beadwork, color, craft, creativity, fabric, jewelry, organization, sewing

Update and quilty love

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been getting myself organized. That is, I’ve been heavily trying to implement organization; not to say that I’ve been succeeding at it.

It’s kind of crazy, in the colloquial sense (though there really isn’t a formal definition for the term, that I know of). Right now I have four journals in progress, not including this blog, separated by topic. I have a journal on Creative Process, one for working notes, a Bullet Journal to (attempt to) keep myself on task, and a regular journal. In addition to the sketchbook for random scrawling, and the sleep records. Eventually I may want to combine some of these…but do you know how tedious it is to copy over information from one place to another? (Let alone, drawings…)

I’ve been working on my jewelry, which has been going well; and working on face coverings. Most recently, I’ve begun to work on experimental models in…well, both…to see if what I’ve envisioned, I can bring to fruition. Because I’m investing so much in this from myself, it’s kind of scary when I succeed. But…success does happen, and I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do if I’m really successful…

I should actually want to be successful, right? :) It’s just that success…for me, requires risk: curiosity and authenticity. Authenticity requires putting myself out there, and putting myself out there means…well. When I was younger, I learned that by throwing up a false screen of myself, I could deflect attack to that false identity and remain safe despite others’ hostility. Even if it was in my face. Being authentic requires both commitment and courage…and I guess I’ve just relatively recently gotten out of the realm of being a front-line service worker, meaning that I’ve learned to uphold a false identity to deflect attack for a very long time.

The problem with that, is forgetting who you actually are, which I had to deal with from the beginning of Middle School through the middle of Undergrad. And I didn’t really recover from it until getting my Master’s and losing my job. So in a way, if I’m going into business for myself, or if I’m working in a gig economy, I actually do have more latitude for authenticity. There are actual possible rewards for authenticity…which is not the case when you’re trying to avoid being yelled at because someone else happened to dislike something in your facial expression.

The issue is finding people who will respect and accept who I am…and just leaving the naysayers (the people who say I should keep my head down and not cause trouble because I’m lucky to be included at all) in my dust.

Yeah, conformity is a big…very big part of why I’m not salaried right now. (Along with the obvious.) I am somewhat aware that the way I’ve been talking about this could lead people to think I have horrible thoughts. I don’t. I just have different thoughts. The current climate has just made it so that it has become very…I think we all are very aware that the current climate is unsettled and not benign. I have a hard time believing that most any person of color feels safe, at the moment. Of course, if I didn’t watch the news or read newsfeed articles, it might be different.

I just happen to be someone who thinks what no one is saying. Then I wonder why they aren’t saying it. And, I mean, I was almost a Sociology major: I have an idea of why no one is saying it. That doesn’t make me feel any better. But there is the saying that Evil Never Dies…while far too many good people, do.

What gives me hope is knowing that I’m not really alone. I also realize that I have power I’m not utilizing at the moment…except for places like here, and in the businesses that I support. Also with the people I help, and who help me. Maybe I should focus on this. Someone a while back told me to, “seek kindness, because it’s out there.” I don’t remember exactly who it was…but I have been reading recently about the idea that we control the content of our own thought.

I don’t know how much I believe that. Both as a person who struggles with anxiety, and who has experienced depression and detachment from reality; and as a person who has been targeted for God-knows-what reason (which probably relates to race and gender, therefore assumed sexual orientation; if a Black trans* woman who had dealt with trauma had originated the idea that we, “control the content of our own thought,” I might be more inclined to believe her).

That is, the experience that goes into the formation of an academic opinion, matters. It is all that matters. (Yeah, I’m questioning if that’s hyperbole, or not. I’m unsure.)

And academia — Higher Education — I’ve found, is severely skewed in its viewpoint toward majority-White culture. Which I wouldn’t have fully realized if I had dropped out like I wanted to after the ice-bath culture shock of my first semester. It took me years to come back.

Anyhow.

There are a number of reasons for my recent absence from weblogging. I think a lot of it — besides the immediate risk — has to do with getting more serious about doing my beadwork for a return. When it was just me and this blog was all about what was going on in life and my reflections, and my (occasional?) opinions and my projects (that weren’t going anywhere, relatively), it was much easier.

I haven’t found a good balance yet between being open online and holding back what I might want to hold back if my primary business were online. Right now…I really don’t even know how much of an option I have to conceal anything, which might work in my favor. If you have nothing to lose, at least you know where you stand. I’ve been there before.

But yeah, that was high school and college. And yeah, there was a lot of suffering there. But I made it, I’m alive, and I’m here. And it was worth surviving. You get better at this “Life” thing, the longer you’re in it. Even if you are melancholy in your reflections for much of the rest of it.

Anyhow. Organization.

The past four days have felt longer than usual. Until very recently, I was holding myself to an earlier bedtime and earlier wake time. That kind of continued off the rails last night. I did get to bed before 2 AM, but barely. Then I woke at 7 AM and stayed up for a couple of hours before crashing again and waking in the early afternoon.

So both today and yesterday, I’ve been working on an old version of a face covering which was found originally on the CDC website. I’m pretty sure it’s no longer there — I tried a while back to find it. It was one of the basic pleated ones that you saw a bunch of people making to distribute at churches…though I’m not sure if my method of dividing the fabric (fold in half, press, fold edges to center line, press) is new or not. I would think, “not.”

What really drove me to do this is that I’ve got some flat aluminum wire which I can use over the nose bridge if I sew down a bias tape channel at the top. I hadn’t tried it…so yesterday was full of experimenting with a mask face I had made and then abandoned months ago.

Along with the aluminum wire, I also needed a steel file to round off and de-burr the edges of the segments I cut off of the coil. That…worked surprisingly well. I didn’t quite realize just how soft aluminum is!

Right now, then, I’ve got two models that I know how to make. I’m actually using an old 400-thread-count bedsheet to make the inner linings…I’m hoping to use three layers, total, with the outer one being an attractive fabric, and the inner two being sheets. I tried fashioning one of these tonight with a Kona cotton lining and realized fairly quickly that I should probably take out the Kona cotton, as the thing is a bit more difficult to breathe through with three layers, than I’d like. The point isn’t to suffocate the wearer; it’s to catch water droplets on their breath.

