design, organization, personal, planning, self care

Chrono logy

I’m writing right now because I’m not quite ready to start my homework again, and for some reason, I can tell something needs to get out. There’s a lot of stuff happening, and a lot yet to happen — things kind of competing for pieces of my time. At least when I’m at work, there is a clear hierarchy of tasks to help me prioritize and complete everything. At home, though, it’s different — there is work, and school, and family life, and personal life — and I’m not sure which is most important, at this time.

I need to get my homework out of the way very soon; I’m aiming for completing it during the next two days, to give myself two extra days if I slack or have extra trouble. I’m cutting out working on it today, unless I start my second practice assignment late tonight…which I don’t think is a good idea, as I worked six and a half hours today. I can stomach re-reading what I already read, though. I can also stomach watching the videos that I’m told don’t relate to the rest of the unit, which sounds better.

The good thing is that I already am kind of familiar with the Dewey 800 range (Literature), from my first Cataloging course and from my shelving work; that’s what we’re working on now.

Notably, I had an easier time at work, today, due to a number of things. I think people chipping in has a lot to do with it. Because of that, because my manager has been meeting with everyone to get them up to speed, and because I’ve been prioritizing my own shelving of the least-liked carts, I think things have been running more smoothly.

So…I was at work for an extra 30 minutes today. I figured it was okay to talk to people a little — normally I would be all-business (or mostly-business), but I’ve been trying to be a bit more gentle on myself since I got an overuse injury in one of my tendons. (I’m pretty sure it was from working too hard.) I’ve also been trying to be more gentle on myself since my graduation ceremony happened, and since it’s set in that no one is recording my Grade Point Average anymore and tying it to my financial aid and continued good standing in the Master’s program. What I am dealing with is finishing my course material on time, in order to earn a Certificate showing that I completed the class…which is, I know, relatively minor.

I do still need to call my vocational program to set up a meeting (I would like help obtaining work experience in an Academic Library setting) — it’s been two weeks since I was notified to call in. I’ve been meaning to do it since before Commencement (my graduation ceremony), but around then I also knew I didn’t know how my time was going to pan out for the near future.

Right now I have the time to meet, but I also don’t know when my required meeting times (for my next course) will happen. I’m guessing Monday mornings, from what is up on one of the course pages, but the course hasn’t started yet — hence, the page where I read this information is not yet up to speed.

Another thing stopping me from scheduling an appointment was the fact that I was working on another job application. It’s turned in, now. There is a tentative date of Monday, June 10 scheduled for the placement test…and I have no control over whether they accept me into that, or not. The major issue is that I don’t have a Driver’s License, though I’m qualified for the position in other ways (though I’m told there are Librarians in that system without licenses, it looks like this is a new requirement).

We also have family visiting us, and that time will be over in the beginning of next week…so there is another time pressure (which maybe shouldn’t be a time pressure, but I value my time with family and don’t want to be working my *** off instead of savoring time with them while we’re together, and trying to unwind before the next phase of my growth…kind of paralleling the work situation).

There have also been two jewelry projects that have come up, but I don’t think those are getting done as soon as I or we have hoped. There’s too much that matters more, in the near future, not to mention that I’ve realized that the creative process is a continual process and that I keep getting better and different designs, the more I focus. That’s…not necessarily great, if I fail to execute any design to completion.

The other thing that matters is that I need to practice my driving (my employment may hinge on it), though that probably won’t be happening for at least a week. Too soon, I will need to renew my Learner’s Permit…

…and I just got my first taste of Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch. Kind of cool…good as something to take my mind off of things for a minute…which may be better for me than it sounds.

As regards beading, I’ve got a number of ideas. One is to make a twisted herringbone rope with drop beads at its edges. Another is to make a twisted spiral Tri Stitch with SuperDuos in place of the drop beads in my last model, and run an embellishment through the second hole in each SuperDuo. The third is to make a line of Quad Stitch (like Tri Stitch but with one extra bead in the gap), alternating 8/0s and SuperDuos, then running another line between the SuperDuos and 8/0s.

Yeah, that’s a lot, and it’s probably not all that clear, but I needed to at least try and make a record of my thoughts somewhere, so I wouldn’t forget them. Even chicken-scratchy design drawings, help me recall what I was thinking.

Okay, Internet. Bedtime, now. Tomorrow, produce shopping and Unit 4!

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, craft, design, glass beads, jewelry design, seed beads

Design work: Tri Stitch using C-Lon Micro Cord

For several hours, I worked last night on a design prototype for someone close to me. I got to use the new C-Lon Micro Cord that I got, not so long ago…and I’m honestly pretty amazed.

I was going to make an embellished Tri Stitch chain that is longer on the outside than at the core — when this is done, a ruffle or spiral should occur (the latter, if the twist is guided, instead of just left to bunch up). However, dealing with making the prototype out of the C-Lon Micro Cord, I found that it is really sturdy! That is, it’s really structurally more solid than when I use thread. It also doesn’t warp as easily. That said, I also have to watch my tension so that everything locks in, but so it’s still not too tight; there is a bit of stretch in the cord (even after pre-stretching) which can shrink up and distort the work. It’s reminiscent of Silamide (which I don’t use for this precise reason), but not as extreme.

What I didn’t realize until starting was that if I wanted to make a knotted or beaded bail at the center, I should do this at the center of the cord, before beginning the weave. Also, when using 8/0 beads, especially when using more than one color, it isn’t really necessary to embellish the chain.

Tri Stitch design work and experimentation. How much time would I have to do this if this were my main source of income?

I’ve switched from opaque turquoise and silverlined light topaz (left vertical portion), to silverlined teal and multiple colors of drop beads, ranging from chartreuse through green, to teal (diagonal right portion). Accidentally, I tested them out in a size gradation which was also a color gradation; right now I’m thinking of making the chain with that gradation as part of the design. The big thing is making it match a pendant that the recipient wanted to include. I think that if I make a beaded bail, I’ll want to loop back around the top of it with a drop spacer, in order to fix it into a V-position as regards the rest of the chain.

