Pipe Dreams and more at Thorold art and craft show .

antique craft



Ralph Kelly’s affinity for pipes makes people assume he’s a plumber.

When they witness the way he bends and transforms the pipes into a variety of custom shapes, and wires them with a light bulb, many think he might also be an electrician.

But when they see the finished product, there’s no mistaking that he’s an artist.

But in reality he’s a yoga instructor, and an artist, who takes galvanized steel pipe and vintage finds and combines them to create eclectic lamps and other one-of-a-kind artwork.

“I’ve been doing it for three or four years,” says Kelly, whose Pipe Dreams business began when he made his first lamp from a piece of pipe, a mason jar and a light bulb.

“It’s something I fell into and I love it,” says the Welland artist.

Calling his wife Kelly an inspiration, he says she comes home with unique finds from antique shows, which he incorporates into lamps and, sometimes, chandeliers.

“There’s no welding; just fitted pieces of pipe.”

Because each lamp is different, and often tailored to the customer’s lifestyle or hobby, it becomes a natural conversation piece.

“Floor lamps are fun, too, but I don’t just do lamps,” he says.

He made a podium for a minister that was built with a pipe base. He has also created a golfer, a hockey player, a dancer and a yoga figure, all from pieces of pipe.

His S-shaped lamps and book lamps are also popular.

This past summer was the couple’s first tour on the craft show circuit. They travelled across Ontario selling his creations. Eventually, Kelly hopes to do all custom commission pieces.

“Ideally, I don’t want to leave my garage.”

Pipe Dreams will make its debut at Thorold’s 24th annual Christmas Art & Craft Show this weekend at Thorold Secondary School, joining 87 other juried artisans. According to the show’s main organizer, Cathy Henderson, Kelly’s lamps resemble “steampunk fashion.”

Some of the other artisans will be selling strudel, infusion tea, “sassy” scarves, Tuscany concrete, handmade soap, crystals, dolls, soaps, chocolate, honey, quilts, gourmet dips and jams, pottery, pretzels, renewed glass, woodworks, wine barrel and Canadian alpaca products, birdhouses, feeders, Mennonite Christmas cookies and much more.

The show takes place Saturday and Sunday, 10 am. to 4 p.m., both days. Admission is $3, with proceeds supporting Thorold Secondary School programs. There will be an ATM on site.