craft, design, psychology, sewing

Bipolar mania for now

…I’d say it’s better than the opposite, but I’m not quite sure.

I’m pretty sure I’m going through some kind of mood cycle. My sleep has been relatively disturbed for the past week…and aside from that, I’ve had some telltale signs of being in bipolar mania.

On the morning of Tuesday the 28th — I think it’s recorded here — I woke up at about 3:30 AM after four hours of sleep, got to work, and didn’t feel tired (even though I had to nap twice, later). On the morning of Thursday the 30th, I didn’t get to bed until about 4:45 AM, and didn’t feel tired for most of that time — as I had forgotten about medication until about 3:30 AM (over six hours late). On the night of the 30th, I didn’t get to bed until 1:15 AM because I was caught up in brainstorming a removable nose bridge design for the face coverings I’ve been making.

I’ve been attempting to redesign the coverings I’ve been producing…and I’m having some promising openings. The problem is that I may be overthinking it…trying to find ways to squeeze more than one covering out of a 3-yard package of bias tape (which is, oddly enough, probably cheaper in terms of time, than sewing fabric strips) — which requires math. I have a mental model now, though. For my future reference, this is the model using the double-fold bias tape for ties, and creating a pocket for the metal portion at the center of the covering.

For that I’ll need one of my awls, and to hand-bind a couple of eyelets within the tie. It’s relatively important that the flaps which protect the wearer from the metal, start right at the end of the metal component, so nothing shifts.

I also have a backup plan in case this doesn’t work: just sewing in a pocket (single-fold bias tape, or a piece of quilting fabric) on the inside of the covering, without necessarily altering anything else. The hard part about this is trying to keep metal away from people’s eyes in case of an accident, even though in my best trial fitting tonight, the bridge is right below the eyes. (Then again, I didn’t grow a nose bridge for a very long time, so I’m not really sure my face is representative of anyone else.)

I’m not sure these are good enough to sell, but they’re definitely good enough to experiment with. The thing I’m concerned about right now is how much longer than 4″ to make the metal component of the bridge; whether to just make it 4″; to weave a wire component for the bridge; not to put the bridge in at all…

The difficult thing for me is basically not being able to just go and automatically sew without thinking about it — which is my normal method of getting myself to do things. I had gotten up …well, at this point, yesterday (August 1) with the idea of doing some work on the coverings. I was a bit daunted, however, by the need to resolve the issue of vapor coming up around the nose and into the eyes with the coverings I had accomplished. (This is an issue where glasses and sunglasses are concerned; myself and the majority of people around me need to take glasses into consideration.)

I’m also not sure at this point whether I should be quilting the layers of fabric together, as it seems that not quilting them would be a better solution to catch the moisture coming out of the breath. Without the quilting, the breath travels through the first layer, disperses, and then travels through the second layer. With the quilting, the breath is pushed through both layers at once, which I’m thinking might be less efficient (though I don’t know). I do realize that coverings are to protect everyone else from the wearer; still, do I sacrifice heightened efficiency for ease of care?

I already know that these things need ironing after they dry, but I also know that there are still design issues to work out, which have to be dealt with before the question of, “how to iron them,” comes into play.

One issue is that I want to gather the sides of the covering more closely…within about a 2″ space (maybe 2.25″), with the upper tie going around the nape and the lower tie going around the crown. I’m hoping that the vector of force will keep the covering itself, in place.

The other thing is that M has requested repeatedly for the coverings to be larger. I’m not sure why, but right now I’m looking at an 8.5″x3″ footprint on the face (without the lower portion of the covering being extended to its full 6″ (or is that 5.5″?). I’ll have to see what that looks like and how it performs, in a future model.

For me, the prior size works fine (the cutout blank being 6.5″x9.5″). I don’t think my head is that small, but I do have a short face. Then again, M was also the person who requested the felt interlining which makes it feel as though one is breathing through a blanket.

I don’t even want to go there.