I’m not sure how much cord I’ll need to reserve in order to create something 16″-18″ long. Usually, in micromacramé, I use three armspans of cord (1.5 armspans for each doubled cord), but that’s for a bracelet — like 7″ long — with knotting, and plenty to spare. It would also be using standard size C-Lon, which is about 0.5 mm wide (from my own measurements). C-Lon Micro Cord is about 0.2 mm wide. Tri Stitch loops back on itself continually like a backstitch; it isn’t knotted, but I’m not sure of the amount of overlap, geometrically. It should also vary based on the length of the bead piercings.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been straight beadweaving!

Logically, I should be able to work the needed cord length out by weaving a measured amount (in Metric), then cutting the ends, undoing the work, and measuring the difference between the finished chain and the thread that went through it, then using the two measurements compared as a ratio. I would take the final desired length and compare that to the aforementioned ratio, leaving me free to solve for x, which would be the amount of cord I would need without additional handling length.

And yeah, I am kind of amazed at how I worked that out (I remember it from learning stoichiometry in Chemistry). It wouldn’t be as clean if I were using several different kinds of beads, though; I’d need to factor in extra room for play.

If I were doing this for money…it would have to be an addendum to my regular work. I couldn’t take this long to design in a micro-business environment where I were being timed, and I were trying to make a living off of it. (I could, however, do this if I were a commercial Designer and not an Artisan, though that’s a fine [negligible] distinction in my current setup.)

Right now, I’ve got to decide on overall length, color placement, and how I’m going to fit a wire bail onto the pendant I’ve got. Looking at it, it’s pretty evident that what’s on there now (a handmade open jump ring) can come off. Because of the pendant’s formation, I need to use an ice-pick bail style, which isn’t the most secure thing (but the pendant [which isn’t mine] isn’t the most sturdy thing, either). Because of this, I’ll want to make sure the pendant is not integrated into the chain, so that if the pendant breaks or is lost, my recipient will still be able to use the necklace portion.

I had thought of doing this an entirely different way, last night…but I realized today that to do what I had been planning on doing, I would need to weave half the chain, then put protective knotting at its base, and go back through the chain a second time to reinforce and hide the thread end. I am using 8/0s, but I have doubts about how many passes of this cord these beads can take. Given the heaviness of the cord, as well (which is still wider than most bead threads, including Power Pro), it’s sturdy enough as it is. Going through it twice would be overkill.

Alright, I’m posting this now. Time to get back to work!

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, craft, creativity, design, seed beads

Design work: Embellished Tri Stitch

It’s actually fairly amazing, the things that come from just playing around with beads. I was able to get back to my design work, today. In the process, I was able to test out some S-Lon beading thread that I got a while back from General Bead, and to cut into one of my half-hanks of size 8/0 Czech seed beads.

The thing about beadwork is that it’s not always feasible to start out with a drawing, and assume that the drawing will work out into a real-world prototype which will mirror the drawing exactly. The dimensions and shapes of beads are just too precise, or sometimes idiosyncratic. I’ve found that even with beads which I assume are from the same manufacturer (for example, 3mm Miyuki-brand magatama drop beads), the shapes and sizes are not exactly the same. The exception to this could be if my supplier has at least two different sources for beads which are sold under the same name. Until I visited General Bead, though, the only types of teardrop-style seed beads I knew of were Czech fringe beads, and Miyuki 3mm Magatamas.

Embellished tri-chain swatch.

Tonight I was working with Tri Stitch, which I tried to reteach to myself before I finally realized I was beginning the chain wrong (I was looping through all three beads to begin, instead of just two), and had to resort to looking at instructions to begin. My source: Seed bead stitching: Creative variations on traditional techniques, by Beth Stone, © 2007.

The reason that the photo here doesn’t look like much is that this sample is tiny — about three inches long — and not only did I have to deal with troublesome light sources (it’s night) and difficulty focusing (the colors here are washed out, and none of my photos came out crisp, probably because I was too close), but the beads I used were mostly from a set of beads that I’ve set aside because they are either 1) the most inexpensive beads I had in a certain shape and size, 2) the beads have gotten dusty from sitting out too long and thus I’m disinclined to use them in jewelry someone will wear (without washing), or 3) the beads are likely to fade because of the method of their coloring.

The larger turquoise beads are my least-expensive and easiest-to-replace Czech 8/0s, while the drop beads at the top are color-lined, meaning they have, in this case, a bronzish paint on the inside of their hole which may change color or fade. The beads at the bottom? The amber ones are Czech 11/0s left over from some forgotten project, while the picots (loops) are size 15/0 Medium Topaz Toho beads which I used as a test to see whether the silver lining would come out.

I have another set of 15/0s (unknown brand, old) which are slightly lighter, but their silver linings shed on my fingertips– I was trying to see if it was due to age or the abrasion of the Big-Eye Needle I used. I think it was the needle. Big-Eyes have two spring-steel wires soldered together and sharpened; they’re easy to thread and use, but they aren’t as smooth to the inside of a bead’s piercing(s) as regular beading needles. They also tend to shred one’s thread into its constituent fibers, and jam up. This is magnified when using a bead as small as 15/0. It also isn’t (as much of) an issue with a regular beading needle.

I went through three swatches before I got the above (the trials were fairly…well, learning experiences). I found out relatively early that I would have to use Czech beads for some aspects of this pattern, because the Japanese 8/0 beads I first tried were far too cylindrical to nestle into each other properly. I keep saying that Czech beads are more donut-shaped…this causes them to be friendlier to stitches like Tri Stitch and Right-Angle Weave, because the edges of the beads have more rounded transitions between the walls and the tops and bottoms.

I also didn’t expect at all to have a place to use size 15/0 beads, but for little delicate embellishments like picots, they’re perfect. These are Tohos, which are a Japanese brand, which doesn’t matter all that much, in context. I do have some Czech size 13/0, but the Czech beads can get so tiny (down to the size where they look like sand) that it’s really either amazing or discouraging. :) Maybe both. I have Czech 13/0s that look just as small as Japanese 15/0s.

Yeah, I don’t know, either.

