art, color, painting, self care

Sleepiness and swatch tests

Aw, man! Okay, so…my sleep schedule is bizarre, but maybe it won’t have to be, for much longer. It looks as if the heat wave has broken. Today the skies were gray instead of orange; that is an improvement. I also had to get out of bed in the middle of the night to change clothes, because it was so cold. Right now I’m writing this from bed in full pajamas, because it’s so cold.

Which is weird, when three days ago it seems like it was over 100° F. Right now, it’s 64° F, outside.

And I’m tired, even though I slept over 12 hours. It could be eye strain — I don’t think I’ve had a change in lens prescription in years. (I had to put off an optometry appointment because of the pandemic.) It could also be related to the smoke, or the fact that I am working at night and sleeping through the morning (although I went to bed before midnight last night, and woke up like it was morning, two hours later. Then I conked out at 3:30 and slept into late afternoon). It could also be because I missed the medication that I take for wakefulness…because I slept until 3:30 PM. That’s kind of a Catch-22, isn’t it?

A photo of four different Daniel Smith paints in various shades of green.
These watercolors are the four swatches in the top right of the immediately following image:

Anyway, my green paints and two new brushes came yesterday! :D I had to limit myself — out of enthusiasm, I have a tendency to overbuy (especially when I can’t see or test what I’m buying)…although now I know that painting is likely a good thing for me.

I have found that art is particularly…what’s the opposite of crazy-making? (“sane-making?”) “grounding?” for me. I’m finding watercolor to be also a relatively rewarding pastime in itself.

For some reason, I’m really into color; I can’t explain why, though…aside from the ability to witness how colors mix and merge. Painting has been an organic outgrowth of drawing, for me. I couldn’t cleanly, densely, and easily mix and dilute colors in drawing (the closest I’ve come to that is with markers), and nor could I have total freedom over the size and shape of my color applicator. That all changes, with painting.

A sheet of paper which contains all watercolor paints I might currently use, along with a freeform painting at the bottom right corner.
The left three columns are what is on my palette right now. Everything else either isn’t, or is a retry at getting a good gradient (or, in the case of French Ultramarine, a comparison with the other Ultramarines).

There’s something about the ability to achieve solid blocks of color and fluid gradients, that I really like. Also, the tactile issue is something that my sibling brought up — which could be why I’m not as drawn to computer art. The above swatches (and the little play painting in the corner) were all done with a Neptune #6 round brush. It’s really soft, and holds a lot of water. It will also soak up water if you dry it out a little before touching it to a pool of extra paint on your paper. For most of these, I was using the belly of the brush, not so much the tip.

I haven’t intentionally altered any of the colors here, though the light coming in the window was so yellowish and dim that I had to turn on overhead lighting today (when I took these photos and swatched out the four new greens in the upper right corner).

Right now I have about 45 colors which I’d consider using (there are some in the photo which are used twice). Of those swatched here, I’d eliminate W&N Mars Black (fifth column, third row) as Holbein Lamp Black (third column, seventh row) is smoother; and M. Graham Scarlet Pyrrol (fifth column, sixth row), as it granulates, and is very close to Winsor Orange – Red Shade (second column, third row).

Generally, I tend to prefer paints that have even dispersion and good flow…there are a number of paints I have which didn’t make it to this sheet, because of weird formulations causing a lack of leveling, or poor flow, or grains where I don’t want them, etc. This is just personal preference, however.

Gah, I’m tired. :) (Maybe I can go to sleep and wake up refreshed in 2-3 hours?)

Oh, right. I wanted to show you the Daniel Smith dot card swatches. The below were done with a very small flat…probably a Robert Simmons’ Sapphire, but I’m not sure and am too tired to look, right now. :) You can probably tell that I was tending to use too little water on my brush, for most of these…

Most of the Daniel Smith dot card set, painted out onto a sheet of paper.
Most of a Daniel Smith dot card (168 dots). I probably painted out more like 120 swatches (talk about tedious. No, I haven’t counted them.) There were four cards in the set, and I worked with approximately three.

