beading, career, craft, design, jewelry design, LIS, psychology

Almost…another all-nighter.

Apparently, I’m learning the differences between work, career, hobby, and personal time. I received a small shipment today which included flat aluminum wire for the face coverings I had been trying (without the proper materials, I found) to redesign. I also successfully held off on ordering more quilting fabric until the urge to buy had passed.

The latter…took some skill. I told myself that I could think about ordering it, after I finished my final work in Statistics. That successfully got me through Week 5 of work, last night, and a scan-through of Week 6’s lecture. Unfortunately, last night — after turning in Week 5’s homework — I got less than four hours of sleep. I had napped for a while the day before, and then I drank half a bottle of iced tea. Neither of those things helped. I believe I did try to make it to bed at a reasonable time, as well…so there was a lot of waiting, which turned into reading. (I knew getting back on the computer would make it worse [artificial blue light at nighttime tends to upset circadian rhythms], though it isn’t like constantly checking my phone, helped.)

Apparently I slept for less than four hours, if I combine the time at which I didn’t think I was asleep, and after reading three chapters in Rethinking Information Work (by which time, the sun was up). That book should help me figure out what classes (out of all the ones I’m curious about taking) I might actually need to take, based on at least past job profiles. The version I’m reading was published in 2016, and with the way Information Services are evolving…it’s likely not up to date anymore. Seriously.

Not only has there been a second economic downturn (as there apparently was around the time of the book’s second edition [though a quick web search turns up 2007-2009 as the “Great Recession”, which sounds accurate]), but Information work is closely tied to technology; and technology has been known to change at an accelerating rate. At least in Libraries, it’s also tied to the well-being of the funding body, whether that’s some form of government, private industry, or the education sector. As we well can see.

Anyhow. So I got more beads, today. This is what I mean by the difference between work, career, personal, and hobby time. Today was hobby time. I have a hard time trusting my mind to do intellectual work accurately when I’ve been awake all night, which is why I didn’t do my Statistics practice or homework, early this morning. (It’s not due for another week.)

I’ve actually started using a planner to work out how much time I’m awake, and what I’m doing while I’m awake. It’s notable that I have more time than I thought I did, largely because I tend to get, “in the zone,” while writing, and can easily spend two hours on a shorter blog post (like this). Then I don’t know where the time went, and can get anxious about my time commitments.

If I look at it, though; the issue isn’t so much that I have too little time, but that I’ve been on top of things so much that I haven’t given myself time to schedule refreshing periods (other than sleep). Or, I’m resting during the day and up at night. So I just feel like I’m working a lot, when I am basically doing things I don’t have to for my classes; my daylight hours are limited; and I’m spending time trying to get to sleep, and writing blog posts and journal entries.

What is odd — that I began to write about but then lost to brain fog a moment ago — is that I don’t even feel particularly tired, right now. Of course, I likely am tired…this being why my thinking is hazy; but I don’t feel too tired.

I should, of course, get to bed. Right now it’s about 9:30 PM, and I started this post an hour and a half ago. And I still haven’t gotten around to writing about the beads.

I seriously need to be doing some beadwork. I have what I need, right now: or if not everything, at least a really good start. (It’s been relatively rare for me to have everything I need already; going out to get parts for a particular color scheme just isn’t in the cards right now, though…but I’m somewhat in love with the colors in Delicas, at the moment.)

I just need to devote some time to design. Not even to production work; just to play and see what I can come up with. That is how I’ve found my own patterns (though remembering how I got to a specific point, or replicating my work, isn’t always easy).

Really, I am very relieved that I do understand Week 6 of Statistics pretty much just by reading about it. This is the final week for that…then I’ll be able to focus on the other 2-3 classes I’ll be in. (It helps to prioritize them, but I already went over this in my regular journal; I doubt the literal order will be of much use to those, here.)

And yeah, after I complete Week 6, then I can consider buying more fabric. :) What more do I need, though? Violets, yellows. Not…too bad…

beading, organization

Energy flow, and being concerned about nothing…

I fell behind this week on my Statistics lessons and homework. Before I started it, I didn’t know that it was much easier than it seemed. Today, basically working from the time I woke up (the second time), until about an hour ago, I got through all the practice homework and the homework assignment. I also found two errors in the answer key, which is easy to check.

Go me?

I was seriously expecting to take until Wednesday to catch up, but I was able to turn in the Assignment on time. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t put your essay through a round of Developmental Editing, because you’re pretty sure you’re doing more than most people, already. (The strongest part of my essay was the ending, not the beginning. Usually, you don’t want to do that, unless it’s for a purpose or otherwise intentional.) I got this hint when I asked if our References page counted towards the page limit, and got no response. I wouldn’t be surprised if even having a References page, was an outlier.

I also have got to remember to record needed information in my notes, before the class closes. There is some information that is very helpful, but may pass by me as obvious. I don’t want to avoid recording it for momentary ease, and then forget what I learned in the class (and have no recourse)!

As for beadwork…I’ve started to set up a work space right where I had been sewing. It gets good light. Until last night, I didn’t realize how much things had been shifted around in the Craft area. I’m fairly certain that this has contributed to my not using the area as much. There’s that, and the fact that it’s right near the laundry room (so there are dirty clothes on the floor more often than I’m comfortable with), and the fact that it’s near the garage…which is the quarantine area.

Even prior to then, that area got a lot of foot traffic. The carpet itself is not in great shape. Not to mention that the lighting has recently changed, and the lower work area (on the floor) isn’t so great for beading anymore, due to rearrangement of the surrounding furniture. I’m starting to get the impression that this sounds like beading Feng Shui…but the patterns of traffic through the house, the light, and the crowdedness of the area do impact whether I choose to spend time there or not.

So I have a couple of options…the most obvious of which, is to change the location of my work. Both areas I have in mind have windows facing the same direction; they get a lot of daylight. The thing is…I can move this to a more private area (the Study), but then…I’ll have to do something about comfort on the floor, or at the desk (which at this time has no sides, meaning beads would roll/bounce right off).

It would also take repurposing of either what is now my “altar table”, or use of another low table I purchased a while back (which isn’t a bad idea). It would, however, bring this back into a safer-feeling environment, as I wouldn’t have to worry about being seen.

