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…

beadwork, craft, embroidery, money, needlework, seed beads, self care, work

Apologies for the rhyming. Hamilton’s infected my timing.

Today, I came off of my second day in a row of working eight hours. Not joking, that’s hard. Especially when you skip breaks, and have to get up at 7:30 AM on both days. (At least I didn’t take any shifts that had me getting off after 8.) Then I came back home and had to do things related to work and career (and getting a higher-paying job) which cost a stupid amount of money. Professional Development.

On top of that, I’m going to have to deal with driving school (that is, getting a license). And I didn’t get paid last period because I was not working, I was out and then sick. Before then, I was trying to cram in my hours because I knew I’d have to be off, and that I’d have no income for that period. I also thought I had to fulfill a set number of hours, but they didn’t tell me that I had already far surpassed them.

Stressful…much?

It’s hard to deal with the beadwork stuff when I barely wear jewelry as it is. Sometimes I intend to. Then I forget to care, and I stop, and my piercings get sensitive again. Actually — now that I think about it — I hadn’t been wearing jewelry to work because of sanitation concerns. Water under the ring, water under the bracelet, earring against the phone, earnut on the floor, necklace with a lanyard over it.

There’s that, and the fact that I keep wearing flannel because it’s so cold. I’m not yet used to mixing-and-matching the genders of my clothes, though I can see the need for another insulating vest which isn’t a puffer. Or, you know…like maybe some pink or mauve button-front shirts. That fit.

Tomorrow, I need to go see someone about the driving stuff. That’s going to be another stressor for the near future. Not to mention that I’m having a mini aging crisis.

Maybe I should be thinking about stuff I can do to de-stress, instead of trying to get all my problems out of the way as quickly as possible. I mean, no one’s really watching me to makes sure I read up on Reader’s Advisory, or finish any particular book, or learn to make a Public Library program. I do have time that can be mine.

Embroidery, watercolor, or — actually — doing something with the beads I have, might help. I guess that when a person works part-time, there is that possibility of doing what one wants to do when off-work.

And I do have an urge to go out and get the tiny boxes I was after, before. My Czech seed beads, in particular…it’s hard to even think of using them, while they’re still strung. I do have some unused boxes. I’m just trying to figure out, now…how exactly I’m going to tell what’s what. Because I have a lot of odd-sized Czech seed beads, from 6/0, maybe up to size 16/0.* It’s harder to tell what is which size, when they aren’t all in a row. But I’ll have to cut them apart to use them, anyway.

It would be good if I could get back to my micro-macrame. The issue is that when designing from scratch, there is a period in there where things just aren’t working. The other issue is that working on one project generally leads to buying more beads to assist. Also…there’s the issue of the inevitable needle sticks and sore pinkies.

I am not sure how much longer I’m going to be beading. After all, the truth is that I don’t know what I’m doing when I’m prioritizing this. And I just bought something way outside of what I had outlined as my interests…but maybe embroidery will be soothing?

Something with needles. For some reason I like sharp precision instruments.

I’m not sure if that’s related to liking colors that I shouldn’t be touching.

IT’S “HAMILTON’S” FAULT, OKAY. Yeah, that one. The rap opera.

*actually, that’s pronounced “six-ought” and “sixteen-ought,” not “six-oh” and “sixteen-oh.” But I ought not think of it.

craft, creativity, design, embroidery, organization, sewing, tatting

Fatigue. Not wanting to study.

Today was almost a wash. I got up, ate breakfast, did some studying (when?), went back to bed, fell back asleep, got out of bed to vacuum a bug off of my ceiling. (I thought it was a spider, but on closer inspection, it was probably a silverfish.) I’m pretty sure I know why I was tired today, not that it’s fare for the blog (sorry, all).

Yesterday, I was able to go out and get a larger embroidery hoop, plus some DMC threads, and a couple of tatting shuttles. The colors of the threads really remind me of the SuperDuo beads I got at the last bead convention I attended. There must be some fashion palette thing going on for Summer 2019 that I haven’t yet researched (though on looking at the Pantone Color Forecasts through Fall 2020, I don’t see it). In any case, SuperDuos…I’d have to really work out a design to be able to use those in coordination with embroidery threads!

