Bay of Quinte Tourism

Meet the Makers: James Walt and Connie Yrjola

MEET THE MAKERS

JAMES WALT AKA ‘GRUMPSY’

Quinte West’s James Walt has worked around wood most of his life, so those closest to him probably weren’t too surprised when he took up wood turning as a post retirement hobby. Even the grandson who gave him the nickname “Grumpsy”, the moniker by which the artist signs his pieces, likely didn’t bat an eye.

Artisan woodworker James Walt holding two of his handmade bowls.
James Walt holding two of his handmade wooden bowls.

A long career spent in the pulp and paper industry, mostly in a supervisory capacity, made any wood-based activity a natural pivot.

Primarily self-taught, Walt acknowledges You Tube as an excellent source of guidance for those considering the craft. He began his own education by watching countless videos of experienced wood turners and then spent just as much time mimicking their moves. Now the artisan offers lessons himself.

“I love wood,” Walt declares enthusiastically, noting he sells just under a hundred pieces per year, with some ending up as far as Switzerland and Iran. “I can look at a tree or a piece of wood and envision what can come from it and that’s exciting.”

Available at various galleries and shops throughout the region, Walt’s work includes both the utilitarian and the artistic, ranging from practical rolling pins to high end bowls.

Rolling pins by James Walt.
Rolling pins by James Walt.

Walt also sources much of his material from local arborists. He figures 95% of the wood comes from dead trees or trees cut down because they presented a danger.

Some of this wood turner’s most memorable pieces started out as cherished backyard giants whose owners sought a special way to remember them after they’d fallen.

Looking for your own handmade masterpiece? Contact James via email: [email protected]

GLAMOUR JUNKIE STUDIOS

Artisan Connie Yrjola of Glamour Junkie Designs in Belleville.
Artisan Connie Yrjola of Glamour Junkie Designs in Belleville.

Connie Yrjola fell in love with jewellery and all things beautiful at an early age while exploring the contents of an indulgent aunt’s jewellery box. From there she moved on to twisting telephone wire into fanciful rings she sold to her mother’s friends for a quarter a piece.

It seems jewellery design and Yrjola were always destined to partner up, though she first spent many years working for a global marketing and communications company.

Yrjola signed up for a silver smithing course at George Brown College shortly after moving to the Bay of Quinte area in 2001 from Toronto, and there’s been no looking back since. A keen sense of style and knowledge of current fashion trends help her create unique, wearable pieces of art.

Now she operates Glamour Junkie design studio. Accessible by appointment, the uber talented craftswoman offers services ranging from repair work for family heirlooms to custom creations. Yrjola even offers one-on-one lessons in jewellery design.

A major fan of experimentation, the artisan simply loves the creative process. Sometimes Yrjola just likes to throw things down, arranging and rearranging until the materials speak to her. Often inspired by the types of show-stopping runway creations jewellery models wear, she espouses a great love for trend-setting pieces.

“But I’m working on bird-seed wreathes right now,” Yrjola laughs, noting she loves to dabble in a little bit of everything. She has a major focus on fostering the hand-made movement, as well as art and creativity within the local community.

Click here to get in touch and make an appointment with Connie.


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Bay of Quinte Region is an alliance of interdependent communities, bound together by a common history, shared economy, and the water that surrounds and defines us. We hope to welcome you soon.

© 2022 Bay of Quinte Region | © TripAdvisor 2022

Bay of Quinte Region is an alliance of interdependent communities, bound together by a common history, shared economy, and the water that surrounds and defines us. We hope to welcome you soon.