career, creativity, LIS, philosophy, work, writing

Changing tack?

What I’m wanting to write about, at this point, is the process initiated when one realizes that the self-concept they had as a younger person no longer fits as well as it used to. This is particularly difficult when that self-concept has become ingrained in one’s identity, and when one never expected it to change or morph into something else.

In particular…I know I’ve built the groundwork for creating things, but I might be better served in my own life and identity by not primarily judging or gauging myself as, “a creative.” That isn’t necessarily…fully true, though; the creativity and curiosity may just be finding a different method of revelation.

However: it is the case that it’s seriously a significant shift to get back into making physical art. As well, the stories I told myself as a 17- to 20-year-old to explain my situation, are not necessarily the wisest things to refer back to in order to explain the rest of my life, no matter how “creative” they were. Maybe it works when the average life expectancy is 36 (or 25)…not so much in modern times.

I mentioned this to M and D, recently, and they said it was a sign of growth. That interpretation helps, as versus interpreting it as a sign of failure. I’ve just realized that accumulating arts and crafts supplies doesn’t mean much when I don’t use them. And if I don’t use them, that’s just wasted money (and space) spent in trying to prop up an identity which no longer fits. In Buddhism, I believe this is known as clinging (upadana?), which is a cause of unnecessary duhkha, or, “suffering,” interpreted loosely.

At this point, in regular life, I suppose I can say that I’m in at least four classes, though I only paid for two of them. When all the work from those two classes was completed, last week, I decided to give myself Sunday off: I had been putting classwork as first priority since the past Monday.

I don’t precisely remember what I did on Sunday, but somewhere in there, I was able to get some reading done in Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan. I’m pretty sure that happened early Monday morning (today’s Tuesday, right?). Like, until about 3 AM, Monday morning. (I got through Chapter 3, setting myself up for Chapter 4, where itai-itai byou [lit. “it hurts-it hurts disease”; a.k.a. cadmium poisoning] is introduced…which is the major topic of interest which got me started on Bad Water, which then led me back to Toxic Archipelago as a book to read, prior.)

After I finish Bad Water, assuming it can hold my attention, I can move on to Radiation Brain Moms & Citizen Scientists. All three of these books are based upon ecological disasters in the Japanese archipelago (the last in relation to the Tohoku earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi disaster), though I think Bad Water is more of a political analysis of culture after the ecological disasters in the Tokugawa and Meiji eras. So far, Toxic Archipelago has heavy (albeit at times, forced) Buddhist themes, which I hadn’t expected.

My sleep hygiene hasn’t been the best, recently: I’ve been getting up for breakfast, then going back to bed and sleeping until late afternoon, and staying up very late. (You know it’s bad when it’s 12:45 AM, and you’re thinking about what else you can do.)

So…I’ve really got a lot of reading I can do. Aside from these three books, I have Rethinking Information Work, 2nd ed., which may help me if I want to enter a field in private industry, rather than working in an Academic or Public Library system; and Essential Classification, 2nd ed., which will help me if I become a Cataloger or Metadata Librarian. Both of the latter books, however, are really technical. Right now, though: I’m aiming for Cataloger and/or Metadata positions in Academic libraries.

One of my courses is entirely self-paced, and that’s a Spanish course which M purchased for me. I’m still in the first lesson, because other things (paid classes which I’m taking in tandem with a cohort of students) took priority late last week. I’m still torn as to whether I should be learning Spanish or Japanese languages…my interest is largely within the latter realm, but I might need a second “Western European language” to work in at least the Academic Libraries I’ve been looking at. I’m just (much!) closer to facility in Spanish than I am in Japanese; M says that the requirement for Spanish is likely because a lot of the patrons around here speak and read the language.

Basically, right now, I have a lot of time. My folks are telling me that I should have time during the next year to year-and-a-half to redetermine what I want to do with my life. I’m actually thinking about becoming an academic researcher…though a lot of this is being addicted to content, and specific, deep content, at that. I’m pretty much amazed that Toxic Archipelago seems to only be in nearby Academic (not Public) Library collections…

There is, that is, the possibility of becoming a Subject Specialist in some topic related to the Pacific Rim. Right now, the majority of my knowledge centers around the West Coast, Hawaii, and Japan. Through Hawaii, there’s connection to other areas in Polynesia, and to Japan…is that what I want, though? Do I want to center my studies on Asian American experience and culture? Or do I want to learn Japanese language and be able to more deeply appreciate other areas which are written of in Japanese?

Or, you know, learn a different language (Native Hawaiian)? Or focus on other English-speaking areas in the Pacific Rim, like Australia and New Zealand?

One of the things I’m realizing is that it’s going to be really difficult, given the speed of technological change and the potential rate of global sea level rise (particularly looking at the accelerating melt-rate of Greenland’s ice sheet)…to be able to predict what will be stable decisions, as regards the future.

So…I’m not quite sure what to do, except do what I love, now. Especially as, at this point, no one can really tell what the future’s going to hold. The major issue for me is that the majority of my life so far has been preparation for the future, not living for the present. It’s kind of hard to get out of that, though being reminded of one’s own mortality…you know. It will kind of force one’s hand.

At the moment, my engagement is taken up with study, and it isn’t bad study. I am, for example, learning how to wrangle quantitative data (which I didn’t really get in my Library Science program), and I’m learning more about Subject Access. I know, however, that the latter will require far more effort than just this class; I’ve been through six others, so far, only two of which were within my LIS program.

So basically, right now…I believe I’m undergoing a sort of transformation from artist to scholar…particularly as the vast majority of material I read is nonfiction. As for what I can do with this…

Writing?

beading, creativity, psychology, self care

I’ve gotta say… (Trigger warning: mention of suicide as an extreme of cultural erasure)

…that going through a job search without limiting myself to either libraries or self-employment, is infinitely more hopeful. I’m not, you know, hemmed in by the limits of my own imagination, there. I’m actually dealing with reality (even if the reality is someone illegitimately looking for personal information).

Last night, I started disassembling strands of beads and loading them into labeled vials. I’ve been looking around online for quality sellers, and I’ve found at least one new one. (I also found a seller who I am going to be careful about ordering from, again — though they did give me two strands of beads which are gorgeous, after washing. The thing is: they required washing.) I’m also collecting information on shops I knew from a while back, and compiling them into a spreadsheet. Not all of them are still great (if they ever were any better, more than having name recognition).

