craft, creativity, jewelry design, small business planning, work

I write too much…

Yeah…I think it’s understandable why cyberspace has been so quiet, recently. As for what’s going on over here…I’m still dealing with a problematic creative pattern (grab onto a project like a pitbull and not let go until my body gives out, then avoid it the next day because my body doesn’t want to go through that again)…though I have realized that I have another beadweaving pattern I originated, which I had forgotten about until putting the earrings in as placeholders over Xmas.

Like I’ve said before: I make a lot of jewelry, I don’t necessarily wear a lot of jewelry. I’ve had these piercings for a while, but I still get a little…worried, that they’ll close up with disuse. I probably don’t have to worry about that quite so much, given that they were originally pierced at 14g. Yes, I do miss my surgical steel rings, but putting them back in means that either I forego wearing regular earrings, I constantly wear a nut on the back of all my earwires and deal with possible migration, or I fabricate custom 14g earwires for everything I wear…and trust me, silver isn’t that cheap. 14g wire is pretty expensive, that is, just from the sheer weight of it.

I do realize that if I want to run this jewelry thing as a microbusiness with significant returns, I’m going to have to work more. A lot more. Just slightly prior to Xmas, though, I did encounter the beginnings of a depressive episode, which is likely what has slowed me down over the past couple of weeks. (I’ve just realized that I’ve only been out of classes for three weeks, so far!) I had wanted to sew face coverings to give out over the holidays…but for multiple reasons, prime among them a very late start due to having my attention taken up with my University course, that didn’t happen.

“A very late start”…unless I jumped into making face coverings at the moment I thought of doing so and worked as hard and as fast as I could and sent them out as soon as I could, I would be late. And even then, I probably would still have been late. University conditions you, not to be late; that it can mean failure, to be late. (Unless you’re working with accommodations.) Of course, University matters because they’re reporting your grades to the Federal Government, which impacts any future Financial Aid. Making money through selling jewelry has no such penalty for lost time. Except, well: lost income.

I think that the realization that I wasn’t going to make the Xmas deadline/buying rush (for either gifts or sales) was probably the beginning of the episode — or the beginning of my noticing it, at least. I notice in my backfiles some information about OCD, as well…which was probably what was most easily visible. You deal with this stuff a while, and it gets easier to recognize when you’re experiencing symptoms.

Then there was the fact that I had hoped to be up and running with my beadwork, in time for the Xmas buying season. That, obviously, didn’t happen — although I did clarify some things for myself, like why I’m doing this, and what my goals are. I made the move to decide that there is, philosophically, value in the creation of beauty.

What’s really…interesting, is that when you’re working with an inclusive gender definition, it can be difficult to create gender expressions which are clearly intended for that definition. I mean…you make nice things, and those who want to, can wear them.

I’ve heard fairly commonly that people in the nonbinary community have a tendency to be slotted as cisgender men and women, though by this time, the trope is…well, used. No longer upsetting, that is, because you know it’s coming…and you know that the people saying it have their own issues to deal with. And I, at least, know enough NB people that I see a difference between cis and NB, even if nothing earth-shatteringly different appears on the outside. (Two things that do appear from within, are acceptance and understanding.) The thing is: nothing should have to appear different on the outside, for a person’s gender identity to be respected.

Right now…I’m in a stage of breaking out of being intentionally gender-neutral. In specific, there’s nothing wrong with pink. Or violet. Even if I’m biologically female. Even if mostly women will wear these. It’s OK. Nothing at all says that I have to or need to sell specifically to NB people (and if that had been part of my business plan, I would likely need to alter it — we’re not that incredibly common).

I’m hoping to use these colors, soon…and maybe I should do it. I mean, really plan on doing it. Like, purchase some stuff and set aside some blocks of time, to do it. That infers — well — planning…which I may be able to work out with one of my extra A5 notebooks, or by using a printed spreadsheet.

The thing I’m dealing with now is the tension between working on designs I have already created beforehand, and experimenting with new supplies and techniques. The latter takes a lot of time, but can involve totally new practices (which is exciting); the former allows me to refine previously set patterns and experiment specifically with color (but not so much with form).

