Shona Rae’s lifelong interest in myth and stories is the foundation for her art. In today’s tech driven society, she believes it is important to use her hands, heart and mind to create singular objects that serve the human inclination to adorn our person and environment with meaning and beauty.
Take a Closer Look
Wearable Pieces: Owl Pin, Hand of Time Brooch
Wearable Pieces: Sugar Skull Locket, Heart Drum Pendant
Wearable Pieces: Skeleton Arm Earrings, Sugar Skull Locket, Hat Pin
Where Have They Gone?
Buffalo Bride sings over the bones of her father to resurrect him and when her husband, the Buffalo leader discovers she can do this he allows her to return to her people if she promises to do this for the buffalo. This story is all part of the ritual of driving the buffalo over a cliff in order to harvest them efficiently. The Buffalo Bride is given the charge to care for the future of the herd which is in line with the philosophy of the Native American people to be responsible for the welfare of the natural world that sustains them.
The concept of resurrection or creation from bones is universal, Eve was created from Adam’s rib cage, the Hindu goddess, Kali stamped her consort, the Lord Shiva, to bits but from that destructive act came rebirth. In Egyptian myth Isis sings over Osiris’ body parts to resurrect him.
Wearable Pieces: Two Buffalo Lockets, Bird Pin
“Big Buffalo” began with the gift of a buffalo bone that was so old it had begun to petrify. It was dug up from a housing development close to my home that use to be a buffalo jump. The Native American plains people would herd the buffalo over cliffs close to the river so they could process the meat, bones and hides for their sustenance.
As I gaze out at the landscape that is now inhabited by human dwellings and highways I wonder where the spirit of these magnificent beasts dwell now. Where will my essence and those of my fellow human species exist once we have driven ourselves to extinction?
Wearable Pieces: Buffalo Head Locket
Fairy Tale Rings
Where does any significant journey begin? Certainly not at the beginning. No, that would be too easy.
In my final semester of study at the Kootenay School of the Arts in Nelson, BC, I decided to create a series of sculptural jewellery inspired by my love of fairy tales. The Emperor’s New Clothes was one such piece. As I was working on him I began to see a correlation to the Fool in the higher arcana of the Tarot. I decided to follow that line of reasoning and unbeknownst to me, I embarked on a journey that lasted two decades.
I saw “Re-Imagined Narratives” as a way of combining five years of metal work training, a lifetime obsession and study of myth, religion, fairy tales and folklore with my research into meta and quantum physics. I decided each piece must include a figure, tell a tale from Western culture that relates to the Tarot and have a moving component. The ring is the pedestal because traditionally rings have been a symbol of power and authority while fairy tales were generally written for the disenfranchised.
Many of the characters in this body of work are influenced by someone from my personal life; a friend, a lover, a sister, a son. Archetypes that have grown, inspired and better yet, challenged my beliefs. I had way too much fun making this work and it is my sincere desire that you should have some fun as well in your viewing! Enjoy the journey, may it be radical, magical, heroic …
#0 The Emperor's New Clothes | The Fool
“The Emperor’s New Clothes” is, in my interpretation, “The Fool” in the Tarot.
This piece is dedicated to my Father, who, stepped off the cliff of a steady job in a factory to become a fulltime bee-keeper. The Fool in the Tarot steps off the cliff with naught but a wand or staff to guide him.
The barking dog at his heels symbolizes his instinctual self which pushes and prods him to follow his true calling. The seven pedaled flower is symbolic of the pure heart that is necessary to face the calling of our true destiny. I used a combination of 10 karat pink gold and 14 karat yellow in the crown and flower to represent the motley Fool who is a diverse and innocent character. He trust the universe will save him, nurture him and accompany him on his journey of self discovery.
This was the first piece I made for what has become a significant personal and creative journey. I did not know that I would continue to create the entire Higher Arcana of the Tarot when I made The Emperor’s New Clothes back in 1998. The beauty of beginning any significant journey is, often, an innocent mistake or lighthearted decision that in time, may make one shake their head in disbelief!
4″ x 3″ x 1.25″
Sterling silver, 10 and 14 k gold, garnets.
1998 | $3200
#1 Jack and the Beanstock | The Magician
The fairytale of “Jack and the Beanstalk” deals with the ‘Hero’s Journey’. Jack may be young, naive and somewhat foolish but he does not back down from the quest. He is the archetypal courageous soul who unwittingly becomes the winner against all odds.
