A Vancouver Island man is repurposing broken instruments into work of art, transforming items once meant to please the ear into sculptures that treat the eye.
It’s another busy day in the backyard studio for Douglas Walker, where he is assembling intricate pieces into a bigger puzzle.
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That sometimes means dipping into the saxophone stash. Or maybe adding a trumpet and trombone.
“You just sit and make stuff out of other stuff,” Walker told Global’s This is BC.
Walker says his career took off once he brought the brass section into his creations.
“There was a point about three to five years into it when I said, I really have something here,” Walker said.
He’s evolved from making small, simple fountains to sophisticated water-driven mechanics, learning how to craft all these metal parts into an artistic masterpiece on the fly.
“I go to antique stores and Value Village and I pick up brass and silver and solder them together,” Walker explained. “A lot of pieces aren’t meant to be soldered together.”
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New ideas are arriving all the time, with Walker drawing inspiration from something as simple as a weed and then breathing new life into old wind instruments.
“School bands have stuff in their storage closet taking up space that they don’t use anymore,” Walker said.
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He buys his materials from a network of suppliers, including a go-to repair shop in Wisconsin.
“I can call them up and say I need ten trombones or I need three or four saxophones and he’ll box them,” he explained.
Walker has made close to 5,000 sculptures over the course of his 20-year career, with sales and installations all over the world.
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“I’ve gone from a craftsperson to what I would call someone working with fine art,” Walker said. “This world really inspires me. I’m just so fortunate to see it that way.”
Never short on creativity, Walker says can come up with some of the most unique designs to satisfy any collector.
“I don’t have to sit and sketch and think and dream and stuff,” Walker said. “I just have to sit down with a torch and make stuff and ideas just happen.”
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