creative writing

Handwriting…

It’s ironic that I keep looking around at pens, when the vast majority of my writing these days is done on a keyboard. There’s a pretty straightforward reason for this: sometimes, thoughts come to me so quickly that it is very difficult to write them down before they’re lost — though that was more of an issue when I was younger. Also, despite the fact that typing is by its nature a linear route, it’s still easier to insert and delete records here, than on paper.

Of course, it’s also easier to draw and make notations in the middle of writing, by using pen and paper. I am also not a stranger to multiple ink colors…though it’s easy enough to change a font color on a computer, there’s basically not a lot of point to it, there.

There’s also the fact that ink may not be permanent — but then, file formats go obsolete, too.

One of the reasons I may move back to paper records is the fact that they’re relatively private. I haven’t attempted any creative writing in a long time; it is possible to attribute this to the fact that primarily writing online means that my writing is not only my own. It also means that every typographical error, every ill-thought-out slip of the keys (or of judgment) is public. Writing involves risk-taking; risk-taking involves privacy, and freedom from other people’s criticisms until one is ready to present.

Blogging simply is too public a forum to place such extreme vulnerability. Or maybe I should say that blogging is extremely public, and creative writing needs some degree of nurturing, and in the early stages is helped by some degree of privacy (or incubation, if you’d rather).

I got my first fountain pen, a Pilot Metropolitan, to practice writing in Japanese. While I could resume learning this…I’m far from functionality, but too far in for grammatical drills and repetitions of “konnichi wa” to be alluring. It would be review, and review can be frustrating after you’ve done it over and over, for years. I’ve come far enough that I recognize some of what people are saying on NHK World, but it’s in fragments. A large part of what I’m missing is just vocabulary. That, and knowledge of pitch.

What I need to do is just craft my own approach to learning Japanese. I have enough sources to begin, though now I also have no one to correct me.

I should also back off of the typing and try and write some things out by hand. Like I do here. Just sit down, and write.

After having looked around a bit on the Reader, I’m fairly glad that I haven’t been mindlessly posting pictures of my craft work — controlled openness, is a term I think I’ve read, before, as applies to the craft community. It isn’t easy to do that, online: unless I’m in a protected area, it’s all-or-nothing.

While I’m writing this, I should also mention that it has become more difficult for me to read books. I think it’s because they aren’t animated like my screen. ;)

I’m getting off topic. Last night I was up way too late, and paid for it earlier today. I’ll try and get some rest now. Hopefully, I can touch on this tomorrow.

beading, beadwork, career, design, jewelry design, libraries, personal, self care, work

Back to reality

Today was the first day I’ve had outside in a week and a half. I got to taste strange cheeses (live and active cultures? seriously, what the…), and realize that even at 170 lbs. (I’ve stabilized, here), I don’t look so bad. At least, when my clothes fit properly. And…I’m not sure, but my fat distribution may have changed a little — or the pants I just got are actually a little large. (I suppose it would help explain my viewpoint to mention that I’ve been underweight for most of my life, not by choice.)

Apparently, I had the beginnings of a sinus infection in addition to a cold, and I think the only reason I haven’t lost weight is that I drank a lot of liquid sugars in the form of juices. The medication I’m on tends to cause me to slowly gain weight if I drink more than a minimal amount of juice or soda, and then don’t balance that with exercise. This is why I’ve been trying to shift to teas (green, oolong, and herbal) and carbonated water, if not straight water (which I am willing to appreciate for its low cost and lack of calories and sweetness — I’ve actually considered drinking broth in the past, which is how much I get disturbed by the constant sweetness). However, while I was sick, I didn’t really have the energy to care. (I also wasn’t eating that much.)

Right now I’m trialing an antihistamine to see if it will fight the lingering head cold symptoms, as I’m planning on being active again tomorrow. It looks like I will be OK where it comes to sinus infections, but I hear from others that I still sound stuffy, and I have a bit of congestion. I also am a little tired, and I have a lot of stuff coming up with homework from my classes and job applications and graduation ceremonies. I hadn’t planned to be out of commission for a week and a half (I actually did get some good work done on Monday two weeks ago, before I got a sore throat on Tuesday morning — for future reference [if it is unclear] this is the second Friday night since then).

About work: having applied for a Clerk position and having seen how much they get paid, I’m feeling not so bad about having the job title I do, now. Of course, I’m in the lowest-ranking paid job I can be in at my Library, but Clerks (the next step up) don’t get paid much more (the difference is that they’re considered for benefits, and can work full-time). Right now I’m normally working 18 hours a week, which has meant that even without paid sick leave, I have enough to not worry about having been out sick for more than half of a pay period.