This is after I realized that I just didn’t have the tenacity to get through itemizing another receipt…gah. But there is one left from the middle of May (of this year), that I really should work on. I didn’t, because for one thing, there are about 30 different items on the list. That store in particular, though? I’ve seen a price spike there, recently, and I’m not sure if it’s because of limited stock from the global shutdown. Less stock, more demand, same rent, higher prices. Basic microeconomics…

I do think that I still am dealing with a fear of being creative, though it’s not as strong as it historically has been. That’s why it was easier to store and categorize things, yesterday, than it was to actually build anything. And, yeah, I guess it was easier to play with MS Excel (and look for jobs?) than it was to build anything. Planning on running a jewelry microbusiness really isn’t going to go anywhere if I don’t actually, you know, make things.

And then there’s the question of the value of making things if I have to let those things go in order to create more things of value. In that way, value is produced…but unless I charge enough, I don’t get to see much of it. This is what has happened with my making face coverings. I began doing it for myself and my parents, then basically needed to give some to my sibling and sell some to people who can’t sew. So I have maybe 12-14 for myself and my parents, now (it takes at least one hour to go from start to finish), even though I’ve likely put at least 24 hours into making them, in total. Likely more, if I count fabric choice and acquisition and preparation and design.

And I actually, probably should make more. It’s comforting to have something ready when I need to go out.

The entire creativity/fear thing…it’s pretty…well, I’d say it’s pretty commonplace, given that there’s actually a book called Art and Fear (by David Bayles and Ted Orland, which I’ve read), but…you know. Fear of the unknown, and all that. (Fear of generation? Fear of response?) I’m not sure if the unknown is better than the stories my mind has made up to fill the yawning gap in my knowledge, at this point.

I don’t even want to get into the stories. They sound like either fiction or craziness. And they can get me targeted by other people whose own crazy latches on. But the stories are very creative. As for whether or not I publicly engage with those narratives: does that equate to whether or not I engage with my creativity? I know it makes it, “feel more real,” when it’s not just myself who knows it…

But if the problem with disclosure is the fact that if I’m not believed, I come off as crazy; and if I am believed, I come off as possibly harmful (depending on one’s ideology); that makes disclosure pretty much, a “no,” proposition. If it’s reality: lack of disclosure of reality doesn’t make it any less real. My open acknowledgment of reality doesn’t make that reality come into being. Not talking about it just makes it less tangible, and produces fewer outward reminders.

It also keeps things, “living,” instead of, “dead,” if I’m thinking back to my books on Daoism. Red Pine may have said something about that (I have a copy of his translation of the Taoteching).

The question is, now, whether to live my life as though this core belief (the reasoning behind my pushing myself to be creative) is true, or whether to question it and lose my mooring. Do I have a calling, that is, and am I ambivalent about having it? Or just afraid to exert it? (The latter is true: there is power here; I believe I question whether I am right [or have a right] to exercise it.)

I’ve had some time between beginning this post after midnight this morning, and now — it’s nearly midnight again — to actually write some things in my private journal about this topic. I’ve realized that I’ve grown out of rehashing the narrative I was speaking of, above. It’s not new anymore. What to do about now, is what I have to deal with.


How, that is, can I lower my barrier to producing? How do I get out of idea generation and back into making — into construction? And how do I keep capitalism from sucking the life out of myself and my work? What do I do if I find out that one of my suppliers is doing something that violates my ethics?

Maybe I should just make the stuff I want to make, first. Without regard to whether they’ll be taken from me — just make them. If I were to do that, I could be motivated on the mask aspect again. I’d also have to set a firm boundary on what I will and won’t sell — if the goal is to be productive.

Pearl necklace in green and violet.
From February 2019. The pearls are mostly from The Bead Gallery in Honolulu, HI.

For the pearls…I know I don’t need them. (Who needs pearls?) I also know that I can make some gorgeous jewelry. Maybe if I spent less time in research (reading, YouTube), and more time figuring things out on my own, I will be able to more easily turn out what has been on the back burner for weeks, if not months (or years). I should also list my projects in-progress (kind of like what’s on Ravelry), so that I can keep track of what my beads and cords are doing, and how long they’ve been sitting there.

A set of pearl trident drop earrings in gold and mauve.

Right now I can think of at least five major undone/in-progress projects, plus one which I need to re-knot and lengthen, and two samples which I may cut apart to gather more beads (they were made as I figured out technique). Then there are projects I’ve envisioned and simply haven’t done (like more pearl earrings of a type which…I’m not sure I’ve yet shared on this blog; you can see them to the left), and a successful trial which is waiting for…something, to be made into earrings (below).

An in-process photo of an earring in purple, blue and orange. It looks like a banner, with glass beads making an eye-spot below it.
This one’s waiting for something. May 2020.

And maybe I should just terminate some projects, like things I began simply to learn how to do them, which have become dull and rote (and ugly), at this point. (I try not to make technique samples out of what I’d actually use in a piece of jewelry, because of the fairly common fear of running out of needed supplies. Unfortunately, that means I get samples which look like flags, and discourage further interest.)

There’s also the fact that I believe I turned to art and writing when speech was not enough, or when I felt I couldn’t speak. On that front, it’s even more vital that I don’t take down these avenues of expression, as well. Especially as, to reference the above, there is power in expression. I have known people who didn’t want the world to know they existed. (Problematically for me, I can understand that.) I don’t want to end up in that place: because I know there are people in this world who don’t want me to exist; but as a second-best choice, they don’t want anyone to know that I exist. And I don’t want to make their job easier for them, because the ultimate in silencing is suicide.

There are people who would like that. Not everyone is a good person.

I don’t want to let the world push me to that.

There is something about pearls and glass…the way they’re made. I’m going to try to avoid waxing poetic about this, here, but maybe there’s a reason (beyond the fact that they look nice, and at least can be affordable) that I’m using pearls and glass in my work. I think that my reasoning would be obvious.

But then, maybe it’s like I recognize that most flowers contain both sexes, meaning the plants themselves contain both sexes…and no one claims them to be ugly or unnatural for it. But flowers are generally seen to relate to women, moreso than men. Why?

Fire-polished beads with seed beads and fiber, knotted together in a bracelet. The color scheme ranges from iris green to red-violet.

And it’s essentially midnight, again. Hello, June 14th. There are things I want to do and things I have to do. Tomorrow…I have homework. At least, there’s some structure there.