Anyway, just thinking about this is kind of a headache. I also kind of don’t want to be selling these, for liability purposes: “This face covering is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.” Although — all of that is true, and I could just say that. “Use at your own risk,” is the other disclaimer, though I’m not sure if that’s legal…

beading, craft, creativity, macrame, metalsmithing, self care, sewing

Handwork: keeping myself together

(NOTE: This entry was largely composed, technically, yesterday: May 8, 2020.)

I think I’ve reached the point where I’ve realized I can’t be concerned about everything happening in the world, at once. The other night, I hit the point of recognizing that I might not make it through the next 60 years…which M recognized as a red flag for depression, and sent me to bed. So right now I’m on alert, and just trying to care for myself.

I’ve also been having some weirdness when I’ve tried to sleep. I keep going to bed, then waking in the very early morning, and napping through mid-morning and early afternoon (though sometimes, as today, that “nap” is actually the majority of my rest).

What I can say…about coping… I’m not doing as well as I want to. Sewing is basically keeping me grounded, though on days like today, when it’s over 85° F outside in the afternoon (and we have no air conditioning), I haven’t been in the mood to press fabrics. I’m learning from experience when to keep my hands away from the ironing board, after having hit myself with steam maybe eight times over the past few days. It’s okay to give my fingertips time to recover!

I’m still working on masks. I haven’t yet gotten back to the blouse…which is okay. I haven’t bet on having a COVID-19 souvenir — at the beginning of this, I was saying that I wouldn’t want to have gone through quarantine and had nothing to speak of at the end of it other than a new blouse. I feel like I’ve done what I could, though; and now, it’s time for me to take care of myself.

That’s more important than further studying. I mean, obviously.

So…what can I say. Life is fragile on an individual basis, but has endured thus far, overall. At this point…I’ve gotta say I’m disconcerted, but I’m not the only person in this. We’ll make it through together, or we won’t, is the feeling I get. But then, I’m fighting off depression; and depression affects cognition.

So far as anything having changed, goes? There have been some developments…particularly where it comes to materials, though I’m not quite ready to get into it, yet.

I’ve basically stopped my language study, having realized that so much of my own purpose for existence is derived from making things…not as much, reading things. Not to mention, the dismay at the effort required for basic communication, as versus my level of facility in English (which allows me to read at a much higher level, where I’m able to spend time deciphering and analyzing arguments; as versus trying to figure out a basic gist of what was intended).

Am I disconcerted in not knowing Japanese? Yes, but right now it isn’t looking like I’d move to Japan if I had a choice, and the necessity of understanding written Japanese just hasn’t been as pressing on me since I’ve had to stay indoors.

I also did have a dream about becoming someone who writes closed-captioning for Public Broadcasting. (I’ve seen a lot of bad closed-captioning.) That was new…but I could do it. I can type very quickly. :)

Since I decided to get back to making things…I’ve been busy, particularly where it comes to design. I was up for four hours early this morning, attempting to puzzle out a hand-fabricated closure for my masks that would work with 3/4″ wide ties, and not tangle in hair. I still don’t have it down. Is that the fun part? ;)

“Fabrication” is a term used in Silversmithing which is often used to designate making something out of metal sheet and wire (or casting, etc.). So far as I know, the term isn’t used as much in beadwork or micro-macramé. Usually when Jewelers use the term, they’re talking about…well, Silversmithing (which includes working with Brass and Copper) or Goldsmithing. Which are the big two categories I know of, that routinely fall under the title, “Jeweler” (with a capital “J”)…so that’s kind of a tautology, I guess.

There are also the Reactive Metals (Titanium, Niobium, etc., which change color with treatment like anodization), but they require different working techniques, and are kind of a specialty. (I’m not sure where bronzework [mostly casting, as bronze is brittle] or pewter-smithing falls in there, but now I’m just splitting hairs…)

I’m actually thinking of getting back into making jewelry (little “j”), again, after having realized I had two choices of pearl earrings today (both of which, I made)…which just have some really nice pearls. I had intended to make a series out of one design, though I haven’t gotten around to it. I already have the parts. I was just a bit disappointed in the fine gold-filled wire I got, though; it doesn’t look very — well — gold. My trial version was brass, and cheap (hardware-store) brass at that, so it leans to a green point. However, it still hasn’t tarnished.

