September 25, 2017 1 Comment
If ten thousand hours of dedicated practice makes you a master at your craft, Jim Osenton is a master a few times over.
To see someone wield the powers of a wood lathe the way Jim does is truly magical.
This sort of magic can only be born of a passion that has persisted in this individual for 59 years. He is experienced beyond belief and talks about wood turning with the same pride and enthusiasm as a new father would of their infant.
“I make wood turnings, I make things out of wood - mostly round things hence turnings,” explained Jim.
“And we make things on a lathe. In woodworking we go to great lengths to hold the wood still while we do the cutting, but in turning the wood moves and the cutting edge doesn't move very much.
“That makes it the safest type of wood working.”
Jim has been turning wood into artistic creations since he was 16, and after retiring from a job in Chemical Engineering, it has become his primary retirement distraction.
Just talking to him about wood as a material to work with lights up his face, and his knowledge in the types, styles and techniques seems endless.
“I believe in recycling, so a lot of the wood I use would end up in the dump or somebody’s fireplace, so I like to think I can give it a higher calling.
“Wood is a fascinating, versatile material.
“It goes from very soft to almost impossibly hard, it comes in most colours naturally, so it is a great material to work with.”
He does very little to alter the natural colours and appearances of the wood he works with, and in fact does a pleasing job of maintaining the organic aesthetics of the pieces in a flawless fashion.
“Less than half of a percent of the work I have done has been coloured, and not to hide the grain in the wood but to change the tint slightly.”
He has fondly gained the name ‘Wood Miser’ from his colleagues at the Wood Turners Guild (an organization he helped to create), because of his desire and ability to keep and utilize just about anything.
On many occasions he even repurposes saw dust to tint the resin used in some of his pieces.
In a world where automated processes have created the possibility to mass produce wooden bowls and the like, his work is refreshing and truly creative in a unique way.
“Even something like maple - the quintessential Canadian wood - big leaf maple from BC, local Manitoba maple - they are all so very different.”
Manitoba maple is an invasive species to Calgary, and is often removed from people’s yards to prevent their aggressive spread. To be able to turn an otherwise unwanted tree into a piece of art is nothing short of a service.
“It is a natural product, there is nothing synthetic about it, so it takes people back to natural things.”
“I just enjoy doing it, I enjoy teaching it to others, and I enjoy demonstrating.
“If I am enjoying it, and people are enjoying what I make and are prepared to part with their good money to continue to enjoy it on an ongoing basis, we are all winners.”
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