Business training

Bead database?

I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not, but the biggest thing I have to report is that building a set of spreadsheets detailing each bead type, cost, color, and location, is a bit forbidding. However, it could make for an interesting project, if I were to design a database for this information (just for practice, and to show to potential employers).

This would take me from my 202 class, through Relational Database Design and Implementation, and possibly further, into actualization…though that does mean that I have to do further work in programming. I would likely be using some form of SQL (Structured Query Language) for information retrieval. That means that once I get to the point of having tables in the correct configuration, and have populated those tables with data, I would need to run some type of SQL queries in order to retrieve anything.

Data entry is its own big thing, though.

To create a database of this type, I need to analyze my needs; isolate the information categories and types that would fulfill those needs; create a Data Dictionary to standardize data entry among the different categories; organize those categories into conceptually-related tables; determine the relationships between the tables; determine whether each pair of tables is in a one-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-many relationship; determine the keys for each table upon which all else depends; normalize the tables; create the tables in proper order within a database program so that they build upon themselves; populate those tables with information; then create structured queries to retrieve needed information.

It’s a lot of work just to get to the end point of knowing where I’ve stowed things. I mean, I could just look (because my collection is small enough, for now). Not to mention that I’ve brainstormed 24 descriptive fields so far that would be ideal to include, though some of these are dependent upon others. For instance, beads of Type, “seed”, would include an “aught” category, whereas no others would. Also, I could include different “Size” and “Appearance” tables, so that I would only have to put in a masstone color (e.g., “blue”), once, and be able to mix and match those variables across items.

I guess…if I want practice, here’s practice. And it’s practical…practice.

I’m too tired to think about this now…but I still have my texts and my notes and old assignments. Maybe even my slides. I can review, tomorrow.

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, Business training, color, glass beads, jewelry, metalsmithing, occupational hazards, seed beads, small business planning

Self-observation + Link to Matubo seed bead review

Observation first, before I forget.

I really like working with seed beads and fiber.  And I really like writing about seed beads and fiber.  I originally started the metalworking classes because I could see some things being done with seed beads which could be more cleanly and simply done with metal (like cabochon and faceted stone setting).  And I could see the use that those skills would open to me in doing something like making my own clasps.  But I don’t think at heart that I’m a silversmith (for the love of silver, at least).

Also, unless I went into enameling, and/or heavy use of colored stones, I probably wouldn’t want to really get into metalsmithing that deeply.  Enameling can be hazardous, which is a reason I’ve avoided it in the past.  In one of my classes, I observed someone blow powdered enamel (a.k.a. colored glass dust — “colored” meaning probably toxic to ingest; “glass” meaning tiny shrapnel which may shred your lungs and never get back out) off of her bench and into a cloud.  I held my breath as I walked past.  She still had a cough the next semester.

How do you really guard against stuff like that other than wearing a respirator the entire time you’re in class?  What if I hadn’t happened to see what was going on?  What if I didn’t know to look away every time the enameling kiln was open?  (An enameling kiln radiates infrared light when the door is open and it’s hot, and that can damage eyesight unless protection is worn when looking towards it.)

I still remember when I had to spend 10-15 minutes cursing over the pickle pot because someone dumped out my tiny copper rings into the pickling solution and it was so dim — and the pickle so saturated with copper (it turns deep blue-green instead of clear when it’s old) — that I couldn’t see them.  And I remember coughing for two weeks afterwards from the fumes, as well.

But let’s get back onto a positive note, shall we?

I have enough experience from my time in smithing classes (two semesters — more than that, and I didn’t want to put myself back into the situation) that I feel reasonably confident that I can construct and solder a toggle clasp on my own, or fabricate a clasp from sheet and wire.  It probably wouldn’t be the greatest-looking thing or the most creative thing (creativity is very much helped by fluency of skill), but it’s possible, and I know it’s possible.  I can also make custom closed jump rings from wire and solder — easy, with the right setup and materials.  Or, so I say now that I know how to cut the jump rings away en masse and cleanly.  If I’d used silver for my class project, I would have wasted about $60 worth of silver while I learned how to avoid twisting the saw.