The drawback to that is that it splits the Craft area up into two sections which are significantly far apart from each other…and the majority of my beading and metalworking supplies are now in one area. There’s also the fact that working in the Study means separating myself from the rest of what’s going on in the house. That’s not really an aim, at this point, but at the same time, I kind of feel in-the-way where the Craft area is, now.

If I chose to bead in the Study…it could be a nice environment. I have a bunch of books there (my books), my spiritual stuff, two low tables, a chair, and a really small desk. I also have a couple of floor pillows. I’d likely want to work in the daylight hours, due to lack of bright lighting at night…but then, I could choose to keep the area I’ve moved into downstairs, as a sewing table. That means that I could sew and bead during the same time period, without having to switch out tool sets (particularly: the ironing board, iron, and sewing machine, which are all fairly bulky).

I might also have to ask D to move what’s being stored in the Study out of there so I can work, and I’d probably have to vacuum and clean up everything so bugs don’t start walking on me. That’s…probably going to be the biggest issue, aside from the fact that I can lose beads down the heater vent. And the fact that I’m no longer 14 (or 6…or 4), so sitting on the floor may be more harmful to me than it used to be.

But I do have a chair. And a desk. Maybe that will help, where it comes to the macramé. Not to mention that when you’re working with tiny beads, a small drop to a carpeted floor is better than a large drop to a hard one…

And yeah, I’ve just now realized how much it’s bothered me that my Study got converted into a dumping ground. Do we have any other place for that stuff? I can ask, tomorrow. If there’s no other place, that makes the decision of where to replant this, easy…

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, craft, glass beads, jewelry design, seed beads, self care, writing

D was right…

I need to make a “short list” of things I can do. I had to look it up, but a, “short list,” in this context, is basically high-priority activity. Highest priority, recently, has been working on a paper for my Subject Analysis course. Of course, that’s easier to align my energies to than to actually do, but I have forgotten that I know how to research, and I know how to write — and how to learn. I spent a while today working on this paper, and luckily, I only have less than a page of new content that I’ll need to add (depending on what my instructor specifies — I may not have to add any).

It wouldn’t be so stressful, except for the fact that it is the largest single assignment in the class, and it’s due soon. I also know myself, and I know that I freeze up with big projects and deadlines which are too close to complete the ingest and synthesis processes. However, that anxiety has pushed me to do some review and some research today, which led in turn to gaining things to write about in this paper. So it’s very good that I didn’t put it off, because by the looks of things, I may be done by tomorrow.

Then I can get back to Statistics (which I’ve been putting off, as the projects only have “soft” due dates), and…well, maybe I can get some beadwork done.

I have a couple of beading projects which are basically frozen, right now — though the beads that came on the 21st did give me what I needed to finish one project pretty much seamlessly. The piece uses a lot of violet and green iris beads, maybe too many; I received a set of 4mm green iris fire-polished (FP) beads which will work great where I have placeholders, right now.

Yeah, using opaque pastel mint green FP beads didn’t work out great, once I could piece together what the chain would look like. :)

So…now I need to re-weave the front portion and re-string the sides and back. That may be easier said than done, as I had a difficult time keeping the pattern straight when stringing it, the first time. It would also be interesting if I had less flashy druks (these are your basic round pressed-glass beads); right now this thing is reminding me of New Orleans and Mardi Gras (only the beads will break, if they hit the ground).

There’s also the issue of what thread to use. I’m thinking either C-Lon Micro (for toughness) or K.O./Miyuki (for width), mostly because I have a bunch of both, and because I know that Nymo (which was industry-standard about 20 years ago) is prone to fraying with extended use. FireLine (gel-spun polyethylene) is another good option…the reason I’m not using it at the moment is that I’m not sure what weight I have (the last of my 4-lb. test, I used on the trial necklace), and I know for a fact that it doesn’t knot well.

Things that don’t knot well…are difficult to tie off?

Well, it’s also relatively expensive, and limited in color choice. The reason to get it is for durability (this is the one thread which I know from experience, will stand up to beadweaving with bugle beads [which have sharp edges], for example); the inability to split the thread; its lack of stretch; and its fineness.

I can hear you wondering about WildFire, which I’m thinking would also stand up to sharp glass edges. In my (limited) experience with WildFire, I’ve found it to be a bit thick — and white — meaning that this thread will show up in beadweaving. I’ve seen people color it with permanent marker, which I wouldn’t advise: “Permanent” markers aren’t that permanent, and I’ve seen some of the damage at least Sharpies can do to their substrate.

I’m thinking of a particular post I think I saw several years ago, where the artist in question had drawn pages and pages of comics using black Sharpies, and what was left was faded out and brown. I think it may have been this blog post. For what it’s worth, I think I’ve also seen corrosion of the surrounding paper around Sharpie marks, but I’m not sure about that: I can’t directly and precisely recall the images or writings. Nor can I recall where I would have been using Sharpie heavily, other than in one Painting class and one Drawing class.

I’ve been gradually replacing my vial labels which were made with white masking tape and Sharpie — I’m now using washi tape, as I’ve found the white masking tape has adhesive that degrades and sticks even when the paper component is removed. Many of these labels are really hard to read. (I mean, sure, the vial only cost maybe $0.45, but still.) As for when I wrote that stuff…I’m sure it pre-dates my spreadsheets, because prices and quantities aren’t always recorded. It’s just like, “2,” for: “there are two strands in this vial.” These days, I know that the strands I was recording likely had 45-50 beads on them…back then, did I?

Anyhow, WildFire does come in colors besides white and black, now, and FireLine does as well. I may have been out of the circuit a while, but I’m finding photos of jewel-tone FireLine from one online outlet? Hmm. Kind of scared to research that…

So there is that thread component to the one “Mardi Gras”-looking necklace, that I have to take care of.

Then there is the Pacific-looking pearl necklace. I ended up getting a through-drilled pearl for the center of this (not a big deal to replace it, as it wasn’t Baroque)…mounting a half-drilled pearl wasn’t as easy as I expected it to be. Particularly, if you’ve got a 1 mm hole and you’re trying to fit a threaded up-eye (a ring with a screw on it) into the hole…that thread may just lever off the top layers of your pearl, as versus drilling downward.

I know. It’s sad. I do have a bead cap I can cover it with, but only in silver. As for silver wire — who sells 1mm-wide wire? Ah: that’s 18-gauge, from a quick lookup. Regardless, I don’t have wire that thick in either silver or silvertone, and the bead caps (the little “hats” that can cover the damage, in this instance) are silvertone.