The other change I can see trying immediately (in the next iteration) is to use a Grunge fabric instead of a Kona cotton for the ties. I’m hoping this will take down bulk in the seams.

I was kind of disturbed that I had forgotten so much about how to make these things…

As for the jewelry: I have worked out a new updated pattern for a set of earrings I made for myself a very long time ago. 2015, to be exact. So long ago that I had to change what went where, because the newer version is made with newer beads, which don’t have the exact same form as the beads from 2015. In specific, I was using two-hole Lentil beads from the time at which two-hole beads were a new thing. They have a wider thread spacing (and are wider overall) than the newer two-hole lentils I obtained.

Yeah. Almost caused an issue, until I found that 5mm rounds could be used instead of a 3x5mm rondelle plus two 2mm (possibly 1.5mm, I’m not sure) faux pearls. Unfortunately…5mm is an “off” size and not widely available. I do have a supplier, but they are based in Czechia, and stuff takes a long time to get from there to here.

It will make more sense if and when I show photos.

But yeah…there are a lot of wonderful colors in fabrics and in beads, that I’ve been immersed in for the past week. I believe that color work is the main thing that drew me to beadwork and held me close. I took a Color Dynamics class a very long time ago — almost when I was fresh out of Undergrad — and was kind of shocked when I found that it was pretty much in the vein of painting.

Painting hasn’t really been my thing, though I have painted, and do like to paint. Subject matter is what gets to me: because the subject is the color and color interactions, color mixing, texture, etc., not the depiction. There’s also the fact that a lot of paints are toxic, which feels negative to me. I’ve gone over that point many times on this blog by now, however.

On that point: I keep getting fabric from Bay Quilts, which is struggling. They’re really great and really sweet. Their prices are very reasonable, and they have a good selection of fabric online (AbbeyShane is to credit for this: this is apparently a two-person operation with her mother, Sally), though it is by no means their entire selection. Before the shutdown I visited them in person, but because of COVID, they have had to move the bulk of their sales online.

I just washed a new load of their material tonight, after having let it rest and quarantine for about two weeks (I’m paranoid, what can I say: everything is quarantining unless it’s in a wrapper I can throw out, and even then). These fabrics really, really do make me want to quilt — not just make masks. There’s just something warm and inviting about a lot of quilting fabric.

I don’t really understand it. I mean…seriously. It’s like I don’t understand so much why I love little glass beads. Or why fabric or beads would be more attractive than paint, so much…

As much as I would like to keep this quilting store as my own treasured little secret…the shutdowns with COVID have really impacted them. We are 10 months into various shutdowns and restrictions, here. I can’t buy up as much of their fabric as I want to in order to keep them in business, so the next best thing is raising the signal about their existence. If they stay in business, it benefits me because I’ll continue to be able to buy from them. If I make stuff from their fabric, it benefits them because I’ll contribute to a viable income stream for them.

(No, they are not compensating me. They don’t even know I’m writing this up.)

If you are so moved, please go check out their online store. It’s pretty cool. :)

Oh, and: all the opinions expressed in this post are mine alone, and do not reflect on Bay Quilts. :) Thanks, all.

art, beadwork, career, creativity, illustration, painting, writing

Wait…do I have, “artist problems?”

I started writing this post last night…and apparently the only thing on-topic, was the title. That happens when you’re up at 3 AM, I guess. What I had started out thinking on (when I need to be doing, not thinking), was organization. I am…having a bit of trouble with commitment to any one path, but that really has been my pattern overall, since I was a young adult. That’s why I majored in Creative Writing, and why I sought work in a Library. These things are not topic-specific.

As I’m thinking back on it now — I had intended to work with gouache today. I wanted to see if I could mix it with acrylic glazing medium to make it water-resistant. That…was entirely forgotten when I woke up, though.

  • As I expect to forget that I’ve purchased a book with the aim of learning how to design in beadwork, as versus copying others’ designs.
  • Or that a reason for desiring acrylic gouache in the first place, is to have more freedom in my work (via using opaque colors), in order to create conceptually abstract pieces, while being able to use my watercolor brushes and supports along with mixed media. The “acrylic” portion means, I hope, that the colors will not lift as gouache normally tends to.
  • Then there’s the fact that I am wholly intending upon taking a cut-paper approach to my journaling.

My mind was busy last night, you see.

Last night, I got my second stone ever, bezeled using beadwork stitches. It’s tough to be new at something, but then the newness was the reason I tried it. Making refinement after refinement on the same design — where you know the underlying mechanics — isn’t quite the same thing.

As for the bezel, it’s not my greatest work ever, but I was able to give it a shot, and that gives me a good basis for further work (I have points to work on, the next time I try).

I still have to end the second line of thread. My bead holes are filling up quickly via multiple thread passes, although that should stabilize the piece overall. It’s questionable whether I’ll have the space remaining to attach this thing to a necklace, however: I can see very clearly why people prefer to use cylinder beads (like Miyuki Delicas, Toho Treasures, Toho Aikos, etc.) for this, rather than regular seed beads. Cylinder beads just have a lot more space for their size than regular seed beads, particularly when you get down to the size 13/0 Czech Charlottes for the final rows…and have to use a very fine needle, possibly so fine that it’s difficult to thread. They’re also smoother on the outside, if you’re worried about contact damage to foil backings.

The good thing about this is that I can cut the stone loose and start over. What I need to watch out for is the degree of damage I’m making to the foil backing, which…seems like it would only happen in practicality, by scratching it with the needle. And then, it seems like it might only show with a relatively narrow bezel…not a beginner’s one!

I stopped last night when I jabbed myself pretty badly, and dinner had to be made. After I washed my hands, the bleeding stopped (I washed anything out of there pretty thoroughly: it didn’t hurt, toward the end).

Anyhow…I spent a good amount of time last night, looking for a planner. Then I realized that I could make my own with what I had, so…yeah. Time to get creative about tracking my creative time and projects. I need to hold myself more accountable both for what I’m spending, and for how much I’m not working. Or, at least, to build in some structure around it, so that I’m actually self-employed and not just being unemployed.

After I started getting into this, I realized I had enough markers and fineliners (and empty notebooks) to help with a Planner/Bullet Journal/Project Journal already. I did, however, realize that I can…well, make this more pleasant.