It was good to get back to this, today. I find it slightly strange that work done in design is unpredictable at the point of beginning. That is, I may have an idea of what I want in mind, but the plan has to evolve for anything to get done, especially when dealing with beads (which are pre-made, and thus have their dimensions already determined; the skill and fun comes in where one figures out how to fit them together in some way that looks nice, is durable, and isn’t a mess).

As for the S-Lon beading thread…I like it enough to consider buying C-Lon beading thread, which I’ve heard is basically the same thing. It still shreds if abused, but not as easily as Nymo (which used to be industry-standard). I know where to find both brands (different sources)…I’m just not sure which, or how many, colors to get. Having too many color choices can be as bad as having too few. In any case, I was using an olive tone of thread tonight, and it doesn’t look bad, really. I mean, it’s not black or white or red, which are the colors which would stand out most. I think that because the beads I used were greenish, and the thread was greenish and muted, it dropped back nicely.

I did just get a bunch of C-Lon Micro Cord, which I’ve wanted to use for micromacrame, but haven’t gotten the chance to play with it yet, what with job applications, and graduation, and reading, and my own continuing study. Maybe I should make it a priority to have days where I work with my beads, or paints, or on my writing…

creativity, personal

Imagining pretty things = precursor to making them.

It’s another Thursday night, and I can finally say that I did, in fact, make it out to that art store. Mainly, the reason to go was for inspiration, though I found a new brand of linoleum cutters that I’m trying out, and was able to replace my worn Speedball blades. I know now not to use them on hard linoleum, which I didn’t, before. (According to web research, linoleum can have stone powder in it, which is probably what destroyed my X-Acto and Speedball blades. There is also soft linoleum, though, which is what I tested these blades on, tonight.)

As regards those Speedball blades: the handle (I’m using the red version; there’s also a blue one) needs some tweaking to get things in and out cleanly. Basically, the collet unscrews and that loosens a slot that a blade can fit into (on only one side). What’s weird is that loosening the collet to take the blade out doesn’t always do the job; sometimes the blade needs to be rotated in the collet to disengage. That’s not entirely safe, especially with the double-edged knife that got stuck tonight for some reason. I don’t know why, but I do know that I’ve had trouble with that handle from the beginning — maybe it just takes a little experience to use.

But yeah, I was able to pick up a set of replacement blades for not too much, and was really happy with them, when I got them home. I didn’t see any replacement blades for the X-Acto linoleum carving set.

Tonight I began drawing, again. I intended to design a new linocut, but things quickly moved away from that as I began adding (imagined) colors to the intended design. The deal with that is that each new color (aside from gradations), in a block print, necessitates a different block, or at least a different impression. What I’ve got is interesting, though a little busy. I’m fighting the urge to simplify my lines, meaning that I’ve got a lot of stuff that looks like old-style fire or ki.

I’m also trying to finish the Borden & Riley Vellum that I got a really long time ago, because I’ve used all but two sheets in the pad. It doesn’t make sense to hang onto the last two, especially considering how inexpensive B&R paper is. By accident, I got a duplicate pad of Fabriano hot-press watercolor paper, today. Luckily, this means that I don’t have to feel under pressure to make “good” art on it; though it is only 25% cotton. (Most archival-quality watercolor paper is 100% cotton; the lignin in wood pulp causes acidification of the paper, which can cause eventual color change.)

And, I suppose, I could even start out with grisaille sketches again, if I wanted to. Grisaille is basically a term for “greyscale;” it allows one to isolate, compare and adjust values (lightness or darkness) in an image, prior to making a color version. I have Lamp Black watercolor (not to mention, black ink — though I wouldn’t use waterproof ink with delicate brushes — I hear pen cleaner is harsh on them), and I know these types of studies aren’t hard. I might want to tackle that in the near future!

Which reminds me now that I have dip pens and new brushes to try out…I got them a long time ago, and didn’t have the time to devote to using them at all.

I’ve been collecting things to draw for years, too (this being why I have a bunch of the plants that I have, which reminds me that I still need to repot the Dwarf Umbrella plant), so I shouldn’t have a hard time finding a subject. What jumps to mind at first are shells, and my mineral collection, though I’ve also used jewelry. Scarves, maybe combined with jewelry, could be a more advanced study (fabric is notoriously hard to render in painting and drawing). I also have some trinkets and a vase and a pine cone…I really have been collecting stuff, haven’t I?

Yeah, I do have a lot of stuff to make images out of! My poor plants, though. They aren’t in the greatest of health, and that’s majorly because they’re indoors. Particularly, the succulents need more light, but with the amount they need, I would have to put them outside. Given how well the little one in the crack in the front yard is doing (which is basically a weed now), they would probably be okay as regards water; but I also like having them around, too.

The Dwarf Maidenhair Fern is still…ugh. I mean, seriously, I’ve looked up Maidenhair Ferns online and found them referred to as “The Diva of Houseplants,” from more sources than I care to list, though how many of them are copies of each other, I also don’t care to verify… The fact that I have the one I do is basically my own fault, though, because I have a thing for Maidenhair Ferns. When they’re healthy, they’re beautiful. The issue is that they need constant watering and misting and high humidity and don’t tolerate much of anything well (except shade).

My house isn’t cold, dark and damp, so of course the fern isn’t happy. On the other end, we’ve got my hardy Dwarf Umbrella plant, which needs watering once in a while and some light, and it’s happy (though while I was sick, I forgot to water it, and it nearly died).

Luckily…I don’t yet have pets. If I did, I would have to be more vigilant, though I do have a dream of getting two or three guppies. For some reason, I really like guppies–! The fact that they’re also hardy is very good; the major issue is what to do if we end up moving, or where to put the aquarium. See, if I had an aquarium, I could put the fern near it, and that would likely make it humid enough for them.

I also have recurring dreams of having fish that I’ve forgotten about which have died of starvation, though, which is not that encouraging. However, I’ve gotten a lot better about routine essential things…particularly sleep, medication, and caring for the plants. My folks wouldn’t have given me an aquarium unless the plants stayed alive. Right now, though…I wonder just about having an aquarium with aquatic plants in it. I think I would like to have fish in there, who would be able to complete the cycle of food to poop to plant to clean water; but it’s a monetary and care commitment, not to mention what would happen if there were a major earthquake.