So, I’ve been comforted with the knowledge that I do not have to find a better-paying job immediately, because I’m already making payments on my loans (I’m just not the person that handles the legwork, there, so I didn’t know).

I’m also realizing more the concrete difference between working in an Academic Library as versus Public…and I have been told that I don’t have to study for my job interviews, though the book I just finished on homelessness and libraries was actually really illuminating. I want to deal with the Robert Bacal book next, though, because he has a different viewpoint (one focused on protecting the person who has to enforce the rules, rather than helping other people to heed the rules).

I have one more book on Public Service I can read, right here next to me. The thing is that so much of my world is revolving around libraries, at this point. I think it’s understandable that I could be reaching my limit, especially seeing how some systems take advantage of humanitarian urges. I do want to get back to my Cataloging classes (this is wholly on my own terms, as it isn’t through a University), but at the same time, I’ve already been introduced to the issues in that class, so this isn’t new. It is possible that I could play around with the Web interface, which might help more…and I should. But part of that can be homework…

I also want to get back to my JavaScript training, though this would be easier if I had a concrete goal to work towards, with which the training would help me. I don’t have that, at this point. Same thing with Japanese language — though I could be a bilingual Librarian in the future, and it might be a shoe-in if I were one of the few people who could speak and understand Japanese language fluently, it’s a lot of work to get to that point. If I learned the language for the love of the language, that’s one thing…but learning it so I can be a more effective Public Servant? Ehh?

Learning it so I can move to Japan? I’m mixed-race, and have had enough problems with that from people close to me; I don’t expect living in Japan to be easy for me, even if I did pass the JLPT to a high enough degree to be employed there. Even if I did, I’d probably have to deal with people thinking I’m “exotic” around the clock (and there are fewer legal protections for females in Japan). If I had a concrete goal — like, hey, I want to be able to read Japanese craft books — now that is something. But this kind of hazy, “I want to learn Japanese so I can understand more of my heritage,” thing, is kind of too amorphous; because for one thing, I question my motives (much easier when your family is being dysfunctional and you’ve become aware of how constant this has been).

I also really want and/or need to get back to my beadwork, though I tend to run off on some tangent about my job every time I mention it, like it isn’t important. But I have been given permission to keep buying materials as long as I sell what I make with them. That…is tempting! But I’ll make some stuff first before I go and buy more. I have a number of projects in progress, and enough basic instructions and materials to play around for a good long time. Unless I make it really different in some way that I can only hypothesize on now, it would likely be what I’ve called, “common work;” that is, stuff that anyone who has access to the information and materials I do, would be able to easily reproduce. The thing is, the bridge from common work to work that shows my own imagination, craft and skill…that isn’t so clear.

Anyhow…this comes after a while of looking for information on how to design jewelry. There are a lot of beading, “recipe books,” out there; but few which actually will teach one how to become a designer — like a person who would make a recipe book. Particularly so, where it comes to beadwork (this doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem in metalsmithing). This is something that I’ve had a problem with, for a while. I have the thought that the books on how to design aren’t out there because if people could make their own designs, then beading design books might not be as popular — or that could be what the major presses believe.

Then, there’s also the issue with intellectual property (IP) where it comes to handcrafts, which isn’t clear because of the fact that the concept of “intellectual property” was meant to protect new ideas, not to apply to old or traditional ones. While it’s clear to me now that “copyright” protects patterns, but does not apply to technique; and that if any IP concept could apply at all to handcrafts, it would likely be patent — and then in very rare cases would someone actually have the ability to enforce it. Patent itself is only applicable to novel uses of materials which would be unlikely to be stumbled upon by anyone else. The validity of the utilization of the “copyright” tool is up to the courts, and that on a case-by-case basis, taking into account a number of factors which I don’t have the space to go into, here.

So basically, I’ve had to deal with knowing I will be mimicked and with knowing that I can’t help but be similar in some way to others working in the same field with the same materials and the same knowledge base. It’s a reason why I’ve stopped posting images of my work online. There’s basically no way to protect it, and no reason to show it unless I’m selling (or trying to get name recognition). In some ways one is better off publishing through a press, because then at least one gets some return for their design work, and at least everyone knows who originated what design…and there’s no ambiguity around the question of who saw what, when. If it’s public, it’s public; and if you went through a press, they likely have a legal team that actually knows what it’s doing. Laypeople, on the other hand…

I once had a rather uncomfortable exchange with a person who told me that I shouldn’t sell until I did not have to refer to design books; but obviously neglected to say what I should do with the piles of jewelry I produced as learning aids, in the meantime. This is another time in my life where I look back and say, “I shouldn’t have listened to that person.” At all. I probably shouldn’t have even talked to them, because that gave them a platform to throw around more of this nonsense (like the idea that contacting the author of a beading pattern to ask permission to sell something made using it, and under which conditions [credit to the pattern author, a cut of the profits, etc.], would be confronted with hostility, even though the act of reaching out for permission is one of goodwill).