I’m thinking that time management and staying busy is probably an issue with most people who are attempting self-employment. I know that my own comfort zone is rather in writing and recording, moreso than in making art…but I realize also that there is some excitement in trying something I haven’t, before.

I wouldn’t have reached that point without having come to a dull point in beadwork, where I was basically working a process I knew. I had smoothed out production to the point that I didn’t have to make a lot of decisions…which is different than actively, you know, arting. It probably would have been arting, if I were looking for a way to make it better — or, at least, different.

But hey: I figured out a new clasp mechanism within the last three weeks. I probably shouldn’t be too hard on myself.

Anyhow…last night I realized that I am struggling to be an artist, and then I realized that probably most artists are struggling to be artists. It’s not a given that everyone puts art at the top of their priority list; I in particular decided not to major in Art, for multiple reasons (some of which were appropriately childish). At this point…I’m looking at the skills my training has given me in research, in reading comprehension, in composition, in entrepreneurship. I did not just study to be, “a writer.”

Writing and language are just different forms of communication which are likely better established, due to the invention of the Gutenberg printing press and then the typewriter and then the QWERTY keyboard. Also due to the fact that most people understand art like I understand music: intuitively, we know when we like something; when it comes to composing, though, we tend not to do it very well.

I suppose that maybe I shouldn’t mourn not having been in Art in my Bachelor’s program; the fact is, I have the ability to work on my skills, now.

I mean, seriously.

And while I would have liked to have completed a BFA from CCA or Mills…in reality, I would have needed substantial Financial Aid, and then I would have trouble paying it off, if it wasn’t in grants. I’ve been told that it’s very difficult to get a job in the field without another angle besides Art. Even competition for Community College instructor positions is fierce, if I wanted to do that, and I’m not the type of person who would be good at it. I would be too concerned about crushing little souls. Art Librarianship is another…highly competitive, route. But at the time, I had no desire for extended learning beyond my Bachelor’s.

So I went the route of majoring in Creative Writing…which also isn’t a rewarding path, monetarily; but it was an avenue of expression for me as a youth, and one of the only things that was constant in my life. As I’ve aged, the skills in composition that I have had have gone to figuring myself out, and to expository writing.

I didn’t know back then that I would have decades to find out who I was, and to work on the issues I had against myself. When I was in Undergrad, though…all of that stuff forced its way to the surface, and the mode of expression it found was within language. Granted that likely most of what intrigues me about writing is the problem of expressing what the limitations of the language itself prohibit one from expressing.

Of course, though: when you get a handle on what’s happening with you and you know the causes and the reasons why, and how it affects you…you get to build yourself from there, without having to scream out through your paintings or your writings.

Also: when you get a handle on who you are…when you find security in knowing yourself, there is less need to do this. Not that writing is inherently an outgrowth of insecurity…but when you’re looking at a very-young-adult’s writings, it’s hard to avoid insecurity in the formula. Especially if peer abuse factored into that kid’s self-image, and they don’t know yet (or love yet) who they are.

And, you know, looking back on all this: I am thinking of making illustrated books. Maybe not just for adults. Maybe for kids, too. I mean, I do kind of have a thing about animated series, and a drive to avoid psychic violence. At the same time, I am an adult now, which…means things that I didn’t understand when I was 7.

I haven’t really — to my knowledge — mentored a lot of kids…but I understand what kids are going through when they ask how I became so stable in my perspective and identity. It’s something that I’ve gained over the past 20 years…the question is how to explain it so that kids can understand it. Understand that they can be okay in who they are; that no matter how much they admire other people — and it’s okay to admire other people — wishing you were them is not necessarily where you want to go, because it devalues yourself. That you want to be the best version of yourself, whoever that may be, because you end up writing your own character in this life.

Your unique character. That is what you have control over. You don’t necessarily get to choose who you are or what you have to deal with; but you get to choose how to be that person, and how you’ll meet those challenges. You find you; you choose to be you as best as you can.

It’s a reason I’m going back to beadwork as a relatively advanced practitioner, when there’s so much more information I can find about painting. It’s also a reason I’m seeking out books for the intermediate-to-experienced crowd who want to know how to design, not just follow other peoples’ designs.

That’s actually…quite a possibility. I hadn’t thought of doing it because I can’t imagine having an easy time being — well, an adult person — and helping to write and illustrate a children’s book. But it’s possible to reach those little kids for whom that book will be their favorite book, and they’ll remember it long after. If I don’t write it, that never gets the chance to happen.

There have been more obnoxious Children’s writers…

In any case…these are all great dreams, but then what am I doing with my time? Living? That’s all? Ha! Yes, I’m savoring my time with family.

Because.

And no, I am never planning on being a Children’s Librarian. Nor am I the marrying or childbearing type. What I can do is help my communities, and youth happen to also be members of those communities. When I was young, I didn’t know about gender diversity. It would have helped.

Anyhow, as regards my orientation towards Art, and the struggle to maintain it: I have trained for a gainful second career through which to finance my life. I had forgotten that the promise of the ability to practice Art was one of my primary drives in persisting and succeeding in the Master’s Program. I’m not in Library Science because Library Science exists. There exist the food and housing and clothing and utilities and transportation motives.

In practicality, I’ve been unemployed for 10 months. It’s likely okay, now, for me to get back to my — actual — work…the reason I have done the other work

art, beading, beadwork, craft, design, jewelry design

Speculation

Craft, art, and design

And yes, I do see that all three of those words can look negative. :) In the sense of, “artifice,” I mean; or, “craftiness,” or, “making designs,” on something or someone. It seems the English language doesn’t trust creativity too much. ;) The below may be overanalysis of my own work; I can’t really tell. People just say I try to analyze things too much…

For reasons that would likely be understandable if I were to relate them, I’ve been away from this blog for about two weeks. A lot of this has to do with breaking out of my habit of writing about life instead of actually living it. In particular…I’ve been doing more beadwork than is normal for me. I wouldn’t call it, “a lot of beadwork,” though it probably would be so by the measure of most people.

There are a number of skills which go into beadwork: there’s an element which reminds me of my engineering projects from when I was a kid (what fits together?); there’s the color element; the attention to detail; hazard awareness (fire, chemicals, flying metal, pointy things); and problem-solving. I’m getting more of an understanding of the process of design, where you have basically an infinite number of paths, a smaller number of paths which will work, and an even smaller amount which accomplish your goals at the same time as they work. Right now I’m looking at jewelry as wearable art…it just makes more sense to me.