Of course…I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve lived through a number of major earthquakes. I wouldn’t call it PTSD, but I once in a while think to myself about what would happen if an earthquake occurred now. This is probably just a survival thing, because it happens more frequently than any major earthquake occurs. But I do know that it’s scary to be in a house with a full aquarium when the ground is rolling — both for the fish and for me. If it weren’t a practical awareness with a practical use, I’d call it anxiety, but it’s probably a good anxiety to have (to a degree).

Of course, though, there is also the anxiety of being far from home…which relates to my job search. Particularly…in a natural disaster, I might be called in to work, and in a disaster like Loma Prieta, which knocked out a major bridge, tunnel, and freeway leading to the Peninsula, it might take a very long time to get there (while my house might be in danger of burning down).

The practical thing is to move closer to work; but housing prices are exorbitant in this area, and there’s the question of what I would do if I lost my job.

Maybe I can just make a terrarium, eh? Put a little Venus Flytrap in there and some soil and rocks and lights, or something. A fern might like that…the only question is how to avoid steaminess in there, or the eventual development of mold.

Maybe I should read up on it.

Right now, it’s become Friday morning…I should probably do something like sleep (though I accidentally fell asleep, right before dinner). Tomorrow, I need to work on my Dewey unit…hmm. I know it was suggested that we see the Pikachu movie then, but I think that with everything going on — to be responsible, I should at least start my next unit (I haven’t touched it, so far). I only have until Monday, to get it done.

The biggest pain with that is actually taking notes. I don’t mind the reading or watching videos; the annoying thing is trying to guess what information is important, and trying to recall it. I could have done that instead of writing this…but I didn’t want to.

creativity, drawing, fine arts, painting, self care

Moving forward: arts.

I was actually able to visit an art store today, and not buy anything for myself. We’re planning on going out again, tomorrow, to a different art supply place…I’m kind of excited, though I look back on my own work and wonder if it is too naive. That’s not a thing I should be asking, though.

The thing is…I’ve done a lot of work with colored pencils, fineliners, and had begun to break into watercolor (with colored pencil and fineliner) by the time I was done with my community-college stint. I have a tendency to have a tight style, as evinced by my colored pencil work, and some of the sketches I made when younger, done in mechanical pencil (yes, with shading and all — I was not one to let a tiny point of contact, or monochrome drawing materials, stop me from making nice art).

I am thinking that trying to move away from the relatively tight style I’ve been to some degree stuck in, is counterproductive to getting (any) artwork done. Maybe, like I mentioned not so long ago, I need to stop letting other peoples’ judgments as to what I do, influence what I do (or don’t do). I may have really loved the art teachers who tried to get me to work more loosely, but that doesn’t mean that it’s particularly right (for me) to work more loosely, even if it’s right (for them).

For that matter, I could be overestimating my own tightness.

I suppose it depends on the media, as well — it’s much harder to be exact in acrylics or gouache or pastel, than it is in transparent watercolor or colored pencil (or marker, depending on its tip). I need to qualify that: it’s relatively easy to control what areas will get color, in watercolor; but not where that color flows, when working in certain manners (like wet-into-wet, or in washes).

Right now I have a family member who is getting into artist coloring books, and it’s reminded me of my kind of journey from dealing with coloring books as a little kid, through drawing and refining my own outlined images, and adding my own color to them. Right when I got my AA, I was starting to do work on my own that did not have dark outlining, though it was reserved for out-of-focus areas. Now, when I look at the prime example of this, I realize that the out-of-focus, complex area with no lines and defined by hue (color), and value (lightness or darkness) heavily contributes to the balance of the piece.

In fact, it does have lines: they’re just extremely light pencil lines (2H, if I’m right), which are nearly invisible in the finished painting.

I know that in school, it was discouraged for us to make drawings or paintings which were like coloring books…as for why, that may have been more about my teacher than about me. Kind of like the insistence on painting the border of the canvas. I didn’t care, and still don’t; and I have a right not to care, and also a right to never do it again (though I probably will — when I want to or when it matters).

But if I can encourage my family member to draw or paint or color just because they want to, why would I discourage myself for doing something beyond it? It’s too naive? No one should make art like that?

I haven’t seriously drawn or painted (more than design sketches, anyway) in quite a long time. Having been to the art store reminds me of all the image-making stuff I’ve put away because I don’t feel like I’m doing it “right”. But what is “right”? Whatever way I’m not doing it?

Maybe this is more about me than it is about people inferring I’m not doing things right (or not doing things the way they would do them).

For that matter…I know I have been discouraged from painting from photographs. I understand why, now: having an image pre-made for you discourages you from “altering” it or from interpreting things your own way, without a frozen reference. However…there are times when taking a picture is actually a good thing. It’s possible to get large images of small things with a camera. It’s not easy to do that using your eyes alone, especially when you would have to zoom in to two inches away from your subject, upside-down and at an angle, to get into proper viewing position to reference your painting.

And, right, you would have to buy the miniature rose.

I do gravitate toward (relatively) large images of small things.

For that matter, I’ve gravitated towards images of weeds, wild plants, peppers, chiles, onions, and tomatillos, in addition to succulents and flowers — tiny flowers, mostly.

No, I don’t know why, except they have nice colors and interesting forms (also, who expects an Anaheim pepper to show up in a still-life). Now that I think of it, it’s been rare for me to want to draw something large — the plaza in Japantown, and botanical gardens (landscape), being exceptions.

There are some plants in bloom here that I just noticed, today. One of them, I really love — it’s this overarching plant with big yellow blossoms — but it is usually full of bees. I’m not sure I want to stay under it, for too long. There’s another time a camera would save me.

My energy is waning, so I’ll sign off, here. I am thinking that I may work on some images, though I am still working on that last necklace, too. Maybe a change of pace is good?

beading, beadwork, career, design, jewelry design, libraries, personal, self care, work

Back to reality

Today was the first day I’ve had outside in a week and a half. I got to taste strange cheeses (live and active cultures? seriously, what the…), and realize that even at 170 lbs. (I’ve stabilized, here), I don’t look so bad. At least, when my clothes fit properly. And…I’m not sure, but my fat distribution may have changed a little — or the pants I just got are actually a little large. (I suppose it would help explain my viewpoint to mention that I’ve been underweight for most of my life, not by choice.)