I might want to set up work hours for myself — for my own beading and sewing projects — in addition to the job search, and my study.

I received two precious little pearls from Hawaii, today. Made my day. :)

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.

beading, craft, creativity, macrame, metalsmithing, self care, sewing

Handwork: keeping myself together

(NOTE: This entry was largely composed, technically, yesterday: May 8, 2020.)

I think I’ve reached the point where I’ve realized I can’t be concerned about everything happening in the world, at once. The other night, I hit the point of recognizing that I might not make it through the next 60 years…which M recognized as a red flag for depression, and sent me to bed. So right now I’m on alert, and just trying to care for myself.

I’ve also been having some weirdness when I’ve tried to sleep. I keep going to bed, then waking in the very early morning, and napping through mid-morning and early afternoon (though sometimes, as today, that “nap” is actually the majority of my rest).

What I can say…about coping… I’m not doing as well as I want to. Sewing is basically keeping me grounded, though on days like today, when it’s over 85° F outside in the afternoon (and we have no air conditioning), I haven’t been in the mood to press fabrics. I’m learning from experience when to keep my hands away from the ironing board, after having hit myself with steam maybe eight times over the past few days. It’s okay to give my fingertips time to recover!

I’m still working on masks. I haven’t yet gotten back to the blouse…which is okay. I haven’t bet on having a COVID-19 souvenir — at the beginning of this, I was saying that I wouldn’t want to have gone through quarantine and had nothing to speak of at the end of it other than a new blouse. I feel like I’ve done what I could, though; and now, it’s time for me to take care of myself.

That’s more important than further studying. I mean, obviously.

So…what can I say. Life is fragile on an individual basis, but has endured thus far, overall. At this point…I’ve gotta say I’m disconcerted, but I’m not the only person in this. We’ll make it through together, or we won’t, is the feeling I get. But then, I’m fighting off depression; and depression affects cognition.

So far as anything having changed, goes? There have been some developments…particularly where it comes to materials, though I’m not quite ready to get into it, yet.

I’ve basically stopped my language study, having realized that so much of my own purpose for existence is derived from making things…not as much, reading things. Not to mention, the dismay at the effort required for basic communication, as versus my level of facility in English (which allows me to read at a much higher level, where I’m able to spend time deciphering and analyzing arguments; as versus trying to figure out a basic gist of what was intended).

Am I disconcerted in not knowing Japanese? Yes, but right now it isn’t looking like I’d move to Japan if I had a choice, and the necessity of understanding written Japanese just hasn’t been as pressing on me since I’ve had to stay indoors.

I also did have a dream about becoming someone who writes closed-captioning for Public Broadcasting. (I’ve seen a lot of bad closed-captioning.) That was new…but I could do it. I can type very quickly. :)

Since I decided to get back to making things…I’ve been busy, particularly where it comes to design. I was up for four hours early this morning, attempting to puzzle out a hand-fabricated closure for my masks that would work with 3/4″ wide ties, and not tangle in hair. I still don’t have it down. Is that the fun part? ;)

“Fabrication” is a term used in Silversmithing which is often used to designate making something out of metal sheet and wire (or casting, etc.). So far as I know, the term isn’t used as much in beadwork or micro-macramé. Usually when Jewelers use the term, they’re talking about…well, Silversmithing (which includes working with Brass and Copper) or Goldsmithing. Which are the big two categories I know of, that routinely fall under the title, “Jeweler” (with a capital “J”)…so that’s kind of a tautology, I guess.

There are also the Reactive Metals (Titanium, Niobium, etc., which change color with treatment like anodization), but they require different working techniques, and are kind of a specialty. (I’m not sure where bronzework [mostly casting, as bronze is brittle] or pewter-smithing falls in there, but now I’m just splitting hairs…)

I’m actually thinking of getting back into making jewelry (little “j”), again, after having realized I had two choices of pearl earrings today (both of which, I made)…which just have some really nice pearls. I had intended to make a series out of one design, though I haven’t gotten around to it. I already have the parts. I was just a bit disappointed in the fine gold-filled wire I got, though; it doesn’t look very — well — gold. My trial version was brass, and cheap (hardware-store) brass at that, so it leans to a green point. However, it still hasn’t tarnished.

I’ve learned over the years to buy my pearls in-person, as getting them online is the luck of the draw, at best. At worst, your supplier knows enough to know that you don’t know what you’re getting (probably because you’re buying it from them *cough*), and takes advantage of that to send material that wouldn’t sell if you could see it before you bought it.

In particular…be careful to know what you’re buying. A lot of places sell glass and crystal pearls, and while these can even be better for some applications than real ones (because of size consistency — which is important in beadweaving — for instance), you don’t want to be buying faux pearls, thinking they’re real. Or be caught not knowing what a real pearl looks like. For that matter, it’s nice to know what is a natural color and what is dyed…but that gets into some sticky territory. Dyes can migrate to clothes or skin. Natural colors won’t, so far as I know…but the colors are limited (cream, peach, mauve, black, for example).

Of course, these days, the benefit of not gathering in groups likely is more important than getting quality pearls…in which case, you’d want to know your seller, and buy from quality sellers. What I’ve done with some success is to either go to a good bead store, or go to a bead convention (I’d also expect to see them at Gem & Jewelry Expos — I would write some of my contacts [like Aloha Pearls] to ask if they attend); but realistically right now, the danger of being together isn’t worth it.

It’s nice to find good-quality pearls at really inexpensive price points, at conventions. (I found a strand of pretty pink rice pearls for $8, last time.) But right now…the hazard is still there, and we need to have patience. Additionally: if you have a regional Bead Society, I’d think some of the members would know good pearl sources. I forgot to mention how I got into the convention circuit, in the first place! And I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re on Social Media.

I’ve been playing around with some C-Lon TEX tonight (it’s very heavy upholstery thread)…which has also got me thinking about getting back into micro-macramé. I have enough books and materials. I can teach myself a good amount.

Now, whether I’d have to fill my little torch (no, not a Smith Little Torch) and solder some seams in rings as macramé foundations…which would additionally require firebrick, flux, pickle, and a way to polish them…that could happen if I ran out of closed metal rings and didn’t want to pay to buy more finished ones. But I’m not at that point, yet. The major problem is what to do if I’m polishing a lot of small parts, like this; it can be hazardous to do them one-by-one, but investing in a tumbler would save a lot of frustration. (So far, M has been against this because of the noise factor; but we do have a garage, right now.)