Well. That was me messing up from inexperience, right there.

There’s also a bronze-and-green necklace which I should just finish, regardless of the fact that I won’t be able to sell it because it’s a prototype. It also has a damaged pendant — a through-drilled stone donut which fractured when the unnecessary drill holes were being put into place. Right now, it’s being held together by wire and cord. I posted about this project on a different blog, a very long time ago, but it has been stalled, likely for years. That’s majorly due to the fact that I was thinking my design wasn’t “creative” enough.

But I need to separate out what’s in that bin, and get things back to their proper places, so that I can move on — and see what I actually have.

Then there is the Citrine/Smoky Quartz necklace, or necklace/earring set, I’m not sure which at this point. I think that one’s in a box of its own.

On top of that, I have a woven bracelet which is now too short for me…about halfway done. I was planning to weave a button for the closure, but had concerns that people would see it on me and want one like it. That’s a problem, because the button is not my pattern. It just tops things off, really really well. I have the instructions (from a magazine) and the components…the rest of it is me (inspired by Julia Pretl’s ladder-stitch work in Beaded Collars). And I think I can do it better than last time (particularly at both ends), especially with more extensive choices for beads I can use. (I just…hate to cut apart all that FireLine!)

Really…what would happen if I didn’t use bugles? I need to spend some more time in design with that one, I’m thinking. Particularly since I don’t like the bugles bunching up. What they were doing was making wide, parallel lines across the wrist, and there’s more than one way to do that. (Three-drop peyote stitch? I could incorporate a pattern, then…)

Design is just one of those things which…well, no one really taught me how to do. I’ve just found out that it’s much quicker to go through multiple design iterations in pencil, and then make the work, than it is to try and build something from an idea, without having fleshed it out first.

Aside from that…I think the only other in-progress project is something I was attempting to make out of various pinks and violets. It would be woven and bead-embroidered, meaning I’m hoping to capture a cabochon in a seed-bead bezel, which I’ve only done once before (and that was a Swarovski Rivoli).

Yeah, that one: save that for last?

That’s enough, I think. Seriously. Gah.

beading, Business, craft, money, self care, technology

Too much analysis!

Apparently, I need to give myself a break, sometimes…though it’s difficult when a person has become accustomed to having deadlines. Particularly…it would likely be actually good for me to get back to my beads and sewing. And/or, you know, writing non-academic things.

That kind of explains why I’m back here, today.

Over the weekend…was it the weekend? The days are blurring together now, but some time last week, I found out my hard drive was failing. (They only have a lifespan of 3-5 years, according to the Web.) Two days after that and we get the replacement; and then D and I have to install the thing and transfer everything over to the new drive…which is done. It just stressed me out for pretty much three days straight, and I still haven’t fully recovered where it comes to doing things with my brain.

That is, it’s difficult to get back to having to think about and analyze things, again, which is tough when I have classes to get back to and deadlines to meet. But the hard-drive thing had to be done…pretty much immediately, if I didn’t want to have to use other machines. I’ve done it before; I just don’t like to.

As a surprise, today I did get a shipment of beads which I had stopped waiting for (they came from the Czech Republic, which has not been shipping things out promptly for at least a couple of weeks because of COVID-19)…that was fun. :) My spreadsheet says I ordered these at the beginning of last month. According to the Web, it can take up to 21 days for things to get here from Czechia, and there was about a month’s delay on top of that, which…is understandable. It actually got here about a week earlier than I would have expected, if I had expected it. I had just figured it would be a nice surprise, if and when it did come.

I did get one set of beads which is pretty much unusable due to what appears to be corrosion of the Blue Iris coating; like they have been rolled in cement, almost. I’m not even going to try to save these with washing; it may be more hazardous than it’s worth (these beads cost me less than $4, total, and everything else was fine). D joked that I should send them back.

Iris colors in particular — I mean, they’re beautiful, but they’re one of the coatings that I’d have some concern about when it comes to toxicology, just from unverified information I’ve seen online. There is a reason why these things (at least, the cheaper ones) generally say that they aren’t for use by people under 14 years old…though I started using them at 11-12, at the oldest; we didn’t know any better.

I know it took me some time to graduate to the more expensive beads, but I am not sure when, entirely, the switchover from dyed glass fabric-/craft-store beads, to glass beads from bead stores, conventions, and online, took place. I am pretty sure that I can recall going to a bead store at 14 at the oldest, though: I remember the clerk at the snobby (it was, I’m not kidding) bead store, keeping a close eye on myself and M. I was in high school, then…I recall making a necklace with a pendant from there which ended up chipping one of my front teeth, in my 9th grade locker room.

They’ve since gone under. I think the multi-hole bead trend (“which beads do we stock???”), along with open favoritism in customer service, high rent, a sparsely populated web page, and customer realization that it’s hard to make a living off of beading, did it. (I hesitate to say, “intellectual property issues,” but that’s there, too: both in using widespread/basic patterns that many people could spontaneously come up with, and in having unique designs used without permission.)

Going online sounds so easy, until it comes to actually doing it. But there is an opening here for people who know Web Development, obviously. I don’t see the trend decreasing in the near future, and actually, this was a secret reason why I took Web Design in Grad School. Of course, there’s a lot more I’d need to learn if I wanted to become a Web Developer…and I think I mentioned somewhere else that I don’t think I’d be able to maintain my initial interest (to keep myself abreast of new technology) for the rest of my life. Not keeping on top of new technology and being a Web Developer at the same time, sounds…like a very bad combination.

Anyhow, getting the beads today, was nice. It reminded me that I have a legitimate opening to sell my work. During this time while I’m in classes and purposefully staying away from other people, there actually is a way I can earn income. It just isn’t my primary career path. It is, however, something I’m skilled in. I have pretty much everything I need, now; and what I don’t have, is easy to get. There is a constraint now, however, in that I’m operating from a hypothetically closed set of resources. Like I would be if I were actually operating a business, and not just trying to break even with my externally-funded hobby.

I mean, you know, there’s that added financial stress now…and I haven’t even begun working, yet. Before, it just would have been nice not to lose money; now, it’s don’t waste your time and investment! Of course, any income from this beyond breaking even, I could see as positive, so long as my living expenses are taken care of. If I were seriously doing this and living on my own…pricing would be a serious issue.

