Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been getting myself organized. That is, I’ve been heavily trying to implement organization; not to say that I’ve been succeeding at it.
It’s kind of crazy, in the colloquial sense (though there really isn’t a formal definition for the term, that I know of). Right now I have four journals in progress, not including this blog, separated by topic. I have a journal on Creative Process, one for working notes, a Bullet Journal to (attempt to) keep myself on task, and a regular journal. In addition to the sketchbook for random scrawling, and the sleep records. Eventually I may want to combine some of these…but do you know how tedious it is to copy over information from one place to another? (Let alone, drawings…)
I’ve been working on my jewelry, which has been going well; and working on face coverings. Most recently, I’ve begun to work on experimental models in…well, both…to see if what I’ve envisioned, I can bring to fruition. Because I’m investing so much in this from myself, it’s kind of scary when I succeed. But…success does happen, and I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do if I’m really successful…
I should actually want to be successful, right? :) It’s just that success…for me, requires risk: curiosity and authenticity. Authenticity requires putting myself out there, and putting myself out there means…well. When I was younger, I learned that by throwing up a false screen of myself, I could deflect attack to that false identity and remain safe despite others’ hostility. Even if it was in my face. Being authentic requires both commitment and courage…and I guess I’ve just relatively recently gotten out of the realm of being a front-line service worker, meaning that I’ve learned to uphold a false identity to deflect attack for a very long time.
The problem with that, is forgetting who you actually are, which I had to deal with from the beginning of Middle School through the middle of Undergrad. And I didn’t really recover from it until getting my Master’s and losing my job. So in a way, if I’m going into business for myself, or if I’m working in a gig economy, I actually do have more latitude for authenticity. There are actual possible rewards for authenticity…which is not the case when you’re trying to avoid being yelled at because someone else happened to dislike something in your facial expression.
The issue is finding people who will respect and accept who I am…and just leaving the naysayers (the people who say I should keep my head down and not cause trouble because I’m lucky to be included at all) in my dust.
Yeah, conformity is a big…very big part of why I’m not salaried right now. (Along with the obvious.) I am somewhat aware that the way I’ve been talking about this could lead people to think I have horrible thoughts. I don’t. I just have different thoughts. The current climate has just made it so that it has become very…I think we all are very aware that the current climate is unsettled and not benign. I have a hard time believing that most any person of color feels safe, at the moment. Of course, if I didn’t watch the news or read newsfeed articles, it might be different.
I just happen to be someone who thinks what no one is saying. Then I wonder why they aren’t saying it. And, I mean, I was almost a Sociology major: I have an idea of why no one is saying it. That doesn’t make me feel any better. But there is the saying that Evil Never Dies…while far too many good people, do.
What gives me hope is knowing that I’m not really alone. I also realize that I have power I’m not utilizing at the moment…except for places like here, and in the businesses that I support. Also with the people I help, and who help me. Maybe I should focus on this. Someone a while back told me to, “seek kindness, because it’s out there.” I don’t remember exactly who it was…but I have been reading recently about the idea that we control the content of our own thought.
I don’t know how much I believe that. Both as a person who struggles with anxiety, and who has experienced depression and detachment from reality; and as a person who has been targeted for God-knows-what reason (which probably relates to race and gender, therefore assumed sexual orientation; if a Black trans* woman who had dealt with trauma had originated the idea that we, “control the content of our own thought,” I might be more inclined to believe her).
That is, the experience that goes into the formation of an academic opinion, matters. It is all that matters. (Yeah, I’m questioning if that’s hyperbole, or not. I’m unsure.)
And academia — Higher Education — I’ve found, is severely skewed in its viewpoint toward majority-White culture. Which I wouldn’t have fully realized if I had dropped out like I wanted to after the ice-bath culture shock of my first semester. It took me years to come back.
There are a number of reasons for my recent absence from weblogging. I think a lot of it — besides the immediate risk — has to do with getting more serious about doing my beadwork for a return. When it was just me and this blog was all about what was going on in life and my reflections, and my (occasional?) opinions and my projects (that weren’t going anywhere, relatively), it was much easier.
I haven’t found a good balance yet between being open online and holding back what I might want to hold back if my primary business were online. Right now…I really don’t even know how much of an option I have to conceal anything, which might work in my favor. If you have nothing to lose, at least you know where you stand. I’ve been there before.
But yeah, that was high school and college. And yeah, there was a lot of suffering there. But I made it, I’m alive, and I’m here. And it was worth surviving. You get better at this “Life” thing, the longer you’re in it. Even if you are melancholy in your reflections for much of the rest of it.
