Photos by Josie Koler

“Being a Rastafarian is a religion in some sense, and ties in with staying positive and trustworthy.”

Adam Russell is a fairly new arrival to Old Town and fairly new at fatherhood. His talents lie in ceramics even thought he hails from the Glass City area a.k.a. Toledo, Ohio! Russell studied two-dimensional art at Bowling Green State University as well as logging two years at the renowned Columbus College of Art and Design.

He’s been integrating into the island scene with his wife, Kelly Lever, and a little guy with gigantic, curious brown eyes, their three-year-old son, Sage.

“When we were down here visiting, we liked the community vibe,” Russell explains. “No one is judgmental and everyone pulls together. That’s the way we want to raise our children.”

Plus, as Kelly describes to the Key West Weekly, in Key West versus the Midwest, there isn’t any “convincing” people of the value of the arts. Locals and many visitors already appreciate the art, and artists can make an honest living wielding their talents, hence Honest Works Island Pottery Company. It’s a studio space shared with a business you’re already familiar with, Aaron Shipley’s Island Bicycles Rental Company right on the corner of Grinnell and Truman.

The couple creates functional, hand thrown, hand painted art ware, custom painted bicycles and vehicles.

“I made this last night,” Russell shows off a lidded jar, “and Kelly trimmed it up. They’re all microwave and dishwasher safe.

The missus, sporting the sweetest strawberry blonde locks, chimes in, “With this space, we wanted to encourage people to look into pottery and using it in their lives.”

That’s why every visitor and local is invited to use the space. Kelly’s resume boasts of an illustrious degree in Bachelor of Fine Arts, also with an emphasis on two-dimensional studies from Bowling Green State University. With her son by her side, and a teaching background, she is at ease sharing her knowledge to help enlighten others in the mediums of clay and painting.

She and Adam want you to walk away with pieces functional for your family- like dinner plates you can use around your own table. You can even tote your tikes in to put some paint to the paper, and try your tips at finger painting! They want you to help them make their studio space a family affair, encouraging your own children to appreciate the arts.

Sitting in on our interview with acute attention for a child who hasn’t even hit pre-school age yet, Sage is a hospitality suite unto himself. He’s accustomed to the company, and a little ball of contained energy!

Soon the space will be a little fuller. This Father’s Day weekend, Kelly is due to have baby number two!

“Making art is a huge part of our family,” Adam discloses with immense pride. “This is a pottery shop and a home base for all of our activities. We’ve chosen Key West to raise our child here and soon another one! The goal is to encourage them to think positive and not just pay attention to people’s word, but are they really doing good things? What are the fruits of their labor?”

Perhaps that’s a thought we can all ponder as we celebrate Father’s Day.

Honest Works Pottery Co. is located at 929 Truman Avenue. The studio is open from Noon – 5 pm Monday through Saturday. Receive 10 percent off this week if you pop in to create or buy a gift for your Dad.



Pottery for your pooch! Unique food and water bowls for Fido at feeding time.




Sage Lever-Russell pictured with his parents, awaits the newest member of their family. 






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