Of course, there is also the question of who will be buying jewelry at a time like this. But then we could also question, who is going out at a time like this, and obviously, the number is greater than I’d expect.

I actually have started a writing project, but I’m concerned that by working on it, I’m resigning myself to the fact that I’m going to die one day. Which of course, I will, unless I’m another Henrietta Lacks (which I’m not sure anyone would want to be). But the concern is about mortality (mine and everyone else’s) being an immediate issue. That kind of sets up…some difficulty, where it comes to recording my own thoughts. But I guess most people don’t like to think about that, so I’m probably not alone.

The other thing I had been doing for my sanity at home, was sewing. I can also get back to that, as it doesn’t require a lot of intellectual/analytical input, and it helps me feel helpful. Probably I also discouraged myself by trying to improve on my design, however. If my state makes it illegal to go outside without a mask (and it looks like we’re going in that direction, now)…I am going to have to make more.

Yeah, I just should. Building up the mask stash should be #1 priority, with #2 being jeweling, and #3 being authorship. Where it comes to work, aside of my classes and my Portfolio.

beading, creativity, psychology, self care

I’ve gotta say… (Trigger warning: mention of suicide as an extreme of cultural erasure)

…that going through a job search without limiting myself to either libraries or self-employment, is infinitely more hopeful. I’m not, you know, hemmed in by the limits of my own imagination, there. I’m actually dealing with reality (even if the reality is someone illegitimately looking for personal information).

Last night, I started disassembling strands of beads and loading them into labeled vials. I’ve been looking around online for quality sellers, and I’ve found at least one new one. (I also found a seller who I am going to be careful about ordering from, again — though they did give me two strands of beads which are gorgeous, after washing. The thing is: they required washing.) I’m also collecting information on shops I knew from a while back, and compiling them into a spreadsheet. Not all of them are still great (if they ever were any better, more than having name recognition).

This is after I realized that I just didn’t have the tenacity to get through itemizing another receipt…gah. But there is one left from the middle of May (of this year), that I really should work on. I didn’t, because for one thing, there are about 30 different items on the list. That store in particular, though? I’ve seen a price spike there, recently, and I’m not sure if it’s because of limited stock from the global shutdown. Less stock, more demand, same rent, higher prices. Basic microeconomics…

I do think that I still am dealing with a fear of being creative, though it’s not as strong as it historically has been. That’s why it was easier to store and categorize things, yesterday, than it was to actually build anything. And, yeah, I guess it was easier to play with MS Excel (and look for jobs?) than it was to build anything. Planning on running a jewelry microbusiness really isn’t going to go anywhere if I don’t actually, you know, make things.

And then there’s the question of the value of making things if I have to let those things go in order to create more things of value. In that way, value is produced…but unless I charge enough, I don’t get to see much of it. This is what has happened with my making face coverings. I began doing it for myself and my parents, then basically needed to give some to my sibling and sell some to people who can’t sew. So I have maybe 12-14 for myself and my parents, now (it takes at least one hour to go from start to finish), even though I’ve likely put at least 24 hours into making them, in total. Likely more, if I count fabric choice and acquisition and preparation and design.

And I actually, probably should make more. It’s comforting to have something ready when I need to go out.

The entire creativity/fear thing…it’s pretty…well, I’d say it’s pretty commonplace, given that there’s actually a book called Art and Fear (by David Bayles and Ted Orland, which I’ve read), but…you know. Fear of the unknown, and all that. (Fear of generation? Fear of response?) I’m not sure if the unknown is better than the stories my mind has made up to fill the yawning gap in my knowledge, at this point.

I don’t even want to get into the stories. They sound like either fiction or craziness. And they can get me targeted by other people whose own crazy latches on. But the stories are very creative. As for whether or not I publicly engage with those narratives: does that equate to whether or not I engage with my creativity? I know it makes it, “feel more real,” when it’s not just myself who knows it…

But if the problem with disclosure is the fact that if I’m not believed, I come off as crazy; and if I am believed, I come off as possibly harmful (depending on one’s ideology); that makes disclosure pretty much, a “no,” proposition. If it’s reality: lack of disclosure of reality doesn’t make it any less real. My open acknowledgment of reality doesn’t make that reality come into being. Not talking about it just makes it less tangible, and produces fewer outward reminders.

It also keeps things, “living,” instead of, “dead,” if I’m thinking back to my books on Daoism. Red Pine may have said something about that (I have a copy of his translation of the Taoteching).

The question is, now, whether to live my life as though this core belief (the reasoning behind my pushing myself to be creative) is true, or whether to question it and lose my mooring. Do I have a calling, that is, and am I ambivalent about having it? Or just afraid to exert it? (The latter is true: there is power here; I believe I question whether I am right [or have a right] to exercise it.)

I’ve had some time between beginning this post after midnight this morning, and now — it’s nearly midnight again — to actually write some things in my private journal about this topic. I’ve realized that I’ve grown out of rehashing the narrative I was speaking of, above. It’s not new anymore. What to do about now, is what I have to deal with.


How, that is, can I lower my barrier to producing? How do I get out of idea generation and back into making — into construction? And how do I keep capitalism from sucking the life out of myself and my work? What do I do if I find out that one of my suppliers is doing something that violates my ethics?

Maybe I should just make the stuff I want to make, first. Without regard to whether they’ll be taken from me — just make them. If I were to do that, I could be motivated on the mask aspect again. I’d also have to set a firm boundary on what I will and won’t sell — if the goal is to be productive.

Pearl necklace in green and violet.
From February 2019. The pearls are mostly from The Bead Gallery in Honolulu, HI.

For the pearls…I know I don’t need them. (Who needs pearls?) I also know that I can make some gorgeous jewelry. Maybe if I spent less time in research (reading, YouTube), and more time figuring things out on my own, I will be able to more easily turn out what has been on the back burner for weeks, if not months (or years). I should also list my projects in-progress (kind of like what’s on Ravelry), so that I can keep track of what my beads and cords are doing, and how long they’ve been sitting there.

A set of pearl trident drop earrings in gold and mauve.

Right now I can think of at least five major undone/in-progress projects, plus one which I need to re-knot and lengthen, and two samples which I may cut apart to gather more beads (they were made as I figured out technique). Then there are projects I’ve envisioned and simply haven’t done (like more pearl earrings of a type which…I’m not sure I’ve yet shared on this blog; you can see them to the left), and a successful trial which is waiting for…something, to be made into earrings (below).

