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

Brainstorming a new design

I’m back into jewelry design and beadwork! :D I was playing around with some cabochons last night and came up with a couple of designs. Right now I’m busy still collecting parts that I might be able to use for a necklace. By chance, I found a set of faceted glass rice beads from a really long time ago, that I ended up not using because they were too large and glittery. They might work well for the back of this necklace, though, at least so if I space them out. I’ve also thought of using beaded beads (beadwoven beads made out of smaller beads). Though that hasn’t gone anywhere yet, it’s still a possibility.

The alternative is utilizing a set of Amazonite beads which I haven’t bought, yet. Minimum size, 8mm in one direction, looking for a fluted oval (this is an oval with a square cross-section which twists). I’ve been looking around online, though unfortunately I don’t have a great catalog of stone suppliers, as I primarily work with seed beads. Most of the stones I have were bought a long time ago, with the exception of several cabochons. That, in turn, is due to the relatively high cost of quality natural stones, plus the fact that if I use one stone I often have to pair it with metal and other natural stones and crystals — as versus synthetic material like glass. That multiplies the cost of a piece, several times over.

Though I could use inexpensive suppliers from overseas…it’s really hard to trust mail-order. Especially mail-order from the other side of the world. I’d be looking at local bead stores and local conventions, first.

Also an issue here is the fact that with buying things like stones and pearls online, I don’t get to examine the goods before purchasing them…which affects quality significantly. It’s also a reason I’ve told myself that I am not going to buy any more (grubby) pearls online. And a reason not to buy cabochons online (I can’t tell if the base is all the way flat and if the shoulders are even, even if I can see the patterning in the stone via an individual listing). Even if stones look like they’re cut well, small unseen irregularities can appear through the sense of touch.

I still need to design the bezels for the main two stones, though I’ve worked out that I want to have multiple threads leading away from the upper one. I also know what the base row should look like, and that I’ll need to cement down the cab before beginning work (which I am extremely reluctant to do, especially as one is translucent, and I don’t know if E-6000 will cleanly release from a mirror-polished surface).

The upper cabochon is an aqua-blue puffed square Amazonite, and the lower is a pear-shaped Moonstone, which I feel is too valuable to glue down to something…but the alternative is to create a custom bezel out of Fine silver, which requires the use of fire. If also done for the upper cabochon, it also complicates the process of attaching that cab to the rest of the necklace.

I’m going to practice my beaded bezels on a couple of mail-order cabs I will likely not use for actual jewelry, because they look too much like googly eyes. I should try gluing down and releasing one, to see if I even can separate them. I don’t want to use 2-part epoxy. It sounds like heresy to do that to a Moonstone (and most of the time, I don’t care about heresy). I would really hate it — unless, it worked; or unless I could undo it, if it didn’t.

Right now the palette for the potential necklace heavily depends on Capri Blue, playing off of the schiller (rainbow) in the Moonstone and the aqua blue of the Amazonite. I’m also using white/Crystal (clear: I need to see if Rock Crystal [quartz] has a different refraction index than glass, and if so, do I want to use it instead [a quick lookup says yes]), Light Topaz (light yellow — which also appears in the Moonstone), and green (the latter, if the design needs a slight contrast — though I’m hoping it would be very slight).

I haven’t continued the design writ large from last night, given that I was busy earlier and needed to rest afterward. I also only remembered that I had Japanese size 15/0 beads in Capri Blue and Light Topaz, last night in bed. I find in my stash, limited amounts of size 13/0 Czech seed beads in Galvanized (metallic) gold, iris green, and a half-hank in pale pink; another in Galvanized copper. I might need those for the bezels.

I’m really not sure anymore that I want to continue using copper, as it tarnishes so easily…and I’m pretty much over nickel-free Antique Brass (although I have a project in-process that uses it). I should note as well that Galvanized colors often have issues with wear, where the metal rubs off. There are newer variants of it which sometimes do also contain the word “Galvanized”, but which are longer-lasting. The thing is, their names are brand-specific, so as with anything, do your research.

Last night I cleaned off all the earwires of my old earrings which I took in to a showing, due to concerns about the cleanliness of the venue, and to guard against too many bacteria getting into my piercings. I’ve decided — at this point — not to install the heavier-gauge earwires into my own ears. That’s largely due to realizing that I can go “alternative” with my jewelry in other ways, such as through the use of anodized niobium earwires (I found a good source), or the use of unusual color combinations. If I put in the heavy earrings, I’ll only be able to wear what other people make, or things that are like what other people make…and spirals seem to be becoming a bit cliché.

