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. ;)

beadwork, color, craft, creativity, macrame, self care

Beads and cords: returning

I guess that leaving my beads in my line of sight, finally paid off. They’ve been there for months; for some reason, I was intimidated to go back to them…which may possibly have been the “too many choices” dilemma.

I may be misremembering the paper, but in Library School, I read something about how people were less satisfied with a choice overall, if they were given a chance to second-guess it (in a study). I really can’t remember even which class I read that in, and I don’t have access to school databases anymore; so I can’t give you a citation.

Although it’s a different situation, I’ve realized that this happens when I invest in too many different colors (in beads, fabrics, threads, cords), which drastically magnify my creative options. For some reason, it’s easier when there is some scarcity that pushes me to make creative decisions I normally wouldn’t make…or when I’m using something just because it’s plentiful, and I don’t mind losing it to a swatch. I’m pushed to find (or just do find) unusual color combinations, that way.

I know that I have a tendency towards analogous color schemes, in sewing and in beadwork, because they feel “safer” than branching out and experimenting. I guess it’s like when I was a kid and I preferred to use majority black or grey color schemes. (I did grow out of it.) What I did today was mix up the color placements in a sample bracelet strap, to break up relatively monochromatic schemes. The good news was, I liked it better…and I suppose every time that happens, there’s a little victory, and encouragement to try it again next time.

Right now, I have my seed beads separated out by size and color in transparent vials. It’s possible to pick a set of them out and switch them around so that I can see colors and finishes next to each other, but even that doesn’t really compare to placing them together in swatches. The way masses of these beads look next to each other, isn’t the same as the effect when you’re using one or two at a time (next to other colors, which impact how we see them, says my Color Dynamics training)…and especially not when you’re dealing with more than two colors, in which the color of the thread or cord (or hardware/findings) you’re using also impacts the design.

I’m not even getting into color ratios and placement, bead linings or surface finishes…but those also affect design dynamics. Maybe eventually I’ll make a series of Pages about stuff like this…

Today I found both of my macramé boards, having put them away, likely, months ago; so that they wouldn’t gather dust. (They’re basically some kind of foam, so they aren’t the easiest things to clean.) One of them was hidden under some pads of paper I never use, on top of my art archives. I knew the approximate area it should have been in; I’m just glad I was tenacious enough to continue to dig when I couldn’t immediately find it.

Speaking of lost things: as for where the giant cutting mat went (which could be useful)…we still don’t know. I mean, no one knows. The most I can think of right now is that maybe it’s in storage with my portfolios, in the garage, or in a closet somewhere — possibly in the room no one uses, except to store things.

Anyhow: I mentioned C-Lon TEX in my last post. I should have said, C-Lon TEX 400. A lot of things are called TEX, apparently! This is a cord which is just under 1mm wide. I only have one spool of it, in a color I wouldn’t normally use (brown). I don’t even remember why I got it, except that it may have been a mistake.

Today I was just experimenting with the TEX 400, making a basic square-knot sinnet (two cords knotted over two cords), and an alternating-square-knot sinnet (two cords knotted over one cord on the left, then the same on the right, etc). I haven’t yet gotten to the point of being comfortable with solid panels of macramé (using vertical and horizontal double half-hitches). I think I may be describing Cavandoli knotting, but the technique exists even in fairly basic micromacramé jewelry patterns (which I don’t yet know how to do). It will be exciting to develop my skills in that area. I would recommend the instructional books and materials by Joan R. Babcock, if you’re interested.

In any case…this C-Lon is about the width of the hemp I started out with when I first began knotting. It is, however, much stronger and cleaner, being a type of industrial upholstery thread. I’m attracted to the “strength” part of that, because I’ve repeatedly had issues with breaking cords due to pulling on them too hard. This has happened with waxed cotton, hemp, leather… I think this is related to the quality of the cord; the ones I’ve gotten from chain craft stores are the most likely to do this.

In contrast, I have some Fluturi hemp “yarn” I purchased from a local yarn store…which is a comparable width. As compared with basic craft store hemp twine, the staple is longer, it frays less, is softer, and it’s a bit stronger. The Fluturi is being discontinued, and replaced with linen. Yes, it’s probably notable that I had to go and find my stash to see whether the Fluturi was actually hemp or linen, in the first place…

In any case, the C-Lon 400 has no issues with stray threads, or breakage. On top of that, it has enough body to hold its shape well, and it’s glossy. There is a comparable product on the market known as S-Lon; in my limited experience, however…the S-Lon (I have one spool, I liked the color) has frayed a bit more, right off of the spool. Also, word is that one of these is an off-brand of the other (though I am not sure enough about it to claim a position, myself).

Up until recently, I have only used Standard C-Lon (TEX 210) and C-Lon Micro (TEX 70); in comparison, TEX 400 is very hefty. I’ve found that I can fit 4mm Fire-Polished glass beads onto it, but not 3mm — at least, not easily. Also, not all size 8° seed beads will fit, but I’m not sure if that is because I have some unlabeled Czech size 8°s in my vials (which tend to have smaller holes).