There are a number of things being at the bench (or table) recently, has taught me…prime among them that the work requires just the basic task of showing up and putting in hours. That’s something I was told in the Art Program…that the greater part of success is tenacity, not talent. Talent really doesn’t mean much if it isn’t applied. That advice isn’t specific to one art; it’s just kind of a truism. It applies to every art I’ve dealt with. Every art, regardless of medium.

I also think I’m beginning to understand the difference between art and craft, and art and design…though it’s slow going. “Art” denotes many more decision-points than craft, while craft can be generated from a design with no loss of its craft status, and design is generated out of a set of basic restrictions that can’t be violated.

I’m still figuring it out, as I have been for years (I’m in no way an authority on this); but it’s interesting to meditate on while making something I’ve never made before, and which I know I’ve never seen before, which no one taught me how to make. That mode is basically art and design, or design + engineering. The “art” part comes in when I’m trying to cognize what my next step could be; while “design” comes in when I’m trying to figure out what will work in this context. If I were doing it from the perspective of following someone else’s directions toward a predetermined endpoint, that’s craft — until I start going into unknown territory, where art and design factor in.

As I see it currently, it’s like this: generativity (art) + constraints (design) + technique (craft) = production (of…?). I hope I’ve got that somewhere in the ballpark of reality — no one taught me this. I’ve seen people make sculptures with beads, so we aren’t limited to jewelry in what we can make, in terms of beaded objects. (I deleted a term, “possibilities”, above, as regards art, and just wanted to mention it here, in case it turns out to matter.)

Anyhow: beadwork contains all three of these things. I obviously started off as a crafter (everyone has to learn the basics of needle, thread, beads, and wire; and most people learn from books, tutorials, and maybe other people), but if I keep going in this direction, I could be more thoroughly an artist and designer in the same field. That is, there’s nothing about beadwork that makes it inherently a, “craft,” and not an, “art,” as I’m looking at it, now.

However: If I wrote a book to tell others exactly how I did what I did, so they can do exactly what I do, without holding my reasons for doing so as organizing elements in the background of their thoughts; then I would be a designer, and the reader would be a crafter — if they followed the directions to the letter. Working my design would give them an insight into how I do things, but it won’t teach them how they do things. (Trust me, they can be different, and likely should be, if one is following their own aesthetic drive, personality, and experience.) It may only lead them closer to an understanding of how and why they were attracted to the work, and what they would change: and that can slingshot them off onto a trajectory of becoming an artist.

If they played with the design I gave them, and changed some things, that might be considered derivative work: but I should note that playing with designs in this way is often expected, and sometimes encouraged. Especially if a beadwork design is super-simple (like a specific, unremarkable version of an extremely common stitch which is demonstrated for the purposes of teaching), it’s unrealistic for a designer to claim ownership of it. After you’ve been doing this for a while, you can see when someone is just demonstrating because they want to broaden your approach to the work; not saying that they’ll sue you if you copy any of their versions. Unless I overestimate the benevolence of the author/teacher, that was never the point.

That’s…still, not legal advice. None of this can be; I’m not qualified to give it. But there are many authors who write books for the purposes of teaching. Not the purposes of litigation.

Now if this new beader, with the knowledge of the mechanics of the stitches they’ve learned, takes what they know about the function of each motion and anchor in beadwork to create something totally new that can’t necessarily and clearly be documented or slotted as, “right-angle weave,” or, “two-drop peyote,” or, “herringbone,” or, “brick stitch,” for example, then that looks clearly like artist territory to me. If they document their work and teach others how to make the exact same thing they made, given that it’s not the exact same (or close to the exact same, or derived from the exact same) pattern someone else taught them, then they would seem to be designers.

I should note, though, that it can take quite a while to reach that stage. I’m just starting to draw out simple legible patterns now, and I’ve been at this for over 25 years.

In other words: there’s way more that can be done in beaded jewelry than what published patterns demonstrate. One’s ability to see these possibilities depends one one’s horizons and familiarity with other crafts (techniques) which can and should intermesh, if one can find a way to do so and still create a strong product. We aren’t stuck with just stringing and beadweaving, that is: there are also wirework, knitting (including colorwork) and crochet, knotting (including micromacramé), lacemaking, embroidery, ceramics, leatherwork; and even silversmithing can theoretically be integrated, though I haven’t yet tried it. I also wonder about enameling…but I’ve not practiced that; I’ve only seen it in action. Then, there’s lapidary…for those special few who can actually work (and want to work) that field.


Swarovski Professional

I have wanted to mention something about Swarovski ending its sales of beads to the craft community with the anticipated shutdown of Swarovski Professional. Sam of Wescott Jewelry published something on this about 10 days ago: the comments in that thread, substantiate the rumors. I won’t repeat that thread here; hop on over to Wescott Jewelry for more information.

Since that time, I’ve been taking an in-depth look at Swarovski offerings and prices. What I can say is that I found another warning on this from 2016, and a third from 2013, which makes me wonder if we’re being subject to market manipulation, more than an actual threat. I’ve also been doing some digging around possible alternatives.

I haven’t used cut crystal beads so much in the past, because 1) they’re expensive; 2) they’re sharp, and can cut thread a bit more easily than I’d like. However: finding out that Swarovski is reportedly planning to discontinue distribution of their beads, led me to get some while I could. There are a lot of woven “recipes” (designs) which rely on tiny bicones, for example.

What I can say is that attempting to “stock up” doesn’t seem like an altogether cost-effective measure. Especially if one generally doesn’t use them, anyway. “Stocking up,” in this sense, is more like, “getting a sampler set,” because one won’t be able to truly stock up on this stuff if they’re moving a lot of inventory and don’t already know the colors they’ll use. (Or, as in my case, are unwilling to drop thousands of dollars on buying up existing stock for some as-yet-unknown purpose.) It’s possible to use up over 100 3mm beads on one St. Petersburg chain bracelet alone (though that’s a casual estimation; which you all should know I’m not great at, by now). With Swarovski as expensive as it is already, that means the cost of said bracelet is going to be, well, high. That, in turn, probably doesn’t matter too much, unless you intend to sell it.