I have 12 pairs of earrings that I’ve made over time, that I consider successful. I also have a few more pairs which can be deconstructed and redesigned into other things. Getting them out of my jewelry drawer felt (actually) good.

One of those sets of earrings have what I believe are Bali sterling silver cones (they were sold by the Troy ounce, which likely wouldn’t have been the case if they were only silver-plated). They’ve never been the most convenient things to wear, because they’re heavy. I had been thinking of using them for this necklace, but right now — I’m thinking about a different transition between the front and back of the necklace (like buttons). Particularly, as they would be some of the only silver pieces on this necklace (aside from silver-lined beads).

Bali silver — last I saw — was notoriously expensive, but very recognizable, and very beautiful. The hard part is trying to find Bali silver beads without having to buy in bulk (by the strand…which, given the fact that they’re individually heavy, on strands about 18″ long, and sold by weight, obviously infers their expense).

AND…I’ve just realized that I have some white pearls here that I can use! They’re pretty old; I took them from a pearl and rock-crystal necklace I didn’t often wear (it was too formal). The pearls themselves might (still) be too formal, but there’s at least that possibility of use. I had also separated out some tiny green pearls last night (they’re about 3mm long), but I forgot about them until just now. There are also at least 12 slightly-green pear-shaped pearls I can use, but (unless I also undo my practice stringing, which I probably should) that will be the last of them.

I went through my (limited collection of) bugle beads, today. I’m not sure that I want to use them; bugles are notorious for cutting through thread (I would have to use Fireline or C-Lon). They also lend a geometric look to whatever they’re used in, which isn’t what I’m aiming for at all (it’s also a reason I shied away from Miyuki brand, this last time I bought beads: I just don’t like the machined look). They are in the right colors, though: Capri, Light Topaz, a warm green (though I may need a cool green, if I use green at all: I’m thinking, ocean, sky, sand, seaweed: in that order). I basically got them out so I wouldn’t narrow down my design options too much, at this beginning stage.

And…I need to get to bed. You didn’t think I’d say that, did you? ;)

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

Art Jewelry vs. Craft Jewelry

OR, is Art really superior to Craft? About a decade ago, I recall reading something in one of my beading or jewelry magazines, about the differences between Art, Craft, Fine, and Fashion Jewelry. At this point, I would add in Body Jewelry to the mix — it was likely still fringe, at the time.

Exactly which magazine title it was, and which issue, is something that will take manual lookup — though I may have xeroxed the relevant pages out of a Library copy. I should really go through my archives. (Well — “archives” — they aren’t really incredibly organized or cataloged, just notes, records, and other things that I’ve considered worth saving over the years, as regards beadwork.)

I’ve started looking through my backlog, but I know it was in a magazine, and I have over ten pounds’ worth of magazines here (actually, about 13 lbs., if my scale is correct). I’m not entirely up to looking for it, right now.

What I do with beads, beadweaving, wire, and micro-macramé with seed beads, would be considered “craft jewelry”. Although it can range into “art jewelry”, which is generally more about one-of-a-kind pieces, stones (often including individual unique stones), and metalwork (for example: Designing From the Stone by Lisa Barth), I haven’t reached the point in my development where I can yet bezel a cabochon using a beaded method, and have the cabochon still show through to my satisfaction.

I do have some (as yet unimplemented) help in making beaded bezels, though. Jamie Cloud Eakin has a really nice book out called Dimensional Bead Embroidery, which clearly shows a number of methods of making beaded bezels. She also has another book out (Bead Embroidery Techniques: Bezels) which goes a little more deeply into bezels in specific, though it isn’t the only one of hers to mention the topic. Because of the nature of her type of work, which uses unique stones and unique designs, I’d say it does range into art jewelry.

I don’t know where I got this idea, but somehow there is this thought in my mind about art being “better than” craft. This was challenged, however, by a recent episode of A Craftsman’s Legacy, where the host (Eric Gorges) was interviewing an armorer (James Arlen) who said that armor made as “art” was generally less functional than armor made as “craft”. It’s not often that I hear someone defend craft in its own right (usually it is assumed that “art” is superior — I don’t fully know why, though I suspect it has to do with historically gendered practices and gender politics), so I do remember it. I also know that “Art Jewelry” is sometimes considered as “wearable art,” though not all of it is something one would want to wear.