I haven’t tried making a self-needle with the strands yet (stiffening the cord with Fray Check or nail polish, waiting until this cures, then cutting the tip off at an angle and using that to help thread beads onto the cord). Actually, I was looking for the Fray Check today, and I also don’t recall where I put it (though I’d check with the sewing materials, next).

Well, at least I know where I put my thread burner…hopefully. I think I know where I put my thread burner, is more accurate. ;)

Just, doing little things with my hands…it takes up my attention, which means I don’t have the free mental space to worry. The biggest things I have to watch out for, here, are carelessness: dropped beads (which can lead to broken glass); and working so hard and long that I get blisters on the sides of my fingers before I can develop callouses. At least, those are the hazards of which I know.

I’m hoping to take another look at a book I have, tomorrow, called Macramé Pattern Book, by Märchen Art Studio (2011). It’s not a micromacrame book, or one on beadwork, but it is…really interesting, if you’re just looking at the structure of panels and sennits.

I’ll leave speaking about the ethics, limits, extent, and classes of intellectual property law for another day (if ever)…but I’ve found that it is okay (in my own case) to learn from books. Especially as there’s a transformation involved, where the primary value is not the technique. The latter can’t be copyrighted (at least, within the U.S.). They can only be patented — and that’s if they’re novel, unique, and unlikely to be stumbled across by anyone else.

I can’t really give legal advice (not as a blogger and not as an Information Professional), so don’t take that to heart; I’ve just been around a lot.

I also am not being compensated in any way for what I’ve written, here.

art, color, creativity, painting, spirituality

Forgetting stuff and experiencing so much

I think that the entropic sleep schedule I’ve been keeping is starting to impact my memory. (“Entropy”: tendency towards decay or randomness in an ordered system. Apparently, it’s the Second Law of Thermodynamics; but I’ve understood entropy in this way for years, not recalling its origin.) While I do appreciate the fact that my creativity is surfacing, and I don’t mind the willingness to engage spiritual explanations that has come with it, a lot of the insights I’ve been having are things that I may only remember in the future if the memory is triggered by an event.

This is why I’ve been writing things down. While not everything is information which I would feel comfortable making public; if I let other people know about it, that means the information doesn’t die with me. Then there’s the question of whether I even want to get into it, as it took several steps to get this far…which is probably why so many people don’t explain where they’re coming from or how any extrasensory perception is working.

Plus, should it be true, the knowledge could be abused. I’m thinking there are better places to record this than on my blog. Particularly as posting it here would be an admission that it’s just a flight of fancy and not even possibly real. I’ve made that mistake before, at least twice. Let’s not do that again.

What I can say is that the insight I had a couple of nights ago made clear what was actually going on in my spirit contact (and what spirits are). I wouldn’t have been able to get to that point without having a firm base in the belief that we are all connected to divinity (to a greater or lesser extent; some have wandered off or lost that connection).

For some of us, that information may be all that’s necessary to explain what I’m thinking of; I know that in the past, I’ve read some things of a metaphysical nature and had two or three different interpretations ring off at the same time. This, however, has to do with the nature of life, interconnectedness, and co-creation. Kind of as though we are all parts (emanations) of the same being. I’m not sure how far one would get with this…if one tried to maintain the illusion of separateness (as versus oneness with all we are).

I think the illusion of (Existential?) separateness — each separate to the other, to the world, to God (when I don’t put it in quotes, it means the God [of Life] I’ve intuited over years; not the Judeo-Christian one, and I don’t use it lightly) — may be the reason we have so much on our plate now as regards the immediate task of survival.

And it must mean something if so many of us have the potential to link in, even despite feeling crazy for doing it. (I’ve noticed I get a lot of interest for these posts, which must mean I’m reaching someone.)

Right now…gah. I need to write this down somewhere. But right now…well, it’s close to the anniversary of the death of someone close to me. He keeps showing up in my dreams as a young man; much happier than when he was alive. It does make me happy to see him happy. And I’m pretty sure, at this point, that it was him. He just feels…relieved of burdens. Light.

I guess it’s possible to be sad but happy at the same time.

In any case, I am being encouraged on all fronts to continue with the creativity stuff. I have at least four buyers if I want to continue doing the face masks, having sent off six (!) in a care package, already. (If I had known there would be so much demand, I might not have sent as many…!)

I had no idea how rare it is to find a person willing and able to sew, with a good aesthetic eye.

I’ve also restarted watercolors. I’m thinking about cutting known toxic paints out of my palette (or at least cutting down on their use). This is basically to honor the fact that I’m doing this as a spiritual endeavor, and to attempt to avoid harming the planet (and others) by my practice.