If I look at it now…I have several designs I’ve come up with totally on my own, which I know I came up with totally on my own. I’m not sure it’s worth it to go through the actual process of registering copyright, especially as the designs are refined and change, over time (a.k.a., constantly). It might be good enough just to mail myself copies of the schematics in preemptive defense, although I know copyright law says I’m good from the time of creation.

Ah, the concept of intellectual property. How…how annoying are you. Or maybe I should say, “concept of intellectual property, how easily you are misused….”

money, personal, self care, small business planning

Still alive.

Thankfully, yes, life still continues in my corner of the world.

I’ve been doing a lot of jewelry design work and, concomitantly, a lot of beadwork. I’ve got three piles of fabric to iron (I was afraid washing yellows with any other color might dull them: so there were blue + green, violet + red, and yellow + orange, loads). At the outset of lockdown, I didn’t realize that buying a relatively small amount of elastic would make it so that I wouldn’t have to spend 40 minutes per face covering (?), and I-don’t-even-want-to-count how many yards of fabric, making ties.

Winter weather has set in, meaning that now, rain and cold temperatures (as cold as it normally gets, here) are normal. Today Yesterday, the first loads of vaccine were shipped out, and the President-Elect was officially voted into office. I also learned what “dumpster fire” meant, a few days ago…and realized why some people were using the term…!

So even though it’s cold and rainy, things aren’t really so bad. Both my parents are still alive, no one’s sick (that I know of). Even though I did lose two of my older relatives earlier in COVID lockdown, and two other relatives are either going through chemotherapy or healing from injuries that could have killed them had the spirits not been with them…we haven’t lost anyone else, so far.

I also haven’t been applying for jobs. I’ve been, well, making things. Of course, one of my first pieces went out to a new friend who should be testing out the clasp mechanism for me. I haven’t quite…clarified?…that with them, though?

So, Xmas is just about 10 days away. I’ve had the idea to make a bunch of face coverings and send them out so people can look stylish as they protect themselves and others from the virus…the thing is…Xmas is about 10 days away. And we aren’t meeting. That means I have to depend on deliveries…which take time. I’m probably going to miss the Xmas deadline, but hey: it’s not like anyone is desperately awaiting a face covering they don’t know is coming. I hope.

Today was spent cleaning out a section of the living quarters — for me particularly: my bedroom, my bathroom, and my study. I really wish there were some better way of cleaning the tops of books, other than with a vacuum and brush attachment. (I still didn’t do it, though. Didn’t even try.)

As we get deeper into this…well…I’ve been spending a lot more time actually doing things with my hands, principally cleaning, preparing food, and crafting. I suppose you could say it’s pretty grounding…which can be necessary, these days. It’s really not until I came back here today that I realized how much I hadn’t been keeping up with the blog circuit. I mean, there were days worth of posts that I hadn’t seen!

In any case…it’s been pretty clear — to me — that I’ve been going back and forth over whether to have an open online presence (with, you know, opinions), or whether to go mostly private for things like communications with friends, in logging my progress (on whatever), etc., while maintaining a separate business presence. The major issue is not knowing whether it will actually ever be possible for me to have a Web presence while constantly keeping my opinions to myself. Especially as I have a tendency to be a very inward-directed and intimate writer: most of my life is internal, not external.

That is, is establishing a Web presence devoid of my own personality a goal that can (or should) be achieved? I can think of at least one obvious Web presence that doesn’t even try to separate personal opinion and business. They have strong branding, but at the same time, turn off a lot of people who don’t agree with their politics…which could also be said for a soap company I tried and didn’t fall in love with. The fact that I had to ignore their writing plastered all over the outside of the bottle…didn’t help.

The question would seem to be what demographic I’m going for as regards my audience. “Highly politicized” is not my demographic. And, I mean, I know I’m left-wing, but I also know where that can fail. I guess maybe it isn’t an issue until people start to be offended…and we just have to discount the people who are easily offended by free speech (by people like myself) in general.

On the other hand…being a presence by and for people who are just trying to live their lives fully and in peace, that’s something else. I mean, seriously: what I’ve documented on this site is just me living my life. That includes my coming into my own as a nonbinary person (I’m going to avoid getting into subtypes right now…I know what I am, but not how to name it or think of it in a way that makes sense to others), and my ongoing cultural discoveries as a mixed-race person who was not exempt from dysfunctional interracial (and intra-racial, for that matter) dynamics in my extended families.