As I’m writing this, I recall hearing about the Arts & Crafts Movement in my Art classes. I don’t remember all the information, but I know that those in this movement aspired to high-quality workmanship. This was in contrast, and likely in protest to, the advent of mass production after the Industrial Revolution. I wouldn’t be surprised if art jewelry is a continuation of this idea, though at present it is difficult to avoid working with mass-produced sheet and wire, unless you’re on the level of a traditionally-trained goldsmith and cast your own ingots.

I’m not entirely sure where the idea of, “art being better than craft,” came from…though I wouldn’t be surprised if it had to do with certain large craft stores stocking predominantly inexpensive (“cheap”) products. Charles Lewton-Brain has an article up on Ganoksin about the difference between art and craft. Lewton-Brain is a well-regarded authority where it comes to jeweling, and Ganoksin is a standard jeweling resource.

In any case, making jewelry out of pre-made components — like beads, and thread or cord — generally qualifies as craft (although, right now, I am coming to the realization that most if not all jewelry-making is craft, even if qualified by also being art). When I was in my silversmithing class, the work I was doing in this vein (a Dutch Spiral chain) wasn’t taken seriously by my instructor, even though it ended up being an integral part of my final design.

She didn’t say why — whether it was because she had no reference for it, whether it was because she couldn’t grade it, whether it was a safety hazard (broken beads on a concrete floor are crushed glass), or whether it was straight-out elitism. (I did, however, get people asking how I made it, and I could respond that it was a well-known technique, not a proprietary one.)

After all, it’s not like beaded jewelry, isn’t jewelry (regardless of the fact that the term, “jewelry,” used in the Jewelry field, typically refers to the products of metalwork). It performs the same function: to decorate someone’s body. I’m not sure the method of that decoration’s construction (in beadwork, at least) is really negatively judged by the people I would sell to.

It’s also a bit hypocritical to state that beaders or handcrafters rely on pre-made components (and that they thus are not as creative as jewelers), when I doubt that most jewelers find and hand-cut their own stones, or refine and process their own metals (normally into sheet, wire, or casting grain). I can’t pretend that there isn’t a lot of work put into finishing and polishing a metal piece, or that there isn’t more creative freedom in metalwork. However: it’s false to state that beaders are uncreative relative to jewelers, because of the materials or processes they work with.

There are also major differences in aesthetic relative to the different branches.

For instance, a lot of Fine Jewelry uses glittery cut gemstones that are not likely to show up in Art Jewelry to such a degree. The value of Fine Jewelry also in part rests in the perceived value of its materials (often gold or silver and gems, which allow a higher profit margin). As a Craft Jeweler, I can’t say the same to the latter; though I know at the same time that I am not a Fashion Jeweler. Fashion Jewelry is mostly inexpensive, mass-produced, on-trend jewelry which — like a lot of on-trend fashion clothing marketed to women — is not made to last. This is likely why so many cabochons (“cabs”) are glued into their settings, instead of actually set by rolling and smoothing the edge of the bezel over the cab. When something is just held in by glue, it tends to fall out.

In my own work, I’ve needed to look for more durable materials — given that threads are the most vulnerable part of any beadwoven work. For years, I used Nymo, which used to be industry-standard — until I saw one of my pieces fuzz out after two years of heavy wear — wear which I never expected and could not have predicted. Right now I’m using K.O./Miyuki thread for beadwoven items, and C-Lon for micro-macramé. We’ll see if they last.

A key reason I am as interested in beadwork as I am, are the colors and shapes available in beads, particularly glass seed beads. This is not something that I can easily attain in metalwork unless I 1) use reactive metals, 2) heavily use colored stones, or 3) use enamels. The use of colored stones is fairly self-evident, so I’ll move on to the other two.

Reactive metals are metals like titanium and niobium, which change color when subjected to certain processes like anodization. Although other metals can also change color when exposed to certain processes (like what results in a “fire patina” on copper), it’s fairly certain that color is not a central component of metalsmithing. Enameling is something I’ve considered, but there are two hazards I know of: 1) radiation from the kiln, and 2) harmful vapors from molten colored glass.

One of my friends works near a stained-glass supply, and has noted that people working with stained glass tend to get sick. I’m thinking that this has to do not only with glass dust, but also with glass colorants. Vapor of colored glass is likely another level of potential harm — and I say that having seen some of the potential of enamel. It can really be gorgeous. However, enameling requires the use of either a torch or a kiln…and as you may recognize from my past posts, I’m not too eager to use fire.

