career, LIS, personal, technology, work

It seems I can’t avoid talking about work.

Well, today was fun. It’s been so long since anything bad has happened to me in particular that I’ve begun to get good with working Circulation. Even shelving has been good. It’s really invaluable to be working with the people I’m working with, and to know I have options. Plus, I’m only working about half-time. Even though I’m not at this point doing any eight-hour days, it’s kind of like a game to see how long and in what ways I can maintain my stamina.

I’m not sure if I’m calming down, now that I don’t have a GPA on the line…actually, that’s probably a lot of it! The stress that I have now is more, “life stress,” (that is, “soon-to-be-money-stress,”) as versus, “school stress.” However, in a good situation, I would still have to wait an average of six months before getting a first job as an Information Professional.

I think I would likely have less stress now, had I planned for this phase of my life better, starting a decade or two ago. There are things I realize in retrospect that I could have done differently — like taking a work-study position at my undergraduate University library, or taking a light job in an Academic Library in addition to the Public Library job, or shadowing Cataloging staff and seeking out connections, or maintaining contacts with other students on IM or LinkedIn.

However, it’s relatively obvious to me, when stepping back to observe the entire situation, that I started out in a relatively structurally disadvantaged position (due to uncontrollable historical, combined with current, circumstances). To some extent this has been alleviated by vocational services focusing on equity, which is the reason why I’m in a career now…but I don’t even think that they really encouraged me to take on extra work, or to get into the working world as an intern, while I was still a student.

The latter would have been basically expected of me, but I didn’t have a great hint of this until looking into the Career Center at the end of my program. Trouble is, I believe I was meant to look into the Career Center, possibly before my program even began.

I’m not sure what more there is to say about that, at least that wouldn’t be oversharing.

Right now I can see a few different paths before me. One is being a Reference & User Services Librarian in a Public Library. I have a relatively good idea of what work in this position is like. The second path is becoming a Cataloging Librarian, which is something that my co-workers say I might be well-suited to because of my attention to detail. The third path is becoming a Web Developer or Web Designer.

These three paths have differing skill sets. Particularly, as a Reference Librarian, I would need to work on creating library programs, and work on my customer service and information search skills. As a Cataloger, I would need to work on my Descriptive and Subject Access Cataloging and Metadata encoding and parsing skills. As a Web Developer, there are several more technologies I would need to know with which I would need to acquire a working skill: at least JavaScript, PHP, Drupal, and SQL.

Basically, Reference Librarianship is the nearest possibility to me, but that is likely because general entry-level “Librarian” jobs seem to often be Public Service positions. Metadata Librarianship or Cataloging Librarianship is a little more distant, mostly because I was aiming for a track which, I see now, prepared me for Web Design and Development. Web Development is farthest off, and not something I can adequately do in the immediate future. It is, however, something I have a good start on, and can develop.

Right now, I’m in the middle of the MARC 21 unit in my class. It’s good information, though mostly review to me. The big deal about is is that to work as a Cataloger, one basically has to have a knowledge of Subject Access Cataloging (determining content and assigning descriptors and call numbers), Descriptive Cataloging (describing an item), FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records), MARC 21, Authority Records, and at least Dublin Core, if not other metadata schema like TEI or MODS.

But…it kind of sounds like I know a good deal about that, already. Come Fall, I should be done with my four-course, post-Master’s (a.k.a. Professional Development) run, and may actually be set up with the knowledge to start (or continue) in a job that requires Cataloging. If I had a job that pulled enough money, I would also be able to make up any deficits with additional training. Because a lot of this work is being outsourced, I would likely want to look into the people working in Technical Services, and their contacts who work for companies which serve libraries.

Web Development needs ongoing focus and training. Comparatively, it’s easier for me at this point to look forward to Cataloging or User Services! The big thing is that learning for this path never ends and, from my current perspective, seems as though no amount of study may ever be wholly sufficient. Moreso than with the other two paths, this path contains a moving target. I initially got into this because I wanted to make websites; however, is the effort worth the product? I’m not certain, especially as I have had a major downtick in my drive to publish online, recently.

Yeah, I guess…that’s a big thing.

The other thing is the fact that I have realized I’m a relatively versatile person with a lot of interests, who likes challenging themselves…which…well. It doesn’t really rule out too much. Maybe I could get a job as a Technical Assistant while working as a Page somewhere else, just get my foot in the door to Tech Services and Cataloging?

Yeah…maybe this entry won’t make sense to most people…

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craft, creativity, design, paper crafts

Papercrafts.

Two things: One, I have started experimenting with paper-cutting (or “papercuts,” as my old Art friends would have called it). Two, for the second day in recent memory, I woke up today striking out at something that was in a dream. (The previous time, I struck a pillow and my headboard, which woke me up.)

