Rae Ripple: The Ripple Effect
Homeless at 14 years old, Rae Ripple had been struggling to survive and working at reconciling her childhood trauma. As a single mother, she went on to hold many jobs back then, working as a waitress, tow-truck driver, Walmart associate and firefighter. Today she is a world-renowned metal artist, author, actress and stunt rider.
Rae Ripple is not shy when it comes to sharing her life story. She remains committed to the belief that everything in her life has happened “by accident, through surviving and just going straight.” When she was growing up, she identified as the funny, weird and theatrical girl at school who always made a strong first impression on everyone. However, nobody knew at the end of the day that she was returning to an abusive home.
As a student, she struggled with academic subjects to her dyslexia and often spent her school days aimlessly doodling in her notebooks. She even aspired to be a dancer and hoped to one day dance alongside Britney Spears on stage. Not wanting to return home right away each day after school ended, she’d stay for a while and spend her time there dancing to all the music videos she had seen on MTV.
But her path took a different direction. As a single mother she worked as a tow truck driver and waitressing to make ends meet. On her own time, she would pick up a paintbrush, and each brush stroke stimulated her creativity. But she soon found that neither simple sketches, nor bending wire and cutting sheet metal, were satisfying enough — she needed more of a release and to create something that was a truer expression of herself and her vision. She eventually picked up a plasma cutter and began welding.
Little did she know that her tow-trucking job would become the first instance of the ripple effect of her artistry and success. “I would show up to all these crashes, and then I would take home body parts of cars, and I would cut them up. It transitioned into my artwork by complete accident, by just doing what I was doing on the job,” says Ripple.
She then began creating metal -art sculptures that captured the eye of everyone around the world, creating magnificent chairs, murals, and art pieces in the shape of armadillos, butterflies, rabbits, and recreating the bodies of cars.
Most notably, she was commissioned by a client to work on a 1949 Chevy Deluxe he found in his mother’s barn. Once her work was complete, she took the Chevy to one of the biggest art car parades in the United States, known as the Houston Art Car Parade, and was honoured with an award.
As her Instagram following began to grow and the posts of her artwork continued to wow viewers, she was messaged over Instagram and invited to be a contestant on Netflix TV’s metal art competition series, Metal Shop Masters.
I have always been an insecure person, so whenever I went to do the show, I was very insecure as an artist. I did not feel like I belonged there —
I did not feel like I was in the same category as these people. I felt very amateurish and not ready, but I was just honoured that they asked
“I have always been an insecure person, so whenever I went to do the show, I was very insecure as an artist. I did not feel like I belonged there — I did not feel like I was in the same category as these people. I felt very amateurish and not ready, but I was just honoured that they asked,” says Ripple. Despite her nerves and insecurities, she went the distance and finished the show as a finalist.
For Ripple, “Failures are not failures. They are redirections.” She explains that whatever it is that you are doing or trying to do — if things do not work out the way you want them to it is because there are other plans in store for you. Trusting the process of failing is crucial to truly discovering one’s calling.
Rae Ripple has been featured on the Down to Business podcast, Monster Garage on Discovery Channel and has been published in Welder magazine. She is partnered with AlumaReel, Hypertherm, Lincoln Electric, Fastcut CNC, Flame Technologies and Benchmark Abrasives. She has painted murals all over Texas and has installed metalwork all over the world. She currently lives in Big Spring, Texas, with her fiancé and two children.