first visited the U.S. in 1981 to participate in the Philadelphia Woodturning Symposium. He returned in 1983 for the Master Turners program in Provo, UT. In 1985 he attended a woodturners gathering at Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts that eventually spawned the AAW. Returning to England, he applied the AAW concept to British woodturning circles, and by 1987 had melded more than 300 parties into the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain (AWGB), now 3,500 strong. He was its founding chairman and has served as its honorary president since 1997.

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