beading, color, craft, jewelry design, macrame, seed beads

Cooling down…this stuff calms me.

Tonight, but technically, yesterday…I put in some more time with learning macramé. I had noticed that I was getting a bit greedy about supplies, and realized that this was likely because I wasn’t using what I had, I was just dreaming about it. I also didn’t know what I needed if I were going to buy something, because I hadn’t used what I had.

So, today, in lieu of buying more, I worked at knotting and color adventures. Also — the day before, which I didn’t record yet here — I worked on a model of a new pearl necklace. I’m now iffy about selling it, although I think I could get a good price. I just got kind of attached to it, as it features the first half-drilled pearl I’ll ever have used (I designed the necklace around that pearl, which I selected undrilled and in-person from a lonely Aloha Pearls vendor who had come all the way from Hawaii).

That pearl cost me $21 itself, if I count the fee for half-drilling it (which I think was around $8). The reason it cost so much? It’s 9mm in diameter, natural mauve, off-round; with excellent liquid sheen. Though it is slightly irregular by Fine Jewelry standards (which is why it was only $21), I’m not a Fine Jeweler, and it’s round enough for me.

In contrast, I got what I think was 18″ of small (5-6mm long) pink rice pearls (beautiful sheen and color, skilled drilling) from a different vendor, for $8, and I’ve used maybe 1/4 of the strand in this necklace. The lesson for me here is to buy quality pearls that have been handled lovingly, and are selling at good prices, in-person…because finding them is rare, and mixing colors and sizes can turn out beautiful. Most places which I’ve seen specialize in pearls, are going for huge, gaudy, perfectly-round pearls…which isn’t my aesthetic. It’s okay to have a beautiful central pearl and set it off with variety.

At the Aloha Pearls booth, I was also looking for something special about the energetic “feel” of the pearl I chose (which I consider special due to the sacrifice of the oyster), but I don’t really expect others to understand that.

The necklace in-process reminds me a lot of the tropics, and is one of the first times for me to recently have utilized controlled chaos in design: in sections, I used end-drilled pearls which stand off of the chest and whose orientation can’t be predicted. I still don’t know if I’m going to knot the strand to protect the pearls themselves from loss or abrasion…it would interfere with that randomness, unless I left the strand unknotted (and subject to movement, which could lead to damage) in the areas where I’m wanting the complexity.

Tonight — a few hours ago on Wednesday the 13th, that is — I was practicing Cavandoli (tapestry) knotting, and playing with color combinations in the alternating-square-knot technique I photographed, last post. I’m getting a better sense of when and how to use the C-Lon TEX 400 (this is the version that is nearly 1mm wide)…as I used it tonight for my Cavandoli practice, and found it so robust that it didn’t want to take a mounting knot. It didn’t want, that is, to bend. I’ve experienced the same with other C-Lon thread (the heavier it is, the more it happens), but due to the gigantic gauge of the TEX 400, the effect is magnified.

I was using Joan R. Babcock’s first book (now in its Second Edition), Micro-Macramé Jewelry: Tips and Techniques for Knotting With Beads. It’s a very good book, apparently self-published, but that doesn’t matter at all in craft books when the author can teach, and teach well; and the reader most of all wants to be taught, and taught well. In that case, word-of-mouth (like this) can generate goodwill and interest, regardless of whether a big Publishing House takes up the project, or not.

I haven’t yet made any of the projects (which I’m taking as classroom assignments, at this point), and am only practicing right now, as Babcock suggests in her book. She teaches some fundamental skills in the beginning which aren’t covered as comprehensively in most other macramé books (specifically, beaded micro-macramé books) I’ve seen.

I’m not certain if this is because they are not straight rope-and-hemp macramé books, but most straight macramé books (like the ones that will teach you to make hanging planters) I’ve seen hearken back to the 1970’s…which is relatively recent, and not precisely what I want to be doing. I have a feeling that there’s knowledge and technique from before the 1970’s that is being, or has been, lost.