I hadn’t been wearing earrings to work for hygienic reasons, but it may be worth it to make jewelry that I (or others) can wear on my off-hours. And not, you know, denigrate my off-hours as the days on which I don’t dress up.

I’m also considering helping out a small local business…not that I’ve gone to them with that, yet. I just kind of feel for them and their community (which I happen to be a part of).

So yeah, I’ve…apparently, been thinking about a lot. More than I had realized.

I’m also seeing that maybe this is where my heart is. In making things, I mean. I could just be a craftsperson at heart. It would explain why I can’t even really bear the thought of spending the rest of my isolation, reading and studying. It could also explain why “Art” is so difficult, at this point. Comparatively speaking, crafts have inbuilt limitations, which give them foundation and structure. I haven’t seen so much of that in Art, though I do wonder about the possibility of 3-D paintings and such. I’ve seen things approaching it in string sculptures, but Augmented Reality could also be interesting.

As regards choice of media: I did talk with my sibling, who has just told me to be aware of the drawbacks of each medium, but (basically) not to allow that to decide which I work within, as they all have drawbacks (this is my interpretation — or more likely, synthesis).

Of course, we were talking about watercolors (not wanting to discharge toxins into the environment) as versus digital media (cleaner, but like constantly using a pencil)…and I just can’t see giving up the former.

What I can see being impacted by my current inhibitions (wanting to create while also desiring ethical sourcing) is my use of gold…which is sparing, but still. I really don’t even know what happens when people make colored glass beads, and that’s been troubling me. It’s possibly also been the reason I stopped using them. But maybe I don’t have to care about everything, all the time?

I’ve thought up the possibility of — while we’re still closed — creating some designs for a number of the cabochons I’ve collected, over the years. That way, when we open up (we still don’t have a membership at the Art Center, which is good because the membership will go farther now), I can get right on making them.

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…

art, creativity, painting, psychology, spirituality

And that’s the way you develop.

Well, I did do something emotionally and psychologically significant, today. I used gouache. For a very long time, I had been hesitant to get back into making art, namely because the act of creation is a spiritual one, to me. I’m thinking I might have an inkling as to…how to manage that now, though.

In short: we co-create what we support. I had been concerned about the ramifications of image-making while I was still in the Art program…particularly because I made a dystopian painting (which I don’t like to look at; I think I know where it might be, but am not really wanting to see it right now) depicting some troubles which have come to pass. I would be surprised if all of them have…but either I’m really sharp and just not in denial about the state of the world, or there is something else going on.

I’m thinking that the second is more likely. I’m also…thinking that there’s a lot more going on than I know about (on both sides of this veil…I haven’t locked out the possibility of others), which it might behoove me to investigate.

One of the problems in co-creation is that people don’t realize they’re doing it. What we give attention to, what we celebrate: it creates what is made in the world.

This is me getting spiritual. It’s resounded with me since I started being okay with being creative again…which was needed, because of the mask thing. When I was making them, I knew that there were energies contained in them…I’m hoping that they can help support the people they’re for, or at least…if they need healing, help to heal.

So far, at least, everyone I know has seen my creative rebound as a good thing. Thing is, it comes with…it comes with stuff. Basically, stuff that I had trouble coping with, as a pre-teen and teen. I was sensitive; to the point that the sounds of our upstairs neighbors fighting, and the sounds of ambulances on the freeway at night, would trouble me.

Right now I’m wearing my ring…which I just resumed wearing, a number of days ago. I should have a timestamp on a message referencing the situation from when I was thinking about getting back into this, and got a go-ahead from my counselor. (The ring is a marker or reminder of my commitment.) I essentially have a number of beliefs which are real enough…but easily dismissed as, I don’t know, weird innately feminine stuff, or psychosis (meaning, “detachment from ‘reality’,” not, “wanting to kill people”). I don’t remember a lot of the terms used for mystics from the mid-to-late-1800s-on, though I’ve studied that era and that topic within that era.

There were a number of movements: Spiritualism, Theosophy, Anthroposophy…in addition to the blooming of the Western Mystery Tradition and Occultism, which led to the modern New Age and NeoPagan movements (though I see much less of the latter, these days, than I saw in the earlier 2000’s).

In any case…although I’ve come to recognize the output of some “New Age” publishers as commercially-based more than being grounded in intellectual rigor (though this is not necessarily the fault of the authors, more than a publishers’ underestimation of their potential market)…there might be something to the deeper currents, there. But one needs to be careful about what one takes as truth. Mistruths can lead to mistaken beliefs, which can then basically poison further inquiry into reality and its nature. You want to start with your feet on solid ground (for some reason, I’m wanting to continue that sentence with: “…not a sinkhole”).

Basically…and no, I haven’t read The Secret, and no, I don’t know if this is the premise, but: I’m thinking that what we imagine as our future lays tracks toward that future (regardless of the valuation we place on our imaginings). That means that if we’re invested in ignorance and greed and violence and horror and pain, if we repeat and reinforce those connections in our own bodies, we send a line out toward the set of futures that are built on that. If we imagine something else…we’re at least not drawing ourselves closer to what (it could be said) we don’t want to happen.

That doesn’t mean to be so focused on happy dreams that one is blindsided by horror and tragedy. That doesn’t mean to take risks for no reason. But that means that if we can’t imagine a better future, we can’t make a better future. Of course, “better” is subjective, especially if you’re deranged. But there are always fewer of those than there are, otherwise. And on the whole, we get through things like this.

My thinking is that this, “we”…it’s bigger than I’ve thought. And it includes those whose forms have been returned to the Earth, as well as those who never had forms here.

It makes me feel better. That doesn’t mean it’s true. But it’s plausible enough to explore.

Imagination wasn’t made to reproduce and reinforce what already exists. That’s my key out of my hesitance towards using my own creative abilities, I think. I have the ability to interpret and envision what I want to come into being; to break the banal cycle. And…I don’t have to do it literally or photographically. The energy is what matters.

I actually don’t even have to plan what I’m doing. The work grows on its own as it reveals itself.

A lot of this is getting in line with my subconscious (or unconscious) mind…which seems to know something about what it’s doing.

People say that creativity isn’t innately linked with mental illness, as there are creative people without mental illness, and mentally ill people who aren’t creative. I happen to be a person, though, who can’t be creative (now) unless I allow myself to be. Allowing myself to be entails taking my thoughts seriously; which results in being aware of, and living through having, odd beliefs. And it’s hard to acknowledge those odd beliefs and at the same time, never speak about them to anyone else.