The past four days have felt longer than usual. Until very recently, I was holding myself to an earlier bedtime and earlier wake time. That kind of continued off the rails last night. I did get to bed before 2 AM, but barely. Then I woke at 7 AM and stayed up for a couple of hours before crashing again and waking in the early afternoon.
So both today and yesterday, I’ve been working on an old version of a face covering which was found originally on the CDC website. I’m pretty sure it’s no longer there — I tried a while back to find it. It was one of the basic pleated ones that you saw a bunch of people making to distribute at churches…though I’m not sure if my method of dividing the fabric (fold in half, press, fold edges to center line, press) is new or not. I would think, “not.”
What really drove me to do this is that I’ve got some flat aluminum wire which I can use over the nose bridge if I sew down a bias tape channel at the top. I hadn’t tried it…so yesterday was full of experimenting with a mask face I had made and then abandoned months ago.
Along with the aluminum wire, I also needed a steel file to round off and de-burr the edges of the segments I cut off of the coil. That…worked surprisingly well. I didn’t quite realize just how soft aluminum is!
Right now, then, I’ve got two models that I know how to make. I’m actually using an old 400-thread-count bedsheet to make the inner linings…I’m hoping to use three layers, total, with the outer one being an attractive fabric, and the inner two being sheets. I tried fashioning one of these tonight with a Kona cotton lining and realized fairly quickly that I should probably take out the Kona cotton, as the thing is a bit more difficult to breathe through with three layers, than I’d like. The point isn’t to suffocate the wearer; it’s to catch water droplets on their breath.
The other change I can see trying immediately (in the next iteration) is to use a Grunge fabric instead of a Kona cotton for the ties. I’m hoping this will take down bulk in the seams.
I was kind of disturbed that I had forgotten so much about how to make these things…
As for the jewelry: I have worked out a new updated pattern for a set of earrings I made for myself a very long time ago. 2015, to be exact. So long ago that I had to change what went where, because the newer version is made with newer beads, which don’t have the exact same form as the beads from 2015. In specific, I was using two-hole Lentil beads from the time at which two-hole beads were a new thing. They have a wider thread spacing (and are wider overall) than the newer two-hole lentils I obtained.
Yeah. Almost caused an issue, until I found that 5mm rounds could be used instead of a 3x5mm rondelle plus two 2mm (possibly 1.5mm, I’m not sure) faux pearls. Unfortunately…5mm is an “off” size and not widely available. I do have a supplier, but they are based in Czechia, and stuff takes a long time to get from there to here.
It will make more sense if and when I show photos.
But yeah…there are a lot of wonderful colors in fabrics and in beads, that I’ve been immersed in for the past week. I believe that color work is the main thing that drew me to beadwork and held me close. I took a Color Dynamics class a very long time ago — almost when I was fresh out of Undergrad — and was kind of shocked when I found that it was pretty much in the vein of painting.
Painting hasn’t really been my thing, though I have painted, and do like to paint. Subject matter is what gets to me: because the subject is the color and color interactions, color mixing, texture, etc., not the depiction. There’s also the fact that a lot of paints are toxic, which feels negative to me. I’ve gone over that point many times on this blog by now, however.
On that point: I keep getting fabric from Bay Quilts, which is struggling. They’re really great and really sweet. Their prices are very reasonable, and they have a good selection of fabric online (AbbeyShane is to credit for this: this is apparently a two-person operation with her mother, Sally), though it is by no means their entire selection. Before the shutdown I visited them in person, but because of COVID, they have had to move the bulk of their sales online.
I just washed a new load of their material tonight, after having let it rest and quarantine for about two weeks (I’m paranoid, what can I say: everything is quarantining unless it’s in a wrapper I can throw out, and even then). These fabrics really, really do make me want to quilt — not just make masks. There’s just something warm and inviting about a lot of quilting fabric.
I don’t really understand it. I mean…seriously. It’s like I don’t understand so much why I love little glass beads. Or why fabric or beads would be more attractive than paint, so much…
As much as I would like to keep this quilting store as my own treasured little secret…the shutdowns with COVID have really impacted them. We are 10 months into various shutdowns and restrictions, here. I can’t buy up as much of their fabric as I want to in order to keep them in business, so the next best thing is raising the signal about their existence. If they stay in business, it benefits me because I’ll continue to be able to buy from them. If I make stuff from their fabric, it benefits them because I’ll contribute to a viable income stream for them.
(No, they are not compensating me. They don’t even know I’m writing this up.)
If you are so moved, please go check out their online store. It’s pretty cool. :)
Oh, and: all the opinions expressed in this post are mine alone, and do not reflect on Bay Quilts. :) Thanks, all.