art, beading, beadwork, craft, design, jewelry design

Speculation

Craft, art, and design

And yes, I do see that all three of those words can look negative. :) In the sense of, “artifice,” I mean; or, “craftiness,” or, “making designs,” on something or someone. It seems the English language doesn’t trust creativity too much. ;) The below may be overanalysis of my own work; I can’t really tell. People just say I try to analyze things too much…

For reasons that would likely be understandable if I were to relate them, I’ve been away from this blog for about two weeks. A lot of this has to do with breaking out of my habit of writing about life instead of actually living it. In particular…I’ve been doing more beadwork than is normal for me. I wouldn’t call it, “a lot of beadwork,” though it probably would be so by the measure of most people.

There are a number of skills which go into beadwork: there’s an element which reminds me of my engineering projects from when I was a kid (what fits together?); there’s the color element; the attention to detail; hazard awareness (fire, chemicals, flying metal, pointy things); and problem-solving. I’m getting more of an understanding of the process of design, where you have basically an infinite number of paths, a smaller number of paths which will work, and an even smaller amount which accomplish your goals at the same time as they work. Right now I’m looking at jewelry as wearable art…it just makes more sense to me.

There are a number of things being at the bench (or table) recently, has taught me…prime among them that the work requires just the basic task of showing up and putting in hours. That’s something I was told in the Art Program…that the greater part of success is tenacity, not talent. Talent really doesn’t mean much if it isn’t applied. That advice isn’t specific to one art; it’s just kind of a truism. It applies to every art I’ve dealt with. Every art, regardless of medium.

I also think I’m beginning to understand the difference between art and craft, and art and design…though it’s slow going. “Art” denotes many more decision-points than craft, while craft can be generated from a design with no loss of its craft status, and design is generated out of a set of basic restrictions that can’t be violated.

I’m still figuring it out, as I have been for years (I’m in no way an authority on this); but it’s interesting to meditate on while making something I’ve never made before, and which I know I’ve never seen before, which no one taught me how to make. That mode is basically art and design, or design + engineering. The “art” part comes in when I’m trying to cognize what my next step could be; while “design” comes in when I’m trying to figure out what will work in this context. If I were doing it from the perspective of following someone else’s directions toward a predetermined endpoint, that’s craft — until I start going into unknown territory, where art and design factor in.

As I see it currently, it’s like this: generativity (art) + constraints (design) + technique (craft) = production (of…?). I hope I’ve got that somewhere in the ballpark of reality — no one taught me this. I’ve seen people make sculptures with beads, so we aren’t limited to jewelry in what we can make, in terms of beaded objects. (I deleted a term, “possibilities”, above, as regards art, and just wanted to mention it here, in case it turns out to matter.)

Anyhow: beadwork contains all three of these things. I obviously started off as a crafter (everyone has to learn the basics of needle, thread, beads, and wire; and most people learn from books, tutorials, and maybe other people), but if I keep going in this direction, I could be more thoroughly an artist and designer in the same field. That is, there’s nothing about beadwork that makes it inherently a, “craft,” and not an, “art,” as I’m looking at it, now.

However: If I wrote a book to tell others exactly how I did what I did, so they can do exactly what I do, without holding my reasons for doing so as organizing elements in the background of their thoughts; then I would be a designer, and the reader would be a crafter — if they followed the directions to the letter. Working my design would give them an insight into how I do things, but it won’t teach them how they do things. (Trust me, they can be different, and likely should be, if one is following their own aesthetic drive, personality, and experience.) It may only lead them closer to an understanding of how and why they were attracted to the work, and what they would change: and that can slingshot them off onto a trajectory of becoming an artist.

If they played with the design I gave them, and changed some things, that might be considered derivative work: but I should note that playing with designs in this way is often expected, and sometimes encouraged. Especially if a beadwork design is super-simple (like a specific, unremarkable version of an extremely common stitch which is demonstrated for the purposes of teaching), it’s unrealistic for a designer to claim ownership of it. After you’ve been doing this for a while, you can see when someone is just demonstrating because they want to broaden your approach to the work; not saying that they’ll sue you if you copy any of their versions. Unless I overestimate the benevolence of the author/teacher, that was never the point.

That’s…still, not legal advice. None of this can be; I’m not qualified to give it. But there are many authors who write books for the purposes of teaching. Not the purposes of litigation.

Now if this new beader, with the knowledge of the mechanics of the stitches they’ve learned, takes what they know about the function of each motion and anchor in beadwork to create something totally new that can’t necessarily and clearly be documented or slotted as, “right-angle weave,” or, “two-drop peyote,” or, “herringbone,” or, “brick stitch,” for example, then that looks clearly like artist territory to me. If they document their work and teach others how to make the exact same thing they made, given that it’s not the exact same (or close to the exact same, or derived from the exact same) pattern someone else taught them, then they would seem to be designers.

I should note, though, that it can take quite a while to reach that stage. I’m just starting to draw out simple legible patterns now, and I’ve been at this for over 25 years.

In other words: there’s way more that can be done in beaded jewelry than what published patterns demonstrate. One’s ability to see these possibilities depends one one’s horizons and familiarity with other crafts (techniques) which can and should intermesh, if one can find a way to do so and still create a strong product. We aren’t stuck with just stringing and beadweaving, that is: there are also wirework, knitting (including colorwork) and crochet, knotting (including micromacramé), lacemaking, embroidery, ceramics, leatherwork; and even silversmithing can theoretically be integrated, though I haven’t yet tried it. I also wonder about enameling…but I’ve not practiced that; I’ve only seen it in action. Then, there’s lapidary…for those special few who can actually work (and want to work) that field.


Swarovski Professional

I have wanted to mention something about Swarovski ending its sales of beads to the craft community with the anticipated shutdown of Swarovski Professional. Sam of Wescott Jewelry published something on this about 10 days ago: the comments in that thread, substantiate the rumors. I won’t repeat that thread here; hop on over to Wescott Jewelry for more information.

Since that time, I’ve been taking an in-depth look at Swarovski offerings and prices. What I can say is that I found another warning on this from 2016, and a third from 2013, which makes me wonder if we’re being subject to market manipulation, more than an actual threat. I’ve also been doing some digging around possible alternatives.

I haven’t used cut crystal beads so much in the past, because 1) they’re expensive; 2) they’re sharp, and can cut thread a bit more easily than I’d like. However: finding out that Swarovski is reportedly planning to discontinue distribution of their beads, led me to get some while I could. There are a lot of woven “recipes” (designs) which rely on tiny bicones, for example.

What I can say is that attempting to “stock up” doesn’t seem like an altogether cost-effective measure. Especially if one generally doesn’t use them, anyway. “Stocking up,” in this sense, is more like, “getting a sampler set,” because one won’t be able to truly stock up on this stuff if they’re moving a lot of inventory and don’t already know the colors they’ll use. (Or, as in my case, are unwilling to drop thousands of dollars on buying up existing stock for some as-yet-unknown purpose.) It’s possible to use up over 100 3mm beads on one St. Petersburg chain bracelet alone (though that’s a casual estimation; which you all should know I’m not great at, by now). With Swarovski as expensive as it is already, that means the cost of said bracelet is going to be, well, high. That, in turn, probably doesn’t matter too much, unless you intend to sell it.