Of course, when you base your life on your weird idiosyncratic beliefs that you can’t get rid of…well, you become an artist, I guess??? :D Or a psychic or medium. Or a writer. Or all of them.

But, like so many things in life, I’m thinking it makes it easier if you commit and follow through.

An aside: I was making more masks yesterday with the steam setting on the iron, for once in my life, and then I wondered just why I hadn’t used it thoroughly, before. To save water??? To keep the cheap iron that will likely be dead two years from now, from getting kettle fur? The steam setting works so much better!

Also as an aside: I’ve found out that the Kona cotton does feel more substantial as a lining, than does regular quilting cotton; not talking about batiks…but I didn’t know that until I made masks with all three different materials. Hence, I didn’t know what I was talking about earlier. I’m gaining more experience, and as a result, my outcomes are improving.

Anyhow. To get back to what I opened with: gouache is opaque watercolor…a lot of it, beautiful. I also have a good deal of it which is not toxic, which is a bit better than I can say for my transparent watercolors.

I had been bumbling around my paintbrushes and acrylic inks (granted that I’ve decided to hold off on using the Ecoline colors, for now), when I found a jar of Daler-Rowney Pro White ink. So I have two of these, now; considering that I could get the lid off, this time, and I could mix the paint, and it wasn’t off-color. I have no idea what pigment is in there, at the moment, but the jar had an AP seal, not a Caution Label; so I’m thinking it isn’t Lead White.

Of course, I tried painting with this, and it was seriously underwhelming (translucent) when used with a brush, especially when contrasted with Titanium White gouache, on top of tinted paper. The Pro White ink starts out okay, then fades as it dries. I’m not even sure it’s worth posting an image of it. I might try again later with a dip pen nib, instead; or, a glass pen might hold the ink better. If it is really that bad, though, even after all that? I’m not sure I’ll be getting it again.

So, I was basically just playing around with some Holbein Permanent (Titanium) White gouache, after I found that the Daler-Rowney was translucent…and that I didn’t know what was in it. Some white pigments, I’ve heard (like Zinc Sulfide, which is different from Zinc Oxide), will eventually change color. Titanium White, won’t; and it’s the most opaque white that I have used.

A bonus is that it’s relatively safe when used in painting, as the particles are bonded to some degree to the paper or other surface. There isn’t free dust flying around which can get into one’s lungs and cause disease — unless one abrades the paint. This, along with extreme color mutability and variability of point of contact with the surface, is one of the reasons that I’m attracted to the medium.

A bunch of squiggles in gouache.

In addition…I pulled out two non-toxic paints which I really enjoy working with: Yellow Ochre, and Peacock Blue (a Phthalo convenience mixture), both Holbein. The rest of my time was spent with these three (I also accidentally introduced Zinc White, which is more translucent than Titanium), making yellows, blues, and greens; in a tinted-paper art journal with a Size 1 round brush.

What’s funny is that the marks I make, and the colors I use, themselves suggest subconscious meaning or the basis of a new work…meaning, that to get ideas, I’ll…well…likely want to work in an Art Journal. Never never thought I’d say that (but maybe I’d been secretly hoping it)!

In the past, I had been intimidated about filling out an art journal…but now I see it’s just a place to experiment, play, and generate ideas. It doesn’t have to be full of “great” artwork, whatever that means.

I basically have got to stop telling myself, as well, that I shouldn’t do artwork that is simple. I can see what I did last night as foundational…watching the work unfold; making compositional decisions that might be more or less, “on it”; practicing working through the scale of underwork to overwork; mixing colors and seeing what they turn out to be; practicing brushwork.

I particularly was attracted to the toned paper journal because it wasn’t either black or white, and I knew that this paper (Strathmore Toned Gray) is quality enough to accept moderate doses of wet media.

And, interestingly enough: with the frame of mind I’m in, the purpose of my actions is expressed through my actions, regardless of whether anyone sees it or not; regardless of its critical acclaim. The work is accomplished in doing…

art, creativity, drawing, illustration, self care

Caterpillars

First of all, I want to apologize for not posting images, in this post. I could, but right now, they’re feeling kind of intimate (no, not in the way I expect the Internet to think). There are two images I have which are especially suitable for posting; however, I’m still in-process. I feel that if I post prematurely, I might disrupt my creative process. That’s why they aren’t here.

Today is Day 38 of COVID-19 Shelter-In-Place. Not that I’m complaining. I’d rather be here than have to worry about people coughing at work. Speaking of which, my parents and I all have an off-and-on mystery cough. Fun times.

I realize now that as I near the end of a project, I need to line the next project up, right afterwards. There always seems to be at least a day or two in which I basically stall and don’t know what to do with myself. I had been building up to a seminar on Monday (two days ago) which was basically…well, it was a seminar. Not a great one.

Yesterday (Tuesday)…for one thing, I can’t entirely remember it, but I was working on a design which…well, it’s cute. For some reason, I’ve got caterpillars on my mind.

As I was listening in on Monday, I started doodling (and writing in Japanese) in my notes, until the notes were basically all doodles. The day after, I was working with this design more…to the point that I have a colored design (which doesn’t look quite the same as the black-and-white version…I’m not sure what to do about this).

Right now, I’ve got a caterpillar character design, which grew out of some doodles I did in the Art program…and out of calligraphy practice strokes. I used to make this design and go, “ew;” recently, though, I’ve decided to go with the, “ew,” and see what I can make of it.

The sources of inspiration with this are twofold: one, the animated TV show Final Space, in which there is a character named Mooncake who is named after the main character’s pet caterpillar (from when he was a child). Two, when I was in second grade I had a pet silkworm (for as long as silkworms live).

It grossed M out, but was cute, to me. It would live in a tin and eat the mulberry leaves we had gathered for it. I remember it as being pretty big before it pupated, maybe 3″ long (but I was small back then, too). Silkworms are incredibly soft and fuzzy, especially as one would think all insects to be hard — so naturally, I spent a lot of time petting it. (I don’t think M wanted to touch it — 30-year-old memories, though.) I think there was some talk of my traumatizing it by giving it so much attention. :)

Mine died when I tried to help it out of its cocoon. There is a chemical process which has to happen when the moth is trying to come out. If it gets any help, that chemical process doesn’t happen, and it won’t survive. (No one warned me!)