Like the time I mentioned wanting to take Ceramics and was told, “only old people do that;” or the time I wanted to try out Graphic Design and was told that I, “could do more,” or the time I was making a Dutch Spiral chain for my pendant in Metals class and was told, “no beading in class.” Or, for that matter, the time I mentioned wanting to take Biology and was told, “only girls do that.” (It was obvious that I didn’t like the “teenage girl” image, at the time; which, given the fact that the information given to me is obviously false [from the point of view of an adult], was likely the other child’s motivation.) Like, what the ****. Where would I be if I had been hardheaded enough not to listen to these people, or at least enough to throw out their invalidations of my desires once I got home?

The one time (of the above examples) when I was hardheaded enough to keep going and know that I was doing what I wanted to do — when I was following my own desire and did not let myself be diverted — was when I finished that Dutch Spiral chain. (People still ask me how I did it, and I can say that it’s a popularly known technique.) The angry person I mention above in the context of the ethical use of patterns, actually threw me off my course for a number of years, because I wanted to be a good person. Thus, I didn’t make jewelry to sell with which I had gotten help from a pattern. This was before I got into Library School and read deeper on the issue. It’s also before I got back into my pattern and instructional books and realized how much I could accelerate my own growth by learning from others. What it looks like to me — and all it looks like, now — is an attempt to sabotage my development, which is even worse when you consider that the person was throwing themselves out there as a mentor.

I did have a (metal) pendant design come to me the other night as I was trying to get to sleep, and have wanted to make a maquette of it. A maquette is basically a paper model, which I would make using stiff card. I should have done it last night when I thought of it — I haven’t had the energy to do it yet, today. The form is kind of cosmic, with interlocking crescents. Kinda (not) like Sailor Moon, though I have entertained buying a black oxidized naja and making a circlet with it, and dressing up as a member of the Dark Kingdom for Halloween. I’m aware that this is not the cultural context of its intended use…it’s just that I’ve seen some examples which look very much like the symbol in Sailor Moon books and anime, to the point that I wonder if they took and duplicated the exact dimensions.

I do wonder if I’m crazy enough to do that. Am I that…crazy…

While I think of the design (interlocking crescents) as like a black hole, it’s likely closer to a magnetic field…or a vishva vajra. Realizing that made me start thinking on the validity of Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle Buddhism) last night, and the possible connection with singularities. (There was some show on gravitational lensing, dark matter, and dark energy, the other night.) I don’t think I could be an adherent of Vajrayana Buddhism in this life, save finding an actual appropriate teacher. From all accounts, it’s intense, and I’m not a person who puts a lot of faith in faith anymore, so my motives would be questionable (fear? grasping at immortality?)…and you kind of need a strong motive to put yourself through that.

I would also be more than irritated if there were no reason for it.

Anyhow…I think I’ve finally reached the end of this train of thought. Thanks for getting through it with me! Right now, it’s about 10:30 PM my time, so I should probably start doing something else than talking online…

craft, creativity, design, paper crafts

Papercrafts.

Two things: One, I have started experimenting with paper-cutting (or “papercuts,” as my old Art friends would have called it). Two, for the second day in recent memory, I woke up today striking out at something that was in a dream. (The previous time, I struck a pillow and my headboard, which woke me up.)

Luckily, I don’t share my bed with anyone; I was also on my back, so I only would have popped someone if they had been standing over me. It took me a little bit of time to get to the point of wondering how hard I would have struck. M says that it sounds like I’ve been under a lot of stress. It’s possible; I realized last night that I’m actually in the middle of three instructional programs, though none of them are in the University system, at the moment. I’m also kind of stressed from the job search, and the fact that I did not opt to take internships (which is apparently very important, though I’ve been told that my nine years in the system as an Aide [but not as a Library Assistant] suffices).

I suppose that by the beginning of this Fall, I should be fairly clear on whether I want to be a Cataloger, or otherwise concentrate on Web Development…

So…the other thing. I believe that the term for what I’ve been doing with knives and paper is called kirigami, though I’m not completely sure. My previous forays into kirigami were simple cuts into origami (paper-folding) which allowed slightly more complex structures (such as antennae on shrimp). Because origami has a strong inclination to avoid cutting of the paper, though, these cuts were minimal, and mostly not of a structural nature.