In my case, I have heavily used Czech fire-polished glass beads, which I’ve experimented with minorly over the past couple of days (particularly looking at Right-Angle Weave), and they look different, but not inferior. It’s kind of like using a CzechMates Tile instead of a Miyuki Tila: the hard lines aren’t there, and maybe you don’t want them to be there.

The major difference between glass and crystal, however, is fire. Austrian crystal just reflects a lot of light, and can make glass look dull, next to it.

The big thing I can see coming up is a lack of replacement for Swarovski’s rose montées, which have perpendicular drill spaces that allow special design options. However: there are also Czech glass versions of these…and to be honest, getting a “silver-plated” rose montée doesn’t really reek of quality to me, when the only base (i.e. non-precious) metal in the piece is on the Austrian crystal component. Which may tarnish, I don’t know yet. But I’d rather the back be Sterling-filled or Sterling (or Fine) silver, so that the customers wouldn’t have to worry about rubbing the silver off when polishing it. Which I predict will need to happen. Because it’s just silver-plate.

I mean, if we’re going to make the stuff, shouldn’t we make it well?

From my own comparisons: Swarovski is reliably more expensive than Preciosa, for example (I’m going to avoid a ballpark comparison; it’s viewable online), which offers comparable crystal components. I have some Preciosa crystals, and they don’t disappoint me in terms of color or cut, though I have yet to try weaving with them.

Where Preciosa doesn’t touch Swarovski at this moment is in the wider range of colors, cuts, and special finishes that the latter currently offers. However: the consumer very much pays for this variety. In terms of cost for comparable merchandise, Swarovski cannot compete with Preciosa.

Then there is Chinese cut crystal, which I don’t have much experience with, other than some components I’ve purchased at craft stores — which are beautiful; it’s just that they’re a bit large and gaudy for my taste (they have a tendency to out-sparkle everything else). I am thinking, however, that both Preciosa and the Chinese crystal producers are going to rush into the void left by Swarovski. Plus, Swarovski is likely to put some manufacturers out of work…who will know how to make the stuff, even if they don’t have the capital to buy the machines to make the stuff.

For now, I don’t know what to say about this, so far as any recommendations go; I wouldn’t have even known it was happening, except for contacts online. I did, however, want to say something…

Business, jewelry, money, organization

Additional income stream?

Now I am, again, thinking of selling my beadwork. Not because I have to, but because I can, and just probably, should. On top of that, even though I’m getting paid more at work, it’s still not enough to survive on. I still basically have to live with other people, because it costs so much to live here and because of my apparent economic developmental stage. (If someone has used the term before, I’m not intending to use their definition; I’m just saying that I’ve never had a full-time job with benefits and a living wage. I still don’t, and I think that’s something I’ve just got to figure out or experience, and see if I can handle it.)

Over the weekend (well…my weekend, given my schedule), I went to a bead convention and stocked up on…a lot of beads. As recently as two days before the event, I had resolved not to go, because I knew I would spend. Then I was unable to pick up a Substitute position for Friday, and it seemed a bit serendipitous.

Am I glad I went? Yes. Do I miss what I spent? Not yet. I’ll still have opportunities to pick up more work before the holidays, and I still have more than I did at my best times working just above minimum wage.

I also spent about what I would normally spend in two or three trips to the bead store.

I suppose that kind of puts it into perspective.

Tonight, Saturday night, I’ve been logging the actual items I got and how much they cost. Yesterday, I logged my receipts (there weren’t too many). So…I’m beginning to see how I could or might make a database, should I care to. I mean, just for practice and kicks. I could have a table for suppliers, one for receipts, one for my purchases within those receipts, one for sales (that gets deeper, if I want to track and keep clients), one for cost and description of items, likely one or two for taxes…at least, so I think without really writing it down or planning it out or getting back a seller’s permit (yet).

The latter impacts taxes (a seller’s permit allows me to pay taxes after sale of my items, not at point of purchase of materials to make those items; it also can allow me discounts) and also the initial outlay of funds. Then there are other costs, like setting up a P.O. Box and a Web presence, and maybe finding a photographer. ;)

The thing with databases is that in design, I’ve got to look at desired functionality, first. Because I haven’t handled things on the financial side so much, I mean particularly where it comes to taxes on gross income (State and Federal income; M handled it), I’m not totally sure about all sides of this. That is, I’m not sure of all the requirements.

I’m actually not even sure if I should use Etsy or maybe put some stuff up there and have my own web domain, as well. A lot of people I’ve seen, have been using Square for payment transactions, which makes me feel a little better. I had seen a lot of negative reviews for Square as well, but…it is the Internet; not everything is what it looks like. I’ve also historically been looking at web hosts, which is, well, really important. I’ve had one in mind which uses Square, but backed off of it after I read multiple complaints about people having their Square accounts frozen. However…like I said, I’ve seen a lot of people using it.

There’s also the point that I tend to avoid Etsy personally, because my computer sometimes acts like it’s picked up a bug after I visit. It’s a reason I might not sell there, if I can’t even look at things without having to run a series of scans afterward just to get things back to normal. Since adwcleaner also started removing bloatware, I’ve also become wary of using that tool too much or unnecessarily (out of fear it will remove my utilities, although one of mine spontaneously started working again).

But yeah, I guess that’s what happens when you actually use your computer.

Anyhow. Tonight was all about trying to organize the table that looked like a windstorm hit it, and I think I did a fairly good job. I had to log things before I could put them away, or risk not logging them. Thus, not knowing how much anything cost — which kind of puts a wrench into my pricing, by my not knowing if I’m losing money or gaining it. I’m getting better; I’m actually attempting to log quantities now, along with prices. :P (I need both, for the prices to have any validity.)

I feel bad about this as well, but I may have to want to look for additional storage. I know a place where I can get some sweet little boxes which were $0.50 each, the last time I found them. The problem is that…well, what good is storage if you don’t use the things you stored. I mean, it isn’t entirely about collecting. But the things I have in the little boxes are mostly “bead soup” (mixed colors and sizes of bead, in this case), and they are, amazingly, some of the most interesting and inspiring parts of everything I have.

I’ve also got to consider taking out — I mean just taking out some of these vials of beads that I feel I’m never going to use, and re-purposing the vials with things I think I will use, or want to use. The question becomes, then, am I actually not going to use those other beads, or was it just a lack of artistic vision, or aesthetic error which caused me to cull them? Sometimes later additions to a collection will make beads that I thought I’d never use, something I would consider using, in an updated palette.

Then again, that doesn’t entirely justify having them take up space in my main storage. I could just as easily put those 10 grams of beads that would have been in a vial, into a plastic bag, and throw them in a different storage area…kind of like the surplus of size 6/0 beads I got a while back, which came in temporary sealed plastic (can I even call them bags?).

