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

I write too much…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

beading, beadwork, Business, personal, self care, spirituality

I think I’ve found what I’m going to be doing…

…for the next year, until the vaccine. (Of course, predictions of what I will do are sketchy, at best.) I’ve gotten back into making beaded jewelry; mostly, glass beadweaving, and micro-macrame. I have some stone components, but it isn’t the direction I seem to be going in, wholly.

I’m also trying to taking care of myself when I need to; particularly, where this comes to exercise and hygiene, with other forms of self-care (like maintaining my spaces). Then there’s my class. After that, I can deal with what comes up…particularly, giving XSLT another shot (and hoping there aren’t any gigantic disturbances, this time).

My University class…well, that’s basically…group work. Meaning, I don’t have a lot of control over it. I’m not entirely certain how to communicate with the others as well; I’ve been away from the LMS for so long (about two years, now) that I am not sure others are getting my messages. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about my grades, as I’ve already graduated. The others, do.

I was mistaken about the timeline for the end of my University class: I have just a bit more time than I thought I did. What I don’t have is extra time to arrange an internship, if I want to pay the University to supervise it for me. And, I mean…is it worth it? On top of that, do I need to take it now? And, could I not find a use for, say, a database project, myself?

I’m scaling back my Academic commitments, particularly because I did not finish two of my last private online courses (the ones which happened around the orange sky days). I know I’ll have to deal with XML again at the beginning of the year (and hopefully pass it, this time), but without an additional University commitment, and barring any unforeseen disasters, I won’t have to deal with anything else.

That will free up my time to design and make jewelry. I’ve been engaging in the former, more than is normal for me (recently). Though, of course, even saying that makes me feel guilty. I tend to spend more on production than I gain through sales. It’s an issue. But, “minimal loss,” is a better goal than, “bottomless pit.” Of course, there’s the profit-margin aspect…which is difficult to even think about at this point, because I haven’t kept complete records of quantities spent and quantities gained.

People sometimes get surprised when I say I make jewelry, because I don’t tend to wear jewelry. At least I didn’t, for the majority of the time I was on the last two jobs. Wearing jewelry attracts male attention that I don’t want, and I’m more apt to want big muscles than to actually…you know, dress up. Not to mention that my last two jobs have been so dirty that I didn’t want to wear good clothes or jewelry.

The jewelry I design isn’t necessarily congruent with the way I’ve decided to present myself, although it does really make me look good. The thing I get tripped up on is that when I wear what I make, and dress up, I feel very, “ethnic,” and I don’t know where that places me, socially. I’ve spent a lifetime being seen as “exotic”, so it’s probably, well…predictable that I would have complicated feelings around that.

The thing is, when I dress up, I don’t intend to make myself look like something I’m not. It’s probably been over a year since I straightened my hair, and no one would ever think me to be white (aside from one internet troll, who was probably just trying to get a rise). People from similar racial and cultural backgrounds can find me familiar (even children), but aside from those people, I probably come across as an unknown amalgam.

There is a bit of relative safety, though, in looking like a beautiful woman. Many treat me with privilege more often that way, than they do when I’m in menswear, and I believe that others are also more apt to protect and empathize with me. Generally, if I can be mistaken for a man or mistaken for a woman, I’m attended to with more privilege than when I am ambiguous (when the feedback turns curious and hostile, especially if others believe me to be younger than I am). However, I know that when I’m mistaken for a woman, the person I really am slips under the radar. I become invisible. To the outside, I may be hypervisible; as regards personality, no one expects to find me there.

(Then again, no one ever expects to find me, there.)

Yes, this does remind me of femme positionality…but am I femme? I don’t believe so. Fluid, is more like it.

I guess when you’re a designer, there’s no rule that states that your personal aesthetic has to match your normal outward presentation. They’re two different things, and they interrelate in a complicated way. Not everything I produce will be “me” in the sense of displaying who I am; in the same sense, almost all of it, does. What comes out of me might allot to, “who one might be if society were not a factor.” And that’s beautiful. That’s vulnerable and open to display. It’s honest.

It’s also broader than the face(s) I put on for society in order to attain my own personal aims (like being passed over), which I still have mixed feelings about. I know a lot of enby people who have a way they want to be treated, which doesn’t happen unless they look a way that they really don’t want to look. And if they look a way they do want to look, they aren’t treated the same way.

I can relate. I honestly want to look femme — a muscular femme that’s mixed with the type of female power and knowing, that I see coloring my own masculinity. The thing is, I also don’t want to constantly have to defend my own boundaries. It’s easier when men leave me alone, especially granted that pretty much no random man off the street impresses me. They get blinded by how I look, and tend to assume I am who they want me to be, rather than giving me agency over my own self-definition and my own desires.

If were granted the latter two, I don’t think I’d have a problem. I need to be able to be myself, regardless of whether that self would seamlessly fit into their lives. I need to be respected enough so that when I say no, it’s believed and honored. I need it to be okay for me to be all of myself, not just the parts that fit into some cultural definition of ideal, “womanhood,” that I most likely don’t share.