I don’t know what category that reasoning falls under…but at least it’s a guide. The biggest issue I have here is that I’ve gotten a beautiful Cobalt Blue (which I still haven’t posted images of), which it would be a shame not to use…at least, last time I used it, I found it could make seriously gorgeous violet tones when mixed with Ultramarine Pink and Ultramarine Violet.

The issue is that Cobalt is a heavy metal, and toxic. I know paint companies say not to rinse paints down the drain or into waterways, but the only real way I see to clean this up and not rinse, is to wet the paint and scrub off the majority of it with a paper towel, then dispose of the paper towel in a way so that maybe it goes to a Hazardous Waste facility and not to a landfill. Otherwise, just minimize the use of these colors. I can’t do anything about the brush rinsewater except let it evaporate. (Actually, maybe let it settle, pour the water off, then clean out the bottom of the cup with paper towels?)

(Thanks, you guys.) I totally didn’t have that in consciousness before now. :)

Of course, it seems that a lot of these paints are toxic, even my beloved Prussian Blue. Maybe I should just throw all the dirtied paper towels in a bin…though I probably wouldn’t need the airtight kind that oil painters do.

Anyhow…I have some images of what I’ve been doing, but the color’s not coming out appropriately. I’m not sure why, though right now I think it may be an exposure issue. And, I mean, the color is kind of the point: I’ve been doing mixing exercises (though not formal ones). I also do recall, however: that my eyes can see more than the computer can display. The sun’s going down right now, too.

Yes, yes I am getting a little annoyed with not knowing how to photograph things, :) but like someone close to me has said, the only way you get better at taking photographs, is by taking photographs. Lots and lots of bad photographs. :)

I’ve got to go…

color, personal, psychology, writing

Writing with a purpose

I’ve gotten to the point where it’s hard to look at my blog and see that it hasn’t been updated for days. Some of that work is going offline — a lot of it, actually — but still…I feel isolated without my writings. It’s not like I can carry all my journals and pens around with me everywhere, though. In addition to the bulk, I don’t want to lose it. But I’m one of those freaks who thinks information is valuable.

I’m kind of wondering if I should start writing about risky things (intimacy, sexuality, gender variance, emotional pain, trauma, fears), in order to jump-start the content portion of my writing. I’m thinking that I keep concentrating on my handwriting and the form of my words, just to keep writing about anything, and because it isn’t emotionally vulnerable. I started off this post that way, and eventually wandered off into gender topics…

That is, I think I’m avoiding vulnerability, and that’s why it’s difficult to read fiction (I recently started reading Middlesex, 16 years after I bought it, which later incited crying from some childhood memory) or paint (which may force me to acknowledge an inconvenient gender and sexuality) or write (which will allow me to express parts of myself I’m not comfortable with and which don’t fit into my self-concept).

Of course, I can see someone about this, at the end of the month.

It’s just weird, though: getting to the age where taking risks is actually…risky (like, “can affect my livelihood”), is a different thing than being young and not knowing any better. I suppose if I’m lucky, I’ll make it to the age where I can be one of the cool old ladies who doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

From what I can tell…at work, it is being acknowledged that I’m different and that it’s OK to be different. I kind of straddle the line between butch lesbian and queer transgender male (not necessarily man-identified: and note, I am using the term “queer” in the U.S. reclaimed and subcultural sense [meaning not-cisgender and/or not-heterosexual] — not any pejorative sense with which it is used elsewhere in the world), which…well, it’s the only time in my life that I’ve been able to really not-hide that. Also, not-define it, which means not-over-defining it, meaning that I get that leeway to be who I am and show who I am, instead of trying to put it into words which inherently do violence to my being.

I’d learned not to talk about this stuff, online. I used to, but that was back when I didn’t have a community or support system. I do realize I could transition, you know, take testosterone. But there are more drawbacks than positives to that. If I were 23 again and didn’t think I was going to live to 30, so I would only be living with bi-weekly injections for 7 years, it might be an option. But the clear point is that I don’t consider myself a man or a woman (though I’m probably closer to the latter than the former). I’ve also passed the date by which I thought I would be gone, and am busy building the rest of my life.

Taking testosterone means coming out to everyone, and changing in front of everyone. And I won’t even be a man at the end, because that depends on the psyche, not the body. I could see doing it if I were transsexual, but I’m not. And it still won’t give me what I want. I just want to be fully male; I don’t want to be in-between, and I don’t want a feminized mind in a body that makes people expect me to be a man. Nor do I want my body torn up by surgery, because the options I have leave a lot to be desired.

The option I have — if I want to be fully myself — is to take testosterone and be seen as an openly gender-nonbinary trans* male. The thing is, “nonbinary” is only understood by a small fraction of the population, right now. There is even hostility within the trans* community towards nonbinary people (some trans* people who consider themselves fully men or fully women resent us for existing both because they can’t understand us, and because they see it as making things harder for them), so that also takes away a source of support.