Since, though, I’ve actually bought pairs of earrings which were between $50-$70 from local artisans…I can see that if I make things people want (and don’t want to make, or can’t make, or which wouldn’t be cost-effective to make, themselves), I do have a chance of at least recouping my losses by selling beaded jewelry, if not making a profit. It probably won’t be as large an income stream as I would get just by being salaried, but I could occupy myself and build my skill — and not, you know, just have a total loss from buying beads with what I do earn from my job.

beading, beadwork, color, craft, creativity, glass beads, jewelry design, seed beads, tatting

Still got it?

Here I finished two strands of the necklace by threading them through a wire coil, then back where they came from. I knotted them off and cemented them.
Tying off the two lines to end the work.

I recently completed a necklace, an 18″ design made of fire-polished glass, MiniDuos, 11/0 seed beads, and 11/0 Delica seed beads (which are slightly smaller). To create the structure of the piece, it was important to have a variety of bead sizes. I strung it on C-Lon Micro, using a tatting (shuttle lace) technique to make a button loop (which was actually…exciting; this is part of the reason why I learned tatting), and then running both lines through a coil of gimp and a shank button, before threading it back into the work, tying it off, and cementing the lines.

This is a detail image of the buttonhole I formed with a lace-making technique.
clasp detail

I was happy to get back into this — and to see how far I’ve come, since the time I started (25 years ago!). Especially as I had experienced doubts about my ability to see a project through to completion.

The design took about two days to work out (and a number of different tries before I got the loop right), but I’ve realized that since I was using standard-sized materials, I can echo the design in different colorways…and not necessarily charge an exorbitant rate for the time it took for me to work out the pattern, the first time. I guess that’s what happens when you know it’s okay to re-use past work, as versus aiming to make everything unique. (Uniqueness will still come; it’s just that it isn’t necessary to kill the seed you’ve planted, after its first fruiting.)

I also now have a project box which began with the thought of the Aquamarine and Pink Botswana Agate beads. It expanded far beyond what I had expected, and uses no stone in this final form (as versus another final form).

Reasons to go on

I have also remembered some more reasons to sell jewelry. For one thing, I like to make jewelry so much that were I to keep it all, it would be in excess of what I would use. I’ve also realized that having made the pattern — or structural form — for this piece, it gives me the ability to expand on that initial trial and work a number of different projects in different colorways, extremely easily.

Over my palm, you can see alternating single and double Czech fire-polished beads, in teal, violet, and orange.
Basic pattern. I extended this over 18″ to make a Princess-length necklace.

There might not be justification for that if I were just making things for myself, but if I’m doing it because I want to do it, not just to decorate myself (that is, if I’m enjoying the process more than the product), it probably doesn’t hurt to sell some of the extras (or, “experiments;” or, “trials;” I don’t know if anyone would really want to hear they’re buying an “experiment,” although that’s basically what a lot of — maybe most of — art is), and recoup some costs.

I can also then try making different decisions at specific points in the pattern, and by doing that, develop derivative works, or families of pieces which work along different creative pathways. This lets me expand the initial idea into a family in which each member is a record of a different, iterative thought (or design) process.

Also: I’ve been working on the design of another piece; using Smoky Quartz, the Pink Botswana Agate, and Hematite. (The Aquamarine is too pale to work in this scenario.) I did purchase some sterling bead caps…which, now that I see them, I realize are fairly expensive, for what I got. I suppose it could be worse: I could have gotten the sterling version of what I already had in pewter, and paid around $5 per cap for 6-8 repeats (each containing two caps), making the cost at least $70 (with tax and shipping). For 12-16 caps. That are tiny. Which I think I would have had to buy in multiples of 6. The silver isn’t even the focal point.

No, that…that wasn’t happening.

The bead caps I had which were pewter…I honestly don’t know where the rest of these guys are, but they’re likely locked up in projects which I won’t wear and have not worn. (When you’re a beginner, it isn’t unusual to make things you won’t wear…or to buy things you think look great, which look gaudy at a later point in time.) Originally, they weren’t expensive — they were from a fabric or craft store. It’s just that the exact same design — the exact same design — is in sterling silver, and I can’t find the pewter version, anymore.

The ones I did get were close to $22 for eight…meaning they’re $2.75 each. That’s fine if you’re buying a couple for earrings, but if you need 7 repeats at a minimum for an 18″ necklace, each 2.5″ repeat using two, and you have to buy in multiples of 8: 16 caps are $44. Before tax and shipping. That still kind of makes me clench my teeth, especially when they’re so tiny, but…well, hopefully, they won’t tarnish — which is the only reason, aside from safety and allergy concerns, to get Sterling. Granted, those safety and allergy concerns are likely well-placed.

(Maybe I should have taken advantage of that recent Trunk Show…)

In any case, the fifth reason to sell things is the process of buying strands of beads to make into things, and then as you’re assembling, you realize that you’re only using like 1/5th of the strand…meaning you have 4/5ths unused. If you aren’t just making for yourself, you can make for someone else, and have fun at the same time.

Part of my newer bead collection.
All Toho 11/0s, except the two vials in the lower right: the grey label is a 15/0 vial. The one below it, I purchased from a supplier who doesn’t label by brand, but which I think may be Miyuki (as its name is, “Teal Duracoat,” which so far as I know is proprietary).

So anyway, to detract from the frustration of having spent so much on so little, I also did purchase a bunch of little 11/0 Toho beads in order to gain a bulk discount (which…unfortunately, did not include free shipping). Buying seed beads online is often…more difficult than doing it in person. It’s because you’re depending on photography to give you an accurate idea of color…and as I learned in Intro to Graphic Design, neither computer screens nor print can replicate all of the colors we can see (“color gamut” is the name for the range each technology can produce).

So…when buying a complicated color that you know is probably complicated, because it has a name like Cosmos or Polaris…online…you just pretty much know the color is a best guess.

Three tubes of bead colors that are very hard to use: yellow, yellow-orange, and red-orange.
The frosted orange in the center, may make it into some work. The others…???

I have a set of four vials which are likely not to make it into any work, though. Three look like they’re colored with Cadmium salts (opaque yellow, orange, and red-orange [see right]). I got them because I realized that my own color gamut did not include these colors, and hence I was limiting my own creative options by not including an entire spectrum. I can somewhat see why I don’t use these colors now, though: they’re just too basic.

Also, I should let you know that the above photo of those opaque beads between yellow and red, didn’t turn out with true color…I am not entirely sure why (if it was because they were too bright, or the background fooled my camera), but I don’t feel like tinkering with the settings right now.

The fourth vial, I suspect I have used before, and that it faded (Aqua, Gold-Lined). I do have photos of it, but none turned out too well, as I didn’t unwrap them (I could use store credit, but then again, it costs money to ship them back. There’s always the Center for Creative Re-Use).

While looking for someone else’s repair projects, I did find a number of stashes of beaded jewelry I made while a child and teen…which had some seed beads included which are a pale, translucent bluish grey, now. I do see that it appears they were matte; also silver-lined. I don’t know if I should settle for glass jewelry being pretty in the moment and not lasting, or if I should really avoid things I know might fade.

However, the set of beads I was using at the time (from the fabric/craft store or the bead store), I no longer recall. For years, into high school, even, I played around with Darice seed beads (which I wouldn’t recommend for professional work…but as I was a teen just experimenting, that was something else).