I’ve swatched out everything here except for the special colors (like the Duochromes, etc., on the fourth card) and colors which I expressly knew were associated with asbestos (Tiger’s Eye, Burnt Tiger’s Eye [though I believe that in Tiger’s Eye, quartz has replaced the asbestos component], and Serpentine). I did, however, swatch out Kyanite, even though I know it’s fibrous by nature (I am not sure, but I don’t think it’s related to asbestos). I was curious. :)

What I find interesting about a lot of these is that a number of the gem colors (I suspect they’re PrimaTeks) are sparkly — particularly, Sugilite Genuine — though maybe I just got a lucky sample.

If I was going to add to my palette, swatching out both of these was a good idea, to avoid overlaps…a tedious, painstaking, good idea. :) It’s very apparent to me right now that I have a high-key palette going already…so maybe I shouldn’t really worry too much about getting bright colors. (I can always mix them down; there’s also the fact that the paints I’m using often seem to dull as they dry.)

As for the brushes…I ordered two, both Robert Simmons White Sable. One was to replace M’s very old and worn 1/2″ flat, the other was to replace a #8 Robert Simmons Sapphire flat that I killed, somehow. (The ferrule is loose. I only know of one way that would have happened. Never leave your brushes standing in water!)

Okay, I believe…that I am going to sleep now…

art, color, occupational hazards, work, writing

Not getting much done :)

It’s OK. I already have my degree. ;) Actually, though: when I planned on taking two classes for the month of August, I didn’t factor in natural disasters on top of a pandemic. I also didn’t factor in the knowledge that I might figure out what I wanted to do, while I was unemployed.

Yesterday when I woke up (and I woke up several times), the sky was orange, and I had a scattering of ashes all over my computer and desk (only some of which I’ve yet cleaned up). Pretty much nothing got going until after noon, though I was able to initiate Week 1 of XSLT and Week 4 of Vocabulary Design. It just wasn’t enough to hold my attention, however. (It would have been better if I had caught up on Week 3.5 and 4 of XML when I had the surprise week off…)

I do kind of wonder if I should be back in the Visual Arts, though I have to realize that is a dream…which won’t come to fruition, without practice. I would have more time to practice now, except I’m filling that time with building professional job skills to get me out of the service sector (what I’m calling front-line work with the public, although I believe according to some U.S. government sources [I can’t remember the website, unfortunately], all work that isn’t either farming or manufacturing is categorized as “service” work).

What it’s looking like, however, is that I may be in for a future of gig work. That is, I need to get my portfolio completed and online (and updated), because it will likely be key in helping me obtain gainful (and desirable — for me) employment. I should also likely hone my LinkedIn profile, for the same reason. Maybe start a Behance profile, or create an in-depth online portfolio including images and written work, aside from my Library work.


The place I’ve been laid off from, has just opened recruitment for “Librarian” positions…but the thing is, I don’t really want to work there, now. Especially not, now. Basically, the only thing it’s got going for it is that it’s not a long commute (depending on the branch). I realize that my application may be submitted without any effort on my part due to the fact that I was laid off, but seriously:

Like I’ve said, I have OCD and a germ phobia at baseline, and guardedness around the public as a starting point. On top of that, I’m not even very social; I have issues with strangers constantly misrecognizing and underestimating me on sight, which leads to their testing me; and we’re in the middle of a pandemic; and as such, Public Services in a Public Library is not where I want to be. There are too many stressors.

Before I was laid off, I was losing weight due to stress. Losing weight isn’t necessarily a bad thing; especially in my case where I have medication-induced weight gain; but when it’s for the wrong reasons and uncontrolled, it is a physical indicator that something needs to change. That it’s not just mental anymore. And it’s not fake. My job (was) physically making me sick. That, with more power and responsibility, doesn’t look good for anyone.

Though I guess I can just say that, if I get called in for an interview. It’s not a good fit. In fact, it’s a terrible fit. I don’t like being expected to care for and about people who disrespect me (by the people who disrespect me), and disrespect (at times ramping up to abuse) occurs on a daily basis in Public Libraries. At some point I’m led to wonder if I was a time bomb in that situation, waiting for someone to say something in precisely the wrong way at precisely the wrong time, which could tempt me to lash out — not just because of what they said, but because of my entire history and set of stresses, leading up to that point. (My awareness of the fact that others are ignorant of my situation, and that they don’t deserve to be punished for a lifetime of other people’s slights, has prevented a number of these incidents.)

And no, no one expects that from me, because I’m female, hence they label me as a “girl” and think I would never get to the point of violence against anyone but myself. My problem (and it is my problem) is that I have layers of accumulated rage around people constantly assuming I am someone I’m not. And sometimes it has to get to the level of my protective facade cracking for them to see that they’re wrong, and that they need to back off.