I’m hoping to soon be able to begin practicing tatting, though that isn’t a priority if I can’t get my course work done (unless, that is, I start to de-prioritize the course work). I’m still waiting for the recording of yesterday’s live session to come through. I wasn’t able to attend, due to the fact that I had a doctor’s appointment (Occupational Health), and couldn’t tell what time the meeting was supposed to be held, and wasn’t notified until the day before. Had I known it began at 9 AM my time, I could have gotten up early, prepared to go out, attended the meeting, then gone to my appointment and not have worried about it.

Right now, though, we’ve been given a number of web pages to go to and bounce back and forth between…it isn’t fun. It’s (relatively speaking) free, but not fun. I’m thinking that the thing to do is to make a folder on my bookmarks bar and use that to access the pages, though I’ll later have to move it into the regular bookmarks menu.

I guess if I’m feeling like this, it’s okay not to work on this stuff right now.

I’m still wondering how to organize this DMC thread…I have some bars to hold open skeins of DMC cotton, but not enough for all of them. I know how to deal with sashiko thread, but this? Not entirely. I suppose I can practice with disassembling some of the colors that I’m probably not going to use, so that if they get tangled, it doesn’t really matter.

But like I was telling my friend at work, the hardest part about embroidery, for me, is the design aspect…and I’m not sure how I can design if I’m not even intimately familiar with all the stitches, yet.

So maybe I should just play around for now, just to learn…and I hate to learn from books (they’re not always an optimal medium), but if that’s the way it has to be, I don’t mind. (I should look around online for video demos, though. I found — through attempting to learn Korean knotwork from books — that videos are sometimes much more helpful than still images and words.)

I’m sitting next to my sewing kit, here, and really want to get into it. At the same time, it’s almost 10 PM, and I have work tomorrow (not to mention the fact that I want to get some stuff together to give to my friend, which I keep forgetting at home: particularly, some tinted papers).

The beadwork hasn’t been a priority since before our visitor left…I should probably clean up my workspace, so the beads don’t get dusty. I’ve been having issues with not being able to focus or concentrate on one medium. I feel kind of scattered.

Well, scattered and tired. Those two things kind of go together…

embroidery, fiber arts, garments, needlework, tatting

Beginnings of playing with _Embroidered & Embellished_; plus, tatting?!

I finally broke through the wall and started playing around with muslin and threads, today.  What I found, which was surprising, is that my own handwork differs from the handwork I’ve seen in my main text, for now — Embroidered & Embellished, by Christen Brown.

I picked up this book, as it was advertised to me before the date of its publication, and I’d been waiting on seeing it before I bought it.  It’s a very pretty/inspiring book, and I ended up checking it out of the library and reading it all the way through.  I found out that it seems to be geared towards beginning embroiderers, given the (limited) spectrum of “traditional” stitches which it features, which seem based on linework.  There are also some stitches for more advanced needleworkers, which fall under the chapter on “raised & textured embroidery” — though I wouldn’t have known about the difficulty level, except for reading in other embroidery texts.

Despite the linework bit, which really reminded me of drawing with fineliners as versus markers (ribbonwork?) or painting — I went out and bought a copy of this book today, because it does say (out of the great plethora of options) what needles to use with what thread or floss, and things are easy enough to understand, and limited enough, that it’s relatively non-intimidating.  It also seems that the later stitches often build upon simpler stitches learned early-on.  So while this isn’t a thorough reference by any means, it is a good teaching tool and introduction to embroidery, as it shows different results given with the same basic skill set, based on using differing materials.

I’m really glad I finally got up the nerve to try and practice.  I don’t know what it is, but starting is always the hardest part, for me.  I think there is a fear there that I’ll try it but not like it, or that I’ll try it and fail.  What happened today is that I tried it, and I liked some of my errors more than I liked what I was supposed to be making!

For example, there is something called a lazy daisy flower — while trying to do this, I accidentally started making a lazy daisy maple leaf.  I actually like the maple leaf better than the flower!  It all has to do with variations in proportion and spacing.  Color doesn’t hurt, either — I’ve been intentionally avoiding pink, and so came out with a bunch of red maple leaves.  (And one flower, after thinking to myself that I really should try to make one.)  ;)  Note:  when using a French Knot as the center of a flower, make the knot first and then stitch the petals.  The needle has been punching holes all through the center of the flower, and so your knot may pull all the way through the (now-weakened) fabric, otherwise.  So unless you want an eyelet with a knot hanging off the back, don’t do that!