Luckily, I don’t share my bed with anyone; I was also on my back, so I only would have popped someone if they had been standing over me. It took me a little bit of time to get to the point of wondering how hard I would have struck. M says that it sounds like I’ve been under a lot of stress. It’s possible; I realized last night that I’m actually in the middle of three instructional programs, though none of them are in the University system, at the moment. I’m also kind of stressed from the job search, and the fact that I did not opt to take internships (which is apparently very important, though I’ve been told that my nine years in the system as an Aide [but not as a Library Assistant] suffices).

I suppose that by the beginning of this Fall, I should be fairly clear on whether I want to be a Cataloger, or otherwise concentrate on Web Development…

So…the other thing. I believe that the term for what I’ve been doing with knives and paper is called kirigami, though I’m not completely sure. My previous forays into kirigami were simple cuts into origami (paper-folding) which allowed slightly more complex structures (such as antennae on shrimp). Because origami has a strong inclination to avoid cutting of the paper, though, these cuts were minimal, and mostly not of a structural nature.

What I was doing last night was more experimental and playful, than anything. I had started experimenting with my knives and gouges on linoleum printing blocks. It was at this time that I realized that most of my gouges are seriously damaged; one had a bent tip which split and tore the linoleum rather than cutting it, while many of the others had otherwise chipped or deformed (dulled) cutting edges. It’s probably due to my using them without having realized how fragile they were; though I also wonder if these companies should be making gouges (as versus knives) in the first place. The blades which were undamaged (the U-gouges) also slipped on the harder blocks, which is an obvious safety hazard. Then there was the chisel blade, which was sharp, but hard to back out of a cut. It’s good for clearing away mass, but not so much in detailed areas.

These are Speedball and X-Acto blades (both of which have issues in fitting the blades to the handles, particularly where it comes to tightening the collets, which in both cases have resulted in metal shavings)…and I’m not entirely certain whether it’s worth buying replacement blades for them. This is especially as I can go to one or more Japanese toolshops and buy reusable blades that I know I can sharpen myself (I have a fine-grit waterstone built for this purpose, though my Japanese-language skills aren’t high enough yet to allow me to read the instructions, and Google Translate basically doesn’t play well with Japanese).

I do, however, know that high-carbon steel (the kind that rusts and has to be oiled and protected from air and water) is much better for blades of this type than stainless steel (the latter of which, looks like what I’ve got in my X-Acto set — I doubt high-carbon steel would bend). The deal is that Japanese high-carbon steel blades, I would think, would be made more for use in wood and food, not linoleum, which…really? Is made from sawdust and linseed oil (possibly with stone dust also)?

Anyhow…I wanted to cut some things, and upon seeing the damage that my gouges had largely gone through, I turned my attention to the straight and hooked blades (they worked better, fortunately)…and the paper-crafting drawer that I had not gone into, for months.

Turns out, I have a large number of origami paper sheets, mostly unfaded (though the faded ones are good for potentially disposable practice). This includes a lot of tiny papers (!) which are not as useful in kirigami, but fun to play with. I tried making a tiny crane from a paper which was 4 cm square…not easy! Especially when you haven’t done origami in years (and making Diamond Base means you’re working with a module that is 2√2 cm in height)!

Still, that stuff’s cute. I picked up the block (500 sheets) from a small Asian grocery store when I was a kid, probably for $1. I still remember that. The owner there has basically seen me grow up, though we don’t really talk…he’s much more comfortable using nihongo (Japanese language), and less comfortable with English, than I am. I wouldn’t be surprised if situations like that were part of the reason I originally wanted to learn (that, and anime, manga, games, and music, though that sounds silly as an adult — there’s way more to any culture than just pop culture and food).

So…let’s see. I don’t have pictures yet — I was up too late last night to consider it, and today I was largely asleep — but it was fun to play around with folding the papers different ways, to see what would happen. As I was messing around with that, I started remembering the ways I’d folded paper in the past, mostly as a kid and teen. With art, it’s really rare for there to be a rule that says you can’t do something (which is always meant to be followed)…

What’s interesting is that I seem to have stumbled back onto a modular component (one which fits into a bunch of other ones to make a larger piece), just from playing around. I don’t remember what to do with it, though. I just have it folded up and waiting for me to get back to it. (The tough part is dealing with the aftermath of the first fold, requiring an inversion and tuck of the last fold. This makes a smaller square where all the corners are tucked in.)

I also have the question of whether there exist origami and/or kirigami books for adults. There have to be, right? I haven’t run a search yet (edit: they’re in or near Dewey 736.982), though I can see from a basic Web search that kirigami in particular is inspiring people in Engineering. I think I’ve seen at least one NOVA program focusing on that, where it came to nanotechnology and self-assembling robots.