I haven’t named the drawn character yet, which came from playing with design elements. Only later did I look at actual caterpillars. Luckily, actual caterpillars are so diverse that made-up patterns seem viable. I’m a little enamored with how he seems so fat and vulnerable, and how his ridges originated from hearts. The number of drawing skills I remember, still amazes me — from taking an idea from play, to plotting a line of action and center line, to breaking the image down into basic shapes, 3-D visualizing, visualizing foreground/middle ground/background, and introducing irregularity.

As eye-spots and symmetry are so much a part of this (I have trouble getting away from them), I thought it would be an interesting exercise.

What I have now is good, but it could be better; the majority of yesterday and last night was spent refining the images. By which I mean — redrawing things to see how they worked. The most successful of these had pencil underdrawings, though I still have the images from a more primitive stage.

Up next is likely seeing how a caterpillar would look if it was twisting itself around something, like a twig — in short, not drawing the subject as independent of its background, and not drawing it, “flat.” In doing so, I’m getting away from the original design, but the one that’s developing is more useful. The thing I’m having to do is abandon the original loop pattern that the rest of the caterpillar is based on. Not sure how I feel about that, aesthetically as versus from an engineering standpoint, but it works.

I may do a series of moths and/or butterflies, following this.

Otherwise…I need to get on making masks, again. Demand is high. I could wash what I haven’t used of my Fat Quarters, tonight…there are a bunch of them. I just wasn’t up to working on them today — instead, I got some apparently very poor-quality sleep. Would anyone blame me if I stayed up until 3 AM again tonight, sewing?

Mystery cough, though.

Working without a schedule is so…difficult.

art, craft, creativity, design, embroidery, garments, graphic design, illustration, needlework

Creativity channeled into clothing?

A snapshot of a very untidy desk.
This is what it looks like when I do things.

Okay, I…I have a confession to make. Instead of continuing on with coloring my sketches (which are still beside my bed, by the way), I’ve (re)started sewing. And embroidery. After doing some research on aniline dyes for reproduction work, I’ve decided to hold off on using them until I can get good ventilation or go outside to paint (and use gloves).

In the meantime, I’ll likely be using some combination of watercolors (“like that’s better?” you ask), watercolor pencil, and colored pencil, to color my illustrations. It won’t be as friendly to the scanner, but it will put me at ease (and possibly result in more durable images).

One of the symptoms of acute exposure to anilines, through inhalation or transdermal absorption, is hypoxia — or low levels of oxygen in the blood. With COVID-19 around…I want us all to breathe as easily as we can. From the research I’ve done, it looks like most serious complications from COVID-19 (aside from secondary infection) are from too little oxygen.

I don’t know if any contemporary viewer has looked back on the very old posts in this blog, but there is a blouse (Folkwear 111, “Nepali Blouse”) I first got the idea for…in 2010? I think the relevant post about when I finished the toile (muslin trial garment) is from last year. For about nine years, it had just been sitting around and periodically sticking me with the pins that were holding in the ties.

As recently as about this time of year in 2019, I had re-purchased and re-cut the pattern, with an eye, especially, to making it cover more of my body. Originally, the side slits came up all the way to my natural waist. Like, at my ribs. As a youth I had problems with feeling constantly unnecessarily exposed in my clothing. As I was going to make this myself, I decided to lengthen the panels and insert new panels behind the side slits (as versus wearing a wrap around my waist or a wrap skirt or chupa [yet; I’d have to make the latter], as the pattern suggested). I’ll have to design the exact panel dimensions as I come to them, as I have realized that my body does flare out below the waist, significantly.

Yes, I can do this without draping, by taking a circumference around the place where the hem should fall, and adding that into what I have ready to sew, then dividing it by two, to get a minimum panel width. But one thing at a time. The hemming is actually one of the last things to be done, and I can do it by hand if I need to.

I also went up a size over the past decade, and neglected to foresee this happening when I originally trimmed away the extra pattern paper in 2010. Of course, I had intended to complete the toile in less than nine years, as well. But, better late than never. The main issue, I believe, is not wanting to “destroy” a beautiful cut of fabric (which, in turn, calls into question what I feel is “destruction”…and thaaat calls up a certain phase of my life, where I realized that making anything means transforming it from something else — that means being willing to let go of that “something else”).

I don’t really have a great image of that one readily available…I’d have to look for it in my archives. It’s in the lower left corner of the photo at the top of this post, though, as well as in the upper left corner of the final image in this post. It’s basically a really beautiful blue-green batik with white lines and dots.

The top photo…is what my (new) sewing area looked like, today. Last night I felt like stitching but not like ironing, so I started dealing again with embroidery. Showing what I did would make me a bit nervous, though it is in the bottom center of the top photo (I was playing and screwed up more than a few times), so here’s some eye candy:

DMC embroidery floss in different colors with a pair of brass scissors on them.
Sometimes too many colors are as bad as too few…on the center right is a ball of perle cotton.

As you can see…I am a color nut, so I have collected a lot of different colors of stranded embroidery floss. There are also some, particularly in the orange/pink/violet range, that aren’t in this photo, due to having been separated out for practice. I do have a photo, below:

More DMC embroidery floss on a wine-colored piece of fabric bound in an embroidery hoop.
Yeah, some of them are hiding…particularly a pinkish orange, at the bottom, there.

Last night I was working with perle cotton, as well. The difference in texture and body between the two different thread types is fairly…well, weird. The floss is much flatter and softer, while the perle defines knots well, is lustrous, and doesn’t crush. Right now I’m using a small embroidery needle for both (I forget the gauge).

I’m thinking of trying to incorporate embroidery into the final blouse design, though that will necessitate either appliqué, or working on the panels before assembling the blouse.

Right now, my major source of fine perle cotton thread isn’t safe to visit, so I’ll have to hold out until we can start moving around again, to get more colors of that. I’ve also had a pretty hard time figuring out what ground color fabric to use (right now, I have some Kona cotton solid Fat Quarters [pre-cut 1/4 yards of fabric], muslin, and a limited stash of nice fabric along with a ton of Fat Quarters for quilting practice — and I can’t even begin to say how much easier it is to cut simple shapes with a quilting ruler, cutting mat, and rotary cutter, rather than pinning all the pattern pieces down one by one and cutting them out with scissors), even though at this point I’m just experimenting. I’m seeing what I can do and can’t (–yet), and what looks nice, and when and how to mark guidelines.