There are a few other things to mention.  One:  how one holds the thread on the right side of the work while stitching, really does matter.  I’ve had more luck with making a stitch and then looping the floss over the needle, rather than stitching with my floss leading in some general direction, however.  Two:  it’s difficult to make a finishing knot when working with a small embroidery hoop.  I think mine is about 4-5″ across, and that’s not enough when you want to finish a thread (requiring one to make a French Knot and pull the [thick] needle straight through taut fabric) and the needle is facing a wall.

The third bit is related to #2; and that is, when stitching an outline using a backstitch, it really does matter whether the floss falls above or below the needle.  Randomly, one gets an offset, broken pattern, though this can also be done intentionally; always holding the thread above the needle, however, gives an overlapping pattern.

The last thing I wanted to mention:  proportions.  I genuinely like my own proportions better than the ones shown in this book.  I am not sure how much of this has to do with having practiced writing kanji, but my staggered blanket stitch (called the “short-long-short blanket stitch” in the book) really looks like I was writing yama, yama, yama over and over again.  (The Japanese character [or kanji] for “mountain” reads, yama; it shows three peaks next to each other, not unlike the staggered blanket stitch.)

That’s as far as I’ve gotten, for now.  I did, however, find a book on tatting, which is a method of lacemaking.  I’ve gotten the idea in my head to make garments with 3/4 sleeves, and lace edging the sleeve openings.  However, I’ve really got to find a good, simple book on tatting which will teach me the fundamentals.  I’d never been exposed to it before, and so while a lot of what I saw, looked basically like a lark’s head sinnet which was looped around and upon itself — I had never even seen a tatting shuttle before, and I don’t know how to use one.

There is a place I know of which I can go to in order to look at laces, and they probably have a library there.  And it’s probably much greater than the one book I found on the shelf, today.  ;)  I didn’t pick that one up; it’s called New Tatting.  It focused mostly on doilies, which is not really my end goal.  My end goal would be something more like making trims for garments.  But again, you know, maybe it’s just meant as a course for learning the basics.  I’ll just have to research it more.

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

So maybe I will open this blog to search engines…

Apologies for the delay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

beading, beadwork, embroidery, fiber arts, glass beads, macrame, seed beads, sewing

Surveying the field…or a part of it.

When I started the Business certificate program, I had the idea of going into business as someone who made jewelry out of seed beads and fiber.  Then I transitioned into “maybe it would be better to do silversmithing,” and after this last bead show, I’ve found that I really do like working with glass, for its versatility and economy.  There’s also the unnecessary drama in and around metals, for me.

So I’m coming back around to “seed beads and fiber,” whether that is knotted, woven, braided, or embroidered.  I just don’t think I realized until Easter (when I was knotting) that a lot of the beaded projects I’ve seen in — well, to be honest, particularly the one knotting book I have which teaches Cavandoli — the designs are actually primarily fiber projects, with beads to accentuate them.  They aren’t primarily beadwork; they’re primarily fiber art, with beads.

For beadwork itself, there’s nothing better (to me, and at this point, anyway) than beadweaving.  I’ve read that techniques in and of themselves cannot be copyrighted, only specific designs can be.  I really hope that’s true.  The most significant difference to me between beaded macrame and beadwoven work is the role of the fiber.  In beadweaving, the fiber itself is generally supposed to be unobtrusive and fall back or nigh-disappear while the beads take center stage; while in macrame, the fibers which the beads are threaded onto are design elements of their own.

Then there is beaded embroidery/bead embroidery, which I really hope to try soon.  I don’t think I’ve ever done it before.  This is a bit more specialized than embroidering on fabric with beads as a design element for a garment (which is what comes to my mind when I write “beaded embroidery”).  This is using beads, thread, and nonwoven fabric to mount stones and create jewelry (which is what comes to my mind when I think of “bead embroidery”).

I’ve also thought of branching out into just plain embroidery, given that the wonderful color mixes of threads are there, tempting me just like a wall of multicolored seed beads does.  If I do this well — and/or if I can get past my gender-related block to sew, this could turn out some really nice stuff.