I’ve learned over the years to buy my pearls in-person, as getting them online is the luck of the draw, at best. At worst, your supplier knows enough to know that you don’t know what you’re getting (probably because you’re buying it from them *cough*), and takes advantage of that to send material that wouldn’t sell if you could see it before you bought it.

In particular…be careful to know what you’re buying. A lot of places sell glass and crystal pearls, and while these can even be better for some applications than real ones (because of size consistency — which is important in beadweaving — for instance), you don’t want to be buying faux pearls, thinking they’re real. Or be caught not knowing what a real pearl looks like. For that matter, it’s nice to know what is a natural color and what is dyed…but that gets into some sticky territory. Dyes can migrate to clothes or skin. Natural colors won’t, so far as I know…but the colors are limited (cream, peach, mauve, black, for example).

Of course, these days, the benefit of not gathering in groups likely is more important than getting quality pearls…in which case, you’d want to know your seller, and buy from quality sellers. What I’ve done with some success is to either go to a good bead store, or go to a bead convention (I’d also expect to see them at Gem & Jewelry Expos — I would write some of my contacts [like Aloha Pearls] to ask if they attend); but realistically right now, the danger of being together isn’t worth it.

It’s nice to find good-quality pearls at really inexpensive price points, at conventions. (I found a strand of pretty pink rice pearls for $8, last time.) But right now…the hazard is still there, and we need to have patience. Additionally: if you have a regional Bead Society, I’d think some of the members would know good pearl sources. I forgot to mention how I got into the convention circuit, in the first place! And I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re on Social Media.

I’ve been playing around with some C-Lon TEX tonight (it’s very heavy upholstery thread)…which has also got me thinking about getting back into micro-macramé. I have enough books and materials. I can teach myself a good amount.

Now, whether I’d have to fill my little torch (no, not a Smith Little Torch) and solder some seams in rings as macramé foundations…which would additionally require firebrick, flux, pickle, and a way to polish them…that could happen if I ran out of closed metal rings and didn’t want to pay to buy more finished ones. But I’m not at that point, yet. The major problem is what to do if I’m polishing a lot of small parts, like this; it can be hazardous to do them one-by-one, but investing in a tumbler would save a lot of frustration. (So far, M has been against this because of the noise factor; but we do have a garage, right now.)

I hadn’t been wearing earrings to work for hygienic reasons, but it may be worth it to make jewelry that I (or others) can wear on my off-hours. And not, you know, denigrate my off-hours as the days on which I don’t dress up.

I’m also considering helping out a small local business…not that I’ve gone to them with that, yet. I just kind of feel for them and their community (which I happen to be a part of).

So yeah, I’ve…apparently, been thinking about a lot. More than I had realized.

I’m also seeing that maybe this is where my heart is. In making things, I mean. I could just be a craftsperson at heart. It would explain why I can’t even really bear the thought of spending the rest of my isolation, reading and studying. It could also explain why “Art” is so difficult, at this point. Comparatively speaking, crafts have inbuilt limitations, which give them foundation and structure. I haven’t seen so much of that in Art, though I do wonder about the possibility of 3-D paintings and such. I’ve seen things approaching it in string sculptures, but Augmented Reality could also be interesting.

As regards choice of media: I did talk with my sibling, who has just told me to be aware of the drawbacks of each medium, but (basically) not to allow that to decide which I work within, as they all have drawbacks (this is my interpretation — or more likely, synthesis).

Of course, we were talking about watercolors (not wanting to discharge toxins into the environment) as versus digital media (cleaner, but like constantly using a pencil)…and I just can’t see giving up the former.

What I can see being impacted by my current inhibitions (wanting to create while also desiring ethical sourcing) is my use of gold…which is sparing, but still. I really don’t even know what happens when people make colored glass beads, and that’s been troubling me. It’s possibly also been the reason I stopped using them. But maybe I don’t have to care about everything, all the time?

I’ve thought up the possibility of — while we’re still closed — creating some designs for a number of the cabochons I’ve collected, over the years. That way, when we open up (we still don’t have a membership at the Art Center, which is good because the membership will go farther now), I can get right on making them.