That’s too far, for me. I don’t like being in that place.

The problem I have here is that my alternative is hormone therapy which will gradually cause me to appear more male (or, alternatively, suddenly more male). The problem is that there’s only one other safe option, and it still doesn’t fit. I’d be satisfied if people could just stop seeing me as a body or role, and approach me as a human. But that seems beyond the grasp of most people.

If I do have a masculine gender identity, which I’m in no way sure about, it’s based more in what I see in the natural world than anything I’ve seen in this culture. Suddenly appearing male also comes with its own set of stigmas and dangers, especially because my skin is dark and because I’m not a typical (heteronormative) man; and both of those things, tend to threaten people (though at this moment, I’m kind of wondering if women threaten, “people”, and that’s why it seems so important all the time to reduce them to their bodies).

This is to the point that I have a hard time seeing myself as a man, at all — though I tried to, at one time. The thing that I share with (most) men is that constantly being seen as a woman isn’t something I want, and that could escalate out of control; given the fact that most of reality insists on seeing me as a woman. Which is, in fact, why I write: disembodied text doesn’t carry the same social cues.

I suppose that is what I gleaned from my time as a Library Assistant. No more public service. At least, if I can help it. If my housing and food depend on it, I can do it. Like, if I’ll be homeless otherwise, I’ll take Public Service. But it won’t make me happy.

Yeah, I didn’t intend to get into that. Anyhow…the art thing…and the writing, thing. Right.

(I go into some of this stuff with you all because I wouldn’t be able to function as a writer, without being honest with myself and with you. Thank you for putting up with it.) ;)


Right now, I’m intending to look for an alternative to Aureolin. This is cobalt yellow, a fairly toxic pigment by ingestion. This concerns me now because I keep noticing myself accidentally dropping water into the carpet when changing out water or washing brushes. I’ve lived with carpet long enough to know that not all of that comes out, and that it might only start to come out, with shampooing.

In any case…today I went back to my palette and swatched out everything that was on there, plus everything I intended to use, that wasn’t. (There are a number of paints which I’ve found inferior to what I’ve decided to utilize, including several different Viridians and Prussian Blues, plus a granulating Pyrrol color [it’s either Scarlet Pyrrol or Pyrrol Scarlet, which are two different colors in two different product lines].) Cobalt colors…I would say I have a love/hate relationship with them, but really, it’s just Aureolin that I have some misgivings with, at the moment.

There are several other cobalt colors, including Cobalt Blue, Cerulean, Cerulean Blue Chromium (you don’t want to eat Chromium, either), Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Turquoise Light, Cobalt Violet, Cobalt Blue/Violet, Cobalt Yellow, etc.

How they got a yellow out of that, I don’t know; what I do know is that on top of its toxicity, Aureolin is rumored to discolor over time (which was proven over on handprint [check out PY40, which is Aureolin’s (not Aureolin Hue’s) pigment number]).

The reason I even have it on my palette is that it was required for my Beginning Watercolor class, as a green-leaning yellow. Once I had been initially exposed to it (transdermally, and this in the effort to avoid touching it [my glove got wrapped around the tube, which spread the seeping paint all over the tube: I didn’t realize it until taking off the glove to try to remove the jammed lid with my bare hands — and I was in the field]), it didn’t seem like a big deal to keep it on the palette, and I already knew how to mix with it. However, basically everything else I have, appears safer than Aureolin.

Of course, that’s only apparently.

I am actually fairly interested in color families which I see over and over again at this point, like the Pyrrols and Perinones and Ultramarines and Hansas, etc. (I found an Ultramarine Pink and Ultramarine Violet Deep from M. Graham which are…fairly gorgeous, even though the violet would compete with Dioxazine Violet. The major difference I see right off is that Ultramarine Violet Deep has less tinting strength and is a more delicate pigment, in general [think, “fringed gentian,” though a little pinker]…whereas Dioxazine Violet can easily overpower the rest of a painting.)

I am also curious about the Cadmiums (apparently, there’s now a “Cadmium Green”; looks like a bunch of convenience mixtures), but if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you probably know that I know (and have been concerned) about cadmium poisoning: it’s not pretty. I did read about it recently in Toxic Archipelago by Brett L. Walker, a book about industrial poisoning in the Tokugawa and Meiji eras in Japan, after having accidentally run across the Wikipedia article on itai-itai (which freaked me out a bit), and having found limited English-language resources about it, online (I believe one of them was a map of the Jinzu River Basin?).