In my case, I have heavily used Czech fire-polished glass beads, which I’ve experimented with minorly over the past couple of days (particularly looking at Right-Angle Weave), and they look different, but not inferior. It’s kind of like using a CzechMates Tile instead of a Miyuki Tila: the hard lines aren’t there, and maybe you don’t want them to be there.

The major difference between glass and crystal, however, is fire. Austrian crystal just reflects a lot of light, and can make glass look dull, next to it.

The big thing I can see coming up is a lack of replacement for Swarovski’s rose montées, which have perpendicular drill spaces that allow special design options. However: there are also Czech glass versions of these…and to be honest, getting a “silver-plated” rose montée doesn’t really reek of quality to me, when the only base (i.e. non-precious) metal in the piece is on the Austrian crystal component. Which may tarnish, I don’t know yet. But I’d rather the back be Sterling-filled or Sterling (or Fine) silver, so that the customers wouldn’t have to worry about rubbing the silver off when polishing it. Which I predict will need to happen. Because it’s just silver-plate.

I mean, if we’re going to make the stuff, shouldn’t we make it well?

From my own comparisons: Swarovski is reliably more expensive than Preciosa, for example (I’m going to avoid a ballpark comparison; it’s viewable online), which offers comparable crystal components. I have some Preciosa crystals, and they don’t disappoint me in terms of color or cut, though I have yet to try weaving with them.

Where Preciosa doesn’t touch Swarovski at this moment is in the wider range of colors, cuts, and special finishes that the latter currently offers. However: the consumer very much pays for this variety. In terms of cost for comparable merchandise, Swarovski cannot compete with Preciosa.

Then there is Chinese cut crystal, which I don’t have much experience with, other than some components I’ve purchased at craft stores — which are beautiful; it’s just that they’re a bit large and gaudy for my taste (they have a tendency to out-sparkle everything else). I am thinking, however, that both Preciosa and the Chinese crystal producers are going to rush into the void left by Swarovski. Plus, Swarovski is likely to put some manufacturers out of work…who will know how to make the stuff, even if they don’t have the capital to buy the machines to make the stuff.

For now, I don’t know what to say about this, so far as any recommendations go; I wouldn’t have even known it was happening, except for contacts online. I did, however, want to say something…

beadwork, craft, creativity, design, fashion design

Switching modes…is difficult.

As is making even not-so-difficult decisions about whether to accept an interview (for a temporary position) offered by HR. The HR that let me go, after 10 years of service. That HR.

Then there is my Vocational program assuming that I’ll either be in college or working…when right now I’m re-evaluating my life and what I want to do with it (a.k.a. finding reasons to stay alive — which is important)…which doesn’t quite involve them.

And then there is University, which I’m only in to get an inroad into a job I may actually be able to tolerate long-term, where we’ve entered the end phase of tons of group work and have stopped communicating. I want to ask when we will get started…

Then there is my personal life, which is beginning to turn over into creative work: particularly, sewing and beadwork. I’ve gotten enough together that I could make a good return beading…though I wonder, at this point, if I would be willing to sell patterns as well as (or instead of) finished objects.

The major issue with either is that many beadwork patterns are easy to deconstruct, if you know what you’re doing…and I’d venture to say that all can be replicated, with the right skill set. But I have bought some self-published books that are as good as, or better than, books coming from the major publishers…which would be Kalmbach, Interweave, and Lark Crafts, for beadwork.

There are some decent books from other publishers, too, but as we move from craft domain to domain — the publishers change. The people who publish books on silversmithing might not be into bead knitting, for example. So far as I can see, those are totally different market segments, with different motivations, different investments, and different levels of familiarity with different technologies. But both of them can make a bracelet.

Beadwork (often) entails a love of color, while hot metalwork entails a love of form and fire (and is relatively starved of color work, in my experience — with the exception of enameling, and working with brass and copper [which also technically fall under “silversmithing”, as non-ferrous metalworking which is not goldsmithing]).

I would only expect the love of color and texture to be magnified in bead knitting, which is kind of a hybrid between straight-out beadwork and the tactile and meditative pleasures of knitting…but I haven’t yet tried it. I do have a set of Size 1 knitting needles now, though. I also know a couple of places where I can get (heavyweight) spooled silk beading thread.

The thing is, to do this, you have to have interest and skill in knitting, which is an area I touch on tangentially, not fully. Lacemaking is another area I’m touching on, specifically with tatting — because I could see its application in craft jewelry.

A while back, I taught myself shuttle tatting, though that’s harder to do in a jewelry context than needle tatting. I started working with the latter just recently to see what I could do, without having to wind a shuttle to the middle of the work. Right now, I know I can make button loops with C-Lon Standard (TEX 210) and the heavyweight C-Lon TEX 400. This is with Sizes #5 and #3 tatting needles, respectively.

The resulting buttonholes are large, round, and relatively stiff…not that much of an improvement over making my own toggles out of glass seed beads (which I’m always afraid will crush or chip [after having heard the squeal of Mother-of-Pearl against glass]), but definitely more finished-appearing than a braided loop.

Using anything finer than TEX 210 and 400 basically requires using a shuttle…the needles I’ve been using (Handy Hands) just aren’t the right diameter. In shuttle tatting, you’re wrapping the thread around another loop of thread; in needle tatting, you’re wrapping it around the needle, which may not be the same diameter as the thread. With something like C-Lon, which doesn’t have a lot of stretch, that means it’s hard, with finer diameters, to slide the knots off of the needle and onto the thread itself.

It makes sense now, intuitively, as to why the heavier diameters would be easier to use: you get a lot more wiggle room in relation to the size of the cord. The cord is also harder to flex to create the double knots, which gives extra space next to the needle.

C-Lon Micro (TEX 70), for example…doesn’t work well with any of the needles I have, as it catches at the eye of the most appropriate-sized tatting needle. It will, however, work with a shuttle. C-Lon Fine (TEX 135) also doesn’t work with any of my needles. Either the needle is too wide (causing a “scrunchie effect” once completed), or I can’t fit the thread through the needle’s eye.

I have also tried working with Milliner’s needles, prior to having broken down and bought the Tatting needles: it works, but I question if they’re long enough. (Milliner’s needles are also much sharper, so you have to be careful not to scratch or stab yourself when forming the hitches.)