Jack and the Beanstalk is the fairytale of a young man who believes in the magic of three little beans that grow overnight into a plant that reaches the sky and enables Jack to embark on a journey of adventure, discovery and reward. In Jack’s willingness to believe in magic, despite his Mother’s disdain, he finds an inner strength and courage. The Tarot card of the Magician represents our ability to believe in the power of transformation and magic. By letting the power pass through us instead of holding onto it we can manifest our desires, dreams and aspirations into our life.
11″ x 3″ x 2″
Sterling silver, 18 k gold.
2001/2004 | $9000
#2 Baba Yaga's Hut | The High Priestess
I have based “Baba Yaga’s Hut” on the folktale, “Vassalisa the Wise” which is a tale that tells of a young orphan woman’s journey to seek ‘fire’ or enlightenment from the frightening witch who lives in the depths of the forest.
Baba Yaga is the wise woman or witch in Eastern European folktales. Her house is supported by three chicken legs and it spins and dances wildly two or three times a day. Hands appear throughout the day to take care of Baba Yaga and everywhere there are eyes that appear to keep a watch over her affairs. This represents that she lives in a place of boundless magic, a sacred temple of sorts.
Baba Yaga is all-knowing, all-powerful; able to pronounce life or death judgments to the common people who may come to her for advice or help. Yet she displays a deep respect and compassion for basic universal morals.
Baba Yaga holds the keys or scrolls to the secrets of life or of the universe. She is the keeper of the profound mysteries that all sincere spiritual seekers must eventually come before.
13″ x 6″ x 6″
Sterling silver, bronze, bearing.
2001/2005 | $7600
#3 Frau Holle | The Empress
Inspired by the the tale of Frau Holle.
6″ x 6″ x 6″
Raku clay, handblown glass, sterling silver, fine silver, Canadian one dollar coin, fine silver PMC, 24 k gold, diamonds.
2001/2018 | $ Not For Sale
#4 Like Salt Loves Fresh Meat | The Emperor
“The Emperor” has knowledge, education and power but does he have wisdom?
In the tale, ‘Like Salt Loves Fresh Meat’, the King must learn simple common sense from his youngest daughter in order to lead his people wisely.
When asked how much his daughters love him the oldest two fill him with flattery and tell him what he wants to hear. The youngest daughter tells him that she loves him “Like Salt Loves Fresh Meat”. He is enraged and banishes her from his kingdom. In her exile, the King’s daughter becomes a famous cook.
Through a dissatisfying dining experience, the daughter imposes upon him at a neighbouring castle, the King comes to understand how valuable her metaphor for love truly was. He embraces her back into his life, representing the absorption of his feminine self into his psyche, and thus becomes an “Emperor” endowed with a deep and worthy wisdom.
Like Salt Loves Fresh Meat is also a salt box. Pop the lid off to see the diamond inside.
4″ x 2″ x 1.25″
Sterling silver, 18 k pink gold, raw uncut diamonds.
2005 | $2800
#5 The Fisher King | The Hierophant
‘The Fisher King’ is an ancient myth or legend from the British Isles but I am using the one we know from the Arthurian Knights stories. It is one of the Holy Grail sagas and it describes the finding of the Holy Grail by Sir Galahad the purest knight of the round table.
The King has been ill for 300 hundred years or so and he is waited upon every night by three cherubs who bring him the Holy Grail, the spear that pierced the heart of Christ and a platter that has a roast of his likeness on it. He waits for one so pure of heart that will ask the correct question. Then he can be healed and pass on in peace.
Thus the saying; “The King is dead, long live the King!!!”
Like the Hierophant he holds the keys to esoteric knowledge of the highest degree and is there for all to go to for guidance, direction answers to our spiritual questions. All one need to do is ask.
7″ x 5.5″ x 2″
Sterling silver, 18 k gold, rubies, emeralds, diamonds, garnet.
2014 | SOLD
#6 Eros and Psyche | The Lovers
Eros and Psyche explains the union of the animus and anima or the male/female union of the human brain or psyche. Six is the number of the hidden tipperith of the Quaballa which represents the pathway of the heart.
Eros and Psyche is the only Greek myth that ends ‘happily ever after’ and has had an enormous influence on western fairytales and folklore. It also introduced many of the features or tasks that make up over 75% of all western fairytales.
Psyche’s curiosity and distrust of her husband leads her to lose him entirely. She must undergo a series of difficult and arduous tasks to earn his trust and love. Over and over again the tarot teaches us the transformational power of love. There is no force as powerful in the universe. None. Such a simple a concept, yet so difficult for so many of us to learn.