I am, that is, human. Like you. And like you, I’m complicated and I have my own desires and needs and thoughts that don’t revolve around other people. That don’t revolve around men; that don’t revolve around you. The way I look has nothing to do with who I am. It has to do with what comes at me. If you knew what comes at me, and you felt what I felt from the inside, you would understand why I am the way I am.

And why I have no time for people who assume they know me because they can see me; who think my body parts mean things they do not.

No, I don’t know what this is. I don’t have a name for it. But this is me, and has been me, for a very long time.

…and yes, I am sensing the feeling I get when I see the color, indigo. Which is ironic, as I believe I was supposed to be an “Indigo Child.” I also just purchased some “Denim Blue” crystal beads, of which I am now reminded (they’re so dark a blue that they’re almost gray; the color comes out in direct sun and among other blues, violets, and blue-greens)…but that, that gets into aesthetics, which gets into philosophy and spirituality…

Is that what “aura colors” are? Matching up the feelings you get when you see the color, with the feelings you get when you sense yourself (or others) at your (or their) most clear and true and powerful…?

There’s also the idea that jewelry is art. That each piece has its own personality. Like a story, it maintains the imprint of its author, but should not reflect directly back upon her character. Everyone sees something different in art pieces, and art pieces can reflect any facet of human experience, as filtered and arranged through the maker and reconstructed by the viewer (and the wearer). It may be a puzzle with no correct answer. Be open to hearing multiple versions of reality. The multiplicity contributes to the reality of the beauty.

And no, I honestly have no idea why people like my work. ;) I don’t even know why I like my work…I don’t know why it’s good; I just know it is.

Maybe I should work on a philosophy as to why I’m doing what I’m doing. If I knew, on a large scale, why I was doing what I was doing when I was doing it…maybe that would help me stay motivated to keep doing it. Like a Mission Statement, you know? If any of that Business training I went through, has any value at all…

I mean, it can’t all be about money. If it were just about money, there are other and more efficient ways to get it, that help other people more. I know aesthetics factor into this. Being able to feel like I have something, also factors in, as silly as it is with little bits of colored glass.

Color is a very large…and elusive, mysterious component of why I continue to bead. There are entire books written on color in beadwork, though the two I have which expressly focus on it, don’t do it justice. I question whether a print book can ever do it justice. You really need to get in there with your hands and just work. Then you see what can be done.

Maybe I should actually write a book, on color in beadwork.

I’ve been making efforts to get out from in front of this computer and engage in non-virtual activities as much as possible; though sometimes, as you can see, writing actually does help enrich my life, by drawing out thoughts I didn’t know I had.

I also have a tendency to feel guilty about working creatively, which is counter-productive when it comes to actually making money…but…I’ve just now realized that there is, at least, spiritual and aesthetic value in colorwork. There’s also value in making oneself beautiful, even if you’re like me and have a hard time with the attention. Isn’t beauty of value?

I don’t know yet how to balance these things…maybe become stronger in my assertiveness in order to be able to realize my own beauty without feeling violated?

Be who I am, right? Just be, totally, who I am; that is beautiful enough…

creativity, personal

Imagining pretty things = precursor to making them.

It’s another Thursday night, and I can finally say that I did, in fact, make it out to that art store. Mainly, the reason to go was for inspiration, though I found a new brand of linoleum cutters that I’m trying out, and was able to replace my worn Speedball blades. I know now not to use them on hard linoleum, which I didn’t, before. (According to web research, linoleum can have stone powder in it, which is probably what destroyed my X-Acto and Speedball blades. There is also soft linoleum, though, which is what I tested these blades on, tonight.)

As regards those Speedball blades: the handle (I’m using the red version; there’s also a blue one) needs some tweaking to get things in and out cleanly. Basically, the collet unscrews and that loosens a slot that a blade can fit into (on only one side). What’s weird is that loosening the collet to take the blade out doesn’t always do the job; sometimes the blade needs to be rotated in the collet to disengage. That’s not entirely safe, especially with the double-edged knife that got stuck tonight for some reason. I don’t know why, but I do know that I’ve had trouble with that handle from the beginning — maybe it just takes a little experience to use.

But yeah, I was able to pick up a set of replacement blades for not too much, and was really happy with them, when I got them home. I didn’t see any replacement blades for the X-Acto linoleum carving set.

Tonight I began drawing, again. I intended to design a new linocut, but things quickly moved away from that as I began adding (imagined) colors to the intended design. The deal with that is that each new color (aside from gradations), in a block print, necessitates a different block, or at least a different impression. What I’ve got is interesting, though a little busy. I’m fighting the urge to simplify my lines, meaning that I’ve got a lot of stuff that looks like old-style fire or ki.