I’m anticipating using that pink and violet+blue fabric in the top of the next photo (heh heh I’m re-learning Photoshop, heh heh), as inserts and accents in the Nepali blouse. I realized that since both of these fabrics are batiks, that could unify them (as versus trying to make an analogous color scheme with a different fabric). I have another batik I was going to use (turquoise and green), but it’s seriously much heavier than the main body fabric (nearly to the point of felt or light denim)…and I’m pretty sure it’s a Fat Quarter, whereas I have more of the pastel batik, because I actually bought it off a bolt.

Folded fabric and miscellany in front of partially-opened blinds.
Photoshop 2020 made adjusting this image a lot easier.

The above shows two of the nicer fabrics I’ve got lined up (with the Nepali blouse pieces cut out and marked, at the upper left — I’m trying not to move them until I’ll use them, to preserve the chalk and Saral paper marks). I’m still not really sure what to do with the pink one; it’s super light. I got it to make a hair wrap (likely it was either that, or curtains), but the thing is, it has a very clear top-to-bottom pattern orientation, and to wrap my hair I’m most likely to need either a long piece or a triangular piece.

I’m also not clear, exactly, on how large my head scarves actually are. It’s been a very long time since I’ve worn one. (Actually, I am pretty sure I can’t remember having covered my hair in the last 6 months, because of work.)

I think I may have avoided making it into a scarf because it was too narrow, or too short…though I suppose I could make a ruched waist wrap (or line something). There’s nothing that says I can’t, after all. Of course, though…chances are that it would creep up my waist while my pants fell down, and not do much.

This is why I want to sew. It’s also why I had to buy suspenders, because some designer — who was good at drafting patterns so that they fit female bodies — didn’t force the clothing company not to use stretch fabric with their dress pants with no belt loops, so now the pants stretch out when worn, and use that stretch to gradually slide down.

Like anybody wants that in their professional attire.

Though — I just did get an idea for a belt that goes under clothing and attaches with clips to the tops of pants, skirts, etc. That could be interesting to work out…

Yeah…I think that’s why I want to sew. I have an aesthetic that is unaddressed. I’d forgotten about that.

Is that the same reason I got into beadwork? Why did I get into beadwork in the first place, anyway? That was so long ago!

By the way, I started back in on this because of seeing the projects of some knitters on my feed. That made me think it was a good idea to knit, if one could reach said levels of skill…and then I actually visited Ravelry and realized that I’m nowhere near that level of skill. Anybody who has tried to knit and has gotten past the beginning stitch modifications (K2tog, SSK, YO), likely knows what I’m talking about! There are beautiful projects that can be made, but first getting a handle on the basics is necessary. I’m not sure I’d be able to tolerate not knowing what I’m doing, long enough to make it to the place I want to be.

Then I wandered over to the fabric stash and started mechanically going through things. Just sorting through fabrics. Then looking at the pattern pieces for this project, which I’d already cut out. Then looking at how much marking and cutting was left to be done. To the credit of my former self, I had set things up already so that it was easy to mark and cut the few things I needed to. Whether the batik pattern lines up correctly, has yet to be seen, but I’m not going to worry about that now.

I also have at least one project that can go with it, which I’ve already started. Then I decided that I wanted to try again. Because I want to add those to my repertoire. And I had set up the desk (see first image) as a sewing station.

I guess that’s a pretty hard-core example of karma in action…

I’ve already made this, once. The difficult part is actually in pattern design alteration — or in thinking about design alteration without actually doing it. But if there’s skill and experience gained for trying, is there anything of matter lost in exchange? (Besides money and time, which are both valuable. But I want the skill. Ready-to-wear clothing vexes me, all too often…)

Ah! The last thing! I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep my Photoshop subscription (it’s so much easier for me to use than what I was using [no, they didn’t pay me to say that, but you can see I actually got some images up here, this time]) — as for the rest of Creative Cloud (CC), I’m not sure I need it — especially not if I’m not doing comics. The reason to keep it would be to train on it, in case I have to take up a role in writing or producing copy, blogs, videos, brochures, graphic design, etc.

If I want to go into a production job, I may as well commit to CC and stop paying the stupid high extra fee every month for being noncommittal. If that’s not the case, I can stick with Photoshop and not pay extra for the rest of CC. I haven’t figured it out yet, and I’ll probably give it another month and see where my illustrations go. If I stick with them, that’s a reason to keep it. If I start taking tons of photos and playing with Graphic Design, that’s another reason. (I actually found a Macro setting on my digital camera, today; I don’t remember ever seeing that, before.)

Then there is the issue of classes. I need to investigate further, but right now…I am thinking of going for a Cataloging or Metadata position. That will likely put me into an Academic Library or an Archive…I’m thinking, actually, of taking an internship either before or right after my probation is up (it increases employability and helps build experience). I should be able to complete all my classes by the end of Spring 2021, as I’ve found a place which gives information on two topics I’d need, in one class series, more focused, and for less money than I’d pay at the University.

I’ve also been advised that knowledge of a second language is in demand, so I’m encouraged to continue with that (I narrowly avoided having to pay for this out of pocket)…and there’s a verifiable crossover between Tech and Cataloging these days, so I may not have wasted my training by aiming for Digital Services.

The other thing: online tools for Cataloging. I’ll wait to subscribe to these, if I ever have to go that route (rather than having my employer provide access). As I may have said, they run about $850 together for a year, and I may not even need one of them (if I take a job in Academia). I also won’t need them if I take a turn towards a creative or production job.

And I need to rebuild my ePortfolio. I took it down because I wasn’t ready to run a website. I have all the copy, but I can make it better.

I should really, seriously, take a look at all the services I’m subscribed to, as well…

career, creativity, libraries, LIS, psychology, self care, writing

Time to plan, to do, and to take care

I’ve been speaking with some colleagues…there is a significant opening for me at the place where technology and cataloging/metadata converge. Right now, I’m fairly tired. I spent all day cleaning my bedroom and office, which now, you know, makes me want to make up my bed more frequently. It also makes me want to dust off my Rilakkuma plushie which always falls face-first onto the floor (he wasn’t designed well).

But anyway…a lot of these jobs are in Academic Libraries or cultural heritage institutions (like Museums) or with some of the people who work with libraries to help them offer quality products. Why am I getting into this? I’ve decided to go for mainstream Publishing where it comes to my fiction.