Plus there is the bezel setting I learned at the end of first semester, which showed me that even though it looks simple to set a stone in a metal bezel, in reality there is a lot of work which goes into it, and it requires some finesse to avoid, say, melting your bezel into a puddle instead of closing it.  It also requires some finesse to achieve a secure seat for your stone, and to avoid inadvertently damaging the stone in the process of setting it.  This is not even getting into whether what you’re setting it on looks good or not — more often than not, this is a flat piece of sheet metal, sometimes with stamps, soldered buttresses or designs of wire, or, in some cases which I especially admire, bits of granulation.  I can’t do granulation yet, so of course, I’m impressed.  ;)

Form is explored in metalwork, but often at the expense of color.  Color dynamics are a big attractor and driving force for me.  My seed bead, colored pencil, and marker collections attest to it.  I have wanted to get into painting, but so far the only experience I have there is in one Color Dynamics class which used gouache, plus Continuing Drawing — there was an introduction to pastel painting at the very end of that session.

I know there are liver of sulfur and shakudo and shibuichi and the golds and coppers and brasses.  I even know that there are the reactive metals to work with, titanium and niobium, and these.  But do I really love metal?  At this point, my enjoyment of metalwork is not high enough for me to go out of my way to expose myself to the hazards of metalwork.  Hot metalwork, at least.  Cold connections are much less intimidating.

In addition, there seemed, in my metalsmithing class, to be some prejudice against beaders.  I inadvertently ran up against this when I started constructing a beadwoven chain for my metal pendant in class.

At this point, having done some work in design myself — I mean, beyond changing the colors of a pattern, and I mean — really taking a concept through multiple models to achieve a workable formula (that collar with the daggers may have to be altered so it curves more), I can see the point that people who work in metal may think that beaders are unoriginal because they/we stereotypically don’t take a project from concept to conclusion, but rather have to learn via patterns and mimicry before we can stand on our own two feet.

But where are you going to find a way to learn to bead unless a) you know someone who does it who is willing to teach you, b) you take classes at a bead store — if there is one near you, or c) you learn through finding pre-made patterns (in print and online) and following them?  I mean, seriously!

It wasn’t until I confronted the idea of going into business with my own jewelry start-up that I found I didn’t have the complete set of skills I’d need to do business in the way I’d want to do it.  I’m gaining that skill now, and I’m slowly de-shocking myself from the scare of potentially treading on someone else’s intellectual property rights.  In two to five years, maybe I could have a viable business.  But there are a lot of things to get in order, first.  Particularly, identity and my target market, plus maybe figuring out what lies behind the drive to bead.

There are a lot of things that I didn’t know about myself that I’m learning about myself, which could gain me a signature style, which could in turn become a brand that I’d be able to sell within the U.S. for U.S. level living-wage money.  Probably not urban living-wage money, unless I’m in a place I don’t want to be, but nonetheless.

I think, though, that one of the reasons there are so many beading pattern books on the market is that really, handwoven beaded jewelry is…it’s expensive in terms of time and design, but not in terms of materials.  It’s also relatively fragile.  So maybe it seems more profitable to sell copies of the patterns and let people make the jewelry themselves, than it is to have a firm which produces and distributes finished beaded jewelry.  Otherwise, most of what I’ve seen comes from outside of this country, and really, how do you compete with a $10 daisy-chain bracelet?

Unless you have a distinct identity, that is — and you know what you’re selling, beyond your product.  Though, of course, that can easily go icky, if you jump to conclusions.  But the reality behind it maybe doesn’t have to be really that bad.  If you’re selling things because you want to celebrate femininity, hey, good on you, you know?  But know that’s what you’re doing, and know the cultural context it takes place in; and the possible problems resulting from the flawed system that your statement only makes sense within.  And know it’s very possible that others will see different meanings in your art than those which you intend.

I think that if I’m really creative — if I really take an unusual tack to what I want to be doing, and I do something which no one else in my part of the world is doing, or which maybe no one is doing anywhere — I think it’s possible to run a handmade jewelry business.  It would be tight, financially, and it would take a lot of time.  Plus, a lot of my attention would be expended on business as versus creation, at least unless I found a partner to manage that side for me.  This is at least a two-person venture, if it’s serious, and more likely eventually at least a 5-person venture.  But hey.  The culture?  The work?  It could turn out nice.

Anyhow, I’ve put this to the side for now as an auxiliary option.  I’m not married and don’t have plans to be, so I’ll have to support myself.  Right now I’m looking at writing and beadwork as things I love, can do relatively easily, and can do immediately.

I promised you a link to a review of Matubo seed beads.  That link is here.  I ran across this by accident; the author displays photos of these beads next to a couple of other brands which I had not seen in action prior, but which I’m considering trying out, now.  Presently, Matubos are only available in 7/0 size (in Czech sizing) — the size is quoted in the article; the difference between the Czech and Japanese sizing relations is something I’ve just inferred from past experience.

