HOPEWELL, Va. -- A 33-year career at an industrial plant in Hopewell helped one man's retirement turn into another career.
This job, however, is not only fun but also artistic.
"This is life to me," Kirk Thore said. "You start with something or nothing and you kind of work your way into it."
Another day in the garage for Kirk means another work of art is in the making.
At 65 years old, artisan is not a word that Kirk would have used to describe himself until he retired. His life as an artist began around 2013.
"I want off-the-wall stuff, the crazy stuff, like different sizes of pick axes," Kirk said. "I love to use anything that's recyclable. Anything that's been in a junkyard or people have discarded. I refuse to use new metals, something I have to go buy in a store. I want it to come out of the recycle yard."
Kirk believes that his skill comes from divine intervention.
"God's given me the talent to create things that bring out the beauty," Kirk said.
However, Kirk was also curious about his designs and what other artists might think, so one day, he stopped in at a Richmond art gallery.
"She said, you are better off at a flea market or a craft show," Kirk said.
Before heading home, Kirk decided to make one more stop. He would encounter someone who said she just knew she was looking at something special.
"I could see the creativity was there and he just wanted so hard to be able to produce and make things and they were fun, they were fun art pieces," Jennifer Kirby, the owner of Crossroads Art Center, said.
Kirk's first piece at the art center sold before it was even displayed. Out of more than 250 artists inside the center, Kirk is in the top 25.
"If his pieces last a week or two, that's it, especially over the weekend," Kirby said.
His forte is designing fish.
However, a special request to honor the memory of a loved one was indeed a labor of love for Kirk and even included a heartwarming unveiling.
"She looked at it and thought it was the most beautiful thing she's ever seen," Kirk said.
You never know where you might see one of Kirk's pieces. You can find them up and down the East Coast and of course, in Hopewell where he grew up.
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