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Women and Girls: Love, from the shores of Superior

Reaghan Howard is making art out of pebbles and glass from the shores of Lake Superior.

THUNDER BAY -- Reaghan Howard saw beauty in little things, collecting pieces of Lake Superior every time she visited the shore. Ranging from small pebbles to tiny shards of glasses that people may have thrown away as garbage, she brought them all home.

One Christmas, she thought it would be cute to gift a family portrait made out of the pebbles she collected on the shores of Superior. For her, it was a reminder of her connection to Thunder Bay-home.

What started as a hobby for Raeghan Howard evolved into a small business over time. From creating simple designs to now creating custom designs for orders and more, Lakesuperiormade became a local icon for creating art out of the ordinary.

“Initially, I was making for me, but the business has grown now,” Howard said. “The designs, looking back, were rudimentary, and I have since grown in my designs as well.”

Howard recently took the leap to make Lakesuperiormade, the business as she calls it, her full-time career-working on art and focusing on the happiness in smaller things.

“When the pandemic happened, people started cutting back on luxury items like art,” she said. “Art was the frivolity people couldn’t afford, and people resorted to creativity and art for happiness. And making these little portraits makes me happy, and others happy.”

The artist brings a piece of Lake Superior - her home - into her creations. As an avid traveller, coming back to Thunder Bay, getting a glimpse of the magnificent Lake Superior from above has always been Howard’s beacon of happiness.

The business was conceived as a result of her desire to spread the same joy to the community of Thunder Bay. She said, “The best compliment I have received as an artist is when people gift my craft for those in Thunder Bay or to those moving, to keep a piece of Thunder Bay with them forever.”

Howard has been creating art out of the ordinary for seven years, but until her business background partner provided a shoulder of support a couple of years ago, the art remained on the shelves of her home.

Learning from her husband, Howard gave Lake Superior Made a nudge when she brought out her craft to Thunder Bay’s local craft revival market, and it has grown since.

She said she was inspired by watching other artisans in Thunder Bay and around the world.

“I was always inspired by the story of little things, like where the rock came from, the glass that was thrown away,” she added. “There is a lot of beauty in nature, and I wanted to use natural elements in my art, using mundane objects that people generally throw away as garbage.”

There is beauty everywhere, in your backyard, in nature.

Howard is determined to find that beauty. She believes that one man’s trash is another’s beauty.

“I often wonder about the story of where something originated,” she said. “Of how that tiny shard of glass achieved its smoothness. Of where the glass came from. It is calming and peaceful to collect pieces from the shore and discover its story.”

Howard has her portraits on display to be purchased at local stores like Creek Side nursery, Ungalli local collective and the Silver Islet general store. Her business is making strides on Instagram as a local initiative, and she hopes that she could turn the colours in nature into magic through her craft.

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