This is why when I found Macramé Pattern Book: Includes Over 70 Knots and Small Repeat Patterns Plus Projects, by Märchen Art Studio in the craft section of a Japanese-language bookstore, I was sure to sweep it up: a view from outside the English-speaking world might have a relatively unique perspective. (The book was published first in Japanese language, then translated into English two years later.) Also, I know there are some interesting and/or novel techniques in Japanese-language beadwork books that I’ve found, which are not covered in any English-language books I’ve seen.

Babcock’s explanations and illustrations (and tips!) are very clear, even though I wished at various points to highlight passages I kept having to refer back to (particularly in reference to cord orientation, and whether a half-hitch loops above or below the carrier cord [it matters]). According to the Web, she’s an experienced teacher, and it shows.

Obviously, my first try at this in years isn’t the prettiest thing (which is why I’m writing this at what is now 1:15 in the morning without images), but I learned a lot from it. That’s probably an understatement: the learning part, I mean.

I found that the different gauges of thread or cord matter in regard to what you’re using them for. I experienced what it’s like to see a color harmony and magnification when pairing Chartreuse with a green-leaning yellow cord (“Antique Gold”) — which I doubt will come out accurately in a photograph (it didn’t come out on my monitor when I saw it online). I learned just how different the same gauge cord looks, when slightly brighter, and with slightly less green. I found that pairing a thread with a bead which is approximately the same color, doesn’t necessarily look monotone. I found that more rectangular-profile Japanese 6°s, like Miyuki rocailles, can actually work better for a sinnet application than Czech 6°s, which are rounder. I learned that the thread will tell me when I’m doing something different, when I don’t intend to: strange cord positions are obvious with a thread as stiff as TEX 400. I learned how to add an additional length of carrier cord. I also found that I probably shouldn’t always shy away from color-lined beads (although they’re known to be vulnerable to fading or other color change, over time).

And now I want to deal with this a different way. To know what I need, I need to work. To be satisfied, I need to work. And I have the time to do it, now. I will make time to do it, now.

I was not compensated in any way for writing this.

beading, beadwork, color, craft, design, macrame, seed beads

Swatching C-Lon gauges

From left to right: C-Lon TEX 400 with a 6/0 seed bead, C-Lon (standard) with 8/0 (blue) and 11/0 seed beads, and C-Lon Micro with 11/0 (purple) and 15/0 (opaque blue) seed beads.

Recently, I invested some time in knotting macramé, with the idea of posting images of it this morning, when I can photograph what I did in sunlight. I created some square knot sinnets with C-Lon TEX 400 (heavy weight), C-Lon (standard weight), and C-Lon Micro. I’ve posted them here so you can see some of the difference in scale between the different cord/thread weights.

Pretty obviously, the TEX 400 is way more substantial than Standard C-Lon. If I work at it, I can fit two strands of this through a size 6° seed bead (dark brown, left). I can fit two strands of Standard C-Lon (blue, center) through a size 8° bead. (Remember, the higher the number, the smaller the bead.) With the Micro, I can fit two strands (possibly more) through a size 11° seed bead, while it is also thin enough to fit one strand through a size 15° seed bead (light brown, right). I don’t have any samples of the Fine weight, so I can’t comment on that; but it is apparently somewhere between Standard and Micro.

I’ve put these square knot sinnets — two cords tied in square knots over two “carrier” cords of the same material — next to an American dime (the Web says this is about 18mm wide) for size reference.

I do realize now that I left out Miyuki Delicas in addition to Toho Treasures or Aikos (these are all Japanese cylinder beads which have larger holes relative to their size than comparable Japanese seed beads. I’m not immediately aware of the difference between Treasures and Aikos; they’re both made by Toho). I believe, however, that I only have Delicas…and possibly one vial of Treasures.

I can see possibilities for using the cords and beads right now…but I don’t know yet exactly how to get to the place that will fulfill that (or have a solid idea of my endpoint…which will likely evolve). I’ll have to puzzle it out in different iterations. What I can see now as a goal is probably just something I’ll have to keep in mind as motivation, and be open to re-visioning. I might also have to take notes on what I’m doing. There is a system of charting I know (as demonstrated in Macramé Pattern Book by Märchen Art Studio (2011), for example…though I have my homegrown version), but I’ve never used it for anything complicated.

