In our Revelstoke Makers series we profile local makers — people who have honed a craft and are skilled in creating things by hand. The series will explore areas of tension in a maker’s process and examine how each person overcomes challenges unique to their art.
Meet Kristine Ragus local jewelry maker and owner of Kristine Ragus Designs. Ragus grew up around creative-minded people and learned to express herself by painting, drawing or with mud and sand sculptures. As a kid she “had a very vivid imagination and loved to dream.” Ragus’ formal education is in Business Development, “with a healthy dose of artistic side projects thrown in to keep me sane,” she adds. Bogged down by a life of suits and ties, Ragus couldn’t help but feel there was something more fulfilling out there for her. Seven years ago, she came to Canada on a whim, met her partner Ryan and has bounced from Winnipeg to Whistler to Revelstoke. These days Ragus gets excited about snowboarding, powder days, yoga, drinking good coffee, getting new supplies in the mail and spending time with her partner.
Revelstoke Mountaineer: What do you make?
Kristine Ragus: Jewelry using unique gemstones, components and reclaimed items I find around the globe. My jewelry fuses several styles — modern, bohemian and vintage. My designs are inspired by my love of world cultures, travelling and my life. I carefully hand select all gemstones, chains, and trinkets and then make everything by hand here in Revelstoke. Gemstone necklaces are the pinnacles of my collection. My goal is to create distinct, yet wearable accessories, from necklaces and bracelets to earrings, with texture, depth and character.
RM: How did you learn to express yourself with this medium? What inspires you to create?
KR: I am self-taught. A work accident a long time ago left me temporarily blinded in one eye. I needed something to pass the time and keep my sanity in check, so I bought a whole lot of beads and started stringing them onto wire and elastics. I couldn’t really see anything so it was all about feeling the texture of what I was using. My roommate at the time had to tell me what colours the beads were. Needless to say there were some ‘unique’ creations that came out of my house! My inspiration comes from my experiences in life. The thought of one day being able to do this as a full time job also drives me to keep going.
RM: As a jewelry maker what do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
KR: I have two major achievements so far — being featured in an edition of Amazing Canadian Fashion Magazine and participating in the Etsy Made-in-Canada day in Kelowna.
A note on self-promotion: It has definitely been a challenge promoting myself to people. There are so many talented people that are all trying to make it; you have to work hard to have a unique point of view and your own style and identity. For me, it has meant a lot of late nights researching trends, scribbling ideas down on lunch breaks and pulling apart designs and putting them back together until I get it right.
RM: When did your craft transition from hobby to profession?
KR: A couple of years ago, I realized jewelry making was something I could not stop thinking about. It seemed only natural to give it a shot. I said to myself, ‘If fear of failure is the main reason to not try something, that’s not a very good reason.’ Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
RM: What are some new directions your creations are taking?
KR: I am working on designing more ‘collections’ as opposed to making whatever I feel like when I feel like. I’m also planning to rebrand to make my creative vision more cohesive. Further into the future my goal is to be able to donate portions of my sales to grass-roots non-profit organizations and seek out more suppliers that adhere to charitable, ethical business practices, i.e. creating jobs within their communities or donating part of their own profits to community organizations.