An in-process photo of an earring in purple, blue and orange. It looks like a banner, with glass beads making an eye-spot below it.
This one’s waiting for something. May 2020.

And maybe I should just terminate some projects, like things I began simply to learn how to do them, which have become dull and rote (and ugly), at this point. (I try not to make technique samples out of what I’d actually use in a piece of jewelry, because of the fairly common fear of running out of needed supplies. Unfortunately, that means I get samples which look like flags, and discourage further interest.)

There’s also the fact that I believe I turned to art and writing when speech was not enough, or when I felt I couldn’t speak. On that front, it’s even more vital that I don’t take down these avenues of expression, as well. Especially as, to reference the above, there is power in expression. I have known people who didn’t want the world to know they existed. (Problematically for me, I can understand that.) I don’t want to end up in that place: because I know there are people in this world who don’t want me to exist; but as a second-best choice, they don’t want anyone to know that I exist. And I don’t want to make their job easier for them, because the ultimate in silencing is suicide.

There are people who would like that. Not everyone is a good person.

I don’t want to let the world push me to that.

There is something about pearls and glass…the way they’re made. I’m going to try to avoid waxing poetic about this, here, but maybe there’s a reason (beyond the fact that they look nice, and at least can be affordable) that I’m using pearls and glass in my work. I think that my reasoning would be obvious.

But then, maybe it’s like I recognize that most flowers contain both sexes, meaning the plants themselves contain both sexes…and no one claims them to be ugly or unnatural for it. But flowers are generally seen to relate to women, moreso than men. Why?

Fire-polished beads with seed beads and fiber, knotted together in a bracelet. The color scheme ranges from iris green to red-violet.

And it’s essentially midnight, again. Hello, June 14th. There are things I want to do and things I have to do. Tomorrow…I have homework. At least, there’s some structure there.

I might want to set up work hours for myself — for my own beading and sewing projects — in addition to the job search, and my study.

I received two precious little pearls from Hawaii, today. Made my day. :)

beading, Business, career, craft, jewelry, money

Finding a niche?

It’s a little after 12:15 AM in my part of the world, as I begin this entry. I’ve had time to send emails out both to my Vocational program, and to the Career Center liaison for my University. At this point, it’s looking pretty clear that I should be strengthening my Metadata and Cataloging skills, and looking for a job using those skills.

I also should complete the upload and edits for my ePortfolio, given that I apparently did not save all the information from it before taking it down. (Just making it, was grindingly stressful; I’m not surprised that I didn’t even want to look at it, after I had graduated.)

I am feeling pretty optimistic at this point, though. I went over a job skills document from my Master’s program, and have found that “Customer Service” is not a top skill in demand from most employers. I have, that is, been looking in the wrong sector for employment, if I don’t want to have to deal with everyone, all the time.

Of course, it has taken experience and self-knowledge to understand why Public Service is toxic for me: I am not what the general public infers I am, from my appearance. Everyone makes inferences. They’re usually wrong. They usually assume they aren’t. I’ve only had one patron ever correctly guess the origin of my name (taken broadly).

I’ve meant to ask M if not being seen as a person is exceedingly common for people like us (even without gender issues)… I didn’t even know what I was missing until I found someone who let me tell him who I was, instead of projecting who I must be, onto me. I had to have been 18 or 19 by that time.

Even though I am essentially about to lose my job — unless the Union is successful — I’ve not stopped spending money. I am ambivalent about this. On one hand, I don’t want to go into a mindset of impoverishment — especially as making money requires at least an initial investment. On the other, as an individual, I’m going to need some income to tide me through; unless I know that I’m going to be able to be hired before my savings run out.

Becoming wholly dependent on my parents again…could happen. Though I obviously don’t really want that (I’d be in deep trouble if they both passed), I will likely not have to worry about a lack of shelter or food, with them around.

The thing I’m thinking about doing, is selling jewelry and taking classes, building myself up until I can become other-than-self-employed, again. I’m giving myself until late August to get my mind together enough to decide where my next step will land. Right now, I’m still trying to tell where I am.

And unfortunately, I am attached to the jewelry I make. That’s what photos and diagrams and samples are for, though. I think that maybe I just have to remind myself that I barely wear jewelry as it is. The jewelry I’ve bought is jewelry I can’t make, or would rather not specialize in making.

There’s just so much time spent in the design phase, though. Design (and research on techniques), purchasing parts and tools, keeping things organized and findable. The part of beading that isn’t construction of that one piece, itself…do I really want to charge for that time?

There’s also the question of selling my portfolio pieces. I believe I’d have to, in order to make enough money to make continually buying new stock, sustainable — or at least, only a minimal loss. (“Minimal loss” is where I was when I was beading as a microbusiness for my family and friends, a long time ago.) Of course, though: I’m comparing this to a paraprofessional position at 26 hours a week. It shouldn’t be impossible to earn something at closer to 40, even if it isn’t quite that much.

That is the difference between beading as a hobby, and beading as a job: the amount of return I would need. Maybe I should map out how much I would need to continue operations and stay in the black (pay my bills: which are largely for supplies, books, classes and computer maintenance) every two weeks, or every month, and see how much I’d need to sell to reach that amount. I’d need to make more jewelry than will earn that, realistically; and I can’t tell how long it would take for my storefront to surface.

But hey…people do make at least some income off of stuff like this.

Of course, though…if I’m taking classes, and applying for jobs, and reading in my field, I possibly won’t be able to maintain a 40-hour week unless my work moves into evenings and weekends. I’ve heard people who run small businesses say as much; that their weeks are more like 70-hour weeks.

So maybe I should place my emphasis more on finding a long-term position, or just creeping back into the black (as versus the red)? It actually would be more of an investment to study, but it might not pay off for a while, with the economy the way it is.

I think M would tell me to stop overthinking it and just do something. I’m not the best at that…

beading, color, glass beads, macrame, seed beads

Hue and identity

I was up early this morning (I mean, really early), and took a look back through my beads. I was trying to figure out which color families I used most in the jewelry I’ve made. The answers are fairly evident: pink, violet, blue, green, yellow, and brown. Very little red (red is an incredibly difficult color to use), or orange…though a little yellow and orange, or burgundy, really do make the other colors “pop” and look more evident, through contrast.