Anyhow, happy crafting (or whatever you do out there!)  Treat yourself nice.  :)

beading, beadwork, Business training, planning

Impracticality of making a living at beadwork

I think the title says it all.

I’m not sure this is truly the case, but it certainly seems to be:  becoming an entrepreneur and starting my own business making beaded jewelry and selling it to clients is probably not something from which I’m going to be able to make a decent living.  I had half a mind not to write this post, but then I realized that it’s probably a big turning point so far as this blog is concerned.

I’ve just completed a semester of Marketing and a semester of Microeconomics.  Both of them together show that the opportunity cost of making beaded jewelry is too high, because I live in a country with high labor wages and a high cost of living.  Making jewelry is a time- and labor-intensive ordeal, and I live in a society which focuses on capital-intensive goods and services, not labor- or land-intensive goods and services.

Making labor-intensive goods in a society which has high labor wages because of a high cost and high standard of living means that imported goods of the same or higher quality could vastly undercut me in terms of what the public decides they’ll pay for it, because of what they’re used to paying for it.

If circumstances were different — say, if I were married or had any real prospects to be within the next 5 years, and my spouse were making enough money for the both of us, this would be a different situation; but I’ve got to be able to support myself on my own.

So because of this revelation, I again need to change career paths to something more profitable.  I’m wanting to enter the field of Information Technology.  This is a capital-intensive field which matches the environment that I live in fairly well.  The opportunity cost of this — that is, what I’m giving up in order to be pursuing it — is fairly low.

It doesn’t mean of necessity that I feel from here, it’s what I’d most like to do, but it’s acceptable.  In all honesty, the dream of making beaded jewelry and the reality of making beaded jewelry are not the same things, either.  If I did become an entrepreneur in making jewelry, in effect my time would largely be taken up with management and a host of other tasks related to the running of a small business which would leave me with little time actually devoted to doing what I want to do — making jewelry.  The people who would be able to make a lot of jewelry would be my employees, not me.

Anyhow, I’ve decided to give myself a break over this summer and not pursue the computer training immediately.  When I go back in Fall I should be taking 2 classes, which will amount to 8 units.  If I took the class I’d wanted to take over the summer, I’d be cramming a semester’s worth of a 4 unit class into 6 weeks and trying to jam in a bunch of work in addition so that I could pay my bills; after this semester, I don’t think I want to get right back into that, immediately.

I’ve also realized that I don’t particularly think I’m well cut-out for being a businessperson.  Out of all my Holland Code Scores, Social is dead last as, like, an 8 or something.  So I probably shouldn’t be in a primarily social occupation, as both my current job and the field of Business, are.

I’m going to take a break from writing at this point, though I do think it’s worth mentioning that someone influential to me is a very nose-to-the-grindstone person and had told me to work on my skills and figure out how I’ll use them, later.  They have also said that they “don’t know why” I’ve been taking Business courses.

Because of this, they don’t tend to think ahead like I do, and I can see how it’s affecting their ability to design.  They have a lot of false starts and a lot of energy put into beginning, and then don’t know what to do once they reach a certain point.  Whereas I tend to think ahead on everything and in contrast tend to ignore the present for the goal.

If I hadn’t thought ahead, I might still be on the Jewelry track now, and in a metalwork class over the summer, learning silversmithing.  Silversmithing, at least, does pay better than beadwork, but it’s not my true love.  Beadwork, in contrast, draws me more (because of the color dynamics potentially involved), but the end of that — I can see from listening in on others’ posts — is being overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.

This is in addition to being subject to copyright laws — I’m still not sure how much they cover, but I have been party to some rather angry moral proclamations about “copying”.  This has really discouraged me from making anything at all for fear that I’m treading on someone’s intellectual property and then that I could be sued for it.  Or, alternate scenario:  making something for practice out of someone else’s pattern and then having someone ask me to make one “just like it” for them. Which, of course, draws on my time and finances, possibly substantially, should I do it for free.

My country is known for its litigiousness, after all.

Maybe I can counter that by bartering for plushies or something.  I don’t know.

beading, Business training, embroidery, macrame, planning, sewing

So maybe I will open this blog to search engines…

Apologies for the delay.

I’ve been editing Categories as I intended to do some years ago.  Really?  Did I mark that many posts as “fiber arts”?  I can’t seem to alter the size of the “fiber arts” category in the right column, and I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t worry about it too much, given that only Tags are shown at the bottom of each of my entries.  But maybe I can alter that, as well.  It’s been a while since I’ve toyed around with WordPress.