6″ x 4″ x 1.5″
Sterling silver, 14 k gold, Rare Earth magnets, router bearings,.
2004 | $3800
#7 Thumbalina's Journey | The Chariot
Thumbelina is the story of a young tiny, thimble sized girl that is constantly being ‘stolen’ by one beast or another to marry against her will. Always there are other creatures willing to come to her aid and give her freedom of choice. She saves a swallow from sure death in the passages of the Mole King and Bird returns the day she is bound to marry Mole to fly her to another land where she finds many tiny people just like her and she stays there and marries the prince because she wants to.
The Chariot takes us to a place of learning where we have to choose consciously what we want to make of ourselves or our life. “Thumbelina’s Journey Ring” is also a game- not of chance- but of choice, and the winner gets to ride the sweet bird of freedom to wherever their dreams should take them!
Thumbalina’s Journey is a working playable game with hand with hand illustrated instructions by Jack Hornecker.
7″ x 6″ x 5″
Sterling silver, African blackwood, tagua nut.
2009/2018 | $8000
#8 Beauty and the Beast | Strength
“Beauty and the Beast” is the story of the healing power of unconditional love. In this sculpture I have given the Beast six roses and Beauty holds two because he is the path to the heart and she has the power to draw them together in holy union. They each have a rose growing out of their heart and they each hold their roses proudly aloft. May all love grow so boldly and proud.
I have based the design of this piece on the image of the Harlot who rides the Beast from Revelations in the Bible. It is similar to Aliester Crowley’s interpretation of the Strength card. In this piece, more than any other in the series, I cannot withhold my own personal desire to rebel against my childhood religious upbringing as a Jehovah’s Witness.
8″ x 7″ x 2″
Sterling Silver, 18 k gold, carved tagua nut.
2006 | $SOLD
#9 Bearskin | The Hermit
“Bearskin” is a classic tale of a young soldier who returns from the war as a pauper. He is starving to death when the ‘devil’ offers him a deal. He must not wash, comb his hair, trim his nails, for three years and must wear a bearskin hide at all times. The Devil gives him a purse that never runs dry of gold however so he can survive even though he is spurned by all. If he wins he will be restored to good health and riches unimaginable but if he should lose the Devil will own his soul.
One evening the soldier meets a man with three daughters who is about to become bankrupt and he offers to pay his debts and more if he can marry one of the daughters. The oldest two turn him emphatically away but the youngest betroths herself to him to save her family.
The young soldier wins the bet and returns to wed the youngest daughter and her sisters are so jealous of her handsome rich fiancée that they commit suicide. The Devil is happy because he got ‘two for the price of one!”.
The Hermit teaches us that there are times we must rely on our inner light and travel alone to find truth and understanding in our life’s journey.
4″ x 3″ x 2″
Sterling silver, bear bones, 18 k gold, bear fur, bear claw, south sea pearl.
2010 | $SOLD
#10 The Three Spinners| The Wheel of Fortune
The “Three Spinners’ is the story of a young woman who receives the aid of three ugly old women. They appear out of nowhere to spin a room of flax into gold for the simple honour of sitting at the head table at her wedding feast.
They signify fate or fortune. Sometimes it comes to us and sometimes it does not. There is no universal law that says life is fair but when good luck comes our way we need to be willing to receive it. Like wise, it does not hurt to cultivate the qualities of faith and belief.
This particular sculpture is designed and inspired by my personal experience as ‘an old auntie’ along with my two sisters. I am Frog Woman, Cheryl is the Cat and dear Laurie is our Bird. One day you wake up and realize that some young niece or nephew’s future hangs on your call/ability/wisdom and or understanding…. Whoa!
10″ x 1.5″ x 1.5″
Sterling silver, bronze, router bearing.
2006 | 5800
#11 The Singing Bone | Justice
“The Singing Bones” is a tale of rape, murder and the subsequent justice that is served when a flute is made from the bone of the victim and played in the presence of the King. I used two deer femur bones that my Brother found on his property in the mountains of British Columbia.
I wanted this sculpture to sing for justice, dance for justice, scream for justice so justice may be served.
11″ x 4″ x 4″
Sterling silver, deer bones.
2013 | SOLD
#12 The Happy Prince | The Hanged Man
“The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde is the most contemporary fairytale I’ve included in the series. The Happy Prince is a beautiful statue of a dead prince that stands in a privileged place on the palace grounds. A friendly Bird stays late into the autumn to tell him tales of the poor people that live in the village and each night the Prince sends parts of his self; his sapphire eyes, the rubies from his sword, the gold leaf covering the bronze from which he is made, with the little bird to alleviate the poor’s suffering. The Bird stays so late into the autumn that he cannot join his friends to fly south and dies at the feet of the statue.