Hmm. I also know a bookstore in SF Japantown that did have displays on origami, possibly kirigami. Whether the person who was into that is still there (or can help me), I’m not certain. There’s a very real language barrier that I’ve dealt with for a very long time, which is why I’m currently trying to learn nihongo. That goal is also a large part of the reasoning behind considering moving further West; it would be much easier to maintain practice in Japanese language where there are a lot of people who need you to do so (and whom you can practice with).

What’s fun — with the papers, at least — is the fact that until you get a good amount of practice, it’s not easy to tell what is going to come out of any particular folding + cutting pattern. Getting a good handle on origami bases and modules (some of which, I’ll likely make up, solely as cutting patterns) should help, though.

The major drawback to using origami paper is that I haven’t known it to be colorfast (the colors, at least in the cheaper versions, often run with water-based adhesives); thus, gluing these things down to anything will require some skill (or spray adhesive, which I’ve been told is particularly noxious). There’s also the possibility of cutting my own paper, meaning possibly marbling or painting and then squaring up, folding, and cutting the paper again…which I might do if I find a nice enough cutting pattern. For example, I could take a folded and cut piece, then cut pieces out of it and glue those down to stiffer paper, possibly with overlap, to help make bookmarks.

(I’ve had a bookmark “trip” in the back of my mind for the last several years, apologies.)

I did also, though, find a bunch of bookmarks I made one Christmas which did not cure in time for the holiday, meaning that they would have left glue marks on the insides of books. Several years later, they’re less slippery. I’m still not using that glue again. I have three alternatives to test, now.

I could still do bookmarks. The major deal with those is the fact that I was using patterned greeting card paper along with paper blanks made for scrapbook borders…I never really got into the scrapbooking thing, but it’s nice to have a bunch of different papers available. It reminds me of quilting, really.

And yeah, right — now I have the washi tape in addition to acrylic markers! There are a good amount of possibilities…

career, creativity, self care, spirituality, technology

Creativity and awareness.

For the past three days, I’ve been having issues with lethargy, and late today I realized what may be causing it. Hopefully, tomorrow won’t be as bad. I’ve just been through a couple of days of early-morning work and an early-morning class…I need to prepare for this, better.

I did reach the point, yesterday, of becoming annoyed enough with the books and magazines and catalogs laying around everywhere, to put them away. At this point, I know that I do want to rearrange them. The major issue is the fear of not being able to find anything after they have been rearranged.

There is also the possibility of getting a long and low bookshelf. Because of earthquake concerns (I’ve lived through two major earthquakes: Loma Prieta [1989] and Northridge [1994]), the tall bookcase that I have, which has most of my books on it, isn’t in my bedroom. There is too much of a danger of it falling over, either onto the bed or into an escape route.

However, there is another reason the books aren’t here: it’s dust. Apparently, because I spend so much time in the bedroom (asleep), things collect dust quickly. This isn’t so much of an issue for the office, which is where I have a few bookcases in use…most of them are storing things I haven’t immediately used, however, like my Writer’s Thesaurus, and various anthologies from my undergrad degree.

A while ago, I did start going through things to figure out which books I really wanted and would use; but after filling a couple of boxes (and clearing a couple of shelves), stopped. Maybe I need to get back to that.

If I can clear a deep shelf, I can move the majority of my craft books, “to keep,” back down there. The issue is that most of them are too tall to fit on the shelf they’re on, currently. To be honest, I can’t even recall why I put them there, except to sort them away from their default position.

When you work in a library, you learn that location can be imbued with meaning. It is possible for me to use that space as a library, considering that the computer no longer has to live there, and that what is there is basically now an archive.

It would make sense for me to go through my images and work, though I think all of that stuff is already backed up to an external hard drive. I just don’t live in that room as much as I used to. I also do have a low (“altar”) table with floor pillows and the like, from the time when I was meditating.

I really don’t know if I’d like to get back to that; I’ve already been through the disillusionment thing with Buddhism (that being my realization that Buddhism is an organized religion run by people who have politics and faults, and that it may not be “true”), but I also have a non-denominational meditation book that I could deal with, if I wanted to. (I got it years ago when I read a bit of it at the library and knew I would want to read it, even if it got deleted.)

As part of my illness “recovery”, I am supposed to be exercising and meditating in order to reduce my dependence on medication, and abate some of the side effects. It’s been a long time since I could even think about doing that, however — I had to get through grad school. It’s also really a pain to sit seiza (on one’s knees) or in Lotus (half-Lotus?) position on the floor, for long periods of time. I suppose it does connect me with the past; I just don’t particularly know if it’s something I even want to be associated with, anymore.