I doubt that I was thoroughly using the more quality stuff from the bead store, at that time, given that I recall being in 9th grade and having a necklace made of Darice beads, dental floss, and a lampwork pendant from the bead store, explode from around my neck one day in the locker room. (This was after it had hit me in my teeth, which is where I think a mysteriously missing chip from a front tooth may have gone.)

I knew fabric-store seed beads to have color that rubbed off on my fingertips; which is probably why I have a (likely unfortunate) bias against dyed glass, at this point. Yes, I know the lilac (a.k.a. Silver-Lined Milky Amethyst) in the fourth image above is likely dyed. I also suspect those beautiful Gold Luster Raspberry beads above them to be dyed. I just like them too much to care.

I should say that Darice isn’t all bad. They have some storage solutions which I do appreciate. And certainly, they are an inexpensive entryway into the craft, which in my case was invaluable — at least because I’ve continued to do this for 25 years. It’s just one of those things where once you get your sea legs as a beadworker, you find other options, and learn ways to gauge benefits and drawbacks.

This is a greyish necklace I made when I was young, with highlights of violet and blue from Amethyst, Labradorite, dyed pearls, and Swarovski Crystal.
I made this as a child. Apologies for the poor lighting and color inaccuracies.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out what to do with this little necklace (see above) — keep it as a keepsake? Give it to someone little but over 14 years of age? ;) (All of this stuff says not to deal with it if you’re under 14 years old, likely because it could interfere with a child’s development…though I have been using these since I was 11 or 12. Not to say that anyone should.) This thing is basically Amethyst, Labradorite (a flecked grey stone with blue internal flashes), Hematite (gunmetal grey), dyed freshwater pearl, and Swarovski Crystal, in a Y-necklace form. It’s only 14″ long. I don’t remember if I used Sterling wire or craft wire, but it’s still shiny (the clasp is not).

I’m still not sure about whether it would mean more to me to keep it, or to someone else, should I gift it. The deal with the latter is that if I give it up, it could easily be destroyed (or pawned), and I’ve got to grapple with whether I’d be okay with that. I’m thinking the answer is, “no,” which tells me what to do, there.

Anyhow, creating this entry has been a nice thing for me, if a bit of an obsessive project: I haven’t used my camera or image-editing software, in a while. It’s nice to know the computer is of more use than as a notepad. :)

Speaking of which, I did find my old project journal. I needed to make more drawings than I did. When the earliest entry is in 2010, maybe — back in 2010 — I could have remembered what the project looked like. But. In 2019, almost a full decade later? It doesn’t do me a great deal of good to note which beads I used, without images to show the way in which I used them.

That…could be a good use of this blog. Photographs are easier to work than design sketches; I’d just have to remember that this is public, and that I am showing my process.

Yeah. That could be nice!

beading, beadwork, color, glass beads, jewelry design, seed beads

A very long beading design post…

I actually have been able to get some design work done, recently. Essentially, I was able to visit a bead store — like a real-life, in-person bead store. I’ve said before that I have hesitated to work with natural stones because things can get very expensive, very fast. That’s still true.

There’s also the fact that as I’m working, I realize that it isn’t entirely worth it to make things to sell…unless, that is, I’m using some leftovers of other projects that I otherwise would not. Because of the time it takes to design things, and the time it takes to construct things, and then unmake and remake projects as I revise the design…it costs me so much in time that what I make becomes prohibitively expensive, if I’m charging by the hour. I’d rather not be designing against the clock, especially when I could regain the money lost in design more easily, simply by going to work more.

In any case…I have an Amazonite puffed square cabochon that I got at a recent convention. It’s a pastel green with blue overtones, white-streaked, glossy, with a hairline fracture. I’ve decided to pair it with some Aquamarine 8mm rounds (pale green-blue, displaying some silver internal reflections; mostly otherwise opaque), and some Pink Botswana Agate 6mm rounds (pale salmon-pink, mauve and white, opaque). These are now the center, anchoring elements of this piece.

So essentially…I’m designing around a cabochon; particularly where it comes to color and texture. I am echoing the color and gloss of the Amazonite cabochon with the Aquamarine (which is slightly paler than the Amazonite), and contrasting that with a secondary supporting point in the Botswana Agate. That’s why the Agates are smaller than the Aquamarines. When working with natural stones, it can be hard to find them in usable shapes (other than rounds)…

When I got these home, I did start looking through my project box to weed out some beads that were too warm. I know that “warm” when it comes to blues, means “violet” tending (as violet is closer to red — green is considered a “cooler” color, though that’s counterintuitive to me); in this case, I weeded violets which were closer to Cobalt Blue (a deep, intense blue-violet when in glass). I kept greens and blues which were substantially greener, ranging more towards yellow. I also added a good amount of pinks, warm white ranging to pale gold, violet which is closer to red, ambers, and browns (“Smokey [sic] Topaz”, “Crystal Celsian”).

This was a generative task, not a selection task. It is, however, much more stimulating and inspiring than what I had before. The next task is to try putting some of these together; most of the designs that I’ve made which really made leaps in innovative construction, have occurred when I’ve just tried to assemble things in any way I could (keeping in mind that threads need protection, and that bugle beads, unless something is done to stop them, will easily shear thread in two: these are practical constraints). There has been a basic idea of what I’ve been going for, but it has often been abandoned as I found better ways to do what I’m trying to do…or an alternate path to success.

I decided to go for stranding as a possibility, as I’ve realized that a more complicated design is not necessarily a better design.

And the seed beads…

Having said that, I still want to try St. Petersburg Chain. I’ve been looking for some excuse to try it; I’m just not sure if this is the right project for it. I’ve separated out some colors of Czech seed beads which echo the Botswana Agate…but to be honest, they’re a little dull against the Japanese ones. For instance, I have an old tube of “Ceylon Lt Peach” (unknown brand, likely Japanese) 11/0 seed beads, which are just…brighter, than my Cheyenne Pink 8/0 Czech seed beads. I could still use them together, but I should not overuse anything too dull.

No, I don’t know why the half-hanks of Czech seed beads I have, are duller than the Czech fire-polished crystals I have…and the Czech pressed-glass SuperDuos and MiniDuos. When I got them, I was looking for a solid color throughout the glass, which is normally more resistant to fading, while sacrificing some of the bright colors of surface-dyed or color-lined beads (which are known to be more often susceptible to fading or other color change).

Note that I don’t consider surface dyeing (like the use of Sol-Gel) to be the same thing as a surface treatment such as Aurora Borealis (AB), Luster, Iris, Vitrail, Capri (I have some opinions about Capri’s durability…but, later), or Ceylon. At least, that’s not what I mean by it. I also realize that my Light Peach Ceylon beads may indeed be surface-dyed. It was so long ago that I didn’t think to mark the vial as permanent or possibly prone to fading. I probably also didn’t think that I’d be trying to remember any cautions at the store, 10 or more years later.

But no, I did not expect to find a clean, bright pink or a clean mauve-grey in an affordable stone, either. These both match the Japanese beads better.

