Tinker, tailor, tractor maker
By Yana O’Gorman yana@thepost.nz
Jim Watt is 81 years old and takes tinkering to a new level.
The retired pensioner takes apart old machinery and recycled materials, then from this ‘trash’ he creates treasure, like model tractors and cars.
His creative streak came after he saw someone’s creations in a magazine. “I saw what they had done and thought, ‘I could do that’.”
He gave it a go, “and it grew from there,” he says.
Since then he has created a range of works from straightboard chairs, model tractors and cars, to shelves and outdoor furniture.
“It’s lots of fun. I spend hours creating,” he says.
Part of his time is breaking apart things that are no longer useful. “I took apart an old bread maker, and used the internal pieces from that,” he explains. He has done the same with sewing machines, broken remote controlled cars and salt and pepper shakers.
“The tractors take a while—the hardest part is dismantling them,” Jim says, but at the end of the day, they’re ultimately his favourite. They’re also a hit with the op shop staff, where he purchases a lot of trinkets. Jim takes his new treasures to the op shop to show them how it has been transformed.
“They couldn’t believe what I’d done with it,” he says of how he turned a sewing machine into a model tractor.
He has given his creations away to friends and family, but never sold them.
“I recently spoke to someone about entering some pieces at an exhibition,” he says. That conversation led to ‘I’m in the Shed’. Jim’s first exhibition where he will be showing his work and possibly selling it.  “It’s the first and only time,” he says. “It’ll be fun.”
Jim says he wants to encourage other people to make something and share it. At 81 years old he thinks it’s a great hobby to have. “You’ve got to keep yourself alert,” he says.
The ‘I’m in the Shed’ exhibition will be at the Franklin Arts Centre on Saturday 20 May from 10:30am-12pm.
Caption: Jim Watt with one of his model tractors made from an old Singer sewing machine.