By the gender thing, I mean in particular that it hasn’t always been the easiest thing for me to deal with being female, and many of the clothing patterns I’ve seen have been strongly gendered in a way that…shows me that I’m not in the designer’s target market.  There are some cooler things, like Folkwear patterns (I still haven’t finished that Nepali blouse mockup), but what I really would like to do would be to alter patterns to suit my own tastes (and body).  I’m just not that good yet.

It would be great for me, if I could disassociate prepackaged, commercialized and marketed femininity — not my version of femininity, but someone else’s — from what I create on the sewing machine.  Unfortunately, though, that kind of mindset gets a lot of external bolstering.  But this doesn’t have to be the way it is.  As, what about men who want to sew for themselves, for starters?  Where are the patterns for them, and/or when we do find those patterns, why is it assumed that a woman will make it for him?

Why does sewing have to be a gendered activity?

Or maybe I just haven’t spent enough time browsing pattern catalogs to find designers fully targeting myself, yet.  Wherever they are, they certainly aren’t easy to find.  Maybe I’d have better luck in a big city sewing store.

Anyhow, I’ll get off the soapbox, now.

But yes.  Little embroidered purses would be an excellent trial, given that I can assemble something coherent out of the multitude of embroidery stitches I’ve found!  I collect cool little purses, so I bet this is why I think it’s a great idea.  ;)

So I’ve said this much about beads and fiber.  I haven’t included kumihimo (Japanese loom braiding) or Chinese or Korean knotting, here, because they’re really on the periphery of my focus, at the moment.  Maybe not forever, but for now, at least.  I mean, I still can’t tie a Garakji, and I did try for a while (it helped to use a tapestry needle).  These things are just a lot harder without a teacher there to help.  I’m seriously lucky I finally figured out the Dorae knot…which took two books together, and hours (and hours) of troubleshooting.

…and, I just realized, I totally forgot about knitting and crochet.  Knitting is probably definitely out, except for spool knitting; crochet, not totally.  There are methods for adding beads to textile works like shawls, and there is bead crochet which, while somewhat predictable, does look nice.  The difficulties come with finishing the ends of the work, in jewelry-making processes.  I don’t like to be overly dependent on commercial findings or adhesives; and that applies to trying to finish kumihimo as well as crochet.

Anyhow.  The third element to this, which I thought of when I realized that I’m dealing with pierced items and things which in a modular or sequential fashion, thread through pierced items, is wire.  Wire can be used in weaving and in other textile processes like knitting, braiding, and crochet.  What is nice about it is that it holds its shape (at least, when hardened), it can be formed and forged, and because of these things, it can add visual and textural interest.

The drawback to any form of metalworking is that it requires specialized tools.  I’m lucky in that I’ve been messing around with jewelry since I was a kid, so I have a bunch of tools already.  Still, though; the setup costs can be relatively expensive.  This goes triple or quadruple when you’re intending to embark on a full-fledged metalwork run, let alone when you’re working in precious metals.

I do have some ideas as to where to pursue private classes in silversmithing, which look pretty good about now.  I’m so new to the field, though, that I can’t really tell what lies ahead, here.  I know that I don’t want to go to an ultra-expensive elite school at this time — not until I’m sure that it’s what I want to do.  And I’m not that sure.  I already made that mistake once, with the Master’s program I bailed on because I thought I wanted to be in the industry, before discovering that it wasn’t as good a match as I’d hoped.  I am not about to pretend that I can practice for a short amount of time and come out the other end of the curriculum as a silversmith or goldsmith.  It just doesn’t work that way.

I’ve found a smaller, competing school, which is about half as expensive as the professional one, and does not require the purchase of any outside tools or materials except for consumable supplies (like lubricant and solder).  One of the classes they give that I know I want to take, is filigree.  But I’m going to have to wait a while, for that one — it has a prerequisite.  At the very least, though, it’s something to keep my eye on.  And then there are the Art Center courses, which are much less expensive than the above, being not-for-profit…also something to keep my eye on!

beadwork, embroidery

On that bead show thing…

So…I’ve been saving (or trying to save) money for a bead show I’ll be attending soon.  As much as I would say “it can’t come soon enough,” I also have realized that I need to catch up on my studying beforehand.  Wasting time isn’t really a great option for me, right now.  (But I’m writing this…)

I just feel a need to get some part of this out, and reading 30 pages in my textbook?  …I’ve mentioned before (not here) that there are things that are pressing in my life now, other than classes.  And I’ve found that if I focus too much on things I don’t want to do (like catching up on my Marketing reading), it’s really detrimental to my health, because then I choose to do nothing, which advances nothing.  I’m sincerely considering not taking any graded, official classes during the summer so that I can focus on my beadwork and my health.

