Rae has always been a creative person. In fact, creativity was a staple in her home while growing up. "My eldest brother, my sister and I made Christmas cards and presents for family members yearly. It was something we looked forward to and those on the receiving end were just as enthusiastic.
"My maternal grandmother sewed, decorated cakes and had a wealth of craft knowledge and skills. My mother also sews and crochets. In fact, in the past I used to design my clothing for my mother to sew. It was through my parents’ encouragement that my sister and I learned to sew," explains Rae. "My dad worked in the oil company and initially he repaired miniature instruments. There were times when he was required to make the parts and the tools. Out of this my fascination for tools grew and my desire to design jewellery with the materials that were before me was born.
"I was always fascinated with jewellery and the thought of wearing pieces that others had was not something I liked. I wanted my pieces to reflect my mood, my personality and my desire to be natural. My very first piece was made from a bamboo and wooden beaded placemat that was my aunt’s. It broke and I was elated and out of that a bracelet was made."
Inspiration for Rae's creations from many sources. "Nature provides me with so much inspiration. I am from Trinidad and Tobago and I didn’t have fancy beads at my disposal initially and we only had a few bead stores. I used found and discarded materials – seeds, bamboo, fabric, beach glass and scraps of leather from a friend who made slippers and sandals. When I went to teachers’ college my thesis was based on using found and discarded materials to make jewellery with students at primary level," says Rae.
When I immigrated to Canada, surfing the internet had become a way of life because I had more time and to this day Google has become one of my best friends. I also take classes – to teach I also have to learn. Colour and the raw materials, books, magazines and even a walk in the malls for “eye candy”. Working at BeadFX also helps especially when I’m restocking, picking orders and interacting with customers."
Rae's class project ideas take form in various ways and she actively works on recording those ideas for future uses. "Sometimes an idea pops into my head – there’s no light bulb above my head like on television. There are times when I just let the raw materials speak to me and I just play. It’s a rhythm, a fusion of what’s in the mind’s eye and the raw materials, the tools that bring those ideas to life," she says. "There are times when I just pray, I ask, believe and thankfully receive.
"I sometimes sketch (ideas). There was a time I slept with a notebook under my pillow and drew in the dark as the ideas came. In the past I always felt the need to have a pen and paper within reach for when the ideas came. In fact, some of my best ideas came while I listened to a lecture or while I was at church. My signature palm tree was conceived while I was going to secondary school over twenty years ago. At other times I just leave it alone to be seen only by my mind’s eye, because I’ll run out of ink and paper (smile)."
When asked about what she likes about teaching, Rae says, "I enjoy sharing knowledge with others – it’s in my blood. From very early I was taught by one of my neighbours in Trinidad, of the importance of “passing on the craft to others” because if we keep it to ourselves there will be no growth. I totally enjoy when my participants acquire the techniques and express their own creativity and this also triggers my inspiration." Rae continues, "Unfortunately, I cannot teach everything. For example, I once designed a pair of earrings and thought about turning it into a class but it would have been too difficult to type the instructions."
Rae's advice to others who create? "Make time to create, spend time creating – if you love it don’t wait till retirement. Do a little as often as you can. I also encourage others to practice their newly acquired skill or skills and to approach it like children - without fear."
Rae's upcoming classes at BeadFX:
Tuesday, May 13
We're Making Bails
6:00 - 9:00pm
We're Making Bails
6:00 - 9:00pm