A swatch of beaded micro-macrame made with C-Lon Fine cord.
Just practice: I didn’t think out the carrier cord color (the brown one) which shows in Vertical Double Half Hitches.

So…I have an idea of the aesthetic direction I have had, and that I want to move in. For a little bit, I’ve been trying to break out of…well, my own style, and identity. That’s probably because I didn’t know what it was, or that it was significant. And desirable.

Hmm. At my current age, I’m learning to appreciate myself, my identity, and my own aesthetics, more. I wonder if I’m discovering who I am.

I’ve found a lot of soft colors to have hit my palette recently, though they weren’t as prominent when I was a youth. I probably wasn’t secure enough to use them, then…though what my favorite colors were as I was growing up…ah, I remember. Teal and purple.

Those are still pretty much, mainstays, though I have a bit of an overpopulation of blue-greens. :) It just gives me a base from which to expand into other colors.

I probably wouldn’t have even thought of doing this, except for having purchased a lot of quilting cottons recently. Lots of blues, ranging from blue-violet to blue-green, aqua, a tiny bit of green. Violet, and magenta…and a touch of orange and yellow.

It probably is an identity thing. Or a taste, and identity, thing. I have known people who never dressed in any color, except black. It could be a superficially similar thing. A while ago, I was on a bronze and green kick, as I tried to avoid especially gendered colors.

What I found, though, is that I do have a gender; it’s just generally misunderstood. That misunderstanding does keep me safe within society to an extent, but I’ve decided, at this point, not to let distress at others’ viewpoints not matching mine, dictate what I wear. Or what I do. Or who I am, or express myself to be. There is no requirement that I cause my aesthetics to align with society’s for the sake of readability. Who says I owe society readability?

So yes, I…am using pink, again. I find it interesting as, at this moment, I’m recognizing that my color range is from magenta through violet, blue, and green; it kind of peters out and stops at yellow and gold…which sounds like a color scheme. Hmm. I do have a color wheel.

As I look at one of the tools in a book called, Beaded Colorways: Creating Freeform Beadweaving Projects and Palettes, by Beverly Ash Gilbert (2009), I recognize this as an Expanded Complementary palette. Beaded Colorways, at least when I got it new, comes with a set of color wheels in the back of the book…which are really interesting, if you’re into color. The drawback is that the book only comes with two basic underlays: a Saturated Palette, and a Pastel Palette. As I look at them, the Pastel Palette ranges toward white in the center, while the Saturated palette trends towards black, in the center. I’m thinking this may be a Munsell Color Scale…? Yes. Now that I look it up, that looks accurate.

I am not entirely certain what inks these wheels were printed with (as I’ve said before, CMYK printing [as most home color (computer) printers rely on] cannot replicate all colors we can see). The major drawback to the Munsell system, in my eyes, is that it kind of de-prioritizes complex neutrals: which would be gained by layering or mixing two or more of the fairly pure represented colors. It’s possible in online models, but to print this would be…extremely expensive.

The really complex glass bead colors (like a blue transmitted color [looking through the glass] with a gold luster finish [nearly metallic shine which may or may not be colored] and red reflection [off the surface of the bead]: leading to a purple-appearing bead with a shiny finish)…these wheels can only hint at. They help, they do. A lot. I wouldn’t have known what I was thinking of, without going and finding these, to put words to my thoughts. The bare fact is, though, that printed paper books and glass beads cannot have a one-to-one representative correspondence. There are too many other factors to take into consideration.

And, like I said: there are complex colors…things that can’t be transmitted via LCD screen.

A swatch of Cavandoli knotting in orange, red, and blue-green.
I know it doesn’t match. I do. :)

I did realize, however, why it was that I just chose not to use certain colors in my jewelry. They just aren’t…me.

As to why that is, what that means, I don’t know. Not at this point. But I’ve found color to have definite psychological impact.

There’s also the fact that both my practice of macramé and of beadweaving…and, I suspect, quilting…heavily rely on color interactions. And…no, I don’t know why color draws me so much. I just know it does.

Yesterday, I was practicing knotting with horizontal and vertical half-hitches. The samples I’ve made (so far) are the two photos in this entry. I’ve found that it is, certainly, OK to use colors that stand out and draw attention to themselves, if I’m working on jewelry or face coverings. It’s really OK. :)

I had to stop working on these last night, and for most of today, because I’m pretty sure my skin can’t take it yet, with the way I’m knotting. I also, apparently, only got six hours of sleep, last night…so that’s not a lot of time to regenerate. My fingers still hurt.

I’ll be OK. For now, though…maybe, sewing?

beading, craft, fiber arts, macrame, seed beads, self care

Recovery

Today has been a good day in light of the fact that I felt terrible, last night, and apparently got terrible sleep. I’ve been dealing with mood issues; last night it was irritability and anger. I recognized my thoughts being warped. I hijacked the train of thought with ice cream, which stopped the rumination (brain freeze may do that), and went back to bed, then woke around 5:30 AM. I stayed up several hours, then went back to sleep, to wake in the early afternoon…or, approximately around the time the mail came.

Unexpectedly, I got a delivery of beads…which was nice! It’s amazing how happy little colored bits of glass can make me. :) So I spent some time going through that order and putting things away…I realize that I probably need to make some kind of official system so that I know (or can predict) where things are. I bought a bunch of beading needles specifically because I had stashed away all of my unused fine needles in a single place I couldn’t recall (!).

Of course, I found them later. :) After the order had gone in. Right now, the new ones are stashed with them (in a now labeled compartment on top of my toolbox) in an empty medicine bottle. It’s a good way to keep them from being damaged. This time, I got a bunch of twisted wire needles (they’re great for what I’m doing, where the size of the thread may prohibit using a standard needle), and some size #11 and #12 solid beading needles. To note: apparently, the grading of solid-metal (standard?) beading needles and twisted-wire beading needles is not the same. Below, I’m just talking about the solid ones.

Typically, for what I’ve historically done: size #10 is the biggest I would want to go to when doing something like beadweaving, where you’re dealing with multiple thread passes through the same hole, and you’re dealing with size 11° seed beads or larger. (Remember, bead sizes have higher numbers, the smaller they are; so an 8° is larger than an 11° but smaller than a 6°.)