As I write this, I’m thinking that…I’m much calmer right now than I’ve been in months, if not years. I’m not certain if that’s because I’ve spent all day cleaning my spaces, if it’s because I haven’t gone in to work, if it’s because I’m doing what I want to be doing, if it’s because of the presence of hope…? Of gratitude that I have what I do right now, even if I’ve barely been out in the last nine months…?

Seriously, this trial has been like…not a vacation, so much, as an extended Thanksgiving. You know each time your dad laughs at some silly little thing which happens, or each time your mom offers to help you, that it’s not a given and has never been a given that you would get that — or that you’ll continue to get it. So you appreciate it in the moment, knowing that you won’t always have it. Which makes it more…special. Precious.

Stringing and knotting together little beads is like this…they’re not worth much on their own, but together they can make something beautiful. Even if its value isn’t high to anyone except the people who love and appreciate what you’ve done. And they’re the people that should matter. They are your market…if you can make and sell these things in a way in which they can afford to pay you what you need to be paid, to keep doing what you’re doing.

That’s like an exchange of love. It feels like an exchange of love.

(And of course, there are the sweet people who are overjoyed at getting something for free!)

I wonder how much of this is me feeling relieved…hopeful. sekai no naka ni chiisai ii desu.

If I thought…at all…that there were any future for me in Japan, I might not have dropped off of my Japanese language lessons. Unfortunately, I’m not at all sure of that. I’m planning to take up Spanish lessons again. Not tonight. But soon. We’ll see how far I can get before the gendered nouns catch up to me…if I can think of “gender” as more of a grammatical designation and think less about how gendered nouns seem to deeply impact thought processes…I might be able to do it.

Besides, Japan isn’t the greatest place in the world, just because I’m related to people there…and I need to realize that there are “woke” hispanohablantes. In particular…there are other members of the African Diaspora in Spanish-speaking countries…I wouldn’t be alone. Of course, I wouldn’t have reached this stage without seeing that one guy on NHK World who was talking about being bullied for his race in Argentina — and being able to understand most of what he was saying, in Spanish.

And sites like afrofeminas.com, which I was led to by Repeating Islands.

Wow, I’m just a mishmash of cultures, aren’t I…? But I guess when you grow up in a place and situation like mine…you realize that there’s much to be lost in only learning the cultural heritage associated with your lineage…or one of your lineages, as the case may be…that what one may be physically related to, is not necessarily the greatest thing in the world just because of one’s disputable membership in its group.

But I can get into that another time (I’m thinking of martial arts [I’ve trained in four different styles], and my experience in Undergrad [Ethnic Studies!], for future reference).

libraries, small business planning

Dreams

I’ve decided to spend some time on this post despite the fact that at 9:30 PM it’s 85° F (about 30 C), and I’ve been…well, off of the computer all day. I’ve realized to an extent how important it is to me to produce content.

I’ve really been kind of down on not updating this blog as frequently as I had been. Some of my work is going into paper journals, which is actually likely a relatively good turn for me (as I don’t have to worry about judgments, etc. when no one else sees what I’ve written). It keeps me honest, even if I’m still working my way out of being cryptic in exchange for being public.

Today I realized that there was one other outlet I had designated for myself when I was offline (other than sewing, beadwork, and exercise), and that was reading. I finished a chapter in Rethinking Information Work on going independent with one’s skills. (This is Chapter 5, by the way.) I actually (literally) had a dream about the possibility of working for Hewlett-Packard as a Special Librarian, which got me to realize that…hey, it’s possible; but I’d need more IT education. :)

“Going independent,” kind of ties in with the Project Management class that I’m now a part of and am thinking I presently have little use for…it seems most of this work would be of more use in large organizations with multiple players and departments. I was thinking Project Management could help me with my own potential (beading) micro-business, but it’s not looking that way, at least not right now.

The critical problem I have seen has little to do with appearance, and everything to do with dreams — dreams of the possibilities of existence. “We can’t create a world which we can’t imagine.” That was the insight I brought to a group just recently, and which I bounced off of M and D last night. They say it’s valid. My issue is that our dreams are turning into nightmares; and vision about who we want to be, and what we want our world to be and become, is eclipsed by the visions of those who only want some of us to exist in it as fully-self-realized beings.