I’ve been doing some experiments with color and handwriting as relates to my pens. I’ve found that I have to give myself permission to like things (like colors) that are seen as traditionally feminine. When I told M this, she shot back with incredulity: “You mean you don’t like things just because you see them as feminine?” I had to clarify that the case was more that I had been pushing those things away because I didn’t like how I was treated when I was associated with them. But I found I liked some of those things, anyway. And so I was giving myself permission to acknowledge it. (Also part of this thought stream, but one which I’m not sure I ever got to voice to her: I was acknowledging that I questioned whether cis women [as versus, say, men] ever had to give themselves permission to be feminine; this could be construed as evidence against my being cis.)

She seemed to accept that.

What I’m learning from M is that I think she’s gender-blind. She told me that there was no masculine or feminine except in my mind. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. I’m also pretty sure that what she says doesn’t override what I think just because of her relation to me. In the ink-color experiments…there are some colors which have been designed to be gendered either masculine or feminine. Like literally, designed to evoke that point. Intentionally. I can tell. I don’t know that she can (or at least, that she can acknowledge that she can).

But what I’ve found is that I like the brighter colors better, roughly speaking. There are some that are terrible regardless of gender (by, for example, being unreadable); but the colors I thought I wouldn’t like, now look better than some of the alternatives. Particularly, Pilot’s Tsukushi — a dirt-brown color — I’ve found that I basically hate. I got it because I wanted to see what it would look like or feel like to write in a more subdued or neutral tone. I assumed it was aimed at men, whereas another color — Murasaki-Shikibu — obviously was aimed at women, both from its hue (an intense violet) and its naming (for a female author of the Heian era, the latter of which is noted as a brief time of peace in Japan’s history, and widely [among Japanese] considered feminine).

I also have been on a pink and red kick, because as long as I’m female, that means that the pink and red are allotted to me via my culture and ethnic background. For me, being seen as a female person (女の人) in Japanese culture is different than being seen as a “girl” in popular U.S. culture (which often feels dehumanizing and infantilizing to me). It’s like I prefer being referred to as a, “daughter,” than as a, “son,” but bristle at “girl,” and sometimes feel the need to qualify, “woman.” (“If you just mean by that, ‘adult female,’ then yes, I am an adult female [without implying anything about what an adult female is or should be].”) “Boy,” and, “man,” aren’t even on the table anymore.

If you had looked at me fifteen years ago, I would have been way more conflicted about liking pink. I would have been more conflicted all around, really. I also would have had a lot of shame around being gender-nonbinary, because I had known very few nonbinary people. At the time, I wanted to be a man. I now know that isn’t going to happen, simply because if it could happen, it likely would already be happening. Some things I just have to make peace with. And, you know, it helps to root out some of that internalized misogyny, too.

I wouldn’t call what I have been doing, with the inks and pens, calligraphy. It really isn’t fancy; I haven’t designed it that way. But I have at least three different handwriting styles that I can see, which appear depending on whatever writing instrument I’m holding. I have, that is, a different script depending on whether I’m using a Fine or Extra-Fine nib, a Flex nib, or a Broad or Stub nib. I might also have a different hand with a gel pen, though that struck me as a surprise when I saw how I was writing (about a month ago). Having different hands with different tools might be apparent just from logic, but I didn’t realize until last night how heavily the tools influenced my letter-forms. (Might there be something to be said for context-sensitive adaptation?)

In addition, for some inks, I’ve needed to find the right paper. There is a cross-grid notebook I have; like a dot-grid, but with little crosses instead of dots or lines. These crosses are distracting with my normal (Fine to Medium and Flex nib) pens, but they really fall into the background with a broad or stub nib. As well, the paper doesn’t absorb the ink from the Murasaki-Shikibu-loaded stub nib pen, so the color remains vibrant.

I’m running low on time, here. In another entry, or in the future, maybe, in my notes — I should get back to the question of whether I’m actually asexual or just celibate. The truth is that I don’t know, however:

There’s just a lot of stuff that comes up when you’re female and people think you are sexually active (and not with a man), which can be sidestepped when you aren’t, and have no intention to be. But maybe I need to look at issues of guilt around being harangued as, “lesbian,” as a youth (like any of those kids knew what they were talking about — I doubt even most adults know anything about the content of their hate speech). That is…it’s very easy for someone who is female and attracted to women, to be made to feel like a predator because they’re attracted to someone who is a woman…whereas, if one is male, it’s supposed to be a good thing, I’m thinking. Even if it actually is predatory (or otherwise stupid) behavior.

That kind of polarization is one of the things I grappled with as a very young adult, who was beginning to realize that gender diversity existed. I haven’t dealt with that so much, recently. However…the question of whether I’ve identified as asexual (and lived as celibate) because of not wanting to be seen as a disgusting creep, is one worth exploring. Maybe not here, just yet; but, still.

