beading, craft, fiber arts, macrame, seed beads, self care

Recovery

Today has been a good day in light of the fact that I felt terrible, last night, and apparently got terrible sleep. I’ve been dealing with mood issues; last night it was irritability and anger. I recognized my thoughts being warped. I hijacked the train of thought with ice cream, which stopped the rumination (brain freeze may do that), and went back to bed, then woke around 5:30 AM. I stayed up several hours, then went back to sleep, to wake in the early afternoon…or, approximately around the time the mail came.

Unexpectedly, I got a delivery of beads…which was nice! It’s amazing how happy little colored bits of glass can make me. :) So I spent some time going through that order and putting things away…I realize that I probably need to make some kind of official system so that I know (or can predict) where things are. I bought a bunch of beading needles specifically because I had stashed away all of my unused fine needles in a single place I couldn’t recall (!).

Of course, I found them later. :) After the order had gone in. Right now, the new ones are stashed with them (in a now labeled compartment on top of my toolbox) in an empty medicine bottle. It’s a good way to keep them from being damaged. This time, I got a bunch of twisted wire needles (they’re great for what I’m doing, where the size of the thread may prohibit using a standard needle), and some size #11 and #12 solid beading needles. To note: apparently, the grading of solid-metal (standard?) beading needles and twisted-wire beading needles is not the same. Below, I’m just talking about the solid ones.

Typically, for what I’ve historically done: size #10 is the biggest I would want to go to when doing something like beadweaving, where you’re dealing with multiple thread passes through the same hole, and you’re dealing with size 11° seed beads or larger. (Remember, bead sizes have higher numbers, the smaller they are; so an 8° is larger than an 11° but smaller than a 6°.)

Needle size #11 is a bit more versatile, being slightly thinner, and size #12 is for fine applications. Higher than that — up to size #13 or #15, and the needles’ eyes get very small (meaning they need finer thread: 4-lb. FireLine comes to mind, but I haven’t tried it with a #13 in a very long time [if at all]), and the needles themselves can be a bit more fragile (though the last time I had a needle break on me was years ago [they get brittle when repeatedly drawn through tight openings: the phenomenon is known by the term, “work-hardening,” and happens in metalwork as well] — usually it’s the bead breaking, instead).

I’ve only rarely had to use a #13 or #15. Maybe never, a #15. :) I know of applications where I might need a #15, but I haven’t had to face that yet, thankfully! Of course, I do know that for other beaders, more delicate may be their style…I wouldn’t work all in tiny beads for no reason, though. That’s because tiny, tiny seed beads (smaller than size 15° — I have some, but haven’t used them [I’m thinking they may be great for lace]) can be hard to see, and my vision isn’t fantastic at the outset. I’ve started to actually need my glasses, just to avoid eye strain on the daily.

Of course, twisted wire needles are a different animal; these are just lengths of fine wire — usually brass or steel — that have been folded in half and twisted together. The benefit of these is that they’re flexible, their eyes are huge compared to standard beading needles (they compress when drawn through a bead), and, being blunt, they make it nearly impossible to harm oneself. As I mentioned above, though: their size grading is distinct from that of standard beading needles. I don’t know much about their sizing system currently, which is why I’m holding back, here.

If I were teaching — I’m not, but if I were — I would teach with twisted wire needles, or with self-needles (stiffened thread ends; the stiffener can be nail polish, Fray Check, probably even a glue that dries clean and hard. Just make sure it’s dry before you snip the end off the thread). When working with sharp needles and pins…drawing blood is an inevitability. Eliminating sharp objects is one of the best ways not to get stuck, or not to have to deal with blood…which can get dangerous in a group situation. I try to assume biohazard from the start.

Anyhow…I have nice needles, now. :)

I’m also feeling a bit better about work, which tells me that my freaking out about it is probably related to mental health issues (germ phobia, paranoia, feeling unsafe in public), much more than anything objectively existent. It’s nice to be aware about these things. I know that people often don’t like to talk about this stuff, but it makes me feel better to know that there is a reason (or are reasons) why my thinking can become distorted, as versus no explanation. I think mass panic would try even a healthy person, and it’s been made fairly clear to me that my having to deal with one or more mental disorders, is not my fault. So I’m feeling safer, today. Well: tonight. :)

My family and I have done a lot of work around this.

Hmm. So…I’m pretty sure that it was right after I put everything away, that I started practicing micro-macramé again. I know that I need to practice with this stuff if I want to know what I can do with it. I also need to practice, in order to discern what it is I’ll actually use. And if I don’t want to practice with it, it isn’t worth buying more of it.

So…today, I was working on a sample with C-Lon Fine. I actually put some beads onto the cord and practiced knotting below those, too…which came out surprisingly well. I’m getting more skill with the cords, and with my tension. I’ve noticed that I don’t have to pull everything absolutely tight for the knots to hold, and that sometimes it’s better that I don’t.

I also started a sample using Standard C-Lon, with the same pattern and same number of starting cords as the Fine sample, trying to see the difference in scale…I only got so far, though, before my hands started to hurt too much to do more. (In turn, I worked with this today because I knew I’d lose my callouses if I avoided knotting for much longer.)

I’m doing this in part to see the difference between Fine and Standard gauge…the thicker the cords get, the more colors they come in. The thing is…the Fine can really easily accommodate size 11° seed beads…which I love. They’re what I started out with, and what I have the largest collection of. They’re also really tiny and delicate. Way tiny, to an adult sensibility! I can also fit two strands of the Fine through a 4mm Fire-Polished bead…if the one I used, is a 4mm, and not a 3mm. I’d have to get my calipers out, to be sure…the one I used for the sample was purchased years ago, possibly decades ago.

