Ida Rak was amazed by the wide availability of
inexpensive clothing, shoes, and bags in California’s
many secondhand shops. The Israeli artist hadn’t
seen prices this low before and was so delighted
that she purchased a handful of items on a whim.
Compelled by the idea of “making something new
out of something old,” Rak painted discarded paper
(from the print shop where her husband worked) to
use as collage material, and transformed her castoffs into fanciful paper sculptures.
Photograph courtesy of Ida Rak
Returning to Israel in 1997, Rak didn’t benefit from
the camaraderie of the burgeoning California craft
scene; she says wistfully that she often felt like “the
only person in the world doing this kind of thing.”
But her crafts found another kind of community
in the worlds of fashion and design. She had made
whimsical paper purses for the windows of Tiffany
and Co. in San Francisco while still living in California. These inspired many more offers, including a
display in the company’s London store.
“Sometimes it’s better to display in a Tiffany window
— if you’re lucky,” she says, “than to display in a
gallery, because not many people come to a gallery
and so many people look in the windows!”
Her background in painting and fine arts, however,
has also led to art exhibitions; one of her large paper
collages will be in a Tel Aviv gallery in spring 2008.
Rak’s works are inspired by sources as varied as
Mexican textiles, a leather mannequin, and Napoleon’s
court. Playing with papier-mâché, found objects, and
watercolors, she fashioned a pointy-toed Charleston
shoe from an old sandal and a blossoming summer
sandal from the remains of a closed-toe pump.
An elaborate paper dress, designed for stationery
company Turnovsky, boasts pink roses and a layered
skirt, all made from the store’s products. Models in
a New York show for Israeli swimsuit company Got-tex wore her paper tiaras, purses, and giant flowers.
Working with stores and designers, Rak’s paper
creations grow and change with each project. “I
enjoy it very much,” she says. “I feel like I’m always
starting something new.” —Annie Buckley