There is, still, a range of quality, here…it’s important when buying stranded beads, to look for size uniformity (at minimum), unless you aren’t doing anything (like a beading stitch/weave) that depends on things being even. That is: not all “Czech” seed beads are the same quality. I’ve even seen half-hanks of beads with other beads of the same color stuck to their outsides, which look like there was paint that dried with two beads touching. (I don’t particularly like glass beads which look like they have paint on them…it’s a reason I don’t use a lot of the newer multi-hole beads.)

The only way that I really can even tell that they’re Czech (or from someone trying to pass themselves off as Czech) is either through the catalog description (when purchased online), or through the method of sale. Czech seed beads are generally sold stranded and tied together in bundles of 6 or 12 strands. Japanese seed beads are generally sold loose, in vials or bags. They have different brands, sizing regulations and shape standards…and apparently, at least somewhat different methods of attaining their colors, or a different aesthetic which causes the companies to aim to produce different palettes.

In buying beads at conventions, however…you may not know who made what, unless you ask. Vendors may also not recall their sourcing, on top of it (especially if they’re a Mom-and-Pop operation). Right now, I only know one rocaille (round, uncut seed bead) manufacturer from the Czech Republic, which is Preciosa Ornela. (I’m not counting manufacturers of shaped seed beads.) However, I am very sure that they aren’t the only game in town.

I also wouldn’t put it past other manufacturers to try and pass their material off as though it has the quality that “Czech” beads are known for. Though I intend only to use Japanese and Czech seed beads in my work, that doesn’t mean that my suppliers are paying attention to how their customers think about quality.

I’m thinking that some people would rather get a low price than a quality product. The problem with that: low-priced products can also easily be low-quality products, and I don’t know that anyone on the receiving end is overtly asking for anything more. Raised prices for low-quality products would mean that the higher-quality products win out because they are higher-quality (and then there is no reason not to buy the higher quality instead). You can see how that works.

I did, once, buy a terrifyingly expensive half-hank of Dark Copper (I’ll just call them that) 8/0s: $17 for 6 strands. Very even in width; uniform, beautiful finish. They get higher than that — for instance, when there’s a special metallic coating which requires gold — but in the majority of cases, they don’t range higher than $15-$20 per half-hank. My low end of the 8/0s is currently $4.25 for six strands of something that looks like Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, just in glass. Keep in mind, though, I don’t have a sample of Sleeping Beauty Turquoise here to compare and see if it’s any more intense; the beads just bring it to mind.

I got the 8/0s to make knotted bracelets. More on that another time, hopefully.

So, the half-hank of Cheyenne Pink 8/0s ($7.50 for 6 strands) are beautiful on their own. The only thing is, the Pink Botswana Agate outshines them and makes them look dull in comparison. With too many of the glass beads, I could also unintentionally dull down the stones. The colors in the stones are just much cleaner. Why? I really don’t know. I might have to be a chemist to know. I have seen at least one text on the chemistry of glass colors…and I am not interested enough in how they’re made, to go back into a hard science.

That’s another reason to buy stones that you can see in-person, before purchase, though. It’s much easier to mix-and-match a dominant stone against a wall of other stones and find a perfect complement, than it is to flip back and forth between online windows, or bring up multiple windows showing multiple products (and then hope the photography is reasonably true-to-life).

I’ve delayed posting this because I have wanted to add images…it would be of use to me to remember what this particular project box looks like. There’s a lot of information, that is, in just seeing what I’m dealing with (and how it differs from what I was dealing with before — which I did not photograph, because it was that uninspiring). Adding the pink and violet, along with that pale green, it helps a lot. They’re all unified, in a design sense, because they’re all pastel tones.

However, because I’m still in training at my job, I’ve been working a lot of the time, and studying, eating, and sleeping for a lot of the rest of the time. That is: I haven’t had a lot of time to write, much less to take and optimize photos. I was lucky I had time enough to go out on the weekend…

This current writing, I began on Sunday. I’ll get beyond the point of relevance, if I delay for much longer. The obvious choice would be to hold off on posting until Friday or Saturday…but this is aging in my consciousness, and nagging me and causing me to waste time filling it out further. I should post.

craft, glass beads, seed beads

GAAAA…Washing beads.

So…in lieu of going to the Walnut Creek Bead & Design show this weekend, I found myself in San Francisco and took the opportunity to look inside General Bead, a store I’ve long known about and never visited. I have checked out their website, but I don’t remember having come away from it with a good feeling. I decided to look into their physical storefront today.

The store itself was on Minna, in the South of Market (SoMa) area. Minna in this area is kind of…run-down. The storefront almost seems to be off of an alley (the alley being Minna itself), in a way which very much reminded me of Mr. Zebra off of Telegraph in Berkeley (down to the spray-painted facade…and the local aroma, common to most urban areas here, which…anyone who lives here will know).

On going in, we were immediately greeted by an employee, who explained the method for ordering materials. This was kind. It was also nice that the store inside is not as modest as the storefront would suggest. In particular, they have a lot of Czech seed beads, in bags and in hanks. However, most of the stock is behind the counter and not accessible to the public. One fills out a form and the staff retrieve the items, which disallows close inspection prior to purchase.

It was noticeable that they had barely any multi-hole beads (though I did find some “Piggy” beads — just not in colors I would want), which is something that I can understand, as it’s difficult to tell which shape will be in demand at any one time (and new shapes are being continually introduced). I wouldn’t be surprised if trying to keep up with the multi-hole bead craze put some of the bead stores I’ve known (particularly Baubles & Beads, in Berkeley), out of business.

And, okay, I’m just going to put it out here right now: one of the packs of beads I got from them has what looks like part of the carapace of the abdomen, and two legs, of some kind of bug. I don’t want to post an image. I don’t want to remember it. At first I thought that it was a scale of a tiny pine cone. Then I identified two shed legs inside the package. So…thaaat is the gross part that I’ve been trying not to talk about so soon, but I might forget about it if I don’t mention it now.

But to be understanding, a lot of these beads came out of bulk packages behind the counter, in boxes, to be sealed up on exit in take-home packs…it would be incredibly easy for insects to live out their entire lives back there. Eating cardboard and stuff. Considering what the surrounding area looked like, I wasn’t entirely surprised…

That’s not to say that I didn’t like the experience, once inside the store. That’s to say that there are some bug issues, likely arising from the location.

I did take that hank of beads out (this was sealed at the store), and found a bunch of dust left behind inside the package. Then I went and got a fine plastic colander and bowl set that I purchased from the small Asian dollar store for $2 before it closed, and I used that as a large wash basin to wash the entire hank of beads. In Dawn dishwashing detergent. Twice.

I probably could have done more, but I passed the point of, “squeaky clean,” to the point that the oil from my hands began rubbing off on the beads. Because I am somewhat paranoid about germs…I didn’t want to wash these things until my hands cracked. There’s a fine line between being clean, and being so germ-phobic that one inadvertently exposes oneself to more than one has to.

These were rinsed many times, probably for about as long as I washed them, or longer.

Then I took them and put them in a little yogurt cup with some soft disposable hand towels, where they will be drying until at least tomorrow. I don’t recall having washed an entire hank of beads in this way in quite a long time, if I ever have at all. However, this is the third cup of beads I’ve washed, tonight.

