beading, beadweaving, beadwork, craft, glass beads, jewelry design, seed beads, self care, writing

D was right…

I need to make a “short list” of things I can do. I had to look it up, but a, “short list,” in this context, is basically high-priority activity. Highest priority, recently, has been working on a paper for my Subject Analysis course. Of course, that’s easier to align my energies to than to actually do, but I have forgotten that I know how to research, and I know how to write — and how to learn. I spent a while today working on this paper, and luckily, I only have less than a page of new content that I’ll need to add (depending on what my instructor specifies — I may not have to add any).

It wouldn’t be so stressful, except for the fact that it is the largest single assignment in the class, and it’s due soon. I also know myself, and I know that I freeze up with big projects and deadlines which are too close to complete the ingest and synthesis processes. However, that anxiety has pushed me to do some review and some research today, which led in turn to gaining things to write about in this paper. So it’s very good that I didn’t put it off, because by the looks of things, I may be done by tomorrow.

Then I can get back to Statistics (which I’ve been putting off, as the projects only have “soft” due dates), and…well, maybe I can get some beadwork done.

I have a couple of beading projects which are basically frozen, right now — though the beads that came on the 21st did give me what I needed to finish one project pretty much seamlessly. The piece uses a lot of violet and green iris beads, maybe too many; I received a set of 4mm green iris fire-polished (FP) beads which will work great where I have placeholders, right now.

Yeah, using opaque pastel mint green FP beads didn’t work out great, once I could piece together what the chain would look like. :)

So…now I need to re-weave the front portion and re-string the sides and back. That may be easier said than done, as I had a difficult time keeping the pattern straight when stringing it, the first time. It would also be interesting if I had less flashy druks (these are your basic round pressed-glass beads); right now this thing is reminding me of New Orleans and Mardi Gras (only the beads will break, if they hit the ground).

There’s also the issue of what thread to use. I’m thinking either C-Lon Micro (for toughness) or K.O./Miyuki (for width), mostly because I have a bunch of both, and because I know that Nymo (which was industry-standard about 20 years ago) is prone to fraying with extended use. FireLine (gel-spun polyethylene) is another good option…the reason I’m not using it at the moment is that I’m not sure what weight I have (the last of my 4-lb. test, I used on the trial necklace), and I know for a fact that it doesn’t knot well.

Things that don’t knot well…are difficult to tie off?

Well, it’s also relatively expensive, and limited in color choice. The reason to get it is for durability (this is the one thread which I know from experience, will stand up to beadweaving with bugle beads [which have sharp edges], for example); the inability to split the thread; its lack of stretch; and its fineness.

I can hear you wondering about WildFire, which I’m thinking would also stand up to sharp glass edges. In my (limited) experience with WildFire, I’ve found it to be a bit thick — and white — meaning that this thread will show up in beadweaving. I’ve seen people color it with permanent marker, which I wouldn’t advise: “Permanent” markers aren’t that permanent, and I’ve seen some of the damage at least Sharpies can do to their substrate.

I’m thinking of a particular post I think I saw several years ago, where the artist in question had drawn pages and pages of comics using black Sharpies, and what was left was faded out and brown. I think it may have been this blog post. For what it’s worth, I think I’ve also seen corrosion of the surrounding paper around Sharpie marks, but I’m not sure about that: I can’t directly and precisely recall the images or writings. Nor can I recall where I would have been using Sharpie heavily, other than in one Painting class and one Drawing class.

I’ve been gradually replacing my vial labels which were made with white masking tape and Sharpie — I’m now using washi tape, as I’ve found the white masking tape has adhesive that degrades and sticks even when the paper component is removed. Many of these labels are really hard to read. (I mean, sure, the vial only cost maybe $0.45, but still.) As for when I wrote that stuff…I’m sure it pre-dates my spreadsheets, because prices and quantities aren’t always recorded. It’s just like, “2,” for: “there are two strands in this vial.” These days, I know that the strands I was recording likely had 45-50 beads on them…back then, did I?

Anyhow, WildFire does come in colors besides white and black, now, and FireLine does as well. I may have been out of the circuit a while, but I’m finding photos of jewel-tone FireLine from one online outlet? Hmm. Kind of scared to research that…

So there is that thread component to the one “Mardi Gras”-looking necklace, that I have to take care of.

Then there is the Pacific-looking pearl necklace. I ended up getting a through-drilled pearl for the center of this (not a big deal to replace it, as it wasn’t Baroque)…mounting a half-drilled pearl wasn’t as easy as I expected it to be. Particularly, if you’ve got a 1 mm hole and you’re trying to fit a threaded up-eye (a ring with a screw on it) into the hole…that thread may just lever off the top layers of your pearl, as versus drilling downward.

I know. It’s sad. I do have a bead cap I can cover it with, but only in silver. As for silver wire — who sells 1mm-wide wire? Ah: that’s 18-gauge, from a quick lookup. Regardless, I don’t have wire that thick in either silver or silvertone, and the bead caps (the little “hats” that can cover the damage, in this instance) are silvertone.

Well. That was me messing up from inexperience, right there.

There’s also a bronze-and-green necklace which I should just finish, regardless of the fact that I won’t be able to sell it because it’s a prototype. It also has a damaged pendant — a through-drilled stone donut which fractured when the unnecessary drill holes were being put into place. Right now, it’s being held together by wire and cord. I posted about this project on a different blog, a very long time ago, but it has been stalled, likely for years. That’s majorly due to the fact that I was thinking my design wasn’t “creative” enough.

But I need to separate out what’s in that bin, and get things back to their proper places, so that I can move on — and see what I actually have.