There is also the danger of burning out one’s retinas from staring into a hot kiln (this is the “radiation” problem)…if I’m correct and that is a risk with enamel, as well as with lampwork. There are protective goggles one can get; but that still won’t protect one’s lungs (I would suspect a danger of silicosis); and kilns are expensive, so I should be sure I want to enamel, before I invest in one.

Though I do like working with glass beads, we do still have a long way to go, where it comes to glass colorants. There are some colors, that is, that are just difficult (or prohibitively expensive) to create. Colorants can extend all the way through the glass, be added on to the outside of a bead as a coating (these have various levels of quality and durability, and range from what looks like paint, to metallics, to some gorgeous specialty coatings), be applied as a dye, or be applied to the inside of a bead hole, allowing color to show through to the outside (these are called “color-lined” beads).

Unfortunately, for example, it’s difficult to create a base color of violet for glass, so many violet beads are actually dyed or color-lined. (Both of these methods have problems with longevity.) However, with the new coatings that are being developed for use with glass, it’s possible to have a bead with a base color of blue or brown, and have an iridescent sheen on the surface which causes the bead to appear as violet, even a reddish violet. (I’m not entirely sure of the optical explanation for this; I just know it happens.)

There are also glass colors which are apparently really easy to make, and very common and beautiful. Teal is one of these colors, as is (yellow) topaz. Cobalt Blue is another representative color, which is close to an uncoated blue-violet. Reds and pinks contain gold as part of their formulation and so are relatively expensive, but are an interesting example in how glass colors are made. Though I can speculate, I don’t know the chemistry of glass formulations yet. Maybe if I got into lampwork, I could; though I don’t use many lampwork beads.

The fact also remains that those who are making jewelry out of beads, are depending on the prior work of crafters and manufacturers, and it would be arrogant to ignore that. The problem, I see, is that “craft” connotes low quality, whereas “art” implies something valuable and refined. There is also the issue of interdependence with others, and creation as a collective task, as versus the American myth of total and complete individualism.

At this point, having written, seen, and read all this (and in addition what I reference below), I do feel better about calling what I do, “craft work,” especially considering that I’ve realized that on a level — at least in handmade jewelry, as a decorative art — all art work is also craft work.

There is also the fact that, in Japanese society (I’ve been studying this and have Japanese influence in my cultural background), there is value and pride placed in being (and excelling as) a craftsperson; and as I read at Britannica.com, the distinction between fine art, and, “decorative art,” is a recent one. See the second paragraph of, “High and low art,” which may shed some initial light on the history (if, that is, it is accurate). This is the first time I’ve actually seen someone speak to the source of this, as occurring in the 18th century.

It would be interesting to research the history of this categorization of fine art as versus craft, and compare it with the timing of the Industrial Revolution and the Arts and Crafts Movement, which according to Wikipedia (accessed July 31st, 2019), flourished in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The question for me at this point, though possibly a misled and irrelevant one, is what differentiates craft which is also art, from craft which is simply craft: a deeper message? an emotional response? liberated (or ineffectual) design? For that matter: I never really considered myself a decorative artist. I don’t think it would help, though maybe if I subtracted my feelings on the mildly pejorative “decorative” (as though jewelry is only for aesthetic pleasure; not identity, or message, or the enhancement of beauty; and then what is the aesthetic, why does it have value, and are beauty, identity, communications, and aesthetics frivolous; and if so, on what grounds) from the title and kept the definition, it might.

At this point, it seems that the distinction between high art and decorative art is academic and irrelevant — to a crafter. It’s more relevant if I’m trying to distinguish myself from being a crafter, though the major gains from that would be monetary.

The fact remains that in my own work, I’ve chosen to deal with creating things, regardless of whether that leads me to work with fiber, or beads, or paint, or pens and graphite, or digital media, or the written word.

Of course, there are still some media I prefer over others, for reasons I’m not entirely aware of (other than my knowledge that I value precision). I’m just going to have to let these reasons show themselves, as I continue working…

beading, beadwork, craft, jewelry design

After all that…

It’s been a long time, and I’m feeling the need to get back to my jewelry and lace work.