Another was a set of what appear to be White Heart 4mm round druks from Michaels; that is, round beads with a white core (visible at the drill holes) and something red on the outside (red glass? a layer of dye?), which did bleed (brownish) a little. (Not all druks are white at the core; this is the first time I have bought a set like this, and it was accidental. I did buy actual solid-color transparent red druks, today. The thing is, it’s hard to tell that they’re red, because [as is my constant lament] the color is so intense. The White Hearts, on the other hand, are visibly red, which is why I got them.) I had set these aside primarily because I wasn’t sure if they were colorfast, but they’re seeming to hold up well.

The other wash round, this time, was two sets of Brown Iris Czech Ring beads (from General Bead), which I have since determined cannot be used with the inside of the hole, visible. This is largely because the beads themselves are not finished on the insides of the holes. The outside edges are fine. The inside edges are not. On top of that, I’ve noticed some crazing on the surface of most of these beads, probably from internal stress on the glass. They’ll just have to be used with that in mind. I have a use for them; I largely washed them because sometimes beads will just get dust on them, and it’s hard to see what they actually look like.

I’ve bought Ring beads on two other occasions, and can’t recall if they were similarly unfinished on the insides. The Olivine-color ones, which are 9.5x3mm and which I got a long time ago, are relatively fine on the outside and inside, and not crazed, though they also do look a little frosted and rough in the center. The Black ones I have, which are 8×2.5mm, look a little less finished on the inside edges, and I can’t tell if there is any crazing, because they’re black.

The ones I got this time, which are Brown Iris (basically a multicolored metallic finish, but more durable than Galvanized finishes at least were,at one time), are 7.5×2.5mm. Now that they’re drying, they don’t look too bad; rather like unfinished metal; but they still look unfinished, like the inside is not meant to be seen.

The big thing that I like about General Bead is its selection of size 6/0 Czech seed beads, which have been a bit difficult to find locally since Baubles & Beads went under. I believe the smallest pack of these available is 50 grams, which is about twice the size of a B&B vial (which I believe was 22 grams, though I’m not sure, especially as I don’t think it was noted at the store, and I don’t have a gram scale); the cost is also very decent, at around $3.50 for most of the 6/0 packs I bought. So that’s basically like paying $1.75 for a 25-gram tube (this could be the reason Yelp lists General Bead with only one “$” out of a possible “$$$$”).

The drawback I can see here is that a lot of their stock is either solid-color and opaque, or solid-color and transparent, without much funny surface treatment like Vitrail or Celsian or Apollo, or foil- or color-lining. Not that I miss the color-lining. :) However, transparent beads (even large ones) have a tendency to drop back in compositions. Solids tend to advance, as do metal-lined beads. But still, it is nice to have some subtle effects…like the Copper-Lined Rose Matte (Aurora Borealis?) beads I left there because I was pretty sure they were dyed.

I have read a lot of things about surface treatments not being permanent on Czech seed beads, however (and have had this issue before with Picasso beads, which are mottled from a surface treatment [some of which rubbed off, especially on my thread, while others did not]), so this could be a durability issue.

They did have some nice finds there, though, like bobbins of Super-Lon beading thread and Conso beading thread. I picked up a sample of each, to see if I like working with either. Also, there are odd sizes of Czech seed beads below size 6/0, almost down to the size of freakin’ sand; where you go, “how does anyone see these/fit a needle through these?” Their selection of druks and Fire-Polished beads is decent. They also have — man! — glass cabochons! In different colors! I picked up a few of these, just to practice bead embroidered bezels.

With that, I think I’m gonna go, for now. I realize I haven’t put up photos…I will either post a separate entry with photos, or come back to this entry and insert photos, later. I should have time tomorrow, before the sun sets.

beadweaving, craft, glass beads, organization, storage

Tiny baggies, and color scheme revision.

A bunch of time I spent today, taking beads out of vials and putting them into tiny plastic baggies. I am not sure I need to say this, but it’s much more space-friendly. And the baggies don’t smell bad (at least, not yet), unlike the vials I had them in before. (These weren’t bead-store vials, these were plastics-store vials.)

I am also making a move to repurpose the beads in my “pink” kit. The color scheme was just not exciting enough to motivate me to work on it…not to mention that the kit was at least two years old. And once I realized that I would not easily be able to incorporate the cabochon I had wanted to incorporate, into a Chevron Stitch and/or Netting collar — at least in the way I had wanted to — it kind of took the wind out of those sails.

Also…the color thing. There are so many more awesome color combinations possible than pink + purple. Right now I’ve kind of got a dragonfly-type thing going with violet, green, blue-green, copper, and some pinks. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to use all the colors within the same project, though — it may turn into two or more.

I know the initial reason to even try the original color combination was to use the “Peaches & Cream” daggers I got…probably a decade ago (it was a risk I took because the bead store I bought them from was good at supplying one-off glass combinations, never to be seen again), but the color scheme that I had to use them, was just way too delicate.

Right now, I’m also fairly distant from the last time at which I was interested in lacemaking…which I can see reflected in the last intended design for that piece. I’ve got some Galvanized (metallic) pinkish beads now that I didn’t, two years ago…if I use them as a mainstay, I may have something. They’re basically the color of freshly-cut copper…like the silvery-pink it is, before it even gets the chance to tarnish. (The color name is “Galvanized Sweet Blush”.)

I’ll need to at least acknowledge in the future that buying unusually-colored beads for the fact that they’re unusually-colored, means that they are likely to be design challenges (even though they will expand my current repertoire). That is part of the fun of it, but still, I would like to figure out just what colors are built to stay around, and which are trends. Sometimes this is easy, like cobalt blue versus matte neon yellow; most other times, it is hard to tell. I do still have some quite-old beads, though (1990’s vintage), that do “date” a piece if they’re too forward in it. I mean, they are from a 1990-era fashion color palette, which I have since learned is not neutral. :)

The other thing I realized today is that if I’m keeping my beads in transparent plastic storage, I will want to keep that storage out of direct sunlight. This is largely because the plastic these are made from (I believe this is unexpanded polystyrene) is likely to become brittle if I let direct sunlight routinely fall on them. I already have one case that is cracking, and I’m not entirely sure if it came that way or not (though I think it did).

Also, some but not all of the beads stored in transparent storage may fade on direct long-term exposure to UV light. This is more likely in dyed and color-lined beads. As I think I said a little earlier, dyes and color linings are ways to get colors in glass beads which are not otherwise easily formulated in solid-color glass. I’ve been veering away from using them, except for the fact that, well, there are effects possible with them that expand design possibilities.

Anyhow, I can store a lot more in the same space in little bags than I can in just vials, and for now I have enough. I don’t know what this collection is going to end up looking like, or if it’s going to be transitional forever. I’m thinking, now, that the latter may be the case (at least until I can find a storage system that reliably works). So…I mean, I may deliberately not want to purchase more of the “palette” style storage. I’m not too sure about that assertion, but it’s a serious possibility that I could find a more efficient, and longer-lasting, method.

