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About Rachel

I am an artist and teacher living in New York City.

I was blessed with the opportunity to try out different creative pursuits - sewing, cake decorating, jewelry-making, among others - when I was still very young, which is probably why I can't stop making things, and why I have so many varied creative pursuits. 

I meet a lot of people who think they can't be creative. They say things like, "Oh, I can't believe you made that! I wish I could sew, but I can't do creative things." I beg to differ. I was of the firm belief that I couldn't throw or catch a ball until my son's Little League coach forced me to participate in a practice session one day. And I surprised myself by not hitting anyone with a ball, and having some fun.

I firmly believe we can all be creative. Creativity can be taught, and often it's simply about taking a risk with the right support system. And that's where I come in. Sometimes we just need the right teacher to unlock our hidden abilities. And I believe you, too, can do it. Why? Because I haven't yet seen one student in all the thousands of students I've taught who was motivated to do something and didn't find a way. And because if you're having fun and learning with a smile in a warm environment, with a teacher who knows how to make the overwhelming approachable, you can surprise yourself with what you're able to do.

Experience

Sewing and art experience

I learned to sew as a little girl in the 4-H club I was part of in Boulder, Colorado. My mother led the group and we learned on a terrible, cranky old monster of a machine. But we did learn. The day I wore a beautiful new dress for the first day of fourth grade, I felt so proud of my achievement. I remember these early years of sewing as being rewarding and confidence building for me, and I want to bring that joy to others as well.

The joy of creating is infectious, and I just couldn't stop making things. Over the years I accumulated more skills through reading books by esteemed authors, trying out new experiments of my own, and practice, practice, practice. Though I am almost entirely self-taught, I have professional-level experise, specializing in pattern design and couture quality construction.

I am also a mostly self-taught artist, but I did have the most wonderful art teacher named Mr. Davis when I was a high school student. Mr. Davis had infinite patience and kindness, and had knack of helping me get past those moments of feeling stuck that really unlocked doors for me as an artist. I learned things from him that I continue to pass on to my students now.

Most of all, I believe we learn from other people, and by trying new things - whether it be observation, taking a class, reading a book, watching a video, or simply getting out the sewing machine or the paint brushes and having a go. Try it! It's fun. The best thing about creativity is it's not meant to be taken too seriously. It's about expansion and opening up to new things. Even mistakes can be a beautiful part of the creative process.

Teaching Experience

I taught in NYC middle school classrooms for seven years full time, teaching everything from French to English to music. Even though I didn't teach art or sewing as a subject matter, I enjoyed bringing art into my classroom whenever possible. I have had experience teaching young children through college aged students, I have taught gifted and special needs students, and I hold a graduate degree in education and K-12 New York State teaching licenses.

My favorite moments as a teacher were always the ones when a student who didn't believe he or she could do something took a chance and discovered, yes! I can do this!  And so can you. Whether you believe you are creative or not, if you have aspirations to becoming more creative, I can help. I make learning to sew, paint, draw, and make jewelry fun and accessible.

My wish is for every student to leave my class with a big smile and pride in their achievement. So far . . . I have achieved my goal! I'd love to help you do the same.

Yes, you can create!

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What's Important?

My mission is to connect to the deepest part of what makes us human.  Through making things with our hands, tapping into our sense of choice and creativity, and forging social connection, we remember that we are alive and appreciate who we are.

I love to create.  I love to teach.  Rachel's House of Craft is about teaching others to do the things that have brought such meaning into my life.  But it's also about something my clients taught me.  I have to admit, I sometimes take art for granted, since it has been in my life such a long time.  I know why I love it, and I know why I value it.  But I don't necessarily always think about why other people would love and value it.  Sometimes I view myself as a peculiar being, and my habits and interests as things to which not everyone would relate.  And yet, as I began my new venture, I began hearing comments like,

"This is so relaxing."  

"It's like therapy."

"It's like mindfulness."

"I didn't know I could do this before."

"This feels like time slowing down, in a good way."

This feedback gave me courage and brought new meaning to what I was doing.  I wasn't just teaching enjoyable hobbies.  I was sharing ways of tapping into life.  That is why I create.  When I design a dress, or paint a picture, I feel more deeply attuned to myself, to my life, and to the Earth itself.  I feel we spend way too much time locked in our heads.  Technology, as useful as it is, often exacerbates this, and I am as guilty as the next of overusing it.  Making things with the hands is an antidote to the frenzied pace of modern living.  After all, we are not robotic machines, we are human beings, and as such, our first state is, simply, being. 

Sometimes we tried to drown out our sorrows and stressors with distraction.  This can be really bad, or really good.  It can be really bad when it leaves us feeling numb.  Personally, I have a bit of a puzzle addiction: soothing in small doses, but much like a sugar binge when overindulged in.  This kind of distraction doesn't help us feel alive.  It's soothing because it detaches us from being alive.  We forget our trouble because we feel less.  But in feeling less, we become less.  By contrast, making things sometimes can be hard.  If I'm in a negative state, sometimes I don't gravitate toward the sewing machine or my clay.  But I remind myself how good it feels, just like exercising.  Not always easy to start, but once you do, you're so glad you did.  Your whole being is revolutionized.  This kind of distraction reminds us that our sorrows are transient, and that our lives are transient.  Rather than disconnect from life, it helps us embrace life, in all its transience, and celebrate what we have.

This is what Rachel's House of Craft is about.  It's not just about making a skirt or a pair of earrings, or drawing a picture.  Those things have value in and of themselves.  But the greater value is in restoring us to our lives, the same way a good trainer can help someone tap into the wellspring of life in their own body and develop their agility and strength.  Creativity is also like a muscle, one that can be honed and trained, and one that can be used to great benefit in our lives.

Finally, my mission is about FUN!  Because what is the point of making things if you can't have a cup of tea and share a laugh with some new friends?  All are welcome at Rachel's House of Craft.  Let's make something together!

Imagine what you could create!