There’s also the question of where I would source income from, should I begin a Digital Library project of my own. I and the people who would work with me would need to be paid, unless it’s agreed that we operate at a loss. (I wouldn’t think that unusual, in the Publishing community.) I’ve actually been kind of inspired by the people on WordPress who are running de facto literary magazines and book review sites, which is …well, it’s something I can see myself doing, or helping with.

I mean, I have an undergraduate degree in Creative Writing (which prepared me to at least try to be an Editor), and a graduate degree in Library and Information Science. It would seem to be right up my alley. (Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to attend at least a digital Writing Workshop, to get my feet wet again. Or, hey — it would be interesting to integrate that, with the site.)

I can also see where a Collection Development course would come in handy, in addition to Digital Libraries and (possibly) Information Architecture, unless I partnered with someone (or some people) who could help. Then there’s the aspect of funding, which…well, grant writing would be an option, as well as crowdsourcing.

That…is a relatively brilliant insight, I’m thinking. I had forgotten about the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), but they could help — if the project is nonprofit and I’m also a full-time Librarian.

Right now it’s almost 11 PM. I’m thinking about getting back to my homework for Project Management and writing this up…

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, Business training, color, glass beads, jewelry, metalsmithing, occupational hazards, seed beads, small business planning

Self-observation + Link to Matubo seed bead review

Observation first, before I forget.

I really like working with seed beads and fiber.  And I really like writing about seed beads and fiber.  I originally started the metalworking classes because I could see some things being done with seed beads which could be more cleanly and simply done with metal (like cabochon and faceted stone setting).  And I could see the use that those skills would open to me in doing something like making my own clasps.  But I don’t think at heart that I’m a silversmith (for the love of silver, at least).

Also, unless I went into enameling, and/or heavy use of colored stones, I probably wouldn’t want to really get into metalsmithing that deeply.  Enameling can be hazardous, which is a reason I’ve avoided it in the past.  In one of my classes, I observed someone blow powdered enamel (a.k.a. colored glass dust — “colored” meaning probably toxic to ingest; “glass” meaning tiny shrapnel which may shred your lungs and never get back out) off of her bench and into a cloud.  I held my breath as I walked past.  She still had a cough the next semester.

How do you really guard against stuff like that other than wearing a respirator the entire time you’re in class?  What if I hadn’t happened to see what was going on?  What if I didn’t know to look away every time the enameling kiln was open?  (An enameling kiln radiates infrared light when the door is open and it’s hot, and that can damage eyesight unless protection is worn when looking towards it.)

I still remember when I had to spend 10-15 minutes cursing over the pickle pot because someone dumped out my tiny copper rings into the pickling solution and it was so dim — and the pickle so saturated with copper (it turns deep blue-green instead of clear when it’s old) — that I couldn’t see them.  And I remember coughing for two weeks afterwards from the fumes, as well.

But let’s get back onto a positive note, shall we?

I have enough experience from my time in smithing classes (two semesters — more than that, and I didn’t want to put myself back into the situation) that I feel reasonably confident that I can construct and solder a toggle clasp on my own, or fabricate a clasp from sheet and wire.  It probably wouldn’t be the greatest-looking thing or the most creative thing (creativity is very much helped by fluency of skill), but it’s possible, and I know it’s possible.  I can also make custom closed jump rings from wire and solder — easy, with the right setup and materials.  Or, so I say now that I know how to cut the jump rings away en masse and cleanly.  If I’d used silver for my class project, I would have wasted about $60 worth of silver while I learned how to avoid twisting the saw.

Plus there is the bezel setting I learned at the end of first semester, which showed me that even though it looks simple to set a stone in a metal bezel, in reality there is a lot of work which goes into it, and it requires some finesse to avoid, say, melting your bezel into a puddle instead of closing it.  It also requires some finesse to achieve a secure seat for your stone, and to avoid inadvertently damaging the stone in the process of setting it.  This is not even getting into whether what you’re setting it on looks good or not — more often than not, this is a flat piece of sheet metal, sometimes with stamps, soldered buttresses or designs of wire, or, in some cases which I especially admire, bits of granulation.  I can’t do granulation yet, so of course, I’m impressed.  ;)

Form is explored in metalwork, but often at the expense of color.  Color dynamics are a big attractor and driving force for me.  My seed bead, colored pencil, and marker collections attest to it.  I have wanted to get into painting, but so far the only experience I have there is in one Color Dynamics class which used gouache, plus Continuing Drawing — there was an introduction to pastel painting at the very end of that session.