The biggest hurdle, I think, is dealing with standard parts. That’s not as much of an issue now with fancy multiple-hole Czech glass beads on the market, but in designing jewelry, there is a “form” component as well as a “structure” component. By “form,” I mean the physical shape of the piece made, as though everything were made with the same color bead in a neutral color (different sizes and shapes allowed). By “structure,” I roughly mean thread path, connecting points, wirework, knotwork, thread terminations, and other functional architecture.

When you’re dealing with form and structure, things get more complex as one gains more different sizes and shapes of bead, and number and position of drill holes. If you have a collection of glass seed beads which goes back over the last 25 years, though…you probably have a lot of beads of the same style which are mostly just different in color, finish, and lining; but similar in physical form. Note I said, “similar,” not “identical.” (I might go out on a limb here and say no beads are truly identical…though Delicas, at least, come close.)

Alternating square-knot sinnet with 8/0 beads (left) and without (right).

That leads to…a somewhat limited number of outcomes for beadweaving or macramé, unless you get creative. Which is the point, right? It is possible to get really creative; but that means that patterns that teach you how to weave or knot are just where you begin. They teach you how the beads, thread, and knots work. Once you’ve got that, the rest is up to you.

Up until recently, though, form had been relatively…elusive for me, as a concept. I had focused much more on color and color interactions; probably because I started with loomwork and flat peyote stitch, as a child. It is the case that haphazard choice of color scheme can detract from a design…but attention to form and structure is also important. The thing is, it’s difficult to deal with the latter two without incorporating some color which alters perception of the piece: no bead is truly neutral.

In contrast, Silversmithing has been almost entirely about form and structure, for me. The main ways I can think of to incorporate color are through using 1) brass, copper or patina, the colors of all of which are naturally in flux; 2) heavy use of colored stones; or 3) enamel. It’s for this reason (among others) that I realized I had found a distinct strength in beadwork, which complemented my interest in color. (This may also be why I’m attracted to quilting.)

Last night, I also did an alternating square-knot sinnet sample with incorporated beads (right). It’s nothing complicated, but I wanted to record it. I’ve seen similar but different methods online…not that I’ve done them, but I can see different thread paths, and I know that means variation in construction.

Ah, I remember what I wanted to say! No one’s compensating me in any way, for writing this post.

craft, fabric, sewing

Sewing problems 01: fabric grain

Last night, I found something very interesting: the consequences of cutting and sewing strips across the lengthwise fabric grain, instead of with the lengthwise grain. I now have to scrap eight face-mask ties (or use tear-away stabilizer; even then, I’ve basically ruined one tie because holes are all punched in it) because they weren’t aligned correctly with the grain when I cut them. Because of that, the ties stretch and don’t sew correctly, getting pushed into the hole below the sewing needle, by the needle, itself.

M helped me troubleshoot last night, and this is what we discovered. I had thought I was sewing over a selvage (the edge of the weave) or something, and that this was why I was initially having such difficulty with the needle going through the fabric (the motor was stalling)…but I was also having difficulties with the feed and the flow of thread. The answer turned out to be the orientation of the grain of the fabric (which I didn’t know to watch out for, when I cut the pieces).

I did learn something from this.

It’s extremely similar to what happened with the good batik I tried to sew, causing me to wonder whether the problem was actually the fabric itself, or because I might have cut the ties cross-grain (across the bolt), instead of along the length of material. The symptoms are a noise the sewing machine makes (“pok pok pok” every time the needle drops), a tie that stretches and curves along its length, possible loops of thread above the sewing line, and the fabric puckering next to the needle (under the presser foot) every time the needle drops.

The trouble goes away (quiet, smooth sewing) when sewing other fabrics in other orientations, so we know it’s not the bobbin. (I earlier had to troubleshoot a bobbin: it was wound too loosely because I didn’t feed the thread in correctly, which resulted in weird noises and giant loops of thread on the back of the fabric. Reminisces of childhood. Solution: get another bobbin, use the poorly-wound one as a spool, and re-wind the new bobbin at the correct tension.)