Apparently, I had the beginnings of a sinus infection in addition to a cold, and I think the only reason I haven’t lost weight is that I drank a lot of liquid sugars in the form of juices. The medication I’m on tends to cause me to slowly gain weight if I drink more than a minimal amount of juice or soda, and then don’t balance that with exercise. This is why I’ve been trying to shift to teas (green, oolong, and herbal) and carbonated water, if not straight water (which I am willing to appreciate for its low cost and lack of calories and sweetness — I’ve actually considered drinking broth in the past, which is how much I get disturbed by the constant sweetness). However, while I was sick, I didn’t really have the energy to care. (I also wasn’t eating that much.)

Right now I’m trialing an antihistamine to see if it will fight the lingering head cold symptoms, as I’m planning on being active again tomorrow. It looks like I will be OK where it comes to sinus infections, but I hear from others that I still sound stuffy, and I have a bit of congestion. I also am a little tired, and I have a lot of stuff coming up with homework from my classes and job applications and graduation ceremonies. I hadn’t planned to be out of commission for a week and a half (I actually did get some good work done on Monday two weeks ago, before I got a sore throat on Tuesday morning — for future reference [if it is unclear] this is the second Friday night since then).

About work: having applied for a Clerk position and having seen how much they get paid, I’m feeling not so bad about having the job title I do, now. Of course, I’m in the lowest-ranking paid job I can be in at my Library, but Clerks (the next step up) don’t get paid much more (the difference is that they’re considered for benefits, and can work full-time). Right now I’m normally working 18 hours a week, which has meant that even without paid sick leave, I have enough to not worry about having been out sick for more than half of a pay period.

So, I’ve been comforted with the knowledge that I do not have to find a better-paying job immediately, because I’m already making payments on my loans (I’m just not the person that handles the legwork, there, so I didn’t know).

I’m also realizing more the concrete difference between working in an Academic Library as versus Public…and I have been told that I don’t have to study for my job interviews, though the book I just finished on homelessness and libraries was actually really illuminating. I want to deal with the Robert Bacal book next, though, because he has a different viewpoint (one focused on protecting the person who has to enforce the rules, rather than helping other people to heed the rules).

I have one more book on Public Service I can read, right here next to me. The thing is that so much of my world is revolving around libraries, at this point. I think it’s understandable that I could be reaching my limit, especially seeing how some systems take advantage of humanitarian urges. I do want to get back to my Cataloging classes (this is wholly on my own terms, as it isn’t through a University), but at the same time, I’ve already been introduced to the issues in that class, so this isn’t new. It is possible that I could play around with the Web interface, which might help more…and I should. But part of that can be homework…

I also want to get back to my JavaScript training, though this would be easier if I had a concrete goal to work towards, with which the training would help me. I don’t have that, at this point. Same thing with Japanese language — though I could be a bilingual Librarian in the future, and it might be a shoe-in if I were one of the few people who could speak and understand Japanese language fluently, it’s a lot of work to get to that point. If I learned the language for the love of the language, that’s one thing…but learning it so I can be a more effective Public Servant? Ehh?

Learning it so I can move to Japan? I’m mixed-race, and have had enough problems with that from people close to me; I don’t expect living in Japan to be easy for me, even if I did pass the JLPT to a high enough degree to be employed there. Even if I did, I’d probably have to deal with people thinking I’m “exotic” around the clock (and there are fewer legal protections for females in Japan). If I had a concrete goal — like, hey, I want to be able to read Japanese craft books — now that is something. But this kind of hazy, “I want to learn Japanese so I can understand more of my heritage,” thing, is kind of too amorphous; because for one thing, I question my motives (much easier when your family is being dysfunctional and you’ve become aware of how constant this has been).

I also really want and/or need to get back to my beadwork, though I tend to run off on some tangent about my job every time I mention it, like it isn’t important. But I have been given permission to keep buying materials as long as I sell what I make with them. That…is tempting! But I’ll make some stuff first before I go and buy more. I have a number of projects in progress, and enough basic instructions and materials to play around for a good long time. Unless I make it really different in some way that I can only hypothesize on now, it would likely be what I’ve called, “common work;” that is, stuff that anyone who has access to the information and materials I do, would be able to easily reproduce. The thing is, the bridge from common work to work that shows my own imagination, craft and skill…that isn’t so clear.

Anyhow…this comes after a while of looking for information on how to design jewelry. There are a lot of beading, “recipe books,” out there; but few which actually will teach one how to become a designer — like a person who would make a recipe book. Particularly so, where it comes to beadwork (this doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem in metalsmithing). This is something that I’ve had a problem with, for a while. I have the thought that the books on how to design aren’t out there because if people could make their own designs, then beading design books might not be as popular — or that could be what the major presses believe.

Then, there’s also the issue with intellectual property (IP) where it comes to handcrafts, which isn’t clear because of the fact that the concept of “intellectual property” was meant to protect new ideas, not to apply to old or traditional ones. While it’s clear to me now that “copyright” protects patterns, but does not apply to technique; and that if any IP concept could apply at all to handcrafts, it would likely be patent — and then in very rare cases would someone actually have the ability to enforce it. Patent itself is only applicable to novel uses of materials which would be unlikely to be stumbled upon by anyone else. The validity of the utilization of the “copyright” tool is up to the courts, and that on a case-by-case basis, taking into account a number of factors which I don’t have the space to go into, here.