I mean, I seriously know what it’s like to have men whom I’m in no way interested in or attracted to, try to force their way into my life. If I reverse that, maybe I can see why some people have responded as they have, to me. Only, it’s like one in 15 will actually even have the potential to be interested, if I’m remembering that figure correctly…

Then, there’s the question of how much the exterior really matters…

art, art media, color, illustration, painting

Watercolors and testing and pigments and inks

I’ve been doing experiments with watercolors…and, I think, I’m on the right track where it comes to what I want to be doing. I’m much happier with inks and wet media than with pencils (I still haven’t been brave enough to break back into the pastels, due to the dust factor). I’ve also been experimenting with inks and “transparent watercolors” (specifically the Ecoline brand, which I had been lusting after, probably for over a year).

The Ecoline stuff hasn’t been going wonderfully, but it’s good that I know that there are more suitable materials than this (for me) out there. I’ve been looking at transparent liquid watercolor (which I assume are aniline dyes) as a sort of middle ground between markers and painting. Right now, I think that’s pretty accurate, and is likely the reason why there are so many pre-mixed colors. I still haven’t extensively tested Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Liquid Watercolor, or their Hydrus. At this point, I’m not entirely certain I will. These liquid things, I’ve read, tend to fade more easily than pigmented paints. Of course, that doesn’t matter if you’re working for reproduction.

If I do get back into comic, or, more pointedly: illustration work, the Ecoline is suited. It’s reliably transparent (at least, with the six colors I’ve been using), so any dark line work won’t become clouded by overpainting. (I also have tried Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star Hi-Carb India Ink with this, which I can get into later. Long story short: it works better with Ecoline than Blick Black Cat, due to the fact that Black Cat repels water and the Ecoline.) However, when using the Ecoline colors like regular watercolors, they are incredibly thin. I believe this is due to the amount of water carried in my brush — I didn’t dry it after rinsing and before dipping it into the dye on my palette, so the color became diluted.

I would probably want to use one of those palettes with tons of tiny wells (I should photograph this if I still have mine; I’m not sure if my meaning is coming across) if I used this for illustration work, as well: the “liquid” part of this means that the dyes really…they really get messed up if one is dipping around and mixing colors, and rinsing the paintbrush and not drying it off afterward. Worse so, than regular tube or pan watercolors. There’s just no going back once you get cyan in your magenta. It just isn’t happening. :) Just kiss that magenta goodbye and say hello to violet. Seriously.

That may, in fact, be why the Ecoline watercolors are so varied as to the formulations in their bottles: they may be more of a pain to mix than bargained for. I am, however, now curious about their effect if used as drawing inks…I have a couple of old bamboo drawing pens which I can try. Of course, though…at least one is stained with sepia. I’d probably want to separate out what I dip that pen into.

So, right now, the back-to-school sales are in effect; I used the opportunity to purchase a high-end palette (which I’ve wanted since at least 2016) at something like 60% off, which…I mean, it’s nice, but do I need it in addition? I’ve been using a Mijello palette recently — it’s where all my dried paints are — and have found that the position of the paints may not matter as much as I thought it did (so long as I know what went, where). It’s also nice to have a well that is at least 3/4″ wide, as I can fit a wide wash brush in there. Comparatively, I’d have to get an empty full-size pan to do the same, and I’m not convinced the experience would be similar, due to the corners and depth of standard pans.

Have I just grown to appreciate the Mijello’s pan design over the organization of my colors? Possibly. It helps that I haven’t painted en plein air in a very, very long time. However: the design of the Mijello also keeps it from being convenient as a plein air palette, so it’s like a, “chicken or egg,” thing.

Of course, if I take out the Winsor & Newton (W&N) Burnt Umber rock which keeps knocking around in there and getting dried-up Burnt Umber pieces in my precious clean yellows…it is likely to be more appealing to use. W&N Burnt Umber separates from its well after it has dried and rattles around inside the closed palette, hence why I call it a “rock.” I hear that Viridian does the same thing (which is why I have four different versions), though I can’t remember if it has yet happened to me. It would have been in a very old palette, like my Mijello Silver Nano. I discovered that having wells on the roof of a palette which is bordering on non-stick (it’s anti-microbial, hence “Silver Nano”), doesn’t work that well.

Recently, I was able to obtain a Da Vinci Cobalt Blue which disperses much better (to my tastes) than the Winsor & Newton Cobalt Blue I had before, which had basically made me not want to use the pigment. Like at all. Or ever again.

The Da Vinci Cobalt Blue, though…when mixed with Ultramarine Violet or Ultramarine Pink, it makes really lovely soft violets (and I rarely use the word, “lovely”). These violets are much softer than Dioxazine Violet, which is so powerful that it can be difficult for me to use.