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, glass beads

Getting back to one of those projects…

Despite feeling what seems like pretty severe eye strain (could this be what I’m interpreting as fatigue?), I’m up. I just put on my glasses, so we’ll see if that helps. I also took photos of the project I mentioned on March 4, then again on March 6, and didn’t show images of. This is largely because taking useful photos is easier when the sun is out, and because I am not really looking forward to dealing with camera focus issues and GIMP 2.

Then again, I am not really looking forward to paying over $100/year for Photoshop CC either (especially after my Elements program broke), so there’s that.

Anyhow, I can show you what I was working on.

Beaded samples

To the left, here, we have a photo of a few different samples of the same weave. If you’re versed in beadweaving stitches, this is basically an embellished double-needle ladder-stitch pattern.

That is, it’s a lot easier than it looks. Right now I have purchased some more clearly green beads (Chrysotile and Chrysotile Celsian), which I might be able to use with the Green Iris, to the left there. The thing is, the Chrysotile beads are both SuperDuos, whereas in all of these samples, the center row is made up of MiniDuos. MiniDuos are subtly smaller than SuperDuos.

This means that a bracelet which does not utilize MiniDuos will be a little longer…meaning the embellishments will likely sit a little differently.

I believe I majorly leaned off of further exploration of this pattern because of needing to clean up — and wishing to collect all my SuperDuos into one place. It’s cleaner, now…not totally clean, but there is free table space.

The only thing sitting between me and playing around with this some more, is studying more about Reference interactions…which I don’t want to do, which means I need to find something that I do want to do, besides sleep.

Maybe exercise?

personal

Sleepy.

Well — there’s not much to report, mostly because I got to bed so late last night that I ended up taking a five-hour nap, today. I did get to the bead store, but only found part of what I was looking for — which is okay, because I did find some stuff with which to experiment. I also have other sources.

The biggest thing I’m a little upset about is the fact that I lost the daylight hours in which I could have taken photos of the things on which I’m working. (I have recently found that it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition; don’t be surprised if it happens, but right now, it’s mostly outside of my comfort zone.) :)

I have recently found that going to bed early and then waking early is…a relatively good thing. Going to bed at 10:30 PM, for example, and then rising at 5:30 AM is doable, even if it looks extreme when I write it down. Not only do I get extra time so that I can avoid rushing to start my day (and can take a shower without rushing, before work), but I have the opportunity to get more hours of sleep, if I need them. I also have the ability to brush and floss my teeth and do the whole pre-bed routine, without worrying about a time crunch.

Right now, I’m sleepy again, and am heavily considering just going back to bed. This is amazing.

I might as well set the intention, as well, to start cataloging my beads in spreadsheet form. Whether this will make it to a database is yet to be seen…

craft, organization, storage

Disorganized, despite it all

Yes, I spent at least 20 or 30 minutes tonight looking around for a vial of Crystal Celsian MiniDuos that were right in front of me, on the table. DIS-ORGANIZED. Or maybe just absent-minded. (Google “Crystal Celsian” to see photos of this surface treatment; it’s basically a light transparent gold.)

I’ve recently been dealing with the use of specialized bead shapes — SuperDuos, MiniDuos, 3mm Magatamas, 3x4mm Drops, O-beads, and Miyuki Spacer Beads (as versus Toho Demi Rounds, which is what I thought I had, last time I wrote).

I believe that I’m becoming interested, now, in more and different things, than the main design I worked out last. I suppose I did make two samples, one trial and two final versions…though I need to replace the clasp on one (the blue one), and I have identified at least one more colorway I could work through. Well, two: one in rose and green (like the second sample I made), and one in magenta and teal.

Yeah, that sounds kind of close, but in one, the pink dominates; in the second, the teal does. Right now, I’m interested more in the dusty rose one, as it looks less like a daisy chain than I believe the teal one may work out to appear. It has to do with color placement.

I should note the C-Lon colors I used in the previous three; the first two (Capri Blue 6/0s plus 4mm Green Iris fire-polished rounds) were “Eggplant”; the third was “Persian Indigo”. That’s in case I need to replace these spools, if the colors are still being made. The color was on a sticky band on the outside of the spool — designed for identification among many similar spools — not designed to be kept.

I’m trying to figure out a scalable method of reliably storing these things, and figuring out a way to keep notes on what I would otherwise keep together in a kit for future use. The disadvantage of kits is the fact that when something’s stashed in a kit (like a vial of SuperDuos I was looking for tonight), it’s not findable — unless there is a designated place for that kit. Like a special, labeled drawer.

Right now I have a toolbox with — well, tools — but it is not large enough or organized enough to reasonably take my beads.

I’m thinking of putting what I can, into my flat storage. There’s not much point to my keeping my flat archives in that space and losing the use of it, when I could be putting actively used materials in there. There is the fact that if I did get a job in an Academic Library, and did go into making art at the graduate level, I might want some of this stuff as portfolio material (if I tried to get into an MFA program). But — not everything is portfolio-quality material.

At this point, I know that it would be best to store beads of the same shape and size, together. When I was younger, I mostly collected size 11/0 beads; they’re about 2mm long (smaller sizes have higher numbers; thus, 15/0 is smaller than 11/0, and 8/0 is smaller than 6/0). This is…very small to me, now. As an 11-18 year old, 2mm is fine. As someone whose eyes are aging, it’s not the size I want to work at, unless there actually is a reason for it.

That makes me sound kind of old. Not that there’s anything wrong with old (I prefer myself at this age to myself with less experience and understanding), but still. I’m watching everyone around me aging, and I’m physically aging, as well. What I mean, partially, is that when you’re small and your vision is better (like when you don’t routinely get eye strain and unclear vision from not wearing your glasses), tiny beads don’t seem so tiny.

Mostly, when I’m working with micro-macramé, I’m not going down to 11/0 size beads, even though it is possible with standard C-Lon cord. A lot of that is just a convenience factor. When being threaded, 11/0 beads tend to flex the C-Lon and then launch onto the floor, where they bounce and roll and get underfoot: that’s a risk of broken glass, if they’re lost. Beadweaving with 11/0s is a different matter, mostly because it’s a very different process; needles don’t spring the beads away. (I draw the line at sizes smaller than 15/0. [I wonder what it would be like to be nearsighted–!])

I’ve done a lot towards the end of organizing vials and hanks of beads, moving through storage solution after storage solution. First it was plastic shoeboxes; then milky plastic stacking organizers; then tubs from IKEA; then free-standing vial holders (which are still useful); now clear drawers and sampling vials (also useful). The major issues are the fact that most of these storage solutions are temporary, in that they stop being available; and that the level of use of each of these sizes and colors and shapes of bead really should have a say in how I store them.

I’m just not sure how to implement that — especially as mixing the beads up encourages “happy accidents” which would not otherwise occur. There’s the possibility of building a database…which I’m probably more prepared to do than most people, but that’s — seriously! — a lot of thought and a lot of work.

I also don’t know if I can reasonably reformat a database that I create and then can’t properly delete (this has to do with table dependency…not to bore you with the details, but tables [think spreadsheets, but fragmented according to purpose, and more organized] must be created and deleted in proper order to make sure things will function or be deleted properly, or that a table can be created without error, in the first place. This is part of relational database design and implementation, one of the only classes to recently frighten me).