So basically, I’ve had to deal with knowing I will be mimicked and with knowing that I can’t help but be similar in some way to others working in the same field with the same materials and the same knowledge base. It’s a reason why I’ve stopped posting images of my work online. There’s basically no way to protect it, and no reason to show it unless I’m selling (or trying to get name recognition). In some ways one is better off publishing through a press, because then at least one gets some return for their design work, and at least everyone knows who originated what design…and there’s no ambiguity around the question of who saw what, when. If it’s public, it’s public; and if you went through a press, they likely have a legal team that actually knows what it’s doing. Laypeople, on the other hand…

I once had a rather uncomfortable exchange with a person who told me that I shouldn’t sell until I did not have to refer to design books; but obviously neglected to say what I should do with the piles of jewelry I produced as learning aids, in the meantime. This is another time in my life where I look back and say, “I shouldn’t have listened to that person.” At all. I probably shouldn’t have even talked to them, because that gave them a platform to throw around more of this nonsense (like the idea that contacting the author of a beading pattern to ask permission to sell something made using it, and under which conditions [credit to the pattern author, a cut of the profits, etc.], would be confronted with hostility, even though the act of reaching out for permission is one of goodwill).

Like the time I mentioned wanting to take Ceramics and was told, “only old people do that;” or the time I wanted to try out Graphic Design and was told that I, “could do more,” or the time I was making a Dutch Spiral chain for my pendant in Metals class and was told, “no beading in class.” Or, for that matter, the time I mentioned wanting to take Biology and was told, “only girls do that.” (It was obvious that I didn’t like the “teenage girl” image, at the time; which, given the fact that the information given to me is obviously false [from the point of view of an adult], was likely the other child’s motivation.) Like, what the ****. Where would I be if I had been hardheaded enough not to listen to these people, or at least enough to throw out their invalidations of my desires once I got home?

The one time (of the above examples) when I was hardheaded enough to keep going and know that I was doing what I wanted to do — when I was following my own desire and did not let myself be diverted — was when I finished that Dutch Spiral chain. (People still ask me how I did it, and I can say that it’s a popularly known technique.) The angry person I mention above in the context of the ethical use of patterns, actually threw me off my course for a number of years, because I wanted to be a good person. Thus, I didn’t make jewelry to sell with which I had gotten help from a pattern. This was before I got into Library School and read deeper on the issue. It’s also before I got back into my pattern and instructional books and realized how much I could accelerate my own growth by learning from others. What it looks like to me — and all it looks like, now — is an attempt to sabotage my development, which is even worse when you consider that the person was throwing themselves out there as a mentor.

I did have a (metal) pendant design come to me the other night as I was trying to get to sleep, and have wanted to make a maquette of it. A maquette is basically a paper model, which I would make using stiff card. I should have done it last night when I thought of it — I haven’t had the energy to do it yet, today. The form is kind of cosmic, with interlocking crescents. Kinda (not) like Sailor Moon, though I have entertained buying a black oxidized naja and making a circlet with it, and dressing up as a member of the Dark Kingdom for Halloween. I’m aware that this is not the cultural context of its intended use…it’s just that I’ve seen some examples which look very much like the symbol in Sailor Moon books and anime, to the point that I wonder if they took and duplicated the exact dimensions.

I do wonder if I’m crazy enough to do that. Am I that…crazy…

While I think of the design (interlocking crescents) as like a black hole, it’s likely closer to a magnetic field…or a vishva vajra. Realizing that made me start thinking on the validity of Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle Buddhism) last night, and the possible connection with singularities. (There was some show on gravitational lensing, dark matter, and dark energy, the other night.) I don’t think I could be an adherent of Vajrayana Buddhism in this life, save finding an actual appropriate teacher. From all accounts, it’s intense, and I’m not a person who puts a lot of faith in faith anymore, so my motives would be questionable (fear? grasping at immortality?)…and you kind of need a strong motive to put yourself through that.

I would also be more than irritated if there were no reason for it.

Anyhow…I think I’ve finally reached the end of this train of thought. Thanks for getting through it with me! Right now, it’s about 10:30 PM my time, so I should probably start doing something else than talking online…

beading, Business, career, craft, creativity, jewelry design

Showing up.

Well, I was able to restart my beading. I’m working on a project from (what at least feels like) years ago. The dominant colors are bronze, brown, and green, though I’m also working a little deep red into it, with some success. (Luckily, it doesn’t matter if anyone can recognize it as red, or not! It’s very subtle.) I am having a couple of problems, though:

  1. Just like trying to restart painting from zero, or restart writing from zero, trying to restart beading from zero comes with its own difficulties. I wouldn’t say I’m, “stymied,” just yet, but there’s definitely some practice that will have to come before I can get back into my stride.
  2. I’ve realized how core to my personality my creativity is, so it’s kind of…hard, after having been forced away from it (timewise), for so long.
    And, well, then there’s this one:
  3. I find myself more interested in this than I realized; part of the reason I did continue on with the Library training was to gain entrepreneurial skills. Actually, part of the reason to start the Library training at all, was to support my beadwork and jeweling. It’s not obvious, but being a handcrafter is not a lucrative position to be in; most handcrafters make poverty wages. Nor is being a jeweler, even though the items produced are essentially luxury items.

For the last two or three days, I’ve been moving things around. I’ve freed up a lot of space in my storage, more than I could have ever imagined. The major thing is having to depend on my own documentation to be able to tell what everything is and the cost of each little thing (which isn’t even possible to exactly know, without the initial quantities of each item).

Estimations are kind of crucial, here, when dealing with backstock which is not labeled as to its cost or value. With new stock it’s easier, but that data has to be recorded pretty much as soon as possible and in as much detail as possible, before memory fades (a lot of places don’t give itemized receipts). That is something I learned from an early Library Science class.

Particularly…working in a bead store or helping an established jeweler/beadworker/fiber artist is kind of a dream job, sad as that is. (I would also take fabric store or art-supply store.)

The illuminating part is that I’m more interested in doing informational interviews with small-business owners where it comes to jewelers, beaders, fiber artists, and suppliers, than I am interested in doing informational interviews with Librarians.

Essentially, I’m setting up to run a small business (which I know I can do now) at the same time as I’m dealing with trying to find a job as a Librarian. I’m not sure what liberties I can take in describing my current frustrations with my job, so I won’t. Given the last day or so of being sick (I’ll spare you the details), I didn’t opt to go in, today — which is good, because I was exhausted as it was. The weird thing is that cooperating with people at my job and knowing that I’m providing a helpful service to a community, is most of what’s keeping me there. And that’s bizarre for me to say, because before I started that job, I was basically a loner. However, I was a loner for a reason, which is not valid in adult society.