I’ve just now discovered the Da Vinci paints. I’ve actually…just recently realized that it isn’t to my benefit to have brand loyalty where it comes to any one tube watercolor manufacturer. Paints vary in quality, but they vary within paint brands — like M. Graham & Co. Ultramarine Pink vs M. Graham & Co. Viridian; not to mention between lines within brands — like W&N Cotman (student grade) vs. W&N Professional; as well as between paint brands, like Sennelier vs. Daniel Smith vs. Da Vinci.

So Da Vinci and Daniel Smith could both put out their own versions of Viridian and Prussian Blue, and one may judge the Daniel Smith Prussian Blue to be far superior to the Da Vinci (or indeed, any other Prussian Blue one has tried), while the Da Vinci Viridian is far superior to the Daniel Smith Viridian (or any other Viridian one has tried). I don’t know exactly why this happens; I just know that it does. But one of my artist friends did tell me a while back, that paint consistencies differed, depending on the pigments in them.

So…I am not certain there is any way to really tell what paints one likes, other than trying them out. I did go and buy like four different types of Prussian Blue and Viridian from different lines, so I indeed can (and likely should) show you my results. Viewing that may save the reader here money in the long run, though unfortunately, I didn’t check for blogger reviews of these paints, before going out to try them. So now I have like three extra tubes of each color, having picked out the paint that I love the most.

Unfortunately, I still don’t know how to record and upload video, so I can’t show you how the colors race away from the brush (wet-in-wet) with each of the colors I like. That doesn’t happen, with the others. It’s something I look for, which doesn’t happen predictably; and I’m not even certain yet if it happens repeatably, with the exact same pigment, manufacturer, and paint line.

I should send the other paints on for re-use. After I record my experiments, and make sure I have all my names in order. I’m sure that someone is going to appreciate the fact that they’ll be able to at least try out the paints for free. It’s not like they’re awful or unusable; they just aren’t things that I prefer. Having good paints just greatly enhances the experience of painting, for me.

I’m also getting more relaxed around the toxin factor of working with these paints. I just need to keep myself clean, and I’ll be OK. Today I went and replaced an Aureolin (Cobalt Yellow) despite the fact that I know it’s very toxic, because nothing else I’ve tried, mixes greens quite like it. Of course, I know there must be at least 9 or so different commonly used chemical formulations for yellows in watercolors. I assume they all have their own different mixing properties (and precautions…which is why I don’t use Nickel Azo Yellow — I’m already sensitized to Nickel).

There is also the fact that I’m using Chromium colors as well as other Cobalt salts, in other places in my palette. Both Chromium and Cobalt are heavy metals, and toxic. I have historically stayed away from the Cadmiums (generally red through yellow, though I’ve seen “Cadmium Green”), though at this point I might be getting a little less paranoid about them. Basically, any heavy metal salt I can absorb through my skin (that is, any water-soluble salt with a heavy metal component) is something I don’t want to deal with. Something I have to ingest to be poisoned by, though? I am a clean person to the point of dysfunction. And I have at least one nail brush. I’ll be fine.

I also spent years trying to find suitable replacements for the Cadmium family of pigments, which led me to the Pyrrole colors (these can be genuinely awesome, though inconsistently named [“Pyrrol Scarlet” and “Scarlet Pyrrol” are two different pigments — and two different hues — in two different brands]) and the Hansa colors (M. Graham’s Hansa Yellow is still one of my favorite paints). But I’ve spent, literally, years talking about Cadmium-based paints…right now, though, I feel like I should do more research before getting back into the whole paranoia thing I had before.

It’s kind of like, if you know what it does and how it gets into you, then just don’t do things that would let it get into you. This is why I have been wary of the pastels: it’s much harder to contain dust. I think it’s also why I’m getting better with the paints: at least with the paints, nothing gets airborne or ground into my skin. Also: paints are mixable. And the essence of paint, for me at least, is color. As someone who is enamored with color and has been frustrated with contact points which I can’t change, it seems to be a good medium.

I mentioned the Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star Hi-Carb ink, earlier in this post. It’s…really, pretty great. Waterproof, doesn’t move under water or Ecoline. (I didn’t care enough to try Copics.) It also doesn’t repel Ecoline, which is what the Black Cat, did. I haven’t yet tried it with the tube watercolors, and I’m seriously not even sure that I should…but if the goal is to do my own thing with the art (and stop deprecating myself for not being like other artists), I might try it.

In the coming days, I’m hoping to get some of this stuff photographed or scanned so that you can see what I’m talking about; just words, can’t get everything across. In particular, I should show you those Viridian and Prussian Blue tests, though I’m going to do them over again. And no, it will not be on Arches paper. ;) Though I have some, now. I have some, and I have realized that it’s worth working with correctly, so I got some kraft tape and a soaking vat and some sponges and an impermeable board, to properly stretch the paper. Time to get serious.

Disclaimer: No one paid or otherwise compensated me to write this. I got nothing free. What you do with this information is your responsibility, and I gain nothing personally from it.

beading, beadwork, color, craft, creativity, glass beads, jewelry design, seed beads, tatting

Still got it?