My major issue here was about not being required to use Cadmium pigments in my painting classes, as soluble cadmium salts can be absorbed transdermally. The trick, for me at least, seems to be finding insoluble salts that I won’t absorb, and can wash off of my hands. Not that I’ve tried, yet…

Chapter 4 of Toxic Archipelago, Engineering Pain in the Jinzu River Basin, focuses on cadmium poisoning. (Most copies I’ve found of this book are e-books. I don’t know why [and the e-book version of this on Amazon costs more than the printed one] — but searching WorldCat, you may be able to find a copy close to you. Note that I can’t be responsible if you get sick from a library book [although I believe most libraries are quarantining items to wait for any COVID-19 to die]. Just saying…)

What I learned from reading this is that there were a number of concomitant factors involved in the genesis of itai-itai byou (lit. “it hurts-it hurts disease,” the Japanese name for cadmium poisoning) including Vitamin D deficiency and large numbers of childbirths (most who contracted it were older women [e.g. postmenopausal] who had a lot of children and shaded themselves from the sun). This contributed to osteoporosis and osteomalacia. So I am aware now that I probably don’t have to worry so much about contracting itai-itai itself, but Cadmium is still a heavy metal, toxic, bioaccumulative, and a carcinogen…not great, but not necessarily a death sentence to use.

That being said, I know a lot of artists who have been through battles with cancer, and who have known other artists who have had cancer.

Also, some of the newer pigment families (e.g. Hansas, Pyrrols) were specifically created to be less toxic, to the best of my knowledge.

In any case…Hansa Yellow Light is radiant and gorgeous (this is M. Graham’s “Hansa Yellow” I’m using; check out PY3 on handprint), and I’m thinking of using that plus the Green Golds (there are at least two formulations of this: Winsor & Newton’s “Green Gold” (PY129) approximates Daniel Smith’s “Rich Green Gold” (PY 129) [DS’s regular “Green Gold” is something I’ve never seen before]), in order to brighten greens. I had some success with that, tonight…and according to a tiny bit of research and experimentation, it looks like I’m on the right track.

Hey, maybe I don’t need to replace Aureolin. I could use these three, instead.

Having done all this work, it’s fairly obvious which paints I would really want to get from the Daniel Smith lineup. Things that would be difficult to mix, for which I don’t have a lot of representation. There are some really nice earth tones, in particular.

I’ve read that a number of other companies (Schmincke Horadam, Winsor & Newton, Sennelier, Da Vinci) sell dot-card sets, but I think I’ve done enough dot cards, for now!

The other thing I’m thinking of is re-introducing Holbein Isoindolinone Yellow (PY110) to my palette; I had begun to use Daniel Smith Permanent Yellow Deep (PY110), but…it’s actually duller than the Holbein! (I had heard things about brush-handling qualities of Holbein watercolors as versus basically all the other major brands, which drew me to remove it from use…but it’s cleaner and brighter.)


The other thing…writing. Right. If I’m going to be a writer, it would help to decide what to write about...which…well, it’s obvious that I’ve got something right here in this post, but it’s difficult to see as though I stood outside of myself. I don’t have a lot of people to bounce this off of (I get misread a lot, even by friends, because I’m not forthcoming about things they do or concepts they have, which I perceive as wrong — even when it comes to my self-definition and my privileges to define what does and does not happen within my own house. So I just end up not dealing with them, and not inviting them over).

There’s the opportunity to write about art at the same time as I practice art, which would enable me to double-task the artwork! Then again, I took up Librarianship because I wanted to double-task my reading, and we see where that ended up. :) I neglected ten years ago to see that Librarianship was about people, not about books.

If I did want to be all about books, Writing basically requires extensive knowledge of the field one writes within, and it’s said (like Art) to be lonely work, though I’m well-suited to that. (Editing, on the other hand, is said to be interpersonally intensive.) Cataloging is also apparently a fairly solitary activity, though it would seem…technical, I guess.

(For me, “technical” is better than “social”…)

I’ve got a long way to go if I want to be a professional illustrator or artist, but I think I do have an angle on things that is not-mainstream, and which is valuable.