So I’m kind of dealing with this split but overlapping vision.

I’m realizing the need for cataloging where I got things from, the names of things, the locations of things, the prices and quantities of things, and finding quality vendors. That’s before getting to actually using the things. But it is typical in a small business (in this case, a micro-business) that most of one’s time is spent running the business, not producing the goods.

I’m actually glad that I have taken Business classes, in that way, because now I know that. If I don’t get a job soon, I’m now thinking about taking more Business classes to stave off loan repayment and sharpen my business acumen…though obviously, that’s a last-resort type of thing. From what I’ve heard, I should be able to make the loan repayments and cover them with my current job…we’ll see. I have Summer semester to work it out.

I also have heard that it takes an enormous personal commitment to establish a small business (and can take upwards of 60 hours of work per week [do I say, “hey, that’s just 10 hours per day”?]), but in this case it would be doing something I love (even if I’m not all that confident in my own creativity, all the time).

There are also the upshots that I have a good idea of the kind of work I want to do, where my niche market might lie, the tools I would need, the suppliers I would employ, the people skills involved (networking! How often can I be excited about that???), the community, places to learn, and ideas of places to start to sell (fairs, farmers’ markets, boutiques, flea markets, online). I also have experience, skill, stock, and tools. Which, particularly in silversmithing, aren’t really…things one would think of?

In silversmithing, it’s basically extremely helpful to take classes or apprentice to know what you’re doing, with which tools, in a safe manner…though it’s kind of a back-pocket thing for me, right now. I don’t want to do it, but I may need to, at some point: for instance, if I start getting gouged where it comes to buying pre-made components.

My main bead store for years consistently had overpriced metals, which I didn’t fully realize until I started making my own earwires. It’s also not difficult to hard-solder jump rings, but you need to know how to pick-solder, which I didn’t, for years. You also need to know how to quickly clean up and polish that stuff after it’s made, because time is money, and trust me, it looks horrible after having been blasted with fire.

(And yes, I did eventually look up how to do granulation, online: it isn’t looking easy. But I wonder if one could get a granulated-look from macramé plus bead embroidery?)

I think the major issues I would have, would be financial; like which web host to use, or which payment processor to employ.

So I know that I’m not going to be a goldsmith, and I’m looking at being a beadworker with the enhancements of fiber work and minor silversmithing. Basically, a major reason to go into Public Library work is that I’d be able to use my experience here to help other people, and thus have a reason to continue pouring resources and time into this current, “hobby.”

And yet, I’m spending so little time actually beading. I realized today that I couldn’t even remember yesterday (my computer told me I’d been off of it for two days, today), and then I realized that I had been sorting loads of beads into tiny containers for most of the amount of time I had been up.

Well — sorting and labeling. Probably like most crafters, I feel like I do more stashing than actually using what I have. In Art, we hear that most of the work is just showing up to the bench, every day. That gives the possibility of making, “good art,” but not the guarantee. The thing is, not showing up at all means there is no possibility.

Of course, “good art,” is subjective; “good design,” not to such a degree. But still…at least I engaged with my materials, and I can see pairings of beads jumping out at me, now (from colors I never thought I’d use)! Right now I have the forward side section of this necklace worked out; I’m not sure if I should be thinking of it like music with different verses…I just am. I don’t know if it will help, though.

career, ceramics, craft, libraries, LIS, self care

I wonder if this is what all that fatigue was about…

…which I spoke about three weeks ago. I suppose it is possible that I could have been fighting something off for two weeks without getting sick, until my immune defenses lowered. I guess that means that when I’m feeling fatigued, it actually is an okay thing to get some rest. If I had done that, maybe I could have killed off the invasion (I’m pretty sure it’s viral) before it made me sick.

A bunch of things have happened since I made my last substantive post (the one before the post from earlier today). The one I’m thinking of is having been notified that I may be called in to interview for a Librarian I position. That, in turn, got me to restart my career reading. (I actually finished The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness the other night, which has a companion site, homelesslibrary.com. I like the author, Ryan Dowd, though I can tell we’re of different worldviews. I kind of envy his.

I also wrote in to the Career Center at my school, and was encouraged to push on in the direction of an Adult Services Librarian in a Public Library setting, with which the aforementioned book helps a lot. So that means…three places I’ve applied to have told me that I may be called, but haven’t yet called me (though I took a test with one, and scored decently); one was an overt no; one I have to reapply to; and one (the one I’m currently employed by) hasn’t opened their candidate list to the outside in a very long time.

I also didn’t get into the running for a Clerk position at my current place of employment, and think it may be because I have a Master’s in Library Science, although the form email told me it was because I wasn’t qualified.

I almost forgot to mention that another nearby Library System did send out a call for applications, but as I don’t yet have a Driver’s License, I was excluded. Kind of ironic that I would be considered for Hawai’i, but not considered for a place 30 minutes away.

I did just go and send in another Job Interest Card for Hawai’i. I know I have applied for one position; unfortunately, I’m not sure that keeps me in the running for lower-ranking similar positions. But I’m getting the hang of this job application thing, now; particularly where it comes to Civil Service. (Not that I’ve particularly thought through the ramifications of being a government employee!)

As for more reading; if I can tolerate it, I will want to get back to Conducting the Reference Interview, which I’ve planned to read only until I reach the tech portions (my edition was published too long ago to be current, there); and the book I have on dealing with hostile customers, by Robert Bacal. That one also has a companion website, not to mention two different levels of seriousness. It takes a different angle than the service-to-the-homeless one, due to the fact that it targets a different set of customer cohorts.

The big issue with both of these books is that reading them is actually basically either work or Professional Development, depending on one’s angle. I’ve been particularly triggered by Bacal’s work (in combination with what I’ve experienced and witnessed), though I did purchase the more “serious” version of the book, which is actually a workbook for those employed in the public sector.