Here I finished two strands of the necklace by threading them through a wire coil, then back where they came from. I knotted them off and cemented them.
Tying off the two lines to end the work.

I recently completed a necklace, an 18″ design made of fire-polished glass, MiniDuos, 11/0 seed beads, and 11/0 Delica seed beads (which are slightly smaller). To create the structure of the piece, it was important to have a variety of bead sizes. I strung it on C-Lon Micro, using a tatting (shuttle lace) technique to make a button loop (which was actually…exciting; this is part of the reason why I learned tatting), and then running both lines through a coil of gimp and a shank button, before threading it back into the work, tying it off, and cementing the lines.

This is a detail image of the buttonhole I formed with a lace-making technique.
clasp detail

I was happy to get back into this — and to see how far I’ve come, since the time I started (25 years ago!). Especially as I had experienced doubts about my ability to see a project through to completion.

The design took about two days to work out (and a number of different tries before I got the loop right), but I’ve realized that since I was using standard-sized materials, I can echo the design in different colorways…and not necessarily charge an exorbitant rate for the time it took for me to work out the pattern, the first time. I guess that’s what happens when you know it’s okay to re-use past work, as versus aiming to make everything unique. (Uniqueness will still come; it’s just that it isn’t necessary to kill the seed you’ve planted, after its first fruiting.)

I also now have a project box which began with the thought of the Aquamarine and Pink Botswana Agate beads. It expanded far beyond what I had expected, and uses no stone in this final form (as versus another final form).

Reasons to go on

I have also remembered some more reasons to sell jewelry. For one thing, I like to make jewelry so much that were I to keep it all, it would be in excess of what I would use. I’ve also realized that having made the pattern — or structural form — for this piece, it gives me the ability to expand on that initial trial and work a number of different projects in different colorways, extremely easily.

Over my palm, you can see alternating single and double Czech fire-polished beads, in teal, violet, and orange.
Basic pattern. I extended this over 18″ to make a Princess-length necklace.

There might not be justification for that if I were just making things for myself, but if I’m doing it because I want to do it, not just to decorate myself (that is, if I’m enjoying the process more than the product), it probably doesn’t hurt to sell some of the extras (or, “experiments;” or, “trials;” I don’t know if anyone would really want to hear they’re buying an “experiment,” although that’s basically what a lot of — maybe most of — art is), and recoup some costs.

I can also then try making different decisions at specific points in the pattern, and by doing that, develop derivative works, or families of pieces which work along different creative pathways. This lets me expand the initial idea into a family in which each member is a record of a different, iterative thought (or design) process.

Also: I’ve been working on the design of another piece; using Smoky Quartz, the Pink Botswana Agate, and Hematite. (The Aquamarine is too pale to work in this scenario.) I did purchase some sterling bead caps…which, now that I see them, I realize are fairly expensive, for what I got. I suppose it could be worse: I could have gotten the sterling version of what I already had in pewter, and paid around $5 per cap for 6-8 repeats (each containing two caps), making the cost at least $70 (with tax and shipping). For 12-16 caps. That are tiny. Which I think I would have had to buy in multiples of 6. The silver isn’t even the focal point.

No, that…that wasn’t happening.

The bead caps I had which were pewter…I honestly don’t know where the rest of these guys are, but they’re likely locked up in projects which I won’t wear and have not worn. (When you’re a beginner, it isn’t unusual to make things you won’t wear…or to buy things you think look great, which look gaudy at a later point in time.) Originally, they weren’t expensive — they were from a fabric or craft store. It’s just that the exact same design — the exact same design — is in sterling silver, and I can’t find the pewter version, anymore.

The ones I did get were close to $22 for eight…meaning they’re $2.75 each. That’s fine if you’re buying a couple for earrings, but if you need 7 repeats at a minimum for an 18″ necklace, each 2.5″ repeat using two, and you have to buy in multiples of 8: 16 caps are $44. Before tax and shipping. That still kind of makes me clench my teeth, especially when they’re so tiny, but…well, hopefully, they won’t tarnish — which is the only reason, aside from safety and allergy concerns, to get Sterling. Granted, those safety and allergy concerns are likely well-placed.

(Maybe I should have taken advantage of that recent Trunk Show…)

In any case, the fifth reason to sell things is the process of buying strands of beads to make into things, and then as you’re assembling, you realize that you’re only using like 1/5th of the strand…meaning you have 4/5ths unused. If you aren’t just making for yourself, you can make for someone else, and have fun at the same time.

Part of my newer bead collection.
All Toho 11/0s, except the two vials in the lower right: the grey label is a 15/0 vial. The one below it, I purchased from a supplier who doesn’t label by brand, but which I think may be Miyuki (as its name is, “Teal Duracoat,” which so far as I know is proprietary).