I wonder what would happen if I created, and successfully published, a graphic novel, or an illustrated book?

art, color, drawing

In the middle of the night…

I suppose that once you photograph a pencil drawing, it does show you where you could have stood to use a harder lead…note that the version of the drawing I’ve posted here is a PNG. It’s going to look bizarre if you download it, as I edited out the background in order to make the background match the background of this blog. (It even looks bizarre on my machine, if I try to look at it as a standalone file.)

It could be worth it to me, to enhance the original file and then retry the process I underwent to select and then paste the image information…

Last night I realized I couldn’t sleep, even though I had gone to bed early enough. I had been thinking about the last painting I did and how it reminded me of a cave with water. That, in turn, reminded me of cenotes, which are water-filled sinkholes — limestone caves with caved-in skylights — which occur in the rainforests of Mexico.

Drawing from within a cenote, or underground lake, within a limestone cave. Green vines drop from the skylight, and stalactites hang from the darkness on the right.
This really wants color.

From what I know, these have been known to be gates to the underworld. It’s not the same thing as a Hell, as the other world isn’t necessarily a site of suffering. Because of their association with the underworld, though (and likely also because their mythos of reference is not Christian), they are rumored to have been places of human sacrifice. They also seem to have served as sources of clean (fresh?) water.

The eerie thing about cenotes — aside from the otherworldly blue color they often have — is that they tend to be very, very clear and beautiful. From the surface, they’re basically holes in the ground into which one can disappear into if one isn’t careful. The underground lakes are connected through underground waterways which people are known to have perished in while exploring.

Basically, since the caves are limestone, they have been dissolved away by the rain. The edges of the skylights can harbor hanging gardens; even sometimes, waterfalls.

If I were to re-learn Spanish, researching the cenotes and their Mesoamerican connections would be among my strongest reasons.

I came up with this design while thinking of what I saw in the painting I did the other night. I made a simple sketch in my sleep journal, then got up and sketched the whole thing out in a Wet Media sketchbook with Hi-Uni soft graphite pencils. (Mostly, the very soft ones.) It’s not the same as it is in my mind, without color.

The water should be a Cobalt Turquoise Light, with greenery hanging down from the top, the sunlight filtering through the closer vines; then the cave itself is white with a glowing bluish cast from the lit portion of the water, and whitish reflections on its roof (lifted paint?) from the surface of the water, and shadows setting off whitish/yellow stalactites and stalagmites.

I’m not certain of next steps as regards watercolor — planning the layers may take some work — but having this quick sketch should help. (I had intended just to sketch various thumbnails, but I got a full-size drawing out of this!)

Right now, I’m trying to break out of realism and back into imagination…I’m unsure to what extent I will or won’t use visual references. Reflected light off of water, I clearly need to research; but types of plants? Photos from within cenotes (even though my composition seems fine right now)? What got me to this point last night was really being inspired by a watercolor book I seem to have last used, several years ago (if the bookmark is any indication)…

art, color, painting

“Living Water.” Abstract.

Okay. I’m so wiped out that I’m not sure what I’ve been doing since I woke up…anyhow, this is a non-adjusted image of what I was doing, last night. I’m kind of surprised the purple dropped back as much as it did, in this photo.

Abstract watercolor painting in blue, yellow, and violet.

As mentioned in my last post, I need to find ways of producing more intense deep greens. I started this painting out planning on a mostly subdued palette of Ultramarine and earth tones (Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre), but then Prussian Blue snuck in there, and Dioxazine Violet, and they helped so much that it just kind of spiraled. I even ended up highlighting with Hansa Yellow, at the end. I think that the yellow here is mostly Isoindolinone Deep (which has orange tones which dulled out the greens), but I’m not sure. I’m kind of too tired to verify it.

At various times while I was working on this, I found myself seeing a tornado, then the inside of a cave looking out towards the sunlight, then a scorpion’s tail throwing a ball of water.

No, I don’t know how much my current reading (Bad Water, by Robert Stolz; I wouldn’t recommend it at this time, it’s mostly about politics) is influencing this.

I know I should have 2.5 more hours of natural light, but I think I’m going back to sleep. :) It’s not like I have to go to work, tomorrow…

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, color, glass beads, macrame, seed beads

Hue and identity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

career, color, craft, design, fabric, sewing

Needing to work my own way.