The local council decides that the statue is too drab now that is stripped of its precious gems and metal so they send it to the refinery to be smelted down. All that is left is a lump of pot metal shaped like a heart when the workers dig it out of the ashes.
The card of the hanged Man teaches us to sacrifice in a positive, purposeful way, not in the way of martyrdom. When we give from a place of joy and contentment we live our truth in light and love and nothing can interfere with our core purpose, our true self.
8″ x 4″ x 3″
Bronze, sterling silver, blue sapphire, 23 k gold leaf, ruby.
2014 | $6800
#13 Bluebeard's Castle | Death
In ‘Bluebeard’s Tale’, a young bride is given the keys to her husband’s castle and told to enjoy searching the vast riches it held except for one room. She is forbidden to open one small room in the dungeon. How hard could that be?
But, ‘a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do’ or so the saying goes. The poor thing is driven crazy with curiosity until she is unable to stand it any longer. Upon unlocking the door, she discovers the dismembered corpses of her husband’s ex-wives!
Sometimes in my creative journey I am driven to make decisions that force me to discover insights about myself and/or my subject matter that reveal truths that I would rather not know. Bluebeard’s Tale is a fairy tale that speaks to the inner secrets we all hold that, once consciously gazed upon, can never be forgotten or ignored.
11″ x 2″ x 1.5″
Sterling silver, fine silver pmc, copper screen, beeswax, garnet.
2002/2007 | $5800
#14 The Frog Prince | Temperance
“The Frog Prince” is a tale of a young woman who must learn self discipline and honour. Once she can do this, she will find herself united with her animas. In the original story she loses her golden ball (her inner core) and needs her wild self, the frog to retrieve it for her.
I have depicted a strong woman holding her golden ball aloft while she climbs the frog. I want my daughter to understand that she can learn and grow without the shackles of a relationship if she chooses.
I forge the lily pad and the wire that holds the golden ball as I know the ego needs to be forged to gain maturity.
4″ x 2.5″ x 2.5″
Sterling silver, 18 k green gold, dyed pearls.
2001 | $2800
#15 The Red Shoes | The Devil
The tale of “The Red Shoes” is a tale of chronic self-destructive obsession and madness. It is the story of a young woman who cannot stop her cravings to wear red shoes to church. Even though she cannot control her desire to dance while wearing them she is driven beyond reason to wear them again. Finally, she is swept away in a dancing frenzy to her ultimate ruin. Only by having her feet cut off by the local wood cutter can she bring her self to stop.
The Devil card shines a light on our obsessive fleshly desires. We must learn to love and respect our bodies before we can grow spiritually. This includes honoring our passions and talents in an increasingly corporate and unyielding environment.
I used a caribou vertebra and two bones from a wild bird that I found on one of my walks in the Artic tundra to make this piece. I was appalled at the frantic alcohol and drug addiction that I witnessed while teaching up North and felt that these materials were especially appropriate to create this ring with.
4″ x 3″ x 3″
Caribou bone, sterling silver, ptarmigan bone, stainless steel, oil paint.
2006 | $1900
#16 Rapunzel's Escape | The Tower
I see the tower of Rapunzel as a prison that women have kept their own daughters in. I believe we need to take responsibility for entrapping ourselves in the traditions and social conditions of a patriarchal culture before we can set ourselves, our daughters and our granddaughters free to take their place as equals with their male counterparts.
The original fairytale of Rapunzel has undergone a contemporary transformation for my series. The Tower card is about the change or overthrow of hierarchy. In my Rapunzel we have a young woman who wields her golden hair (or her personal power) like a dominatrix’ whip instead of handing it off to her lover. When political and or social changes occur, it depends on where we stand as to how this might affect our new place in the status quo. In this century we have seen women take their place as equals amongst men.
3.5″ x 2″ x 1″
Sterling silver, 18 k gold, fire agates.
2005 | $2800
#17 Snow White | The Star
“Snow White” is one of many fairy and folk tales that refers to puberty, ownership of, and the objectification of young women in western culture. A young woman is placed in a crystal box or coffin for safe keeping or for the pleasure of a man or group of men until she is ready for marriage and childbearing.
The words; truth, trust, hope, faith and charity are stamped over and over again on the figure of Snow white. The Star in the Tarot teaches us that we must trust in yourself, follow our inner light and have faith in our personal process. It is a card of inspiration and hope.