I’ve had, at the very least, 3-4 people ask me over the last 6 months as to whether I make jewelry, and then as to whether I sell it, who were willing to take a look at my backstock and possibly make a purchase.  However, I don’t really have a backstock at this time, because I’ve sold or given away most of it, and classes don’t leave much time to be creative.  This is Spring Break for me, and as nice as it is not to have to go to classes, my time is taken up with catching up…and dreaming of things I could be doing but am not.  I’ve largely been spending time in bookstores and online and — ! — sleeping.  Things that I normally don’t have the time to do (but sometimes do, anyway, this being why I’m behind in classes).

As I was telling M the other day, it feels like I’ve spent the vast majority of my life preparing to do…and as versus moving forward out of this stage, I just keep preparing, and preparing.  Maybe the time is right to stop preparing to do, and to start doing.

Anyhow.  Last night was actually the first night that I realized I should make some priorities for what I actually want to purchase at the bead show.  So far, I’ve got:

  • Cabochons
  • Seed beads
  • C-Lon
  • Lampwork focals

I wasn’t going to focus on seed beads so much, this time, as versus:

  • Stone beads

…which would be helpful if I were moving in a direction where I’d be making a lot of wirework jewelry.  I do have some stones that I want to make wire frames for, and I have invested a good deal of resources into beginning to study and commence wirework.  And actually, it does make sense for me to focus on stone, if I’m going in a metal+stone direction…which, until very recently, I thought I was going to do.

The thing is, cabochons can also be mounted in bead embroidery, which usually use seed beads (and to a lesser extent, Czech glass beads) as major components.  I’ve picked up a copy of a really good book recently, on this.  (It’s called Dimensional Bead Embroidery, by Jamie Cloud Eakin.)  I’ve also, for some reason, wanted very badly to work with needle and thread again.  I’m not entirely sure why or what’s behind it…but it’s what I wanted to do earlier.  I found an awesome library book on embroidery stitches, as well, which I really want to play with.  Because if I’m going to be working more heavily with fiber and weaving and knotting in my designs, why not move just straight into embroidery?

It could be an interesting direction to branch into, and it would take advantage of my Color Dynamics training.  I really love working with color; it’s the major reason I’m into beadwork, and seed beads in particular.  This then spills over into having multiple sets of colored pencils, colored markers, fineliners, etc.  I just haven’t so far been brave enough to use them in any meaningful way…at least, since I was young and idealistic (i.e. not concerned about the social repercussions of my creations).  And then, you know, I’ve been into braiding and macrame as well, and really see potential in those areas — magnified, if combined with embroidery and beadwork.

Both of these directions focus majorly on design.  The differences lie in the actual processes of making.  Metalwork is a completely different animal from beadwork, however, they both can result in the production of jewelry.  The major problem I see with metalwork is that there seem to be some problems with elitism, to be to-the-point.  This ranges from my being at one time forbidden to construct a beadwoven chain for my metalworked pendant in my Jewelry class, to people claiming that if one has seen a design before, they’re forbidden to make anything like it, to people claiming that jewelry made with PMC (Precious Metal Clay) looks “fake.”

Of course, though, in Beading, there are a limited number of ways of connecting beads, and most people who are into it have probably done plenty of tutorials to teach themselves how to get started.  This is to the point that it’s hard to find any books at all which focus on the process of design in beadwork, as versus publishers distributing patterns to follow which have been produced by others, and several techniques which are probably so common as to be public domain.

I’m thinking that maybe — maybe, I shouldn’t be giving the Jewelry communities (by this they would mean what I’d call “metalsmithing” communities) so much sway in my mind.  I’ve just recently decided to go private as regards my Jewelry classes, in pursuit of a higher quality of teaching.  Does this mean to lean off of the wirework, too?  Probably not — but I can see that I’ll need to understand where my priorities lie.