Of course, this is me on the other end of over two decades of medication, and without a lot of the credulousness that I had, before it. It’s really clear to me that what I’m on quiets my mind, and seems to eliminate the need for creativity in trying to explain what’s happening. It’s very apparent, and has been, to me, that I move closer to an atheistic position when I’m on a higher dose of one medication in particular (which I’m on, now)…this being why I currently consider myself either a Pantheist or Panentheist, not Pagan or Buddhist. Hindu beliefs have been on the edge of my thought, but I’m not deep enough into studying them to particularly understand them wholly.

In any case…I probably need to explain Pantheism. Pantheism (not, “polytheism,” as the last person I tried to explain this to, assumed) is the belief that the Universe is divine and the body of the Divine. Panentheism believes that the Universe is the body of the Divine but that the Divine is also more. I don’t think too much about which camp I fall into, partially because it doesn’t really ultimately matter (reality and truth exist whether or not I acknowledge them); also because both sets of beliefs are pretty fringe.

But…I think this actually is the best explanation I can give for the way my mind works, when it comes to religion. I have more of a feeling of sacredness when I go into the mountains, than anything. It’s one of those, “this is beautiful and could easily kill me,” feelings. Definitely high-alert, definitely respectful. When you’re out someplace like in the Sierra, you know — or at least I’ve known — that if I die, it’s more than likely my fault (or the fault of someone with me, like when the idiot kids were rocking boulders in the talus pile) and not the wildernesses’.

As a kid, I wouldn’t get out into wild areas very often because family did not like being away from the comforts of civilization. Now that I’m older, I will have more of a chance to explore wild places on my own or with friends, but to be honest, it’s not something I seek. I don’t like putting my survival on the line for no reason.

Anyhow…one of the items on my altar table is a box with little tumbled stones and mineral samples in it. Sadly enough, this is about as close as I get to monoliths, right now.

There is also my little bunny fetish from when I was a kid. I was totally into bunnies as a kid. A “fetish,” in this terminology, is a stone that holds personal significance. Mine is a little black carved thing, from a Zuñi artisan whose name I’ve likely lost. However, given its source, and what I can remember, I believe it has been blessed.

I used to carry it around, which is what initially got me into fetish pouches, which is what got me into beadwork. But, back on topic: the rabbit fetish represents creativity.

Right now, I don’t know where I stand with that. I could activate and begin feeding and carrying this fetish again…but somehow that seems a bit creepy. :) Or metaphysical, at least.

I did read a couple of blog entries about not worrying about monetizing one’s passion (which, in this case, has been related to my beadwork). The reason I cleared off a great deal of the craft table is that I wanted to paint again…something I haven’t done in months, as I haven’t seen it as profitable. I didn’t know how to start, so I got out my “Dusties” box and started playing with graphite crayons and willow charcoal.

One thing I did learn: don’t be afraid to make apparently nonsensical details and unclosed lines when working abstractly. ;) They’re what make things interesting. :) I was also attempting not to fight the urge to follow the ghost lines that appear before I may trace over them.

On second thought, maybe I should be meditating. It may help me endure the terror I feel while creating long enough for me to actually make some things.

I’m pretty sure I want to use gouache in the near future, but I don’t entirely have a topic yet. Water, fire (or, “flowing things,” reminiscent of some Southeast Asian styles I’ve seen), and landscapes came up when I was working yesterday, though. Broken lines merge into negative space merge into organic overlaps. It happens.

And tools affect outcomes. Particularly, charcoal sticks are great at mark-making, but they can’t necessarily flood a page, and all of your color is black to grey.

I still need to test out my Sennelier Prussian Blue (transparent) watercolor against Daniel Smith Prussian Blue, the latter of which fades in intensity after months in direct sun. It will be weeks before I’ll see if there is any difference in permanence, though the sooner I swatch, the sooner I’ll know.

I’ve also realized that I should likely broaden my job search beyond the library field. The nature of what I’ve learned has applications in the wider tech and information fields, and though this is a bit terrifying, it means I have a potential way out of what is strictly the Library. Most people who are working…need to be creative in their job searches. I can do that, too.

There are several places where I can look for at least an interim job before dealing with libraries: fabric stores, bead stores, art supply stores, for three categories to start with. I’ve realized that my involvement with these things is okay, possibly even good, and may become useful.

It would also likely be good to continue on with my JavaScript course. I was looking over my books from my Library and Information Science program, and…I have a large number of tech-oriented books. If I want to be in a tech field, learning more technology is essential. It’s probably not wrong to be unsure at this point if I do want to be in a tech field…so long as I don’t let that stop me from doing what I do want to do, and trying out what might be helpful. If I hate it, that’s one thing; but personal uncertainty (do I want to be in Tech because D was in Tech?) is going to happen, regardless…

food, self care

Restarting cooking.