If I hadn’t tried this, I’d still be thinking of the possibility, but not the reality, of using tatting to form buttonholes for clasps. I still can do it, but the possibility is now limited, in my mind. Either use TEX 210 and 400 with tatting needles, or try TEX 135 or 70 with a shuttle…and keep in mind that you may get a stiff and very round buttonhole.

The other route is to find a set of tatting needles which will work with finer threads, meaning that the eyes have to be especially fine. Given how firm all forms of C-Lon cord I’ve used are, I’m not betting that I’ll be able to fit something like that through (or over) those needles. Tatting (to make lace) is generally done with softer threads — which beads may damage.

On the other hand, I’ve just finished a necklace which has been years in the making. Using the C-Lon Micro for it seems to have been a very good choice: it feels tough, and was thick enough to hold knots at the terminations. As I’ve been using clamshell bead tips to finish the work, I was glad when the knots were large enough not to slip through the holes.

Finding out possibilities and what they actually look and feel like in action, is extremely important. At least so, from a design + construction perspective. Thinking up dreams of, “what could be,” is something I did for years; it doesn’t necessarily get anything done. It takes experimentation to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Maybe I should say, it takes the risk of failure, to find out what works, and what doesn’t.

The forgiving thing about beadwork is that if your design doesn’t work out, you can clip your piece apart and try again.

It feels difficult to get myself out of Academic Mode and into Creative Mode. It’s even harder to let go of Creative Mode, once I’m in it, and slide back into Academic Mode: I want to stay where I am. I get involved with my projects. This happens even knowing I have to get back into Academics at some time, which tends to fill me with dread and anxiety. It’s hard to get out of Academic Mode in the first place, because I have a level of guilt for not spending my time studying.

I’m thinking that’s not a good way to enjoy living. Especially if what you’re studying, in order to earn a livable salary, doesn’t fit your core drives (or relieve your core banes: like uncleanliness, and random social interaction with strangers). It’s just something you do so you aren’t homeless or dependent. It’s not like you actually want to do it, or in a perfect world, would choose to do it. At least not after you’ve encountered the reality of the job and environment.

And it’s like, how many more years, how much more of my resources, am I going to commit to this? For the sake of a salary?

There are other things I can do, if cash is my only motivator. I may not be able to afford to live in the San Francisco Bay Area while I’m doing it…but to be honest, most of the world can’t afford to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re dealing with an inflated economy and gentrification, with high-wage earners moving in from outside, displacing the people who made the place what it was: the people who made this a nice place to live. What I can see is that someday — when technology shifts again, or when the climate shifts more completely — this area risks becoming another ghost region.

Early morning, on November 2nd — I began writing a post after having had a conversation with relatives. Its details should likely go into another, separate post, but I realized that through my clothing and jewelry, I could develop my own identity expression. I could also help others define theirs, or at least give them more options.

I’ve had a consistent problem with being able to present myself as I wish, with ready-to-wear clothing. The problem is that the clothes which fit my body usually also code me as a woman, socially — which is not something I’m set on. I began thinking on how to alter that. It’s not like it isn’t possible. It just requires creative thought, and the ability to realize those thoughts in reality.

That is, it’s possible to create clothes cut for and which will fit female bodies, without also making them to code as, “feminine.” It’s not like there isn’t a market for this: or there wouldn’t be so many people who are assumed to be, “women”, wearing men’s clothes. The problem is, after one reaches a certain point in their maturity, men’s clothes don’t quite fit correctly. At least, that’s been my experience. The body type I had in my early 20’s is not the body type I have in my late 30’s.

The point is that there is cultural space and coding made for cisgender men and cisgender women which signify their gender to people on sight. If you’re a gender minority, however: that isn’t necessarily the case. Not only are there no words to describe who you are, but there are no special signifiers that positively match your identity. And if there were, I’m not sure it would be safe…but, progress is being made.

I’d hope that in 40-50 years, there will be vocabulary and a safe place for people who are gender-nonbinary or third-gender, or otherwise currently not provided with correctly-coded tools with which to present. I would also hope that the erasure of gender minorities in the English language and cultural sphere, finds a way to cease in a respectful manner.

The night before last, I realized that I could and should get back to work on the “blouse” I’ve been trying to make for 10 years. I got about halfway through construction (having cut and marked the pieces previously), though I still have some alterations to make. This is Folkwear #111, “Nepali Blouse,” which I’m altering to have a much longer hem, and side inserts. I appreciated the toile, but it was much too short and revealing, for me.

The pattern itself is for something worn as an undergarment in Nepal, which makes sense if you live there, and it’s cold! Instead of the traditional fabric choices, though, I’m going for a dark cotton batik. After this is done, I can work on some outer layers.

And no, I don’t know the gender status of those who would be wearing this, normally. The pattern and styling is just something I like.

At this time, though, I find myself required to get back to my graded work…which I don’t want to do. Of course. Writing this, is kind of edging me back into thinking in words…which I need.

Wow, though. I mean, wow.

I am wondering when the last time was that I was so reticent about getting back into schoolwork…

beading, beadwork, Business, personal, self care, spirituality

I think I’ve found what I’m going to be doing…

…for the next year, until the vaccine. (Of course, predictions of what I will do are sketchy, at best.) I’ve gotten back into making beaded jewelry; mostly, glass beadweaving, and micro-macrame. I have some stone components, but it isn’t the direction I seem to be going in, wholly.

I’m also trying to taking care of myself when I need to; particularly, where this comes to exercise and hygiene, with other forms of self-care (like maintaining my spaces). Then there’s my class. After that, I can deal with what comes up…particularly, giving XSLT another shot (and hoping there aren’t any gigantic disturbances, this time).

My University class…well, that’s basically…group work. Meaning, I don’t have a lot of control over it. I’m not entirely certain how to communicate with the others as well; I’ve been away from the LMS for so long (about two years, now) that I am not sure others are getting my messages. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about my grades, as I’ve already graduated. The others, do.

I was mistaken about the timeline for the end of my University class: I have just a bit more time than I thought I did. What I don’t have is extra time to arrange an internship, if I want to pay the University to supervise it for me. And, I mean…is it worth it? On top of that, do I need to take it now? And, could I not find a use for, say, a database project, myself?