I did get some work done, today. It’s worth noting that I didn’t get anything done before I decided that it was OK to trust my perfectionist urges and pre-wash/pre-shrink my fabric. This was largely due to puzzling over it…for days…and then reading instructions that M had printed out for a different pattern: to wash and dry the fabric as hot as was feasible, at least 2-3 times before cutting it.

Everything has been washed and dried on medium-high or high twice, depending on how I felt things would bleed or dry (there is, for instance, a lot less of the orange and yellow fabrics, meaning I knew they would dry quickly).

Previously…M and D had said it was OK to cut the fabric without pre-washing, but to cut the pieces a little larger to account for shrinkage. I’ve been cutting everything out to 9.5″x6.5″, to allow a 1/4″ seam allowance on all sides and give me a nice even 9″x6″ panel to work with when it comes to the proportions of the mask proper. It also helped that my quilting ruler has markings specifically at 9.5″x6.5″ (I think the entire ruler is 6.5″x19″).

So…there were a few problems with cutting things out without pre-shrinking, first. The first thing is that I’d have to either eyeball the size (which meant I couldn’t trust the seam allowance to be an accurate 1/4″ away from the stitching line when sewing), or spend extra time determining the size of the mask face when cutting (likely using the guides on my cutting mat).

The second thing is that I didn’t know how the fabric was going to shrink, as I imagined the warp and weft would not shrink evenly. That meant that my masks may unpredictably distort once they were finally washed.

The third thing is that if you’re not quilting the mask layers together, they tend to separate in the wash and require ironing to straighten them out again. With two panels of different sizes, those things may never lay flat.

What I did today was undo the pinning and finger-pleating in the two mask faces that were in-progress. These were the two I was working on when I burned my thumb with steam from the iron, about four days ago (this was bad enough to hurt when ice was put on it). The burn was enough to keep me away for a while (physically, I was better the next day, without even a blister; mentally, not so much), but I looked around that area today and saw that there was work in progress. It was enough to get me to work on this, again.

In any case…the finger-pleats were waiting for the iron (all I had to do was plug it in and press), but I realized that I could experiment on them — especially as one of them would never be used by anyone but me (I messed up the integrity of the mask by trimming the seam allowances too close, and had to hand-stitch the turning hole closed [my normal stitching line, 1/8″ in, would have missed the raw edges]).

What I did was run two lines of stitching down the masks from top to bottom, approximately 1/3 of the way in, on either side. I’m not sure if this ruins their feasibility as doing anything to stop COVID-19, but I’m hoping that with washing, the needle punctures will close up and the mask will be functional, and easier to care for than the first model. I’ll be able to see, once it’s completed and washed. My point was to keep those two pieces of fabric from separating.

Anyhow…I have a lot of fabric, right now. The oranges, pinks, and violets have all been laundered and dried (twice), and ironed to get the kinks out of them. I still have to deal with the blues and greens, though they finished drying earlier tonight. They’re folded and awaiting ironing, in the morning. Hopefully, that “morning” will not be 2 AM. ;)

I’ve also learned…not to buy fabric in 1/2 yard lengths, unless I’m just sampling. I know it’s twice as big as a Fat Quarter, but it still makes me feel like those colors are…precious. I guess it isn’t like I didn’t feel the Fat Quarters were precious, in the first place. But those were just the beginning. I’m also using Kona cottons, which come in a gorgeous array of colors which I’m unsure I’ll be able to match via computer screen.

I actually was talking with D about this, earlier: computer and smartphone screens (RGB color) really aren’t the best thing with which to try and represent a color. Especially not, when there are subtle gradations and variations between colors. I don’t think printouts would even work (CMYK color space doesn’t represent the full diversity of colors our eyes can optimally sense — nor does RGB); when doing mail-order, it’s like you try your best to pick a color which you think is right, and then when it comes, you’re pleasantly surprised. Hopefully.

I really don’t even know if the colors I received were the ones I ordered — I didn’t check that carefully. So right now…if I want more of these, I have to go by my receipts and see what I bought when, in which quantity; play the fabric lottery and make my best guess combined with the receipts, or wait until I can see and match the fabric from scraps, in-person. I really don’t recall how to calibrate my monitor so it’s as close to true-color as possible. I know it can be done; I just can’t remember how (if I ever knew).