Needle size #11 is a bit more versatile, being slightly thinner, and size #12 is for fine applications. Higher than that — up to size #13 or #15, and the needles’ eyes get very small (meaning they need finer thread: 4-lb. FireLine comes to mind, but I haven’t tried it with a #13 in a very long time [if at all]), and the needles themselves can be a bit more fragile (though the last time I had a needle break on me was years ago [they get brittle when repeatedly drawn through tight openings: the phenomenon is known by the term, “work-hardening,” and happens in metalwork as well] — usually it’s the bead breaking, instead).

I’ve only rarely had to use a #13 or #15. Maybe never, a #15. :) I know of applications where I might need a #15, but I haven’t had to face that yet, thankfully! Of course, I do know that for other beaders, more delicate may be their style…I wouldn’t work all in tiny beads for no reason, though. That’s because tiny, tiny seed beads (smaller than size 15° — I have some, but haven’t used them [I’m thinking they may be great for lace]) can be hard to see, and my vision isn’t fantastic at the outset. I’ve started to actually need my glasses, just to avoid eye strain on the daily.

Of course, twisted wire needles are a different animal; these are just lengths of fine wire — usually brass or steel — that have been folded in half and twisted together. The benefit of these is that they’re flexible, their eyes are huge compared to standard beading needles (they compress when drawn through a bead), and, being blunt, they make it nearly impossible to harm oneself. As I mentioned above, though: their size grading is distinct from that of standard beading needles. I don’t know much about their sizing system currently, which is why I’m holding back, here.

If I were teaching — I’m not, but if I were — I would teach with twisted wire needles, or with self-needles (stiffened thread ends; the stiffener can be nail polish, Fray Check, probably even a glue that dries clean and hard. Just make sure it’s dry before you snip the end off the thread). When working with sharp needles and pins…drawing blood is an inevitability. Eliminating sharp objects is one of the best ways not to get stuck, or not to have to deal with blood…which can get dangerous in a group situation. I try to assume biohazard from the start.

Anyhow…I have nice needles, now. :)

I’m also feeling a bit better about work, which tells me that my freaking out about it is probably related to mental health issues (germ phobia, paranoia, feeling unsafe in public), much more than anything objectively existent. It’s nice to be aware about these things. I know that people often don’t like to talk about this stuff, but it makes me feel better to know that there is a reason (or are reasons) why my thinking can become distorted, as versus no explanation. I think mass panic would try even a healthy person, and it’s been made fairly clear to me that my having to deal with one or more mental disorders, is not my fault. So I’m feeling safer, today. Well: tonight. :)

My family and I have done a lot of work around this.

Hmm. So…I’m pretty sure that it was right after I put everything away, that I started practicing micro-macramé again. I know that I need to practice with this stuff if I want to know what I can do with it. I also need to practice, in order to discern what it is I’ll actually use. And if I don’t want to practice with it, it isn’t worth buying more of it.

So…today, I was working on a sample with C-Lon Fine. I actually put some beads onto the cord and practiced knotting below those, too…which came out surprisingly well. I’m getting more skill with the cords, and with my tension. I’ve noticed that I don’t have to pull everything absolutely tight for the knots to hold, and that sometimes it’s better that I don’t.

I also started a sample using Standard C-Lon, with the same pattern and same number of starting cords as the Fine sample, trying to see the difference in scale…I only got so far, though, before my hands started to hurt too much to do more. (In turn, I worked with this today because I knew I’d lose my callouses if I avoided knotting for much longer.)

I’m doing this in part to see the difference between Fine and Standard gauge…the thicker the cords get, the more colors they come in. The thing is…the Fine can really easily accommodate size 11° seed beads…which I love. They’re what I started out with, and what I have the largest collection of. They’re also really tiny and delicate. Way tiny, to an adult sensibility! I can also fit two strands of the Fine through a 4mm Fire-Polished bead…if the one I used, is a 4mm, and not a 3mm. I’d have to get my calipers out, to be sure…the one I used for the sample was purchased years ago, possibly decades ago.

I just didn’t want to use anything that I’d use in a real piece of jewelry…those things can become precious because of scarcity. This is also why I’m using some pretty questionable color combinations in my knotting: there are some colors that are so high-risk that it’s hard to think about what they would actually look like, in jewelry! Though…I do think some people love high-risk color combinations. :)

The Standard sample…I haven’t tried yet, with beads. But I don’t think the Standard cords will accommodate beads smaller than 11°, though I know for a fact that they accommodate 8°s and 6°s, very, very well. What I didn’t expect: I think the Standard sample is taking up cord much faster than the Fine sample, did…

beading, craft, design, fiber arts, jewelry design, macrame

Woo! An all-nighter!

Last night was the first night in a long time that I got no sleep. Like, absolutely zero sleep. Don’t drink a Coke at dinnertime when you only got up a minute ago.

As is often the case, however: while I was unable to sleep, my mind was working. I puzzled out a new earring design (or designs), or the beginning of some. By dawn, I had pretty much had it with lying around in bed trying in vain to pass out, so I got up, sorted through the fabric laid out over the chair contemplatively (I haven’t made any masks since I burned myself with steam from the iron about three days ago), and then set to trying to make the earring I had designed.

As I had only essentially learned how to tie vertical and horizontal clove hitches (a.k.a. double half-hitches) a couple of days ago, it was kind of wondrous that I was able to transfer that to a chevron pattern. There are instructions for tying chevrons, Cavandoli-style, in Micro-Macramé Jewelry, but I did kind of have to puzzle out some things in construction. I’m pretty sure I won’t be following project instructions exactly, going forward. After all…they’re guides, and many more possibilities exist than are apparent from instructions.

An unfinished earring featuring a purple and orange panel of Cavandoli knotting, suspended from brass wire and terminated in beads.

Right now, the earring design still isn’t really complete. I’m trying to figure out what to do as a termination, given that M was in love with the piece with all the threads still attached to it.

On top of that, I’m not too happy about the color scheme, but considering this was a trial, I used colors that I normally would not use, in order to save the good stuff for the time at which I know what I’m doing. :) Unfortunately, then, this earring turned out almost looking like the wearer is a Lakers fan…and that’s about all I know about the Lakers. :)

However! For something I designed in the middle of the night and made on the fly in early morning, it turned out pretty well! At this point, I’ve knotted off the 4mm Fire-Polished bead at the bottom; all it’s waiting for, now, is cement, trimming, and possibly switching out that round earwire (inferred by the shadow at the top of the image).