So anyway, to detract from the frustration of having spent so much on so little, I also did purchase a bunch of little 11/0 Toho beads in order to gain a bulk discount (which…unfortunately, did not include free shipping). Buying seed beads online is often…more difficult than doing it in person. It’s because you’re depending on photography to give you an accurate idea of color…and as I learned in Intro to Graphic Design, neither computer screens nor print can replicate all of the colors we can see (“color gamut” is the name for the range each technology can produce).

So…when buying a complicated color that you know is probably complicated, because it has a name like Cosmos or Polaris…online…you just pretty much know the color is a best guess.

Three tubes of bead colors that are very hard to use: yellow, yellow-orange, and red-orange.
The frosted orange in the center, may make it into some work. The others…???

I have a set of four vials which are likely not to make it into any work, though. Three look like they’re colored with Cadmium salts (opaque yellow, orange, and red-orange [see right]). I got them because I realized that my own color gamut did not include these colors, and hence I was limiting my own creative options by not including an entire spectrum. I can somewhat see why I don’t use these colors now, though: they’re just too basic.

Also, I should let you know that the above photo of those opaque beads between yellow and red, didn’t turn out with true color…I am not entirely sure why (if it was because they were too bright, or the background fooled my camera), but I don’t feel like tinkering with the settings right now.

The fourth vial, I suspect I have used before, and that it faded (Aqua, Gold-Lined). I do have photos of it, but none turned out too well, as I didn’t unwrap them (I could use store credit, but then again, it costs money to ship them back. There’s always the Center for Creative Re-Use).

While looking for someone else’s repair projects, I did find a number of stashes of beaded jewelry I made while a child and teen…which had some seed beads included which are a pale, translucent bluish grey, now. I do see that it appears they were matte; also silver-lined. I don’t know if I should settle for glass jewelry being pretty in the moment and not lasting, or if I should really avoid things I know might fade.

However, the set of beads I was using at the time (from the fabric/craft store or the bead store), I no longer recall. For years, into high school, even, I played around with Darice seed beads (which I wouldn’t recommend for professional work…but as I was a teen just experimenting, that was something else).

I doubt that I was thoroughly using the more quality stuff from the bead store, at that time, given that I recall being in 9th grade and having a necklace made of Darice beads, dental floss, and a lampwork pendant from the bead store, explode from around my neck one day in the locker room. (This was after it had hit me in my teeth, which is where I think a mysteriously missing chip from a front tooth may have gone.)

I knew fabric-store seed beads to have color that rubbed off on my fingertips; which is probably why I have a (likely unfortunate) bias against dyed glass, at this point. Yes, I know the lilac (a.k.a. Silver-Lined Milky Amethyst) in the fourth image above is likely dyed. I also suspect those beautiful Gold Luster Raspberry beads above them to be dyed. I just like them too much to care.

I should say that Darice isn’t all bad. They have some storage solutions which I do appreciate. And certainly, they are an inexpensive entryway into the craft, which in my case was invaluable — at least because I’ve continued to do this for 25 years. It’s just one of those things where once you get your sea legs as a beadworker, you find other options, and learn ways to gauge benefits and drawbacks.

This is a greyish necklace I made when I was young, with highlights of violet and blue from Amethyst, Labradorite, dyed pearls, and Swarovski Crystal.
I made this as a child. Apologies for the poor lighting and color inaccuracies.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out what to do with this little necklace (see above) — keep it as a keepsake? Give it to someone little but over 14 years of age? ;) (All of this stuff says not to deal with it if you’re under 14 years old, likely because it could interfere with a child’s development…though I have been using these since I was 11 or 12. Not to say that anyone should.) This thing is basically Amethyst, Labradorite (a flecked grey stone with blue internal flashes), Hematite (gunmetal grey), dyed freshwater pearl, and Swarovski Crystal, in a Y-necklace form. It’s only 14″ long. I don’t remember if I used Sterling wire or craft wire, but it’s still shiny (the clasp is not).

I’m still not sure about whether it would mean more to me to keep it, or to someone else, should I gift it. The deal with the latter is that if I give it up, it could easily be destroyed (or pawned), and I’ve got to grapple with whether I’d be okay with that. I’m thinking the answer is, “no,” which tells me what to do, there.

Anyhow, creating this entry has been a nice thing for me, if a bit of an obsessive project: I haven’t used my camera or image-editing software, in a while. It’s nice to know the computer is of more use than as a notepad. :)

Speaking of which, I did find my old project journal. I needed to make more drawings than I did. When the earliest entry is in 2010, maybe — back in 2010 — I could have remembered what the project looked like. But. In 2019, almost a full decade later? It doesn’t do me a great deal of good to note which beads I used, without images to show the way in which I used them.

That…could be a good use of this blog. Photographs are easier to work than design sketches; I’d just have to remember that this is public, and that I am showing my process.

Yeah. That could be nice!