I still haven’t gotten around to making that goldtone and freshwater pearl necklace, though I have all the materials. It’s something to think about, at least — if not work on. (Why not work on them? I have to decide whether to use brass or gold-fill wire…this is 26 or 28 gauge, not plated very thoroughly, in the case of the gold; and I can’t expect the working properties between the metals to be the same.)

The major issues are the possibility of running out of the gold-fill wire and of forgetting which type I got last time; and of finding that my pearls aren’t all drilled (or shaped) correctly. The latter would mean I might have to thin them out. It doesn’t help that, because of the fineness of the chain I purchased, I have to attach the drops integrally, in the process of making them. Standard jump rings just won’t fit inside the links.

Right now I also have a strand of button pearls, with which I’m not sure what to do. I was thinking of interspersing them with the woven drops. It would be easier if they drilled them lengthwise, like maybe with two horizontal piercings, instead of drilling them vertically from top to bottom. Button pearls, basically, are shaped like little mounds, with one flat side. They’re a relative design challenge because of it, although if they were drilled like “Candy” beads (two parallel holes along the base, cabochon-shaped), it would be fine.

Well, most anything could be a design challenge, if one thought hard enough, I suppose…(“Let’s make something that doesn’t look like anything that came before!”)

The bright side of having them, though, is that they’re relatively inexpensive, so I could afford a good luster — even if they are cream as versus white. (I get happy with a good rainbow sheen…which was a reason I often went to my local bead store to pick out individual strands of pearls. [That particular store, however, no longer exists.])

I still have to go through and cull the dull ones out, though. To be honest, I’m not sure how many of the ones on the strand I have, are usable. Just…natural things happen to them, which sometimes makes them not look so good. If you’ve seen the various insides of shells, like from mussels or clams…you probably know what I mean. Sometimes they just look marred, for reasons I can’t imagine.

I also have to keep myself from buying these, at bead conventions. There are often a lot of pearls, and the good ones — like the iridescent ones (along with some of the not-so-good ones) — often cost a decent amount, per-strand. Pearls are also some of the hardest things I could work with…they’re not as regular as seed beads or calibrated beads, and they kind of demand that whatever goes with them, not be so humble as to allow the pearls to outshine them. This means that pearl jewelry…it can get expensive, quickly.

I guess from a sales perspective, that means you get back your investment. But pearls are basically gems, just organic ones. Gemstone jewelry isn’t cheap, in most cases (unless you’re working with very small quantities, as with earrings, or you’re using an abundant or inexpensive material, like hematite).

It’s been a really long time since I did any macramé, as well. It’s not that I don’t want to do it; it’s that my materials are hidden, stashed away in drawers, so I don’t think about working with them, so much. The hard part is when they become hidden in plain sight, so you see their container every day, and just don’t think to look inside. (Now that I mention that, I remember the tatting shuttle on my nightstand…I’m concerned that it will become like my knitting and crochet, and be too repetitive for me to avoid feeling like I’m wasting my life. But I’ll give it a shot.)

Along with all this, I’ve continued experimenting with the Tri Stitch chains. Apparently, I can fit a 4mm fire-polished (FP) bead into each gap on either side of the chain, and it will lay flat…though I haven’t measured the exact length of those “4mm” beads. My major issue at this point is the fact that those 4mm FP beads are too wide to fit in between a Tri Stitch lattice (also that the lattice looks cheap next to them, depending on the beads I use).

However…what I did before with a 3mm Magatama drop, between two 15° Toho spacers? That…might work! Of course, it would turn the Magatama vertical, so that it would stand out of the fabric instead of dropping to one side, but that may be enough leeway to allow the bracelet some motion. It would also add texture.

And, of course, as I saw before…not all of those drop beads are the same size. So I also have some leeway, there. It would…just be kind of nice, though, to know who made those beads…not every supplier divulges their sources (sometimes, intentionally).

And…yeah, it’s…now 2 AM here. I…should go to bed…

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, design, jewelry design, seed beads, work

Yesterday

So I want to write, and the thing I want most to write about, is a beadwork design that came to me a few nights ago (I should have dated my design sketch). I am not entirely sure why I want to write about this…kind of like I’m not sure why I want to get off of the computer and stitch, instead of trying to think of essay topics. (It’s pretty clear why I don’t want to do homework: for one thing, I’m too bombed-out from work.)

