Renuka Tiwari: Medical student and innovative artist

Rondell Gouveia

At just 19 years old, former Queen’s College (QC) student Renuka Tewari has a knack for creating jaw-dropping, one-of-a-kind works of art using some of the most unlikely items as raw material.

Craft is her thing and she began with coconut shells she found, turning them into vases. She kept all the garbage she came across in which saw potential: containers, bottles, copper and the list goes on.

“I kept this roll of copper wire so long and played with it [over and over again that] it started looking good….” The copper wire became the focal point of many of her pieces. One would be staring at a piece not realizing that it was made from the simple copper unless Renuka revealed the secret.

Many would think that she took art classes or was in the art stream at QC, but as Renuka would say, she was a “weird” child. She was in the Technical Drawing stream but did Agricultural Science instead of Technical Drawing and now having completed school she is a first-year medicine student at the University of Guyana who does art as a hobby and business. The theory of art, she said, is not for her. She believes it makes art conventional and gives a robotic way of doing things, so she freestyles it.

“I used to draw dragons with my permanent markers on my walls then get yelled at for it,” Renuka said laughingly during an interview with The Scene.

Craft has always been her go to for relaxation and an escape from her hectic school life, when she attended QC. Back then, she was always “overdoing” it on school projects and volunteering to design every opportunity. Art became a way of balancing her life.

“Art to me is the one thing that I can truly be free in and not limited. In school, there are rules and things are done in a certain way and are really never changed but in art the possibilities are infinite and it’s so soothing to the soul. Especially since now that art is something I do for other people; it’s my cup of sunshine to see my customers happy and excited when they receive their orders or when their girlfriends hug them tighter because of a piece that was personalized just for them. I love people and I love when people are happy, so art is my way of spreading smiles,” the owner of Craft Creation and Smiles said.

The idea of turning her hobby into a business came after a friend of Renuka’s needed a gift for another friend and she suggested a floral crown. When the friend agreed she went ahead and made it and it was happily received. Wanting to know if others would buy the crown, she posted a photo on Facebook. It was better than she expected; some persons wanted to know if they could actually purchase the floral headpiece and others complimented her on her work of art as well as made suggestions on pricing. This was all it took for her to create a business from what started as a hobby.

Yet although she threw herself excitedly into doing this, there were persons who tried to discourage her from doing the business telling her that her hobbies were just for fun and that she would never earn much anywhere, let alone Guyana. “But my amazing customers have definitely proven that misconception to be just a misconception. I think once you pour yourself into whatever you do, you can actually change the way people view things. Like dreamcatchers for instance; a lot of persons weren’t too keen on the idea since to them, dream catchers were just expensive little feather things that you buy and stick on the wall somewhere. But I allow persons to make it more than that. I give them the option of adding a photograph, some shells or flowers. I made a dreamcatcher in the shape of a carriage once. It’s really fun to just add your touch to things that were once limited possibilities and because of that I think persons are more willing to give craft some thought when they are the ones helping to come up with the ideas or adding something personal to it,” she said.

Renuka has a distaste for replicas and promises that her pieces will not be found on YouTube or Amazon. Although there are customers who would show her a photo of something they would want their gifts to look like, she always admonishes them to try to be creative and use their own ideas. Even if that person still wants to have what they saw in the photo, she would incorporate a twist to make the piece unique.

Renuka is inspired by persons who can take little and make it eye catching, by ordinary persons who have a talent for designing; by someone who can take something insignificant and turn it into something magnificent.

After she would have graduated, she can see herself being given the job of repainting the walls of the hospital in happier colours and prior to graduating Renuka hopes to have her own little craft shop, a place that offers persons a whole new world of beautiful.

Currently she has persons from overseas hitting her up for their personalized pieces and she will work on creating a payment plan for them.

Sculpting is another thing that has always fascinated her and is on her bucket list.

She says to aspiring artists. “… Things truly take time but with love for arts and craft, you’re truly unstoppable. There will be days when you’re at your table with your pieces watching persons pass by and not even stop to look at your items and you’ll ask yourself ‘Did I make the right choice?’ but then someone might see an item and just lose it. They might get so excited and elated over your piece that all the other persons that passed by and all the regret you felt really would just be a thing of the past. It will be a challenge, but you will have to take every little ray of sunshine and keep it close to your heart for the days of snide comments and storms… if you love it, you’ll pull through and you’ll surprise you. So be a risk taker but don’t just take risks, take sensible risks. Think things through before investing and most of all, just enjoy every bit of it – the good, the bad and the crafty.”

Her best friend she says is her biggest supporter and is always excited about every little piece she makes and helps to boost her confidence in her pieces even more. Her parents too are supportive of what she does and though not every piece peaks their interest, they always encourage her. Her customers, she said finally, are the sweetest, whether they buy a piece or share a post or tell someone else, or whether they send her voice notes to say how impressed and thankful they are. All of it touches her heart and she is grateful for every opportunity she gets to share smiles.

Her hobbies include writing poems, spending time with her family and with her pet dogs and cat.

When it comes to eating she loves dhal, Chinese food and arepas (a sort of bake made of corn meal).

Renuka can be contacted via Facebook and Instagram @craftcreationandsmiles or via SMS or WhatsApp on 614-0130.

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