They should both be helpful if I get a Librarian I position anywhere, though. Actually, they should be helpful if I interview for a Librarian I position anywhere, too. And I should remember that replaying rough scenarios in my head is likely worse than dealing with them, would be.

On top of that, my next Cataloging class is set to kick in, though it’s only for four weeks. I do, however, have access to the coveted tool that I didn’t realize I’d lose access to when Beginning Cataloging ended in 2017. I should make use of it, while I can. It would be a very good use of my time.

I also have the deadline for re-submission of that last application, and for submitting all graduation information, coming up. And I need to be working on my driving, again. I could have been in the running for a nearby Librarian I position, but didn’t have a driver’s license (which is probably necessary because the crime rates of the area make it dangerous to walk, at least at night). I’ve gotten to the point where driving is less scary and I have more control, but I still need assistance. (I have a tendency to hang a little far to the right.) Sunday mornings are perfect for this…when I’m not sick!

The other night, when I was pretty much too sick to do anything more than just read, I was looking through a number of books on beaded micro-macramé by Joan Babcock (the link leads to her website). In the end of her first book, Micro-macramé Jewelry : Tips & Techniques for Knotting With Beads, she writes of a number of ways to bind the ends of knotting, one of which is sewing (p.77). I didn’t even think of that!

So, right now, I want to go and try and make a bunch of little samples and practice binding the ends of them–!! I could use them as key fobs or zipper pulls or something, yeah?

I also looked her up on WorldCat — I’m pretty sure her books are self-published (the press is “Joan Babcock Designs”), so it’s kind of awesome to see that someone (or someones) has cataloged them. By the way, if you try looking her up, the authorized spelling of her name is “Babcock, Joan R.” You should be able to search that name and come up with at least the four or five things I know she has produced (she has four books and one DVD, last I saw). That spelling, currently, differentiates her from others named Joan Babcock, as one finds in a search on the wider Web. (Sometimes, that’s followed by a birth and death date, or a birthdate only, or more information about their identity — which would help you sort through all the other Joan Babcocks, if there were more than one who authored a cataloged work: in this case, there aren’t [as of May 5, 2019].)

There’s more I could go into on that, but I’ve learned not to expect people to be interested. ;)

I’ve also realized that there is no shame in going back to the craft books, when the writers of the books are still more advanced than you. I do have a little library that I’ve collected, over time; and while it is the case that I’m a relatively intermediate beader, I still don’t know everything. This is because there are some stitches, like odd-count peyote (I know how to do this, I just don’t like to) and brick stitches, that I haven’t put too much root into, as I haven’t needed to. Particularly, where it comes to making increases on the edge of brick or peyote stitch…I just am not practiced. I got a book specifically for this, though, called the Bead Stitching Handbook (by Bead & Button Magazine).

Sooner or later, I’m going to have to look through that thing, again…

The fact that I don’t know this stuff basically shows my own bias against making 2-D art (brick and peyote stitch primarily make sheets, which can then be stitched together into 3-D forms; the exception being tubular peyote). I know I can make 2-D art; for whatever reason, though, I’m not drawn to it as strongly as beadwork or ceramics. It’s actually a reason I can recognize, now, for having gotten out of silversmithing…in most modern work, we’re working with sheet and wire, or casting. Casting requires a lot of specialized tools, and I’ve never been able to really get behind flinging molten metal around in a centrifuge…or using oxy-acetylene to melt it in the first place (it can give you eye damage).

There is always PMC (Precious Metal Clay), which I’m now thinking I should examine more closely. Reason I haven’t is that it basically requires a kiln. (It’s possible to fire PMC with a torch, but I wouldn’t trust myself.) “PMC”, also found as “Art Clay”, (they’re different brands) is basically a clay made of tiny metal bits and a binder; on firing, the metal bonds to itself and the binder burns off. I do have a design book from a while ago, when I was more heavily considering using it. At the time, I wanted to learn “real” metalwork, and felt metal clay was this newfangled high-tech thing…but maybe “real” metalwork is just not what I want to do.

Kilns are expensive, and basically, there’s a very obvious fire hazard. But, if I were going to use it both for PMC and for ceramics, that actually does tip the scale a bit in favor of considering one. The biggest reason I’ve held off is the fact that I tend to pick up and drop off hobbies, relatively quickly. I think the “theory” of the practice sounds awesome, while the “practice” of the practice, isn’t always appealing to me. But I can’t tell until I’ve done it.

There’s that, and the cheapest kilns are still really expensive…so I haven’t felt great about sinking money into one. Also: have you seen the prices of pottery? I’ve been able to get some really cheaply at craft fairs–they’re not even ugly! I’m like, how do you make money selling a little tiny cup — and then I remember that clay is earth! Virtually all its value comes from the skill of the ceramicists (and luck with the firings)!

I should practice with some other clays first, though, like the air-dry stuff, cellulose, and polymer clays, knowing that I don’t have to make things like I’ve seen before. It’s been a really long time since I worked with my hands in the manner clay demands, too…it would just be interesting to get back into it.

design, personal, self care

Apologies…

It looks like I’ve been away from this blog for a while…the upshot is that I have a legitimate reason, that being that I’ve been sick since last Tuesday. Accordingly, not much has been done. Last Monday, I finished the final assignment for the first in the set of four classes I’ve set out before myself. It is likely my relaxation over this that caused whatever cold this is, to kick in so suddenly and severely. (I say, “cold,” but I have been running a fever. At this point, it feels like it has broken, though.)

It’s kind of frustrating to be out of work for a week and not have the energy to play…even if I did, I doubt customers would really appreciate me making jewelry for them while I’m sick! So…I’ve just been sleeping, reading, and doing a minor bit of (hypothetical) design. When I say “hypothetical design”, I mean that I’ve been drawing. Drawn designs don’t always work out as planned, when it comes to the actual materials used.

I think I may be having a bit of an issue with having too many things that I could work on at once, and not enough time, energy, or focus to devote to any one of them. Maybe the blog could help with that; it does force me to think more linearly. (If I get too many things going, I can get a little scattered, especially if I have no priorities.)

Right now I’m running out of energy…I’ll see if I can elaborate, later.