The lack of understanding of my own urges is something I’ll need to work on. I feel like if I understood what was going on, I could adjust…I guess I’m still not great at giving myself space. For that matter, there’s a lot of psychology that I just don’t understand…

To get it out of the way and off my chest, I did work earlier, though nearly all of that time was spent shelving, cleaning up the library space, and retrieving the book drop. There were two people scheduled to help with the same job besides myself, both of whom were out sick (but I was out sick earlier in the week, too — maybe I should take my nausea more seriously).

Because I’ve been taking care of myself physically (relatively speaking), my healing overuse injury hasn’t been bothering me too much. Thus, I volunteered to spend all of my time chipping away at the backlog of un-shelved items. Yes, I know, stupid. But essentially…I was the only person there in my job title, thus the only person who was there expressly to shelve. I — basically — specialize in it. That, check-in, and sorting.

If I assume that I was shelving at least two carts an hour, and I subtract 45 minutes for the time spent getting the book drop, picking up abandoned items, and going on break, that means that I shelved at least 10-11 carts. I would expect this as a minimum, given that I can shelve a cart in as little as 12-20 minutes, depending on a number of factors.

I also gave up my one hour on Circulation (which would have been less work) to work further on the backlogged shelving. The situation at the end of the day wasn’t too bad, considering I was the only person doing the job, and that when I came in there were — if I’m remembering correctly — seven carts ready to go, with additional carts needing to be sorted. I let backroom staff handle the sorting, and most of check-in, today…which was likely a good decision. As it was, there is still work from today that will need to be handled tomorrow. It’s just nowhere near as bad as it might have been.

So now I’ve talked about that, and we can move on. :) I have been reading in the third edition of Conducting the Reference Interview, which I should probably get back to; though tomorrow, I’ll need to deal with my coursework. Homework…YAAA.

Okay. Maybe I can get to the beadwork stuff without guilt, now? ;) I’ve come up with a variation of Tri Stitch which is basically interlaced. It reminds me of what happens when one makes a fabric out of Right-Angle Weave, instead of a simple chain…though with Tri Stitch you basically get hexagons (or diamonds, now that I look at it: my trial had color accents on the tips of the weaving, so it looked more like a honeycomb).

I wanted to make a woven band (I’ll have to use K.O./Miyuki thread for this; C-Lon Micro is much too thick and stiff for multiple thread passes) with 3mm fire-polished beads (or 6/0 seed beads) going down the center, and embellishments on both edges, like the photo I showed earlier on this blog. Here, I’ve just retrieved it again so you don’t have to hop to the original entry:

The picot edging (lower edge) is what I hope to reproduce in this new design. I used two 11/0 Czech beads and four 15/0 Toho rocailles, here. I might be able to reduce the bulk by using all 15/0s.

I haven’t worked it out in reality yet, though; so I’m not even sure what size bead I’ll need to put in the middle of this in order to avoid scrunching up or distorting the work — I have a feeling I may need to use Japanese 6/0s. Everything I’ve got says that it’s going to be an irregular size, because of the angles in use and the dimensions of the 8/0 beads.

But there’s no real way to tell if I’m right, without actually constructing a model.

I’ve found that social media addiction creeping back up on me, again…which is the reason I stopped using it in the first place. (I can’t live my entire life on the Web!) If I can limit my use of it successfully, maybe I won’t have to worry about it keeping me up at night or away from productive uses of my time.

Then there is the issue of becoming known on social media, for instance around beadwork. ;) Do I want that? Am I happy being an anonymous blogger on WordPress? I’m not sure, but I’d say that I probably am happier on WordPress, for now…

Of course, then we start talking about Pinterest and everything and whether I have a need to join so I can help other people use it, blargh.

I don’t even know what Instagram does…though I just looked it up. Huh.

It’s easier than I had anticipated to make design drawings for this; however…it really (I mean seriously) helps to use bullet-tip markers to draw bead representations, rather than using fineliners. The thing about design drawings is that they don’t translate exactly to whatever you’re designing, due to the precision needed in the dimensions and shapes of the beads. They’re good as notations that will help you figure out where you’re going…but not something one should bet on being able to exactly reproduce IRL.

It also helps me to draw a bead as a straight line, perpendicular to its stringing direction, sometimes.

Anyhow. It’s now 45 minutes after midnight — I should sleep.

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

Design work: Tri Stitch using C-Lon Micro Cord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Design work: Embellished Tri Stitch

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

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

Embellished tri-chain swatch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, I don’t know, either.

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

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

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

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

Back to reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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