What I was doing last night was more experimental and playful, than anything. I had started experimenting with my knives and gouges on linoleum printing blocks. It was at this time that I realized that most of my gouges are seriously damaged; one had a bent tip which split and tore the linoleum rather than cutting it, while many of the others had otherwise chipped or deformed (dulled) cutting edges. It’s probably due to my using them without having realized how fragile they were; though I also wonder if these companies should be making gouges (as versus knives) in the first place. The blades which were undamaged (the U-gouges) also slipped on the harder blocks, which is an obvious safety hazard. Then there was the chisel blade, which was sharp, but hard to back out of a cut. It’s good for clearing away mass, but not so much in detailed areas.

These are Speedball and X-Acto blades (both of which have issues in fitting the blades to the handles, particularly where it comes to tightening the collets, which in both cases have resulted in metal shavings)…and I’m not entirely certain whether it’s worth buying replacement blades for them. This is especially as I can go to one or more Japanese toolshops and buy reusable blades that I know I can sharpen myself (I have a fine-grit waterstone built for this purpose, though my Japanese-language skills aren’t high enough yet to allow me to read the instructions, and Google Translate basically doesn’t play well with Japanese).

I do, however, know that high-carbon steel (the kind that rusts and has to be oiled and protected from air and water) is much better for blades of this type than stainless steel (the latter of which, looks like what I’ve got in my X-Acto set — I doubt high-carbon steel would bend). The deal is that Japanese high-carbon steel blades, I would think, would be made more for use in wood and food, not linoleum, which…really? Is made from sawdust and linseed oil (possibly with stone dust also)?

Anyhow…I wanted to cut some things, and upon seeing the damage that my gouges had largely gone through, I turned my attention to the straight and hooked blades (they worked better, fortunately)…and the paper-crafting drawer that I had not gone into, for months.

Turns out, I have a large number of origami paper sheets, mostly unfaded (though the faded ones are good for potentially disposable practice). This includes a lot of tiny papers (!) which are not as useful in kirigami, but fun to play with. I tried making a tiny crane from a paper which was 4 cm square…not easy! Especially when you haven’t done origami in years (and making Diamond Base means you’re working with a module that is 2√2 cm in height)!

Still, that stuff’s cute. I picked up the block (500 sheets) from a small Asian grocery store when I was a kid, probably for $1. I still remember that. The owner there has basically seen me grow up, though we don’t really talk…he’s much more comfortable using nihongo (Japanese language), and less comfortable with English, than I am. I wouldn’t be surprised if situations like that were part of the reason I originally wanted to learn (that, and anime, manga, games, and music, though that sounds silly as an adult — there’s way more to any culture than just pop culture and food).

So…let’s see. I don’t have pictures yet — I was up too late last night to consider it, and today I was largely asleep — but it was fun to play around with folding the papers different ways, to see what would happen. As I was messing around with that, I started remembering the ways I’d folded paper in the past, mostly as a kid and teen. With art, it’s really rare for there to be a rule that says you can’t do something (which is always meant to be followed)…

What’s interesting is that I seem to have stumbled back onto a modular component (one which fits into a bunch of other ones to make a larger piece), just from playing around. I don’t remember what to do with it, though. I just have it folded up and waiting for me to get back to it. (The tough part is dealing with the aftermath of the first fold, requiring an inversion and tuck of the last fold. This makes a smaller square where all the corners are tucked in.)

I also have the question of whether there exist origami and/or kirigami books for adults. There have to be, right? I haven’t run a search yet (edit: they’re in or near Dewey 736.982), though I can see from a basic Web search that kirigami in particular is inspiring people in Engineering. I think I’ve seen at least one NOVA program focusing on that, where it came to nanotechnology and self-assembling robots.

Hmm. I also know a bookstore in SF Japantown that did have displays on origami, possibly kirigami. Whether the person who was into that is still there (or can help me), I’m not certain. There’s a very real language barrier that I’ve dealt with for a very long time, which is why I’m currently trying to learn nihongo. That goal is also a large part of the reasoning behind considering moving further West; it would be much easier to maintain practice in Japanese language where there are a lot of people who need you to do so (and whom you can practice with).

What’s fun — with the papers, at least — is the fact that until you get a good amount of practice, it’s not easy to tell what is going to come out of any particular folding + cutting pattern. Getting a good handle on origami bases and modules (some of which, I’ll likely make up, solely as cutting patterns) should help, though.