Intro to Graphic Design was a great class. That’s where I learned the stuff about color spaces, or color gamuts; though that was reinforced with other computer art classes. In turn…this is a big reason why I don’t necessarily want to go digital, with my art. There are just so many restrictions, on the computer.

Anyhow! Today…was a bit fruitful, at least. But I need to keep track of how long I spend doing this stuff! I feel like I’ve been doing it since at least 2:30, until dinnertime (maybe 8:30?).

Hah, man. So right now, I’m focused on this…I’ve got two weeks before I may be able to work again, which will require face coverings. I’m not too hot on it. I don’t feel like the system is taking the danger of workers getting sick, seriously enough. We see multitudes of people all day, not all of them are courteous, not all of them are healthy, and some are hostile. Hostile + sick is a bad combination, because then you can get weaponized sickness.

But…yeah, I’ll deal with that, later.

Luckily, I’m still in with my employment program, and they will be able to tell why I’m incompatible with this job — especially, now (germ phobia [in a dirty environment], elderly parents [whom I still depend on], paranoia [high stress], tactless [vulnerable to being picked on], not a “people person” [people aren’t the center of my universe, and I don’t love them unconditionally]). They may be able to help me find one more suited…which means I should really also devote time to redeveloping my ePortfolio site.

It shouldn’t take a lot of brainpower…though I only have until June 1 to get this done via the Classic Editor (11 days). It’s significantly more difficult to link inline to PDFs in the Block Editor, though I’ve found a workaround.

I didn’t even mention the cords for macramé. I got some pretty cords. Which is another reason why I know the color display on my monitor is off. But…well, I do have the option of buying the other colors…I just won’t know what they are until I see them…

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

Cooling down…this stuff calms me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was not compensated in any way for writing this.

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

Swatching C-Lon gauges

From left to right: C-Lon TEX 400 with a 6/0 seed bead, C-Lon (standard) with 8/0 (blue) and 11/0 seed beads, and C-Lon Micro with 11/0 (purple) and 15/0 (opaque blue) seed beads.

Recently, I invested some time in knotting macramé, with the idea of posting images of it this morning, when I can photograph what I did in sunlight. I created some square knot sinnets with C-Lon TEX 400 (heavy weight), C-Lon (standard weight), and C-Lon Micro. I’ve posted them here so you can see some of the difference in scale between the different cord/thread weights.

Pretty obviously, the TEX 400 is way more substantial than Standard C-Lon. If I work at it, I can fit two strands of this through a size 6° seed bead (dark brown, left). I can fit two strands of Standard C-Lon (blue, center) through a size 8° bead. (Remember, the higher the number, the smaller the bead.) With the Micro, I can fit two strands (possibly more) through a size 11° seed bead, while it is also thin enough to fit one strand through a size 15° seed bead (light brown, right). I don’t have any samples of the Fine weight, so I can’t comment on that; but it is apparently somewhere between Standard and Micro.

I’ve put these square knot sinnets — two cords tied in square knots over two “carrier” cords of the same material — next to an American dime (the Web says this is about 18mm wide) for size reference.

I do realize now that I left out Miyuki Delicas in addition to Toho Treasures or Aikos (these are all Japanese cylinder beads which have larger holes relative to their size than comparable Japanese seed beads. I’m not immediately aware of the difference between Treasures and Aikos; they’re both made by Toho). I believe, however, that I only have Delicas…and possibly one vial of Treasures.

I can see possibilities for using the cords and beads right now…but I don’t know yet exactly how to get to the place that will fulfill that (or have a solid idea of my endpoint…which will likely evolve). I’ll have to puzzle it out in different iterations. What I can see now as a goal is probably just something I’ll have to keep in mind as motivation, and be open to re-visioning. I might also have to take notes on what I’m doing. There is a system of charting I know (as demonstrated in Macramé Pattern Book by Märchen Art Studio (2011), for example…though I have my homegrown version), but I’ve never used it for anything complicated.

The biggest hurdle, I think, is dealing with standard parts. That’s not as much of an issue now with fancy multiple-hole Czech glass beads on the market, but in designing jewelry, there is a “form” component as well as a “structure” component. By “form,” I mean the physical shape of the piece made, as though everything were made with the same color bead in a neutral color (different sizes and shapes allowed). By “structure,” I roughly mean thread path, connecting points, wirework, knotwork, thread terminations, and other functional architecture.