It’s possible the effects aren’t so magnified when sewing garments, but these are ties, which are 3/4″ wide, at the most. (I’ve been eyeballing a width of about 6-7mm when I’ve turned in the edges…so they’re 1″ wide minus about 6mm to 7mm [a bit over 1/4″].)

If I’m correct, the grain of the fabric runs lengthwise down the bolt. Cutting across the grain is cutting across the shorter side of the fabric: the side which is scissored off of the bolt. Because I was using Fat Quarters especially, sometimes it’s difficult to tell where the selvage is…though I’ll be watching for it, now. At least one side should have a different edge, and that will be the selvage, and parallel to the lengthwise grain.

I should also be able to tell what grain to cut along by testing the fabric for stretch. M showed me the difference in stretchiness between the crosswise and lengthwise grain…lengthwise, the fabric doesn’t stretch. Widthwise (that is, crosswise: across the bolt), it does. Along the bias (at a 45° angle to both grains), stretch is maximum. When making ties, I want to cut and sew in the direction in which the fabric doesn’t stretch.

That might solve all of this. I’m not sure.

Knowing this, however, means that when I’m cutting ties out of the fabric I just obtained — which are not Fat Quarters, they’re 0.5 yard to 1.5 yard segments — I’ll likely need to cut the ties along the selvage, that is, along the length of the bolt. That should prevent these problems, but it also means that I may not be able to make 45″ long ties out of one length of fabric. That’s okay, so long as I don’t waste it…

I had been questioning, as well, whether the fabric folds more easily in one direction, than the other. I guess there’s no better way to answer that directly, than just trying it…

color, craft, fabric, fiber arts, sewing

Fabrics!!!

Remember how I mentioned that thing about having too many choices? I was partially referring to this:

A bunch of quilting cottons divided by color, into blue-greens, pinks, and purples.

And this:

Orange quilting cottons on the right, and a couple of cottons I don't like, on the left...

I obtained these after decimating my Fat Quarter stash for COVID-19 face masks. Of course, these will also be going (first) to COVID-19 face masks.

I’m still not certain whether to launder these before I begin cutting and sewing. It is tempting to wash everything, though that also means pressing everything. I don’t mind it, but it’s a lot of work, and this is a lot of fabric! The textures of the fabrics also change, and there may be differential shrinkage.

I’m almost scared to start, because I know that if I cut and construct one mask out of these, it may not last through the wash…though I have been encouraged to try making at least one mask and laundering it, to see what will happen. If it comes out poorly, then I wash everything else before cutting. If it comes out fine, then I don’t have to worry. I’m planning to tack on an extra 0.5″ to 0.75″, to account for shrinkage (the mask face should be approximately 6″x9″)…the thing is, the shrinkage via warp (length) versus via weft (width)…may not be the same. And it probably won’t be the same among all the fabrics.

I have extra yardage in the pink materials, so my first trial should come out of those…I had been planning to use the two fabrics on the left in the second photo, just because I like them least (with apologies to the designers). However, I have less of each blue and green Kona cotton (first photo, top left, plain fabrics), in exchange for more shades of those colors.

Six sets of mask cottons, ready to sew.

Ahh, decisions…

(I probably should be saying, “Ahh, inexperience…”)

I have nearly run out of the Fat Quarters I used for my initial masks. I basically slaughtered my initial stash, because I needed to. They were willing sacrifices of quilting cotton.

The cuts on the left are what I have had matched up, though I only have a few of these left to sew, and I’ve rearranged some of the pairings. Because they are all from 1/4-yard cuts, I wasn’t able to make two long ties as versus four short ones.

However…that could be rectified in what I’m about to get into.

I haven’t sewn in about two days. I think I’m still getting over the shock of the new fabrics. If I’m correct, all in all I’ve made about 16 masks, so far. What I don’t use on masks is going into quilts; I already have an interesting idea laid out, though I can’t right now find the image file of the quilt block I designed. It’s basically based on paper-folding…I can’t find the relevant post right now, though.

I really need to start an “origami” tag…and/or a “quilting” tag…

Oh hey, look. ;)

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

Beads and cords: returning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…