Then there is the Citrine/Smoky Quartz necklace, or necklace/earring set, I’m not sure which at this point. I think that one’s in a box of its own.

On top of that, I have a woven bracelet which is now too short for me…about halfway done. I was planning to weave a button for the closure, but had concerns that people would see it on me and want one like it. That’s a problem, because the button is not my pattern. It just tops things off, really really well. I have the instructions (from a magazine) and the components…the rest of it is me (inspired by Julia Pretl’s ladder-stitch work in Beaded Collars). And I think I can do it better than last time (particularly at both ends), especially with more extensive choices for beads I can use. (I just…hate to cut apart all that FireLine!)

Really…what would happen if I didn’t use bugles? I need to spend some more time in design with that one, I’m thinking. Particularly since I don’t like the bugles bunching up. What they were doing was making wide, parallel lines across the wrist, and there’s more than one way to do that. (Three-drop peyote stitch? I could incorporate a pattern, then…)

Design is just one of those things which…well, no one really taught me how to do. I’ve just found out that it’s much quicker to go through multiple design iterations in pencil, and then make the work, than it is to try and build something from an idea, without having fleshed it out first.

Aside from that…I think the only other in-progress project is something I was attempting to make out of various pinks and violets. It would be woven and bead-embroidered, meaning I’m hoping to capture a cabochon in a seed-bead bezel, which I’ve only done once before (and that was a Swarovski Rivoli).

Yeah, that one: save that for last?

That’s enough, I think. Seriously. Gah.

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, craft, design, glass beads, jewelry design, seed beads

Design work: Tri Stitch using C-Lon Micro Cord

For several hours, I worked last night on a design prototype for someone close to me. I got to use the new C-Lon Micro Cord that I got, not so long ago…and I’m honestly pretty amazed.

I was going to make an embellished Tri Stitch chain that is longer on the outside than at the core — when this is done, a ruffle or spiral should occur (the latter, if the twist is guided, instead of just left to bunch up). However, dealing with making the prototype out of the C-Lon Micro Cord, I found that it is really sturdy! That is, it’s really structurally more solid than when I use thread. It also doesn’t warp as easily. That said, I also have to watch my tension so that everything locks in, but so it’s still not too tight; there is a bit of stretch in the cord (even after pre-stretching) which can shrink up and distort the work. It’s reminiscent of Silamide (which I don’t use for this precise reason), but not as extreme.

What I didn’t realize until starting was that if I wanted to make a knotted or beaded bail at the center, I should do this at the center of the cord, before beginning the weave. Also, when using 8/0 beads, especially when using more than one color, it isn’t really necessary to embellish the chain.

Tri Stitch design work and experimentation. How much time would I have to do this if this were my main source of income?

I’ve switched from opaque turquoise and silverlined light topaz (left vertical portion), to silverlined teal and multiple colors of drop beads, ranging from chartreuse through green, to teal (diagonal right portion). Accidentally, I tested them out in a size gradation which was also a color gradation; right now I’m thinking of making the chain with that gradation as part of the design. The big thing is making it match a pendant that the recipient wanted to include. I think that if I make a beaded bail, I’ll want to loop back around the top of it with a drop spacer, in order to fix it into a V-position as regards the rest of the chain.

I’m not sure how much cord I’ll need to reserve in order to create something 16″-18″ long. Usually, in micromacramé, I use three armspans of cord (1.5 armspans for each doubled cord), but that’s for a bracelet — like 7″ long — with knotting, and plenty to spare. It would also be using standard size C-Lon, which is about 0.5 mm wide (from my own measurements). C-Lon Micro Cord is about 0.2 mm wide. Tri Stitch loops back on itself continually like a backstitch; it isn’t knotted, but I’m not sure of the amount of overlap, geometrically. It should also vary based on the length of the bead piercings.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been straight beadweaving!

Logically, I should be able to work the needed cord length out by weaving a measured amount (in Metric), then cutting the ends, undoing the work, and measuring the difference between the finished chain and the thread that went through it, then using the two measurements compared as a ratio. I would take the final desired length and compare that to the aforementioned ratio, leaving me free to solve for x, which would be the amount of cord I would need without additional handling length.

And yeah, I am kind of amazed at how I worked that out (I remember it from learning stoichiometry in Chemistry). It wouldn’t be as clean if I were using several different kinds of beads, though; I’d need to factor in extra room for play.

If I were doing this for money…it would have to be an addendum to my regular work. I couldn’t take this long to design in a micro-business environment where I were being timed, and I were trying to make a living off of it. (I could, however, do this if I were a commercial Designer and not an Artisan, though that’s a fine [negligible] distinction in my current setup.)

Right now, I’ve got to decide on overall length, color placement, and how I’m going to fit a wire bail onto the pendant I’ve got. Looking at it, it’s pretty evident that what’s on there now (a handmade open jump ring) can come off. Because of the pendant’s formation, I need to use an ice-pick bail style, which isn’t the most secure thing (but the pendant [which isn’t mine] isn’t the most sturdy thing, either). Because of this, I’ll want to make sure the pendant is not integrated into the chain, so that if the pendant breaks or is lost, my recipient will still be able to use the necklace portion.

I had thought of doing this an entirely different way, last night…but I realized today that to do what I had been planning on doing, I would need to weave half the chain, then put protective knotting at its base, and go back through the chain a second time to reinforce and hide the thread end. I am using 8/0s, but I have doubts about how many passes of this cord these beads can take. Given the heaviness of the cord, as well (which is still wider than most bead threads, including Power Pro), it’s sturdy enough as it is. Going through it twice would be overkill.

Alright, I’m posting this now. Time to get back to work!

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…