I’ll be able to use a history of publishing to enhance job applications in the Academic Library sector, and also I could use it if I want to get into a Creative Writing MFA program (though I would also consider Japanese Language and Literature — which may be more powerful as regards my potential capabilities and scope — or Comparative Literature [between English and Japanese language]. I think they have different foci).

A Creative Writing MFA could enhance a position as a Creative Writing subject specialist or departmental liaison in a College or University setting, on top of a Cataloging or Metadata Librarian position. With Japanese Language and Literature, I could work at an East Asian Studies Library on a University campus (and most likely help catalog non-English materials, on top of liaising with the Japanese department).

I may be required to take graduate-level classes (beyond my MLIS) if I’m an Academic Librarian, as well, and those classes may have subsidized tuition. I will also likely be required to be literate in at least one non-English language.

I already know that I’m planning to someday be fluent in Japanese. I also know that I have a Digital Services background and some Cataloging background, an MLIS, and I’ve logged 10 years in a Public Library. Additional classes may be my way out of the latter and into a more back-room position.

That doesn’t mean, however, that my creative stuff won’t make its way here to the blog; it’s just that what does make its way here is primarily for here.

I’ve also decided not to stick too closely to the same story that’s been going through my head since I was a teenager, as…well, something like it is happening in real life, and it’s considerably more off-putting (to put it lightly). It may be time to let go of that fantasy. I don’t want to go down a dark and horrific road because I thought it was a good idea when I was 17 and for some reason can’t-break-free of the idea it’s supposed to be good and why isn’t it good and I’m going to make it good even though this person is a slimeball. (I shouldn’t get too creative with my metaphors, here…)

There’s a distinction between, “having some aspects that approximate pleasure,” and being, “good.”

Being stuck on the past is something I’ve seen way too much of in my life. Not just in regard to myself. “Just get over it, you aren’t a teen anymore. It’s over,” is what I should be willing to say. “Move on. What is now?

This does mean that — if I’m successful — I should have space to deal with what’s going on in my life and/or psyche in the present, as versus the trauma I went through, years ago. I’ve realized that just because I’ve found myself to be a non-cisgender, non-heterosexual, possibly celibate or asexual individual…that doesn’t mean I need to focus on the bad parts of that. After all, it’s 2020 — not 1980 or 1990 or 2000. There are updated threats, and considerably more finesse in the language and concepts we’re using, these days. And, I’m not locked into the institution of high school with everyone going through puberty at once.

So, just to take care of myself, I’m thinking of doing some drawings and posting them up, here.

I mean: other people do it. Heh.

As for the writing; I’m not sure where it will go from here, but that’s part of the journey. I’m starting to see that there are opportunities to be had, if I’m ready for them. Writing can be a way to approach the world. Thereby — I should have more than one story in me.

art, creative writing, creativity, writing

Getting off-track

Long version short: I’m waffling again on whether to write my story out longform, in prose — or to make it a graphic novel. I do think that no matter what happens, I’ll end up keeping Photoshop (PS), simply because optimizing images is so discouraging with GIMP 2 that I just avoid it (and I haven’t yet discovered other programs with a UX [User Experience] as simple as PS). That is an exorbitant amount of money per year, but it’s far less than keeping access to all of Adobe CC.

(First-world problems.)

The waffling has largely come out because of contacting people about the project and realizing just how much of a writer I am. It’s even kind of hard to keep to a regular conversation online because, when given the chance to think things through “out loud”…I do.

I…somehow don’t think that’s a usual trait.

I also realize that I have forgotten about my fountain pens. Right now I’m soaking three of them, which had either almost totally dried out, or were getting there. Two of my Pilots are in that batch (the Prera stub-nib and a Metropolitan), and the Noodler’s Nib Creaper, which is easily the most disposable of my pens, due to the fact that this is the second time it has dried out (tiny ink capacity + no airtight seal in the cap), and I may have broken it unwittingly. (On top of that, it’s hard to flush.)

Fountain pens have to be continually used to be kept in operating condition. I’ve just now realized how long it has been since I’ve used them. I’ve been writing online and reading and seeking out materials to trial, instead.

Amazingly, maybe so or maybe not (not), all of my TWSBI ECOs — with the rubber gaskets — are still in good working condition, though I haven’t tried the stub-nib recently, for any appreciable length of writing. This is the one that kept skipping (missing parts of letters) whenever I wrote on for too long…

But yes, I can see where I went on a fountain pen kick and then a dip pen kick and then an Adobe kick, and kind of lost touch with the actual story I’m supposed to be writing. That story, in turn, only showed up after I had been writing by hand for a while and pondering why it was that my content was the same, time after time. The answer to that was the condition that I was afraid to take risks in my writing. Also there is the fact that for a while, I’ve had the tendency to view my characters as “people” and hated to make them suffer.

However, when stories are based around conflict…it happens. Even if you don’t want it to. And the characters are better for it, I’d say. They can’t learn and grow if they don’t confront some obstacles. Plus, they’re never really, “dead,” if they were never really, “alive,” in the first place. Their life is from my life, even if their continued existence doesn’t make sense in the plot. ;) Plot is machination; character is essence with decision.

And if you believe that essence continues after death…you’re in a good place. I think that this is one of the lessons the current version of this story is taking me to — even though, yes, I know it’s fiction. My believing mind doesn’t know that, though.

While I’m thinking that growth out of overcoming obstacles may be a metaphysical phenomenon which kind of epitomizes life on this planet…(I’ll try not to get into it, but the system of multi-tiered and -branched worlds based on life lessons and quality of vibration comes into play)…maybe that sort of view will help me rationalize why I’m causing my characters to feel things that I don’t even want to feel.

Mirror neurons.

Oh gosh, how much of this is mirror neurons?

Anyway…I’ve been questioning whether it would help me to write in a notebook with easily removable pages, so that I can shuffle the different parts of the story — given that it takes place in at least two different time periods. Also, writing in a $2 notebook means that I don’t have to be afraid of messing it up.

But if I’m going to do that, it just makes more sense to use a memo pad with holes punched into one side, or to use my A5 binder, for now. At least then, I could keep things in one place.

That actually sounds good.

And while I realize that I couldn’t have come to the production of this post without my skill at writing prose…I have a feeling I’m going to go back and forth some more before I settle on one form for this project.

Which does, of course, mean that I can post supplementary concept art on this blog. :)