I’m also trying to finish the Borden & Riley Vellum that I got a really long time ago, because I’ve used all but two sheets in the pad. It doesn’t make sense to hang onto the last two, especially considering how inexpensive B&R paper is. By accident, I got a duplicate pad of Fabriano hot-press watercolor paper, today. Luckily, this means that I don’t have to feel under pressure to make “good” art on it; though it is only 25% cotton. (Most archival-quality watercolor paper is 100% cotton; the lignin in wood pulp causes acidification of the paper, which can cause eventual color change.)

And, I suppose, I could even start out with grisaille sketches again, if I wanted to. Grisaille is basically a term for “greyscale;” it allows one to isolate, compare and adjust values (lightness or darkness) in an image, prior to making a color version. I have Lamp Black watercolor (not to mention, black ink — though I wouldn’t use waterproof ink with delicate brushes — I hear pen cleaner is harsh on them), and I know these types of studies aren’t hard. I might want to tackle that in the near future!

Which reminds me now that I have dip pens and new brushes to try out…I got them a long time ago, and didn’t have the time to devote to using them at all.

I’ve been collecting things to draw for years, too (this being why I have a bunch of the plants that I have, which reminds me that I still need to repot the Dwarf Umbrella plant), so I shouldn’t have a hard time finding a subject. What jumps to mind at first are shells, and my mineral collection, though I’ve also used jewelry. Scarves, maybe combined with jewelry, could be a more advanced study (fabric is notoriously hard to render in painting and drawing). I also have some trinkets and a vase and a pine cone…I really have been collecting stuff, haven’t I?

Yeah, I do have a lot of stuff to make images out of! My poor plants, though. They aren’t in the greatest of health, and that’s majorly because they’re indoors. Particularly, the succulents need more light, but with the amount they need, I would have to put them outside. Given how well the little one in the crack in the front yard is doing (which is basically a weed now), they would probably be okay as regards water; but I also like having them around, too.

The Dwarf Maidenhair Fern is still…ugh. I mean, seriously, I’ve looked up Maidenhair Ferns online and found them referred to as “The Diva of Houseplants,” from more sources than I care to list, though how many of them are copies of each other, I also don’t care to verify… The fact that I have the one I do is basically my own fault, though, because I have a thing for Maidenhair Ferns. When they’re healthy, they’re beautiful. The issue is that they need constant watering and misting and high humidity and don’t tolerate much of anything well (except shade).

My house isn’t cold, dark and damp, so of course the fern isn’t happy. On the other end, we’ve got my hardy Dwarf Umbrella plant, which needs watering once in a while and some light, and it’s happy (though while I was sick, I forgot to water it, and it nearly died).

Luckily…I don’t yet have pets. If I did, I would have to be more vigilant, though I do have a dream of getting two or three guppies. For some reason, I really like guppies–! The fact that they’re also hardy is very good; the major issue is what to do if we end up moving, or where to put the aquarium. See, if I had an aquarium, I could put the fern near it, and that would likely make it humid enough for them.

I also have recurring dreams of having fish that I’ve forgotten about which have died of starvation, though, which is not that encouraging. However, I’ve gotten a lot better about routine essential things…particularly sleep, medication, and caring for the plants. My folks wouldn’t have given me an aquarium unless the plants stayed alive. Right now, though…I wonder just about having an aquarium with aquatic plants in it. I think I would like to have fish in there, who would be able to complete the cycle of food to poop to plant to clean water; but it’s a monetary and care commitment, not to mention what would happen if there were a major earthquake.

Of course…I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve lived through a number of major earthquakes. I wouldn’t call it PTSD, but I once in a while think to myself about what would happen if an earthquake occurred now. This is probably just a survival thing, because it happens more frequently than any major earthquake occurs. But I do know that it’s scary to be in a house with a full aquarium when the ground is rolling — both for the fish and for me. If it weren’t a practical awareness with a practical use, I’d call it anxiety, but it’s probably a good anxiety to have (to a degree).

Of course, though, there is also the anxiety of being far from home…which relates to my job search. Particularly…in a natural disaster, I might be called in to work, and in a disaster like Loma Prieta, which knocked out a major bridge, tunnel, and freeway leading to the Peninsula, it might take a very long time to get there (while my house might be in danger of burning down).

The practical thing is to move closer to work; but housing prices are exorbitant in this area, and there’s the question of what I would do if I lost my job.

Maybe I can just make a terrarium, eh? Put a little Venus Flytrap in there and some soil and rocks and lights, or something. A fern might like that…the only question is how to avoid steaminess in there, or the eventual development of mold.

Maybe I should read up on it.

Right now, it’s become Friday morning…I should probably do something like sleep (though I accidentally fell asleep, right before dinner). Tomorrow, I need to work on my Dewey unit…hmm. I know it was suggested that we see the Pikachu movie then, but I think that with everything going on — to be responsible, I should at least start my next unit (I haven’t touched it, so far). I only have until Monday, to get it done.

The biggest pain with that is actually taking notes. I don’t mind the reading or watching videos; the annoying thing is trying to guess what information is important, and trying to recall it. I could have done that instead of writing this…but I didn’t want to.