Name: Rachel Hobson
Website links: Average Jane Crafter, Craftzine (Contributing Writer)
What do you make?
Besides a lot of messes and mistakes? I mostly work with hand embroidery. It was the craft that pulled me full-force into craft addiction, and I never seem to get tired of it. I also dabble in screen printing, a bit of sewing, and I've always had a great fondness for collage. I don't make things to sell, but I do custom hand embroidery jobs here and there and also teach hand embroidery classes here in Austin the Stitch Lab.
What or who inspires you?
I literally can't open my eyes without being inspired. When you have an addiction to making things, it's almost impossible to turn off your brain's insatiable desire to come up with new projects. Sometimes I'll be inspired to make specific things, and sometimes I'm just inspired to put together a new color palette to use in the future. It's fun, but also tiring sometimes, to never be able to turn that part of your brain off. I'm also really bad about not writing things down when they come to me, so I'm often trying to think back to what inspired me. You'd think I would have come up with a more efficient way to record the inspiration by now, eh?
I do have a few things and people who constantly inspire me. I'm a huge Space geek. I've had an almost life-long fascination with Space exploration and all things Space-related. There are few things in life that inspire the awe and wonder that Space does for me. Shuttle launches, Hubble images, control panels - they all literally light my brain on fire. And I love finding ways that I can mesh that fascination with craft. I also love that I'm starting to convert some of my crafty pals into Space geeks as well.
I've been really lucky to have some incredible teachers, mentors and good friends who inspire me immensely. At the top of this list is my good friend, Leslie Bonnell, from whom I first took a hand embroidery class several years ago. She owns the Stitch Lab sewing studio here in Austin, and I've been lucky enough to work with her for a few years now. Her talent and skill amaze me on a daily basis. She can literally make anything, and make it to complete perfection. She's also an incredible teacher; very patient, practical and supportive. She's my role model and a great friend, and I adore her.
Another great teacher and friend of mine is Kathleen McTee, from whom I have taken screen printing and surface design courses. Like Leslie, she's an amazing teacher, and a brilliant artist. Her classes opened up a whole new set of media in which I love to experiment and play. She's brilliant with color and embroidery, too, and has done some really stunning projects that mix all these beautiful skills of hers. They are hugely inspirational.
Finally, my great coworkers at Craftzine and my wonderful friends in the online craft community provide inspiration and support on a daily basis. They also happen to make my life and work really darn fun.
How did you get started?
It's kinda funny, actually. I used to swear up and down that I was not crafty at all. I really resisted it for ages. My mom was crafty back when I was a kid (embroidery, decoupage) but didn't really teach me or try to get me to get crafty. It's as though I had these crafty genes, but refused to acknowledge them for most of my life. After I had kids, I started to struggle because I was lacking a creative outlet. A friend introduced me to Craftster.org and that pretty much changed everything. I instantly connected to what was going on there, and was starting to see a great opportunity for creativity and fun in crafting. Around that time, my mom gave me a sewing machine for Christmas, and a year later I finally took it out of the box and took a class. I continued to get involved in the online crafting community, and by the time I took embroidery classes from Leslie and from Jenny Hart a few years ago, I was a full-fledged craft addict. I've never looked back. As corny as it sounds, crafting literally changed my life and saved my sanity.
I have a degree in journalism and have been a computer geek since I was 10 years old, so I've been able to mix all these skills, talents and hobbies together in to the perfect job: writing for Craftzine.com. I couldn't be happier!
What are your favourite materials to work with?
Needle and thread - There is something about handwork that is just so mesmerizing and relaxing. I literally feel my whole body release when I first pull the needle through the fabric. It's the most incredible stress reliever. I also love working with ink (screen printing), and I'm looking forward to mixing the two media.
What is the hardest and most favourite part of crafting?
The hardest part is not having enough uninterrupted time to work on the ideas in my head. I have two small kids, so most of my life revolves around them. They are both in school now, which gives me some time during the day, but I have to admit that I miss those days in college when I could stay up all night working on something or learning something new. I have an extrovert personality, but I also really, really love long periods of time on my own to just work stuff out. That never happens now.
My most favorite part of crafting is connecting with other folks while we're all engaged in the creative process. I love taking classes with folks, and I really love teaching classes. Seeing lights go off, and watching people fall in love with crafting is one of the most rewarding things I've ever experienced.
List 5 of your favourite links and why you like them
Craftzine.com: Not just because I work there! Craftzine has always been the most inspirational craft site for me. There is just a level of professionalism and innovation that you can't find in other places. I still look around and wonder, "How am I lucky enough to work here!?" It's like a dream!
Craftster.org: Craftster is such a great community, and though I don't get to participate there much these days, I will always love it for being the site that changed my mind about crafting and opened up this whole fabulous world to me.
CraftyPod.com: Diane Gilleland is my craft guru. She has a wide range of experience and a brilliant business mind. Her podcasts have always been integral parts of my growth as a crafter. Her blog and podcasts are "musts" for anyone even remotely interested in crafting.
Dinosaurs and Robots: While not necessarily a "crafting" blog, D&R is very inspirational. I always have a hard time explaining where I fit in style-wise or aesthetic-wise or just ... what I like. Dinosaurs & Robots is pretty much me. I love random, interesting, quirky, unexpectedly beautiful things, and D&R delivers that.
Millie Motts: Again, not a "crafting" blog, but a place that always inspires me and makes me happy. She scans and posts images from books, magazines, etc. from the 40s-60s. Every post makes me giddy.
Do you have any advice for those in the biz?
Have fun. Work hard. Be generous. Be genuine.
Art vs. Craft - Are these terms different?
I think they are different, but it's hard to explain how. Just as you start to define art, craft creeps in and vice versa. There are so many faded lines between the two, that it's hard to keep up. I tend to think of craft as being more practical, like making things to use in everyday life. I tend to think of art as something with a bit more thought and process to it, and being more focused on making a statement than being used.
That said, I don't think one is better than the other, or that one could exist without the other.
Do you consider yourself an artist or a crafter?
For now, I'm primarily a crafter, but my crafting has opened my mind to new ideas that are leaning more toward art. Again, they are married, and make really great partners.
(photo images courtesy of Rachel Hobson / Average Jane Crafter)
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