The possibility of using a purchased database system (right now, I’m thinking of Access, because it likely natively integrates Excel tables; but Access likely doesn’t look as good as, say, MariaDB, in a tech environment) has occurred to me, but the cost there is even more prohibitive. There are likely one or more free and/or open-source solutions that don’t involve cloud storage (I’m looking at some, now), but I’d have to be on top of my programming and querying skills to actually make that work.

I could do it. I just don’t want to (right now), because I’m not confident enough. It would be something that would make me a good candidate for certain jobs, though…

Then there is the question of what to do with the nine left-over beads from the 1990’s (fashion faux pas?) which I just used in a bracelet, or the eight rondelles that are taking up space in their own vial which is way too big for them, but the tiniest I have. I’m heavily considering moving back to tiny baggies; the environmental impulse in me just hates it because I know all plastic eventually disintegrates, and there’s no saving tiny baggies that shred from age. They have a lifespan — after which, they’re useless and basically just choke sea life.

Of course, there’s also the question of what to do with your vials, once the lids begin to crack and smell and decay. It’s not much better. At least the baggies don’t give off volatile compounds when they get old…

Right now I have six sets of clear plastic drawers (one here is empty; the third, I just began to use; the other two — I don’t recall what’s happening with them. Oh, right. One of those has hanks of Czech seed beads; the other has unique-to-the-collection beads, like multi-hole beads that wouldn’t fit with the other Czech glass). There are also at least four sets of small vials in transparent cases. I mostly use the latter as a way of visualizing color combinations, and have been using the beads from the vials. I have not had to refill one yet. I’ve also been reusing older, now-empty clear vials that came with purchases, which are still functional.

I guess in this age, mitigating waste is a better option than mindlessly throwing things away. It would just be nice if there were a convenient, inexpensive, transparent, and scalable design solution that involved something that wouldn’t outlive me.

But yeah, I just described plastic…and the main drawback to using it. I’m confident something will eventually be developed, but it’s not here, right now.

Well, tomorrow I have three main things to look for at the bead store, and one optional:

  1. brass toggle clasp
  2. clearly green drop beads (3x4mm)
  3. green SuperDuos or MiniDuos.
  4. (optional) brown fire-polished beads

I think I can get the rest of it through other sources. I’m seriously considering selling, again, if not looking forward to, or planning on it…

…and none of this is going to help the fact that making designs that are actually creative and unexpected, comes only from getting a bunch of stuff out so I can see it all at once. (“Yes, a bracelet came from this disaster zone. Why?”)

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

Hyperfocus.

I wanted to write this last night, but by the time I was willing to call it quits, it was 2:30 AM. Also, as I have an unofficial policy of not taking photos of my work after sundown…sleep was preferable to staying up further into the early morning. I’ve had severe problems with sleep dysregulation before, and I have responsibilities, so taking care of myself has to come in sometime (even if I’m hyper-focused!).

Last night, I learned a number of things…the largest of which, relates to my preferred color schemes…the second largest of which, encompassed two rules:

  1. Don’t tie off a macramé pattern directly to a clasp, or you get the disadvantage of built-in stiffness on the connection. Tying off to a metal ring, then attaching the ring to another ring, alleviates the stress on that join.
  2. Don’t cut the excess cord off of knots before sealing those knots, first. Otherwise, your knots will unravel and your work will start to fall apart (at the very end!).

Today, I’ve basically been working all day at making jewelry. My folks call it a, “hobby,” moreso than a, “side hustle.” Is a hobby this serious? I don’t know.

About the color combinations…I’ve found that I want to stay away from monochromatic color schemes. This was surprising. In the past — as a youth, I had been much more hesitant about using color, so it would be more likely for me to stick with blues and greys. Hematite (an iron ore) was a particular favorite material, as it easily integrates with silver, has a nice weight and heft, plus a gunmetal metallic luster, and has been relatively inexpensive (for a natural stone).

It was relatively amazing that I was able to figure out the optimal pattern for this bracelet and write it down and then follow it. When I look at the knotting pattern on the sample I was working out initially, I can see it was trial-and-error; all over the place. I had to unravel a good amount of the work I did when I first started yesterday. This is because reversing the three-knot pattern (which reverses between every bead) essentially messes up the spacing of the beads.

Although I’ve made it to the point where I use some colors more enthusiastically than others, I also have certain hues that I am more attracted to, than others. Looking at my little bead palette things, which I’ve posted about before on this blog (scroll down), I see a lot of warm blues, greens, and violets, ranging into violet-pink…not so many yellows or oranges — or the browns that I intensely want to use. I already know that I’m not even trying to use reds, because reds are generally so intense that they overpower everything else. Pinks are also difficult to use, because of the fact that they are often either dyed (thus possibly not lightfast), or because they tend to be extremely pale.

The first trial version of this bracelet style, I made in a color palette extremely similar to the one above, but I used Capri Blue and Capri Blue Silverlined (S/L) for two of the three 6/0 bead colors that I used. The second trial bracelet (above) used Transparent Emerald (a blue-leaning green) in place of the Capri Blue S/L, and because of the lack of silver lining in the bead hole, the green falls back much more and becomes very subtle.

I’m planning to remake the first trial. I basically ruined it by cutting the threads before sealing the knots, which caused the piece to begin to unravel. I also tied it directly to the clasp, which I shouldn’t have done. I have three options:

  1. Wear the bracelet until it randomly falls apart and then remake it
  2. Cut the bracelet apart and re-knot it properly
  3. Buy another string of 4mm green iris fire-polished Czech rounds, give up the extra gold-luster 8/0s, and make a duplicate.

Although S/L beads are eye-catching in the store, they can overpower a piece if used indiscriminately. When I was a youth, I would use a lot of these, and so maybe it’s this that causes me to look at some bead combinations and think that they look like something I would have made at 16 years old.

I’ve also found that I have a tendency to like luster beads, especially Gold Luster; that opaque beads are much more useful than I would expect, advancing in compositions; that matte beads are welcome contrasts to metallic and glossy beads; that iris beads can be the foundation of a piece; and that transparent beads often fall back in a piece, while S/Ls advance.

Cobalt Blue is also extremely difficult for me to use, on par with red, because of its intensity and nearness to violet.

On top of all this, I find myself hesitant to use dyed and color-lined beads, because I’m pretty sure they’re categorically susceptible to fading (even though many colors cannot be made without these options).

I need to keep a journal on this information, including information about knotting patterns. Right now, my design notes are on temporary papers. I need to do something better.

There’s more I have to say — in regard to using SuperDuos and MiniDuos — but it will have to wait for another night. I’ve worked out two more swatches of a pattern than my initial two so far, using a double-needle technique which is much easier than I predicted (with the main issues being accidental loops, and going through the right piercings in the right directions). The third and fourth iterations (using Magatamas, Fringe beads, and Demi Round and O-beads) are very interesting, but I don’t have photos, right now.

What I can say is that for some reason, beadweaving is less stressful for me than micro-macramé, likely because I’m abrading my hands less (even though I did give myself a pretty nasty scratch by storing a needle in the fabric of my pants)…