I’m scaling back my Academic commitments, particularly because I did not finish two of my last private online courses (the ones which happened around the orange sky days). I know I’ll have to deal with XML again at the beginning of the year (and hopefully pass it, this time), but without an additional University commitment, and barring any unforeseen disasters, I won’t have to deal with anything else.

That will free up my time to design and make jewelry. I’ve been engaging in the former, more than is normal for me (recently). Though, of course, even saying that makes me feel guilty. I tend to spend more on production than I gain through sales. It’s an issue. But, “minimal loss,” is a better goal than, “bottomless pit.” Of course, there’s the profit-margin aspect…which is difficult to even think about at this point, because I haven’t kept complete records of quantities spent and quantities gained.

People sometimes get surprised when I say I make jewelry, because I don’t tend to wear jewelry. At least I didn’t, for the majority of the time I was on the last two jobs. Wearing jewelry attracts male attention that I don’t want, and I’m more apt to want big muscles than to actually…you know, dress up. Not to mention that my last two jobs have been so dirty that I didn’t want to wear good clothes or jewelry.

The jewelry I design isn’t necessarily congruent with the way I’ve decided to present myself, although it does really make me look good. The thing I get tripped up on is that when I wear what I make, and dress up, I feel very, “ethnic,” and I don’t know where that places me, socially. I’ve spent a lifetime being seen as “exotic”, so it’s probably, well…predictable that I would have complicated feelings around that.

The thing is, when I dress up, I don’t intend to make myself look like something I’m not. It’s probably been over a year since I straightened my hair, and no one would ever think me to be white (aside from one internet troll, who was probably just trying to get a rise). People from similar racial and cultural backgrounds can find me familiar (even children), but aside from those people, I probably come across as an unknown amalgam.

There is a bit of relative safety, though, in looking like a beautiful woman. Many treat me with privilege more often that way, than they do when I’m in menswear, and I believe that others are also more apt to protect and empathize with me. Generally, if I can be mistaken for a man or mistaken for a woman, I’m attended to with more privilege than when I am ambiguous (when the feedback turns curious and hostile, especially if others believe me to be younger than I am). However, I know that when I’m mistaken for a woman, the person I really am slips under the radar. I become invisible. To the outside, I may be hypervisible; as regards personality, no one expects to find me there.

(Then again, no one ever expects to find me, there.)

Yes, this does remind me of femme positionality…but am I femme? I don’t believe so. Fluid, is more like it.

I guess when you’re a designer, there’s no rule that states that your personal aesthetic has to match your normal outward presentation. They’re two different things, and they interrelate in a complicated way. Not everything I produce will be “me” in the sense of displaying who I am; in the same sense, almost all of it, does. What comes out of me might allot to, “who one might be if society were not a factor.” And that’s beautiful. That’s vulnerable and open to display. It’s honest.

It’s also broader than the face(s) I put on for society in order to attain my own personal aims (like being passed over), which I still have mixed feelings about. I know a lot of enby people who have a way they want to be treated, which doesn’t happen unless they look a way that they really don’t want to look. And if they look a way they do want to look, they aren’t treated the same way.

I can relate. I honestly want to look femme — a muscular femme that’s mixed with the type of female power and knowing, that I see coloring my own masculinity. The thing is, I also don’t want to constantly have to defend my own boundaries. It’s easier when men leave me alone, especially granted that pretty much no random man off the street impresses me. They get blinded by how I look, and tend to assume I am who they want me to be, rather than giving me agency over my own self-definition and my own desires.

If were granted the latter two, I don’t think I’d have a problem. I need to be able to be myself, regardless of whether that self would seamlessly fit into their lives. I need to be respected enough so that when I say no, it’s believed and honored. I need it to be okay for me to be all of myself, not just the parts that fit into some cultural definition of ideal, “womanhood,” that I most likely don’t share.

I am, that is, human. Like you. And like you, I’m complicated and I have my own desires and needs and thoughts that don’t revolve around other people. That don’t revolve around men; that don’t revolve around you. The way I look has nothing to do with who I am. It has to do with what comes at me. If you knew what comes at me, and you felt what I felt from the inside, you would understand why I am the way I am.

And why I have no time for people who assume they know me because they can see me; who think my body parts mean things they do not.

No, I don’t know what this is. I don’t have a name for it. But this is me, and has been me, for a very long time.

…and yes, I am sensing the feeling I get when I see the color, indigo. Which is ironic, as I believe I was supposed to be an “Indigo Child.” I also just purchased some “Denim Blue” crystal beads, of which I am now reminded (they’re so dark a blue that they’re almost gray; the color comes out in direct sun and among other blues, violets, and blue-greens)…but that, that gets into aesthetics, which gets into philosophy and spirituality…

Is that what “aura colors” are? Matching up the feelings you get when you see the color, with the feelings you get when you sense yourself (or others) at your (or their) most clear and true and powerful…?

There’s also the idea that jewelry is art. That each piece has its own personality. Like a story, it maintains the imprint of its author, but should not reflect directly back upon her character. Everyone sees something different in art pieces, and art pieces can reflect any facet of human experience, as filtered and arranged through the maker and reconstructed by the viewer (and the wearer). It may be a puzzle with no correct answer. Be open to hearing multiple versions of reality. The multiplicity contributes to the reality of the beauty.

And no, I honestly have no idea why people like my work. ;) I don’t even know why I like my work…I don’t know why it’s good; I just know it is.

Maybe I should work on a philosophy as to why I’m doing what I’m doing. If I knew, on a large scale, why I was doing what I was doing when I was doing it…maybe that would help me stay motivated to keep doing it. Like a Mission Statement, you know? If any of that Business training I went through, has any value at all…

I mean, it can’t all be about money. If it were just about money, there are other and more efficient ways to get it, that help other people more. I know aesthetics factor into this. Being able to feel like I have something, also factors in, as silly as it is with little bits of colored glass.

Color is a very large…and elusive, mysterious component of why I continue to bead. There are entire books written on color in beadwork, though the two I have which expressly focus on it, don’t do it justice. I question whether a print book can ever do it justice. You really need to get in there with your hands and just work. Then you see what can be done.

Maybe I should actually write a book, on color in beadwork.