Snow White is completely articulated and fully posable. She collapses to fit neatly within her cozy coffin.
5″ x 2″ x 1″
Sterling silver, 18 k gold, vivid yellow diamonds, purple star sapphire, mirror.
2010 | $11 000
#18 Sleeping Beauty | The Moon
Beauty represents young women who are coming out of puberty and entering the cycle of Motherhood. The Moon is the card of disillusionment, confusion and the battle between the conscious and instinctual self.
The carving or narrative of the walrus tusk was inspired by a pre-Grimm version of the tale where Sleeping Beauty is attended by the fairies in the forest. As she lay sleeping a neighbouring King rapes her. She eventually gives birth to twins and whilst suckling, the boy child sucks her finger and removes the potion therefore awakening to find herself a mother and eventually, wife to the King.
As much as possible I use materials that relate directly to the story and uphold the concepts that I am trying to convey as opposed to traditional precious metals and gemstones. The ivory walrus tooth represents the entitlement of the Warrior class who take what they want with little thought to the feelings or welfare of others.
It is important to me to make jewellery that blurs the lines between art and craft and functions in an alternative manner. Traditionally rings have been a symbol of power and authority and fairy tales were generally written for the disenfranchised or those who had lost power and authority. I have made it my mission to reclaim fairy tales and folktales for the adult audience since that is whom they were originally written for.
9″ x 3.5″ x 3.5″
Walrus tusk, sterling silver, petrified dinosaur bone, oil paint.
2015 | $9000
#19 The Handless Maiden | Judgement
“The Handless Maiden” is a fairytale speaking to the subjection of children to the often disastrous whims of their fathers or leaders in the community. The ones who are responsible for their security and safety are the ones who abuse and victimize them.
The Virginal Maiden is so pure that when her father trades her to the devil he resorts to severing her hands so the devil might be able to touch her without coming to harm. She is subsequently turned out of the home because she is now an abomination that her parents do not want to be reminded of and she is forced into the wilderness to fend or die on her own.
In the “Handless Maiden” the ring hole is extremely tiny, only large enough for a child. Once the Maiden is sexually abused, her hands, or feelings, are severed from her. She is not able to wear a functional ring until she is healed.
The angels take mercy on her and enable her to suckle from the King’s pear trees in his private orchard at night. The angels have open backs to signify their trust in life. The Maiden feeding by the light of the moon represents the nurturing that the feminist aspect is able to impart to the wounded woman.
The Handless Maiden eventually comes to terms with her mistreatment, her hands grow back which symbolizes the return of her emotions/feelings which are blocked from the abuse finally enabling her to participate fully in her life.
10″ x 4″ x 4″
Sterling silver, 18 k green gold.
2006 | $4200
#20 Hansel and Gretel | The Sun
Inspired by the tale of Hansel and Gretel.
Hansel and Gretel is a working music box. Turn the snake to hear the tinkering tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel”.
12″ x 6″ x 6″
Bone, copper, sterling silver, bronze, music box mechanism, cement, stainless, steel spring, oil paint.
2015/2018 | $10 000
#21 The Golden Goose | The World
The Golden Goose Poem
The Emperor leaps faithfully into the void.
Jack courageously climbs the beanstalk.
Baba Yaga reveals the mystery of her ugly glory.
Young woman descends into the winter well.
The King wrings wisdom from salt.
Sir Lancelot’s questing heals the wasted King.
Psyche and Eros’ love conquers all.
The Bird flies Thumbelina to a land of joy.
Beauty’s purest love heals her Beast…
Bearskin journeys thru the dark night.
Three Ugly Aunties to spin gold from flax,
And the Singing Bones serve justice.
The Happy Prince willingly sacrifices.
Death wears a bluebeard and carries the keys to my heart.
A spoiled Princess is tempered by the Frog Prince;
Still our obsessions are the Demon Dance.
Rapunzel yields her golden braid like a whip,
Now White transforms in faith, hope and trust.
Beauty awakes to find two babes suckling at her breast.
Hansel and Gretel dance in the garden of Earthly Delights.
The Handless Maid is nurtured on pears beneath the moon.
The sad princess laughs, and then she cries, and then she laughs again…
And so, the Tarot met the Tale and many deeds were done, Heroes sung, mysteries sown, magic was in all;
And all believed in the Magic!!!
12″ x 2.5″ x 2.5″
Sterling silver, 18 and 24 k gold.
2015 | $7800