I…could get into how I designed this, but…I’m not sure I have the energy to explain it, right now. I have set aside a notebook for jewelry design, which I should copy my drawings into; there were just so many design phases for this, however (incorporating macramé and wirework)…that the idea of the task is daunting.

This is a prototype, though, using C-Lon standard gauge. I’m hoping to make more of these, in more attractive colors. :)

beading, color, craft, jewelry design, macrame, seed beads

Cooling down…this stuff calms me.

Tonight, but technically, yesterday…I put in some more time with learning macramé. I had noticed that I was getting a bit greedy about supplies, and realized that this was likely because I wasn’t using what I had, I was just dreaming about it. I also didn’t know what I needed if I were going to buy something, because I hadn’t used what I had.

So, today, in lieu of buying more, I worked at knotting and color adventures. Also — the day before, which I didn’t record yet here — I worked on a model of a new pearl necklace. I’m now iffy about selling it, although I think I could get a good price. I just got kind of attached to it, as it features the first half-drilled pearl I’ll ever have used (I designed the necklace around that pearl, which I selected undrilled and in-person from a lonely Aloha Pearls vendor who had come all the way from Hawaii).

That pearl cost me $21 itself, if I count the fee for half-drilling it (which I think was around $8). The reason it cost so much? It’s 9mm in diameter, natural mauve, off-round; with excellent liquid sheen. Though it is slightly irregular by Fine Jewelry standards (which is why it was only $21), I’m not a Fine Jeweler, and it’s round enough for me.

In contrast, I got what I think was 18″ of small (5-6mm long) pink rice pearls (beautiful sheen and color, skilled drilling) from a different vendor, for $8, and I’ve used maybe 1/4 of the strand in this necklace. The lesson for me here is to buy quality pearls that have been handled lovingly, and are selling at good prices, in-person…because finding them is rare, and mixing colors and sizes can turn out beautiful. Most places which I’ve seen specialize in pearls, are going for huge, gaudy, perfectly-round pearls…which isn’t my aesthetic. It’s okay to have a beautiful central pearl and set it off with variety.

At the Aloha Pearls booth, I was also looking for something special about the energetic “feel” of the pearl I chose (which I consider special due to the sacrifice of the oyster), but I don’t really expect others to understand that.

The necklace in-process reminds me a lot of the tropics, and is one of the first times for me to recently have utilized controlled chaos in design: in sections, I used end-drilled pearls which stand off of the chest and whose orientation can’t be predicted. I still don’t know if I’m going to knot the strand to protect the pearls themselves from loss or abrasion…it would interfere with that randomness, unless I left the strand unknotted (and subject to movement, which could lead to damage) in the areas where I’m wanting the complexity.

Tonight — a few hours ago on Wednesday the 13th, that is — I was practicing Cavandoli (tapestry) knotting, and playing with color combinations in the alternating-square-knot technique I photographed, last post. I’m getting a better sense of when and how to use the C-Lon TEX 400 (this is the version that is nearly 1mm wide)…as I used it tonight for my Cavandoli practice, and found it so robust that it didn’t want to take a mounting knot. It didn’t want, that is, to bend. I’ve experienced the same with other C-Lon thread (the heavier it is, the more it happens), but due to the gigantic gauge of the TEX 400, the effect is magnified.

I was using Joan R. Babcock’s first book (now in its Second Edition), Micro-Macramé Jewelry: Tips and Techniques for Knotting With Beads. It’s a very good book, apparently self-published, but that doesn’t matter at all in craft books when the author can teach, and teach well; and the reader most of all wants to be taught, and taught well. In that case, word-of-mouth (like this) can generate goodwill and interest, regardless of whether a big Publishing House takes up the project, or not.

I haven’t yet made any of the projects (which I’m taking as classroom assignments, at this point), and am only practicing right now, as Babcock suggests in her book. She teaches some fundamental skills in the beginning which aren’t covered as comprehensively in most other macramé books (specifically, beaded micro-macramé books) I’ve seen.

I’m not certain if this is because they are not straight rope-and-hemp macramé books, but most straight macramé books (like the ones that will teach you to make hanging planters) I’ve seen hearken back to the 1970’s…which is relatively recent, and not precisely what I want to be doing. I have a feeling that there’s knowledge and technique from before the 1970’s that is being, or has been, lost.

This is why when I found Macramé Pattern Book: Includes Over 70 Knots and Small Repeat Patterns Plus Projects, by Märchen Art Studio in the craft section of a Japanese-language bookstore, I was sure to sweep it up: a view from outside the English-speaking world might have a relatively unique perspective. (The book was published first in Japanese language, then translated into English two years later.) Also, I know there are some interesting and/or novel techniques in Japanese-language beadwork books that I’ve found, which are not covered in any English-language books I’ve seen.

Babcock’s explanations and illustrations (and tips!) are very clear, even though I wished at various points to highlight passages I kept having to refer back to (particularly in reference to cord orientation, and whether a half-hitch loops above or below the carrier cord [it matters]). According to the Web, she’s an experienced teacher, and it shows.

Obviously, my first try at this in years isn’t the prettiest thing (which is why I’m writing this at what is now 1:15 in the morning without images), but I learned a lot from it. That’s probably an understatement: the learning part, I mean.

I found that the different gauges of thread or cord matter in regard to what you’re using them for. I experienced what it’s like to see a color harmony and magnification when pairing Chartreuse with a green-leaning yellow cord (“Antique Gold”) — which I doubt will come out accurately in a photograph (it didn’t come out on my monitor when I saw it online). I learned just how different the same gauge cord looks, when slightly brighter, and with slightly less green. I found that pairing a thread with a bead which is approximately the same color, doesn’t necessarily look monotone. I found that more rectangular-profile Japanese 6°s, like Miyuki rocailles, can actually work better for a sinnet application than Czech 6°s, which are rounder. I learned that the thread will tell me when I’m doing something different, when I don’t intend to: strange cord positions are obvious with a thread as stiff as TEX 400. I learned how to add an additional length of carrier cord. I also found that I probably shouldn’t always shy away from color-lined beads (although they’re known to be vulnerable to fading or other color change, over time).

And now I want to deal with this a different way. To know what I need, I need to work. To be satisfied, I need to work. And I have the time to do it, now. I will make time to do it, now.

I was not compensated in any way for writing this.