When you’re dealing with form and structure, things get more complex as one gains more different sizes and shapes of bead, and number and position of drill holes. If you have a collection of glass seed beads which goes back over the last 25 years, though…you probably have a lot of beads of the same style which are mostly just different in color, finish, and lining; but similar in physical form. Note I said, “similar,” not “identical.” (I might go out on a limb here and say no beads are truly identical…though Delicas, at least, come close.)

Alternating square-knot sinnet with 8/0 beads (left) and without (right).

That leads to…a somewhat limited number of outcomes for beadweaving or macramé, unless you get creative. Which is the point, right? It is possible to get really creative; but that means that patterns that teach you how to weave or knot are just where you begin. They teach you how the beads, thread, and knots work. Once you’ve got that, the rest is up to you.

Up until recently, though, form had been relatively…elusive for me, as a concept. I had focused much more on color and color interactions; probably because I started with loomwork and flat peyote stitch, as a child. It is the case that haphazard choice of color scheme can detract from a design…but attention to form and structure is also important. The thing is, it’s difficult to deal with the latter two without incorporating some color which alters perception of the piece: no bead is truly neutral.

In contrast, Silversmithing has been almost entirely about form and structure, for me. The main ways I can think of to incorporate color are through using 1) brass, copper or patina, the colors of all of which are naturally in flux; 2) heavy use of colored stones; or 3) enamel. It’s for this reason (among others) that I realized I had found a distinct strength in beadwork, which complemented my interest in color. (This may also be why I’m attracted to quilting.)

Last night, I also did an alternating square-knot sinnet sample with incorporated beads (right). It’s nothing complicated, but I wanted to record it. I’ve seen similar but different methods online…not that I’ve done them, but I can see different thread paths, and I know that means variation in construction.

Ah, I remember what I wanted to say! No one’s compensating me in any way, for writing this post.

color, craft, fabric, fiber arts, sewing

Fabrics!!!

Remember how I mentioned that thing about having too many choices? I was partially referring to this:

A bunch of quilting cottons divided by color, into blue-greens, pinks, and purples.

And this:

Orange quilting cottons on the right, and a couple of cottons I don't like, on the left...

I obtained these after decimating my Fat Quarter stash for COVID-19 face masks. Of course, these will also be going (first) to COVID-19 face masks.

I’m still not certain whether to launder these before I begin cutting and sewing. It is tempting to wash everything, though that also means pressing everything. I don’t mind it, but it’s a lot of work, and this is a lot of fabric! The textures of the fabrics also change, and there may be differential shrinkage.

I’m almost scared to start, because I know that if I cut and construct one mask out of these, it may not last through the wash…though I have been encouraged to try making at least one mask and laundering it, to see what will happen. If it comes out poorly, then I wash everything else before cutting. If it comes out fine, then I don’t have to worry. I’m planning to tack on an extra 0.5″ to 0.75″, to account for shrinkage (the mask face should be approximately 6″x9″)…the thing is, the shrinkage via warp (length) versus via weft (width)…may not be the same. And it probably won’t be the same among all the fabrics.

I have extra yardage in the pink materials, so my first trial should come out of those…I had been planning to use the two fabrics on the left in the second photo, just because I like them least (with apologies to the designers). However, I have less of each blue and green Kona cotton (first photo, top left, plain fabrics), in exchange for more shades of those colors.

Six sets of mask cottons, ready to sew.

Ahh, decisions…

(I probably should be saying, “Ahh, inexperience…”)

I have nearly run out of the Fat Quarters I used for my initial masks. I basically slaughtered my initial stash, because I needed to. They were willing sacrifices of quilting cotton.

The cuts on the left are what I have had matched up, though I only have a few of these left to sew, and I’ve rearranged some of the pairings. Because they are all from 1/4-yard cuts, I wasn’t able to make two long ties as versus four short ones.

However…that could be rectified in what I’m about to get into.

I haven’t sewn in about two days. I think I’m still getting over the shock of the new fabrics. If I’m correct, all in all I’ve made about 16 masks, so far. What I don’t use on masks is going into quilts; I already have an interesting idea laid out, though I can’t right now find the image file of the quilt block I designed. It’s basically based on paper-folding…I can’t find the relevant post right now, though.

I really need to start an “origami” tag…and/or a “quilting” tag…

Oh hey, look. ;)