I’ve been making efforts to get out from in front of this computer and engage in non-virtual activities as much as possible; though sometimes, as you can see, writing actually does help enrich my life, by drawing out thoughts I didn’t know I had.

I also have a tendency to feel guilty about working creatively, which is counter-productive when it comes to actually making money…but…I’ve just now realized that there is, at least, spiritual and aesthetic value in colorwork. There’s also value in making oneself beautiful, even if you’re like me and have a hard time with the attention. Isn’t beauty of value?

I don’t know yet how to balance these things…maybe become stronger in my assertiveness in order to be able to realize my own beauty without feeling violated?

Be who I am, right? Just be, totally, who I am; that is beautiful enough…

beading, beadweaving, Business, craft, creativity, jewelry design, self care

Well, I screwed that up. :)

I did work with my beads today (technically: yesterday), and have a new design and a fresh set of earrings, for it. My major dilemma is whether to show these on the blog, if I want to eventually sell online (which is looking like more of a likelihood, than not). Personal information, professional identity, and all that. I shouldn’t mix my personal blog with business.

The drawback to doing this, tonight: I got so involved in my work that I completely (as in, entirely) forgot to take my evening medication, so I may not be tired until 2:30 AM, or so. As I start this post, it’s a little before 1 AM.

This is the first design I’ve made, that’s layered. I rather like the look, but the major issue will be sourcing a couple of bead shapes, going forward — if I make these to sell, that is. There are a couple of shapes that I’m either having a difficult time sourcing, or my best supplier is on the other side of the globe, and shipping takes 3 weeks in international mail.

Actually — now that I changed my search terms — I’m finding them. I need to look under “drop bead” instead of “teardrop bead”. One of the weaknesses of Web searching is the lack of a consistent vocabulary. The names of beads aren’t an issue in a brick-and-mortar store, where you can see the things…but, well, then there are text-based search engines.

I’ll go to bed now, so I can work on this more, tomorrow. I’m not sure whether I’ll actually need to write a pattern for myself (or at least, take notes and make drawings)…I just find it odd, that I’d come out of the night with three working earrings (of my own design).

That is — I can do this, and maybe should do this. I mean…I’m apparently good at it. I just have to make time for myself to do it, and stop berating myself for taking a less efficient path to sustainability…

color, craft, glass beads, organization, self care

Heat wave: analog work

Today started early for me. I actually got up and started back in on homework at 5:30 this morning, as it was predicted that temperatures would get above 100° F, today. (For the rest of the world, that’s about 38 C.) We actually had to have a safety inspection…which was fairly disturbing, but it could have been worse. The inspector came just as I was about to lie back down, which means that I didn’t get back to sleep, today. Not that I didn’t try…

There has, accordingly, been a lot of air circulation through the house. It hasn’t been very uncomfortable for me, though, and I’m not entirely sure why…except possibly that it isn’t as uncomfortable as exercising, or typing with my computer at the wrong height. The humidity isn’t too bad now, either (Hawaii can be worse), and I’m already used to being up at night and before dawn.

Because I was working on classes early this morning (I actually got a lot done) and it was way too hot to use my computer (plus we had been asked to limit electricity use until after 10 PM), I ended up going through beads when the sun was up.

It started with cleaning off the Blue Iris beads I got in the post from three weeks ago, “Too Much Analysis!”, and realizing what was wrong with the bad ones. I realistically have no idea what specifically happened to them, but they looked abraded and corroded at the same time — like they had been rolled and crushed, and then left to oxidize. The good part was that I had ordered 200, and only had to cull out 7. That’s about a 96.5% success rate. I also paid about $3.20 for 193 beads (at about $0.017 per bead [before shipping]), which — given that these were the only beads I had any problem with, and I’m hoping I don’t have to worry about toxicity (I had minor contact with the water + detergent I used to wash them, and no skin reactions) — I can accept.

I mean, seriously. That’s…that’s seriously good. And I’m really glad I got a cheap plastic colander/bowl set from the Japanese convenience store before they went out of business. (I don’t use this for food, by the way; just work.) If I’m willing to plan ahead and wait, that is, I could see myself using this service more.

Right now, I have a new system in place for my metal components (all base metal is in one set of drawers, divided into [red-brown] nickel-free brass + copper; [grey-white] pewter, silver-plate and silver-fill; and [yellow] brass/bronze/gold-plate; with sterling silver and gold-fill in a separate set), I can actually fit what I need to into my toolbox, and I have a number of projects I can either start or continue when I want to.

(It is rather telling when you have project kits dated 2011, that you never finished…)

I also found an 18g sterling wire which has to be from high school or before, with which I can mount the pearl that I damaged. No, I don’t know what I’m doing (this is my first half-drill mount), but the pearl’s already seen better days, and it won’t get fixed at all if I don’t try. If I can mount it the way I want to, the damage won’t even be apparent, and I’ll be able to keep the pendant.

What I’ve just realized, just now, is that a lot of my size 11° seed beads are likely tied up in “project” groupings, which is why they weren’t in the organizer when I checked. That does make me feel better. (I was wondering where they went!)

One of the other things I did: I began to separate out colors which were near-duplicates (aquas, violets), too pale and/or dyed a couple of decades ago and faded (aquas, greys, pinks), or too bright (reds, intense opaque red-orange, intense opaque yellow). Most of these are Czech; some are Japanese. I haven’t gotten rid of these (they may be useful where it comes to size substitutions or if I want a bland bead), but I have put them out of the way so that they don’t confuse me when I’m designing. Unfortunately, now I’m ending up with the modular-drawer equivalent of the, “junk room,” where objects of the past fade into obscurity, incorporated by reference but not by sight.

Wow. That turned sad.

Because my favorite colors have historically been violet and teal, I have a lot of violet and teal beads…and it doesn’t help to have three hanks of beads which are near-duplicates of each other in ready storage, just because I made some poor buying decisions in my teens. As things stand, I can already see a lot more contrast in hues (colors) and values (lightness to darkness), which should help.

I’m hoping that having a more active palette will help me use the beads more than I have been, recently. I’m trying to break out of the habit of sticking with the same colorways, because it is uninspiring when everything looks similar. It’s risky when they don’t, but that’s the fun in it, isn’t it?

I’ve just realized that it’s 12:45 AM. I’ll try and get some sleep, but I’m not guaranteeing anything. ;)

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.