Today marks the start of my cooking again for the first time in…likely, months, if not longer. I’ve needed to begin learning (and practicing) again. One of the few things that I actually know how to do without any help (and have done relatively frequently) is tabbouleh. There’s that, cornbread, and various salads (mixed green, Waldorf, fruit, bean, etc.), that I can remember offhand.

Because I have a tendency to be overly cautious (verging on paranoid) about kitchen hygiene, I’ve been hesitant to prepare things containing meat…particularly poultry. For about as long as I can remember, we’ve had stomach trouble from various…sources. Which I won’t name. What I can say is that growing up and eating other people’s cooking (outside of my immediate family) has frequently and repeatedly resulted in food poisoning.

However, I still do appreciate some meat, as versus going totally vegetarian. (I just am not a person to think of meat as always the core of a meal.)

I know that I have done ground turkey before, as a flavoring for stir-fried long beans…I also would be partial to beef, lamb, and fish. I think I can remember also making won ton with pork and shrimp, which really wasn’t that bad, even though it is most easily mixed manually. The other option is humanely-raised organic chicken, though I’m fairly certain that this will be a treat rather than a mainstay, at least until I can get used to working with meat.

I mean, I’m a type of person who would cut my nails short (which is almost a practical necessity in my line of work anyway), wash (everything) frequently in soap and hot water, and use a nail brush after working with poultry…

Otherwise, I’m most likely to do stir-frys with various mushrooms, and things like summer squash or fresh string beans or bok choy or choy sum. It really would be great to be able to do mushroom chicken; like Criminis or white mushrooms, zucchini, crookneck or Patty Pan squash, and chicken breast.

Now that I think of it, I’ve also done some work with baking sweet potatoes, Russet potatoes, and winter squash, which isn’t really difficult (other than cutting the squash in half, which can be hard).

Oh hey — and there are also the miso soups that I’ve done in the past. Because there have been Prop 65 (carcinogen) warnings plastered on dashi iriko (tiny dried fish used for stock) in the recent past, I haven’t made it in a while. I’m not sure why the warnings are there sometimes and not others, but I’m waiting for a cleaner harvest.

Also, there is hiyayakko (had to look up the name), which is basically just cold silken tofu with dried seaweed (nori), bonito flakes, green onion, grated ginger, and shoyu. I also read (at justonecookbook.com) that mentsuyu can be used (men = noodles; tsuyu = the strong sauce sometimes put on top of noodles [this is sold bottled]), although I kind of can’t believe I was able to translate that out, having never seen it before. Japanese lessons must be working.

I’ve just found myself a bit upset over being dependent on others to bring food for me, but since I am graduating, I don’t have to deal with University or GPAs anymore, and have time to devote to actually living instead of just studying. That is, I’m transitioning into a phase where I’m beginning to take care of myself, rather than letting family take care of everything for me. I think it’s important.

Today D and I took a ride to the produce market so that I could get ingredients for the tabbouleh. While I had a few free hours alone, I basically made it and cleaned up everything.

Right now I’m not sure whether to focus on the job search or cookbook browsing, the next time I go in to work. I’m not certain what the different subdivisions of the 641.5s (cookbooks) represent yet, either. However, I just found a map of the 641.5 divisions at LibraryThing! AAAH!

It looks (from that page) like the “Melvil Decimal System” (which they show) is a public-domain and early version of the Dewey Decimal System. Not equivalent to the current Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) version (which they say is copyrighted by the Online Computer Library Center [OCLC]), but close enough.

I’m also getting to the point of being creative with my creativity. By that, I mean that I realize that I could direct my creativity into areas that could help me survive, like into work as a Librarian, or into cooking. For a while I’ve had an identity as a creative person, but I don’t really know if channeling that creativity into arts and crafts is serving me, in the long run.

Of course, though, making my own jewelry and clothes does give me a sense of control over my presentation, which is obviously very important. That’s especially so, as I have had stretches of time where I loathed and had anger towards almost everything that fit me and was in a gender deemed “appropriate.” So…maybe jewelry and clothes-making, I can keep. That does serve a purpose.

It also depends on whether I end up becoming a Reference and User Services Librarian, or a Cataloging Librarian. They’re way different paths. Right now I’m aiming for a Cataloging position, but I’m not sure as to whether I can even become a Cataloger in a Public Library system, fresh out of Library School (or if I’ll need to log hours as something more like a Reference Librarian, first). I need to ask a particular co-worker about that.

Still don’t know what to do, tomorrow. I guess it depends on how much time I have free, and whether I feel like browsing job ads or looking in the stacks…

career, personal

Today worked out.

Well, I can say that…at least this day wasn’t wasted. In addition to finishing my Cataloging work for the weekend, I read a bit into an optional reading, worked on my Japanese skills, and read a good number of pages in my book on Reference Interviews. I also reviewed the fact that I have signed up to walk the Stage in Spring, and that I still need to complete my submission for the second Convocation (not to mention dealing with the regalia), but have a lot of time (at least a month) to do it.