I just didn’t want to use anything that I’d use in a real piece of jewelry…those things can become precious because of scarcity. This is also why I’m using some pretty questionable color combinations in my knotting: there are some colors that are so high-risk that it’s hard to think about what they would actually look like, in jewelry! Though…I do think some people love high-risk color combinations. :)

The Standard sample…I haven’t tried yet, with beads. But I don’t think the Standard cords will accommodate beads smaller than 11°, though I know for a fact that they accommodate 8°s and 6°s, very, very well. What I didn’t expect: I think the Standard sample is taking up cord much faster than the Fine sample, did…

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, craft, creativity, design, seed beads

Design work: Embellished Tri Stitch

It’s actually fairly amazing, the things that come from just playing around with beads. I was able to get back to my design work, today. In the process, I was able to test out some S-Lon beading thread that I got a while back from General Bead, and to cut into one of my half-hanks of size 8/0 Czech seed beads.

The thing about beadwork is that it’s not always feasible to start out with a drawing, and assume that the drawing will work out into a real-world prototype which will mirror the drawing exactly. The dimensions and shapes of beads are just too precise, or sometimes idiosyncratic. I’ve found that even with beads which I assume are from the same manufacturer (for example, 3mm Miyuki-brand magatama drop beads), the shapes and sizes are not exactly the same. The exception to this could be if my supplier has at least two different sources for beads which are sold under the same name. Until I visited General Bead, though, the only types of teardrop-style seed beads I knew of were Czech fringe beads, and Miyuki 3mm Magatamas.

Embellished tri-chain swatch.

Tonight I was working with Tri Stitch, which I tried to reteach to myself before I finally realized I was beginning the chain wrong (I was looping through all three beads to begin, instead of just two), and had to resort to looking at instructions to begin. My source: Seed bead stitching: Creative variations on traditional techniques, by Beth Stone, © 2007.

The reason that the photo here doesn’t look like much is that this sample is tiny — about three inches long — and not only did I have to deal with troublesome light sources (it’s night) and difficulty focusing (the colors here are washed out, and none of my photos came out crisp, probably because I was too close), but the beads I used were mostly from a set of beads that I’ve set aside because they are either 1) the most inexpensive beads I had in a certain shape and size, 2) the beads have gotten dusty from sitting out too long and thus I’m disinclined to use them in jewelry someone will wear (without washing), or 3) the beads are likely to fade because of the method of their coloring.

The larger turquoise beads are my least-expensive and easiest-to-replace Czech 8/0s, while the drop beads at the top are color-lined, meaning they have, in this case, a bronzish paint on the inside of their hole which may change color or fade. The beads at the bottom? The amber ones are Czech 11/0s left over from some forgotten project, while the picots (loops) are size 15/0 Medium Topaz Toho beads which I used as a test to see whether the silver lining would come out.

I have another set of 15/0s (unknown brand, old) which are slightly lighter, but their silver linings shed on my fingertips– I was trying to see if it was due to age or the abrasion of the Big-Eye Needle I used. I think it was the needle. Big-Eyes have two spring-steel wires soldered together and sharpened; they’re easy to thread and use, but they aren’t as smooth to the inside of a bead’s piercing(s) as regular beading needles. They also tend to shred one’s thread into its constituent fibers, and jam up. This is magnified when using a bead as small as 15/0. It also isn’t (as much of) an issue with a regular beading needle.

I went through three swatches before I got the above (the trials were fairly…well, learning experiences). I found out relatively early that I would have to use Czech beads for some aspects of this pattern, because the Japanese 8/0 beads I first tried were far too cylindrical to nestle into each other properly. I keep saying that Czech beads are more donut-shaped…this causes them to be friendlier to stitches like Tri Stitch and Right-Angle Weave, because the edges of the beads have more rounded transitions between the walls and the tops and bottoms.

I also didn’t expect at all to have a place to use size 15/0 beads, but for little delicate embellishments like picots, they’re perfect. These are Tohos, which are a Japanese brand, which doesn’t matter all that much, in context. I do have some Czech size 13/0, but the Czech beads can get so tiny (down to the size where they look like sand) that it’s really either amazing or discouraging. :) Maybe both. I have Czech 13/0s that look just as small as Japanese 15/0s.

Yeah, I don’t know, either.

It was good to get back to this, today. I find it slightly strange that work done in design is unpredictable at the point of beginning. That is, I may have an idea of what I want in mind, but the plan has to evolve for anything to get done, especially when dealing with beads (which are pre-made, and thus have their dimensions already determined; the skill and fun comes in where one figures out how to fit them together in some way that looks nice, is durable, and isn’t a mess).

As for the S-Lon beading thread…I like it enough to consider buying C-Lon beading thread, which I’ve heard is basically the same thing. It still shreds if abused, but not as easily as Nymo (which used to be industry-standard). I know where to find both brands (different sources)…I’m just not sure which, or how many, colors to get. Having too many color choices can be as bad as having too few. In any case, I was using an olive tone of thread tonight, and it doesn’t look bad, really. I mean, it’s not black or white or red, which are the colors which would stand out most. I think that because the beads I used were greenish, and the thread was greenish and muted, it dropped back nicely.

I did just get a bunch of C-Lon Micro Cord, which I’ve wanted to use for micromacrame, but haven’t gotten the chance to play with it yet, what with job applications, and graduation, and reading, and my own continuing study. Maybe I should make it a priority to have days where I work with my beads, or paints, or on my writing…