by Emily Goodell
Senior English major Kyler Lacey finds beauty in what others seek to throw away. He is passionate about writing, and the art of antique restoration and the many challenges and wonders that arise from that process.
Lacey restores antique, collectable and vintage items as an art form, taking items that are “dirty, greasy and damaged” and making them “restored, shiny, polished and beautiful,” Lacey said.
“I’m interested in antiques and old things because there’s something special about them and their history,” Lacey said.
Lacey’s fascination with restoring old items as an art form comes from his first typewriter purchase: a vintage 1971 Smith-Corona Galaxie Twelve.
He bought the typewriter to use for his writing and still uses it to type important projects. He likes using a typewriter instead of a computer because he can’t spell check, delete words or move content. It’s a more thorough process because he has to think harder and be more intentional with what he writes, Lacey said.
Lacey restores, re-imagines and sells old typewriters, televisions, radios and other items. He redoes the paint, interior, exterior and any electric wiring by himself. He enjoys modernizing the things he works on to make them compatible with modern technologies and atmospheres.
“I love finding it: going into a packed garage, climbing over things and finding that one treasure,” Lacey said.
Once he finds an item, he researches it, learns about it and then fixes it. He said that a big part of fixing it is that he gets to use it.
“There’s people who say what I’m doing is work, not art. It’s different than what most people would consider as art,” Lacey said.
One way that Lacey’s restoration distinguishes itself as an art form and not just work is that he isn’t in it for the money; he enjoys the process of taking something broken and making it whole again. Since his focus is on his artistry and not about making lots of money, he charges very little over the cost of what he pays for the items he sells, just enough to buy supplies for his next project.
Lacey’s love of writing stems from when he was seven years old. He was unsatisfied with the lack of a third Toy Story so he decided to write one himself. The plot revolved around Andy and his mom and sister flying somewhere with Buzz Light Year and Woody, opening up a window in the plane, and having the toys fall out into the middle of nowhere to be taken home by a family there.
His love of writing and passion for restoration come together in his inspiration. When Lacey finds an antique, he is often inspired by its past. He writes historical fiction based on items he’s found, placing his characters and his writing back in a different time in the past.
Lacey said that one of the most special things about antiques is that even after 100 years they can still be made to work in some way that brings joy to the people who get to use them. He said that he wonders if the products produced today will work in 100 years.