James G. Walt
aka Grumpsy the Wood Turner
James G. Walt (aka Grumpsy) came to his craft only after retirement. While he’s had a lifelong passion for wood and woodworking, it was a small hobby lathe and basic tools that set him on his current path. Since then, he has progressed to using professional grade lathing equipment, and excels at finding ways to try new and more challenging projects as he continues to hone his craft. His pieces can be found in Scotland, Switzerland, Greece, Mexico, Iran, the United States and across Canada.
Jim is a wood turner, which means he transforms blocks of wood, from both local and exotic species, into bowls, vases and other pieces using a lathe. He’s self-taught, having spent countless hours watching professional turners on YouTube. He’s also a member of The Quinte Wood Turners Guild and the American Association of Wood Turners, organizations offering both community and mentorship.
He shuns sticking to a particular style: rather he prefers to “continue to explore my own style using various woods and ways to embellish and/or change it in many ways.” He’s completed a number of custom, commissioned pieces for clients wanting to have keepsakes made from a cherished family tree. He’s also turned a bowl (now on display at the base) from a tree donated by the Royal Family to CFB Trenton in 1953 that died in 2016.
Like a true craftsperson, Jim respects the qualities of the wood he’s working with and says his favourite piece is his “next one” – “I know that sounds peculiar but the true enjoyment for me is in the creation of each piece and dealing with the uncertainty of how it will ‘turn out,’ pun intended.”
That said, when it comes to the wood he uses, he does have a preference: “My favourite wood to turn is the burls that develop on some trees, mostly hardwoods,” says Jim. “There is no proven reason why they grow the way they do but they make for the most interesting colour patterns and grain patterns.”
When asked where he finds his inspiration: “Nature provides all the inspiration I need,” says Jim. “Knowing what is hidden inside a tree and knowing how to turn that into a useful and or artistic piece is what I enjoy. I see the beauty before it’s visible to the eye.”