The major drawback to using origami paper is that I haven’t known it to be colorfast (the colors, at least in the cheaper versions, often run with water-based adhesives); thus, gluing these things down to anything will require some skill (or spray adhesive, which I’ve been told is particularly noxious). There’s also the possibility of cutting my own paper, meaning possibly marbling or painting and then squaring up, folding, and cutting the paper again…which I might do if I find a nice enough cutting pattern. For example, I could take a folded and cut piece, then cut pieces out of it and glue those down to stiffer paper, possibly with overlap, to help make bookmarks.

(I’ve had a bookmark “trip” in the back of my mind for the last several years, apologies.)

I did also, though, find a bunch of bookmarks I made one Christmas which did not cure in time for the holiday, meaning that they would have left glue marks on the insides of books. Several years later, they’re less slippery. I’m still not using that glue again. I have three alternatives to test, now.

I could still do bookmarks. The major deal with those is the fact that I was using patterned greeting card paper along with paper blanks made for scrapbook borders…I never really got into the scrapbooking thing, but it’s nice to have a bunch of different papers available. It reminds me of quilting, really.

And yeah, right — now I have the washi tape in addition to acrylic markers! There are a good amount of possibilities…

craft, personal

Things to do that I almost forgot: Japanese language study, and coding.

I really didn’t do anything creative today, but I made the experience of living in this house a little more pleasant, at least for myself. I’m hoping to leave some notes here for the future, as to what I can do in the daytime which will be constructive, other than beading, hanging out on social media, and reading. When I get to a certain point where my focus has narrowed to an extreme, it becomes difficult to think of different things to do, or to change focus.

I did take some time out to clean my office and bedroom. I had forgotten how good it felt to have clean carpet underfoot! Wrapping up my hair was a good thing, because I did end up getting very dusty. I may have to wash my hair tomorrow, despite it; my scalp feels a little itchy, still. I might also have to wash my blankets; the drawback of not making the bed every day is that dust and germs can accumulate, there.

I was also able to let in some fresh air, which was much nicer than expected. The windows have been shut as it’s been so cold outside, but the coolness was nice today, because I was working so hard, the sun was out, and it was in the low 60°s F outside.

The little Umbrella plant still hasn’t been repotted, though it got some direct sun, today. :) (I’m not sure that’s a good thing.) I also have everything I need for it, so it’s just a matter of when I’m okay with getting soil and gravel on the table and floor. :)

After I had gotten a considerable amount of work done, I was able to return to the aspect of my life which is at least nominally work-related…that is, the books in my office. I have a good number of Japanese language learning books which I just haven’t gone back to (maybe because I keep getting discouraged from having to pull away from my studies?). I want to get back to learning this, particularly as it’s a transferable skill that I might need.

As well…hmm. I need to at least be reviewing my coding, if not learning new aspects of it. I did see today that I do have somewhere where I can load and run databases. I’m just not at all sure that I’m up to the task (meaning that I probably am, and that I know enough to have trepidation towards it).

Yes, it is weird that those are two language-related skills…

Anyhow…I’m not entirely certain what to do about my yarn projects. I have one which has been in my bedroom for months, although it’s still not finished (I saw the specter of running out of yarn, and got nervous), and I haven’t really worked on it since I brought it in. Then, I had started to work on teaching myself to knit (with wool), but at this point…I know it’s very expensive in terms of time, and I don’t know that it’s worth it.

If I did work with yarn and knitting…I have a strong desire to work one or more lace shawls or wraps and eventually gain the skill to incorporate beads into them. Cowls are also good; the thing is that if I end up in a warmer climate…they may not be anything I can use.

I have decided to keep a book (Knit and Crochet with Beads by Lily Chin, 2004) which shows different ways to integrate beads into knitting and crochet…because I don’t know when I’ll run across another like it. It’s actually quite a useful book, if you’re into that sort of thing…I just don’t know if, in the near future, I will have the luxury of enough free time to deal with something like this.

But maybe repetitive fine motor movements will be enough to soothe my anxiety…I believe I have memorized the pattern for the blanket in mid-process, sitting here next to me.

I just realized that embroidery and sewing seem to have slipped my mind altogether, but I should try not to forget them.

There’s more stuff going on, but it would be in my best interest not to get into it right now. I will say that it may be useful to do some reading on Informational Interviewing, or possibly in that introductory book I’ve been interested in and never read, because I didn’t foresee a career in the work of which it spoke. However…at this point I know I’m not socially inept; I could teach crochet or beading or knitting, if I knew what I was doing, and teaching helps bring people together…