I know there are liver of sulfur and shakudo and shibuichi and the golds and coppers and brasses.  I even know that there are the reactive metals to work with, titanium and niobium, and these.  But do I really love metal?  At this point, my enjoyment of metalwork is not high enough for me to go out of my way to expose myself to the hazards of metalwork.  Hot metalwork, at least.  Cold connections are much less intimidating.

In addition, there seemed, in my metalsmithing class, to be some prejudice against beaders.  I inadvertently ran up against this when I started constructing a beadwoven chain for my metal pendant in class.

At this point, having done some work in design myself — I mean, beyond changing the colors of a pattern, and I mean — really taking a concept through multiple models to achieve a workable formula (that collar with the daggers may have to be altered so it curves more), I can see the point that people who work in metal may think that beaders are unoriginal because they/we stereotypically don’t take a project from concept to conclusion, but rather have to learn via patterns and mimicry before we can stand on our own two feet.

But where are you going to find a way to learn to bead unless a) you know someone who does it who is willing to teach you, b) you take classes at a bead store — if there is one near you, or c) you learn through finding pre-made patterns (in print and online) and following them?  I mean, seriously!

It wasn’t until I confronted the idea of going into business with my own jewelry start-up that I found I didn’t have the complete set of skills I’d need to do business in the way I’d want to do it.  I’m gaining that skill now, and I’m slowly de-shocking myself from the scare of potentially treading on someone else’s intellectual property rights.  In two to five years, maybe I could have a viable business.  But there are a lot of things to get in order, first.  Particularly, identity and my target market, plus maybe figuring out what lies behind the drive to bead.

There are a lot of things that I didn’t know about myself that I’m learning about myself, which could gain me a signature style, which could in turn become a brand that I’d be able to sell within the U.S. for U.S. level living-wage money.  Probably not urban living-wage money, unless I’m in a place I don’t want to be, but nonetheless.

I think, though, that one of the reasons there are so many beading pattern books on the market is that really, handwoven beaded jewelry is…it’s expensive in terms of time and design, but not in terms of materials.  It’s also relatively fragile.  So maybe it seems more profitable to sell copies of the patterns and let people make the jewelry themselves, than it is to have a firm which produces and distributes finished beaded jewelry.  Otherwise, most of what I’ve seen comes from outside of this country, and really, how do you compete with a $10 daisy-chain bracelet?

Unless you have a distinct identity, that is — and you know what you’re selling, beyond your product.  Though, of course, that can easily go icky, if you jump to conclusions.  But the reality behind it maybe doesn’t have to be really that bad.  If you’re selling things because you want to celebrate femininity, hey, good on you, you know?  But know that’s what you’re doing, and know the cultural context it takes place in; and the possible problems resulting from the flawed system that your statement only makes sense within.  And know it’s very possible that others will see different meanings in your art than those which you intend.

I think that if I’m really creative — if I really take an unusual tack to what I want to be doing, and I do something which no one else in my part of the world is doing, or which maybe no one is doing anywhere — I think it’s possible to run a handmade jewelry business.  It would be tight, financially, and it would take a lot of time.  Plus, a lot of my attention would be expended on business as versus creation, at least unless I found a partner to manage that side for me.  This is at least a two-person venture, if it’s serious, and more likely eventually at least a 5-person venture.  But hey.  The culture?  The work?  It could turn out nice.

Anyhow, I’ve put this to the side for now as an auxiliary option.  I’m not married and don’t have plans to be, so I’ll have to support myself.  Right now I’m looking at writing and beadwork as things I love, can do relatively easily, and can do immediately.

I promised you a link to a review of Matubo seed beads.  That link is here.  I ran across this by accident; the author displays photos of these beads next to a couple of other brands which I had not seen in action prior, but which I’m considering trying out, now.  Presently, Matubos are only available in 7/0 size (in Czech sizing) — the size is quoted in the article; the difference between the Czech and Japanese sizing relations is something I’ve just inferred from past experience.

Anyhow, happy crafting (or whatever you do out there!)  Treat yourself nice.  :)