Nancy Lee Solbrig is the mastermind and creator of Lee Bots. These bots have grown from her love of getting her hands dirty, tearing things apart, and turning old, overlooked, and lifeless objects into something new. Giving these once useful but now out of date or broken objects a new soul, attitude, and life has become her passion. Nancy was usually the child getting in trouble for tearing her toys apart to see what was inside making the toy work. This has since become a valuable skill in finding the best bot parts.
What started from her home in Rock Island, Illinois, with her first out of date computer and her grandma Leona’s old mailbox, has blossomed into over one thousand bots finding new homes all over the world. Nancy has not only brought the bots to life in sculpture but has immortalized them through her love of photography and graphic design. Always on the lookout for a new challenge, she is now taking the bots into the world of clothing, jewelry, and housewares.
Nancy studied design and painting at: Black Hawk College in Moline, Illinois; painting at Canterbury Christ Church University in Canterbury, England; graphic design at the Academy of Fine Arts Katowice in Katowice, Poland; and graphic design at the University of Arts Poznan in Poznan, Poland. She graduated with her visual commutation degree at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.
The bots got their start in 2009 from a college project at Black Hawk College. This was a “found object” project for 3D foundational. From this simple project the first bot, Rupert, was created and Nancy’s interest in turning the old, unwanted family objects into something new started. Rupert was made from Nancy’s grandma Leona’s mailbox and lamp that were hidden away in the garage.
The bots went through a few different looks at the beginning, as you can see in the pictures to the left. It wasn’t until the 20th bot, Elnora, that they started to get the look that is now the bot’s overall wire style. To learn more about individual bot types, check out the Bots By Part section. Here you can learn about all the different parts that make up the bots.
In 2015 these bots transformed from a hobby project into a full-time job. The name Lee Bots was adopted since Lee is Nancy’s middle name and was the nickname of Nancy’s grandma, Leona. After all, the first bot was made from her mailbox and lamp.
The official logo and Lee Bots typography came from a type project that Nancy did while at the University of Arts Poznan in Poland. The font uses elements from electrical blueprints to help connect it to the bots’ electrical past.
Since the beginning, each bot has been named, numbered, and had its picture and info added to the official bot list. This was mostly thanks to Nancy’s great aunt Florence, who was an art historian and always told Nancy to date and track her art. In 2015 each bot started to come with a tag with the bot’s individual name and number. The number is made up of the year the bot was made followed by the bot’s sequence number. To date, there are more than 1500 bots out in the world.
Continue the bots’ origin by clicking on the next section below.