Over the past several days, I’ve been able to find that I am best prepared, right now, to work in a Public Library. Probably in Technical Services, or Reference Services…though most Librarian I (that is, entry-level) positions seem to be in Reference & User Services. Knowing this means that I know where to focus my energies in the near future, because I have some skill gaps that I can recognize and work on (and am working on).

And…I can work on JavaScript if I have extra time. I won’t be able to do this all immediately, after all.

I just sent out a posting offering to help people understand “entities” versus “attributes” and “relationships”…because it’s going unexplained, and I feel for everyone who doesn’t know what we’re talking about. (I was in that pool, once.)

So aside from this, I know that if I really…am working on all this stuff, I’ll need to “build in” time to do things that aren’t related to libraries or computers or tech. (I don’t know if there’s yet a term for this.) I did this recently by teaching myself Feather Stitch in embroidery (it’s possible!)…I can also read, and make jewelry, and sew. And maybe finish that **** blanket. I am on the verge of beginning a kick having to do with Transcendentalism and Muir and Ansel Adams, the Sierra Club, etc.

It started with becoming interested in Cannery Row by Steinbeck, but I haven’t started it yet, and going by what I see online, I may be more interested in Muir’s work than the former.

Then, there’s also the fact that Roosevelt (Theodore, not Franklin) was highly involved in taking over Hawaii, which is more than mentioned in some of the books I picked up on my last visit there (which I haven’t yet completely read).

I don’t know what it is about the mid-to-late 1800’s and on that’s so interesting to me, but my studies keep pulling me back there. I suppose it doesn’t really help that Spiritualism also started around that time; I’ve had an interest in that, but I wouldn’t have known without becoming irritated with/excluded by the occult wing of the Western Mystery Tradition, and trying to look beyond it.

Yeah, so not going to get into that. Not that Spiritualism is necessarily better, but at least it’s something I can understand, as an outsider to the religions that typically informed the Western Mystery Tradition.

This is what I do when left to my own devices. If I’m going to be a Public Librarian, though, it would indeed help to get some leisure reading under my belt. Right now I’ve got White Fang waiting in queue.

Well, it wasn’t a day wasted, which is kind of surprising, because I have had some wasted days, in there…I wonder how much of it is related to having been social (IRL), yesterday? Or, no: actually, I know what it is: it’s the fact that I did the research to narrow down my job prospects to something recognizable and actionable. In addition, I can clearly see some skill gaps, and everything I did today was to work on those skill gaps. Well — almost. The graduation stuff doesn’t have to do with career, so much as celebration (and basically recognizing that I’ve achieved something, rather than plodding along endlessly).

Of course, I still feel the need for additional training in Cataloging…but we’ll get to that when we get to it.

I also need to deal with a particular professional association…

beading, craft, design, jewelry

Am I doing too much?

While I had thought I would not go the the recent bead show, my folks insisted. This is largely because after having visited General Bead, I started looking again at the Garden of Beadin’s website, to see what I was missing. Unfortunately, that website was not entirely functional for me (which is the reason I’m not linking it), so we went to the bead show to pick up a paper catalog, in person.

That…was a good thing. The paper catalog is much easier to navigate than the website, and it’s possible to buy things without submitting any sensitive information. I also happened to find a table run by the daughter of the person who runs the store, Beads On Main — the latter of which, I recognized from the old Oakland bead shows.

So…because I hadn’t been through the entire show yet, I didn’t realize that she was one of the only vendors there who focused on multiple-hole beads. If I had a clearer idea of the entire convention, like if I had been there for more than a couple of hours, I probably would have bought more from her. As it was, I was trying to conserve my funds (in case there was something which I really wanted, and couldn’t otherwise obtain).

For better or worse, I did end up purchasing three little cabochons…for which, I will need to either make metal or bead settings. I spent some time going through these undrilled things that I’ve collected over the years…what stands out to me is the fact that the cabochons I’ve bought which were from beading suppliers are less regular in their shoulders (and backs) than the ones I’ve bought from jewelry (that is, metalsmithing) suppliers.

The “shoulder” of a cabochon is the transition zone between the edge of the cabochon and top of the cabochon. In an ideal piece, the shoulder would be present, and the same height all the way around, making it easy to roll a bezel wire over the edge. I didn’t know this when I picked up a couple of fused dichroic glass cabs (probably more than a decade ago); and obviously, neither did those who made the cabs I’m talking about.

In some areas, the shoulders in these pieces are much higher than in others, meaning that these cabs require special (looped) settings. I wouldn’t have been able to tell this, however, without using a caliper to go all the way around the edges. With a caliper, the difference between professional-grade stone cutting, and everything else, is obvious.

