Hannah Danforth
Jim Grantham explains how he used the grain pattern creating a beautiful angel fish.

Gnarled tree branches and a passion for race cars inspire wooden treasures

By Hannah Danforth

Jim Grantham spent most of his childhood in Apple Tree Point, a small town near Kingston. The oldest of four, he sold newspapers on the ferry dock and lived on 2800 feet of waterfront. “I think my carving comes from that. Being able to see something when all you have to play with is driftwood and rocks.”

Presently, Jim carves wooden toy race cars that are reminiscent of the time he spent racing and building quarter midget race cars with his son. He designs one of a kind toy cars with different sized wheels. “That’s what makes the race car stagger, and the kids really like that because they can push them and they turn.”

In addition to toys, Jim creates large scale sculptures using pieces of salvaged cedar that date back seven to eleven hundred years old. Incorporating the knots or imperfections and grain pattern with every piece, he carves away the ancient wood revealing lovely traditional Northwest art.

A West Seattle resident, Jim spends 4 to 5 months a year at his cabin on Moresby Island of Haida Gwaii. Taken with the Haida culture and woodworking craftsmanship, Jim sources all of his wood for the sculptures and toys he creates from The Queen Charlotte Islands. “It’s at the very north end of Canada, and 80 miles out into the ocean, it’s the most pristine place left in the world. It’s just..unbelievable…”

Seeing a child want a toy he made more than anything gave him a sense of accomplishment. “When I first made the race cars, my grandson came up and wrote his race car number on it so no one else could take it.” Jim now donates 25 to 30 toys a month to Seattle Children’s Hospital, the YMCA and other youth organizations. Beautiful hand crafted wooden airplanes, logging trucks, helicopters and numerous cars overflow the counter space in Jim’s basement waiting to be picked up, “I can give them something that no one else does,” says Jim, “Whatever they want to imagine.”

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