After 25 years of boat building, Kelley found his true calling in 2010 when he decided to create an outdoor deck lamp using bronze and teak he had salvaged from an old boat. That simple need for lighting has evolved into an obsession with creating one-of-a-kind artworks from materials “rescued” from unusual sources.
Kelley puts a lot of effort into finding items with history, believing a bronze fitting from a 1950s yacht or chunk of mahogany from a 100-year-old church pew just has more spirit and energy than a piece from the hardware store. “I don’t do any welding, so everything has to be threaded, bolted, or screwed together," he says. "This makes it more difficult to achieve the vision I have in my head, but it usually leads to something even more interesting. To me, assemblage is about shapes, and the goal is for the observer to enjoy the final creation before realizing it is a collection of repurposed shapes."
While he has delved into some Steampunk art, Kelley does not consider himself a Steampunk artist. “I’ve always liked the look of patina bronze, varnished teak, shiny chrome, and weathered leather, but mostly I just like things that have cool shapes."