I do know now, however, which cabs to prioritize for bead settings: the ones with low or no shoulder, and the ones with irregular shoulders. These can be used in bead-embroidered settings. The thing that’s stopping me from using them right now is the fact that bead embroidery implies the use of adhesive to hold the cab in place while it’s being sewn in.

I do have adhesive that I believe will work; the thing is, I hate to glue anything if I don’t have to. (This is largely because I was cautioned away from it in Metalsmithing classes; it requires more work than glue to set a stone securely.) Also, my two strongest adhesives (E-6000, and G-S Hypo Cement) are both toxic before they cure, which is a deterrent to my using them.

I also know that there are some cabs (like jaspers and agates) which would probably look nicer in metal, to preserve as much of the front display area as possible. The only drawback to working with metal is the fact that I have to use fire with it (innately hazardous), unless I go for cold connections and wire wrapping or wire weaving, which I’m not planning on doing. It’s way too easy to chip a stone, or break a wire.

It’s not the end of the world to break a wire, it’s just frustrating. Keeping the wire supple and un-kinked throughout the weaving process requires a dowel (or pen) and awl, at least. I’ve just done enough of it to know how it ends up looking, and how tough it can be. Using fire might actually be easier.

I’m also a relative newcomer to designing metal components. I’ve done it before, it’s just that it’s an entirely different workflow than working with beads, so I’m not used to it. There is a lot more room for innovative design when you’re cutting all the pieces out of metal sheet and wire, rather than fitting together small pre-made components.

I’m thinking that my major challenge will be figuring out how to integrate beadwork and metalsmithing. I know it can work, I’ve done it before. I haven’t, however, seen too many other people doing it, likely because the skills are things you actually need classes or apprenticeships to learn. I do know of places where people can learn, and I’ve seen beadworkers using torches…but handheld butane torches are pretty much not comparable to acetylene (which is what I used in class). I haven’t yet tried propane.

Anyhow…since that time, a class I’m taking has kicked in, and I’ve been dealing with work stuff. A lot of the time since the weekend, I’ve just been studying about situations I’d need to deal with if I were a Librarian. This is compounded by the fact that I did take a Civil Service test for the latter position, and didn’t score too poorly on it…I really need to keep applying, though.

Right now…I have also gotten a book on basic beadweaving stitches, which includes St. Petersburg and Chenille stitches. I am not practiced on either of the latter, so I’ve been wanting to get into it. Why I haven’t, I’m not sure, except for the fact that I’m fatigued…I guess from work, the job search, the research for the job, and this class.

When I put it like that, it looks reasonable…

craft, glass beads, seed beads

GAAAA…Washing beads.

So…in lieu of going to the Walnut Creek Bead & Design show this weekend, I found myself in San Francisco and took the opportunity to look inside General Bead, a store I’ve long known about and never visited. I have checked out their website, but I don’t remember having come away from it with a good feeling. I decided to look into their physical storefront today.

The store itself was on Minna, in the South of Market (SoMa) area. Minna in this area is kind of…run-down. The storefront almost seems to be off of an alley (the alley being Minna itself), in a way which very much reminded me of Mr. Zebra off of Telegraph in Berkeley (down to the spray-painted facade…and the local aroma, common to most urban areas here, which…anyone who lives here will know).

On going in, we were immediately greeted by an employee, who explained the method for ordering materials. This was kind. It was also nice that the store inside is not as modest as the storefront would suggest. In particular, they have a lot of Czech seed beads, in bags and in hanks. However, most of the stock is behind the counter and not accessible to the public. One fills out a form and the staff retrieve the items, which disallows close inspection prior to purchase.

It was noticeable that they had barely any multi-hole beads (though I did find some “Piggy” beads — just not in colors I would want), which is something that I can understand, as it’s difficult to tell which shape will be in demand at any one time (and new shapes are being continually introduced). I wouldn’t be surprised if trying to keep up with the multi-hole bead craze put some of the bead stores I’ve known (particularly Baubles & Beads, in Berkeley), out of business.

And, okay, I’m just going to put it out here right now: one of the packs of beads I got from them has what looks like part of the carapace of the abdomen, and two legs, of some kind of bug. I don’t want to post an image. I don’t want to remember it. At first I thought that it was a scale of a tiny pine cone. Then I identified two shed legs inside the package. So…thaaat is the gross part that I’ve been trying not to talk about so soon, but I might forget about it if I don’t mention it now.

But to be understanding, a lot of these beads came out of bulk packages behind the counter, in boxes, to be sealed up on exit in take-home packs…it would be incredibly easy for insects to live out their entire lives back there. Eating cardboard and stuff. Considering what the surrounding area looked like, I wasn’t entirely surprised…

That’s not to say that I didn’t like the experience, once inside the store. That’s to say that there are some bug issues, likely arising from the location.