I’m almost done with classes for now, though I am thinking of taking a class which in the past, at least, has been a prerequisite for other classes that I’m pretty clear on wanting to take.  I’m also pretty clear that I’ll likely need the structure.  What I really want to do is spend the summer being creative with beads, macrame and sewing/embroidery, but the big threat there is that I’ll just end up with my sleep schedule way out of whack.  I suppose I could also apply for — or volunteer for — a different job which would give me additional work experience.  Think outside the box, yeah?  Though naming rote confinement as “the box” would seem to be a bit rote (…I’ll try and get off of this train of thought).

Plus; I can’t really make a good living off of beads, macrame and sewing/embroidery…at least not unless I put a lot of effort into it.  Considering that three out of those four categories are newish to me, as well…it’s looking like I’m just trying to keep my mind stimulated.  But I’ve read that people with my type of mind tend to do that, which makes me a good candidate for IT work, because I won’t mind learning new things routinely for the rest of the foreseeable future.  Plus, IT actually does pay a living wage.  I’m thinking of keeping my crafts as a self-sustaining/somewhat-profitable avocation (probably as a hobbyist, not a business — there are a lot of regulations for businesses that I didn’t realize were there until this last round of research papers) while going into Web Design as a way to stay alive.

The reason I’ve kept search engines out of this blog is that…well, privacy, anyone?  It’s not like there’s much privacy online anyway, or that the world is actually trending toward being less connected, but being suddenly linked to the entire worldwide web — or anyone searching key terms, at least — is basically not having privacy.  Right now it’s like being out in the open but having a burrow well-hidden amongst the leaves.  Hiding in plain sight.  (Maybe that’s just my totem talking to me, though.)

I already know that dealing with the general public is not one of the great joys of my life.  In the past, this blog was linked to Ravelry, which is how I gained web traffic.  At this point, the material here is a bit personal to link directly to my identity.  It’s like the people I talk with online don’t know who I am, and the people who know me from real-world interaction, aren’t interested in my personal life.  And I haven’t been back to Ravelry in a very, very long time.

But I am interested in starting up some dialogue with other crafters.  My posts tend to be so long and intimidating to some, though, that they aren’t conducive to responses.  I think people get to the beginning of the third paragraph and go into absorption mode instead of conversation mode.  I know people read these things, they just don’t respond.  And pushing for responses just gets bad responses.

Anyhow, I’ve probably written long enough.  I have a couple of days to get my take-home Final done, and read the last chapter for my other class.  I hate feeling like I’m behind, but I actually do think that the vast majority of people are doing worse than I am, so maybe I shouldn’t grate on myself too much.

All right.  I think I’ll go and do something productive now, even if that is only something creative rather than career-related…

Business training, organization

Probably going to be up all night…

Alright, so I didn’t get any beading done today.  I hardly got any reading done, today.

It’s been a pattern with me recently that I’ll end up sleeping into the afternoon on days when I don’t have school or work — even if my alarm goes off.  I just get up, groggy, turn it off, and go back to bed.  And then I don’t remember having turned the thing off.  So today wasn’t really productive.

I had time between late afternoon and early evening to read (around 2 hours) — until my mind stopped focusing, at least.  Then, I had to eat dinner; then I fell asleep sometime around 6 PM and woke up around 10:30 or 11 PM, like it was morning.  So…I don’t think I’m going to be falling asleep again, anytime soon.  I honestly feel more awake now, than I generally do at 8 AM.

I did change the Theme of this page.  If it’s too hard to read (like if the contrast between text and background is too low), feel free to leave me a comment.  I was just thinking that I’ve had the same Theme (Fleur de Lys) since probably around 2010, and decided to experiment a bit.  Maybe I can hand-draw a header and scan it in?  Or I can go outside and take some spring flower photos, which will probably be more sophisticated.  Like the flower mats growing out in the backyard, right now.

Just a thought.

Maybe I’ll try and work on my final project for Marketing.  Or, better yet, read the material for Economics tomorrow, since that deadline is coming up sooner, and the material will be harder to understand if I don’t.

I feel like I should be doing things other than going to classes, but I suppose that’s what happens when I’ve spent well over 20 years in classes.  Overkill, maybe?  Or just a step closer to discovering where I want to be, in life?

Probably, it’s just part of my process.  It’s just that college classes are such a freakin’ game…and there are other ways to learn.  Especially if I want to be a crafter.