I did take that hank of beads out (this was sealed at the store), and found a bunch of dust left behind inside the package. Then I went and got a fine plastic colander and bowl set that I purchased from the small Asian dollar store for $2 before it closed, and I used that as a large wash basin to wash the entire hank of beads. In Dawn dishwashing detergent. Twice.

I probably could have done more, but I passed the point of, “squeaky clean,” to the point that the oil from my hands began rubbing off on the beads. Because I am somewhat paranoid about germs…I didn’t want to wash these things until my hands cracked. There’s a fine line between being clean, and being so germ-phobic that one inadvertently exposes oneself to more than one has to.

These were rinsed many times, probably for about as long as I washed them, or longer.

Then I took them and put them in a little yogurt cup with some soft disposable hand towels, where they will be drying until at least tomorrow. I don’t recall having washed an entire hank of beads in this way in quite a long time, if I ever have at all. However, this is the third cup of beads I’ve washed, tonight.

Another was a set of what appear to be White Heart 4mm round druks from Michaels; that is, round beads with a white core (visible at the drill holes) and something red on the outside (red glass? a layer of dye?), which did bleed (brownish) a little. (Not all druks are white at the core; this is the first time I have bought a set like this, and it was accidental. I did buy actual solid-color transparent red druks, today. The thing is, it’s hard to tell that they’re red, because [as is my constant lament] the color is so intense. The White Hearts, on the other hand, are visibly red, which is why I got them.) I had set these aside primarily because I wasn’t sure if they were colorfast, but they’re seeming to hold up well.

The other wash round, this time, was two sets of Brown Iris Czech Ring beads (from General Bead), which I have since determined cannot be used with the inside of the hole, visible. This is largely because the beads themselves are not finished on the insides of the holes. The outside edges are fine. The inside edges are not. On top of that, I’ve noticed some crazing on the surface of most of these beads, probably from internal stress on the glass. They’ll just have to be used with that in mind. I have a use for them; I largely washed them because sometimes beads will just get dust on them, and it’s hard to see what they actually look like.

I’ve bought Ring beads on two other occasions, and can’t recall if they were similarly unfinished on the insides. The Olivine-color ones, which are 9.5x3mm and which I got a long time ago, are relatively fine on the outside and inside, and not crazed, though they also do look a little frosted and rough in the center. The Black ones I have, which are 8×2.5mm, look a little less finished on the inside edges, and I can’t tell if there is any crazing, because they’re black.

The ones I got this time, which are Brown Iris (basically a multicolored metallic finish, but more durable than Galvanized finishes at least were,at one time), are 7.5×2.5mm. Now that they’re drying, they don’t look too bad; rather like unfinished metal; but they still look unfinished, like the inside is not meant to be seen.

The big thing that I like about General Bead is its selection of size 6/0 Czech seed beads, which have been a bit difficult to find locally since Baubles & Beads went under. I believe the smallest pack of these available is 50 grams, which is about twice the size of a B&B vial (which I believe was 22 grams, though I’m not sure, especially as I don’t think it was noted at the store, and I don’t have a gram scale); the cost is also very decent, at around $3.50 for most of the 6/0 packs I bought. So that’s basically like paying $1.75 for a 25-gram tube (this could be the reason Yelp lists General Bead with only one “$” out of a possible “$$$$”).

The drawback I can see here is that a lot of their stock is either solid-color and opaque, or solid-color and transparent, without much funny surface treatment like Vitrail or Celsian or Apollo, or foil- or color-lining. Not that I miss the color-lining. :) However, transparent beads (even large ones) have a tendency to drop back in compositions. Solids tend to advance, as do metal-lined beads. But still, it is nice to have some subtle effects…like the Copper-Lined Rose Matte (Aurora Borealis?) beads I left there because I was pretty sure they were dyed.

I have read a lot of things about surface treatments not being permanent on Czech seed beads, however (and have had this issue before with Picasso beads, which are mottled from a surface treatment [some of which rubbed off, especially on my thread, while others did not]), so this could be a durability issue.

They did have some nice finds there, though, like bobbins of Super-Lon beading thread and Conso beading thread. I picked up a sample of each, to see if I like working with either. Also, there are odd sizes of Czech seed beads below size 6/0, almost down to the size of freakin’ sand; where you go, “how does anyone see these/fit a needle through these?” Their selection of druks and Fire-Polished beads is decent. They also have — man! — glass cabochons! In different colors! I picked up a few of these, just to practice bead embroidered bezels.

With that, I think I’m gonna go, for now. I realize I haven’t put up photos…I will either post a separate entry with photos, or come back to this entry and insert photos, later. I should have time tomorrow, before the sun sets.