beading, beadwork, craft, jewelry design

After all that…

It’s been a long time, and I’m feeling the need to get back to my jewelry and lace work.

I still haven’t gotten around to making that goldtone and freshwater pearl necklace, though I have all the materials. It’s something to think about, at least — if not work on. (Why not work on them? I have to decide whether to use brass or gold-fill wire…this is 26 or 28 gauge, not plated very thoroughly, in the case of the gold; and I can’t expect the working properties between the metals to be the same.)

The major issues are the possibility of running out of the gold-fill wire and of forgetting which type I got last time; and of finding that my pearls aren’t all drilled (or shaped) correctly. The latter would mean I might have to thin them out. It doesn’t help that, because of the fineness of the chain I purchased, I have to attach the drops integrally, in the process of making them. Standard jump rings just won’t fit inside the links.

Right now I also have a strand of button pearls, with which I’m not sure what to do. I was thinking of interspersing them with the woven drops. It would be easier if they drilled them lengthwise, like maybe with two horizontal piercings, instead of drilling them vertically from top to bottom. Button pearls, basically, are shaped like little mounds, with one flat side. They’re a relative design challenge because of it, although if they were drilled like “Candy” beads (two parallel holes along the base, cabochon-shaped), it would be fine.

Well, most anything could be a design challenge, if one thought hard enough, I suppose…(“Let’s make something that doesn’t look like anything that came before!”)

The bright side of having them, though, is that they’re relatively inexpensive, so I could afford a good luster — even if they are cream as versus white. (I get happy with a good rainbow sheen…which was a reason I often went to my local bead store to pick out individual strands of pearls. [That particular store, however, no longer exists.])

I still have to go through and cull the dull ones out, though. To be honest, I’m not sure how many of the ones on the strand I have, are usable. Just…natural things happen to them, which sometimes makes them not look so good. If you’ve seen the various insides of shells, like from mussels or clams…you probably know what I mean. Sometimes they just look marred, for reasons I can’t imagine.

I also have to keep myself from buying these, at bead conventions. There are often a lot of pearls, and the good ones — like the iridescent ones (along with some of the not-so-good ones) — often cost a decent amount, per-strand. Pearls are also some of the hardest things I could work with…they’re not as regular as seed beads or calibrated beads, and they kind of demand that whatever goes with them, not be so humble as to allow the pearls to outshine them. This means that pearl jewelry…it can get expensive, quickly.

I guess from a sales perspective, that means you get back your investment. But pearls are basically gems, just organic ones. Gemstone jewelry isn’t cheap, in most cases (unless you’re working with very small quantities, as with earrings, or you’re using an abundant or inexpensive material, like hematite).

It’s been a really long time since I did any macramé, as well. It’s not that I don’t want to do it; it’s that my materials are hidden, stashed away in drawers, so I don’t think about working with them, so much. The hard part is when they become hidden in plain sight, so you see their container every day, and just don’t think to look inside. (Now that I mention that, I remember the tatting shuttle on my nightstand…I’m concerned that it will become like my knitting and crochet, and be too repetitive for me to avoid feeling like I’m wasting my life. But I’ll give it a shot.)

Along with all this, I’ve continued experimenting with the Tri Stitch chains. Apparently, I can fit a 4mm fire-polished (FP) bead into each gap on either side of the chain, and it will lay flat…though I haven’t measured the exact length of those “4mm” beads. My major issue at this point is the fact that those 4mm FP beads are too wide to fit in between a Tri Stitch lattice (also that the lattice looks cheap next to them, depending on the beads I use).

However…what I did before with a 3mm Magatama drop, between two 15° Toho spacers? That…might work! Of course, it would turn the Magatama vertical, so that it would stand out of the fabric instead of dropping to one side, but that may be enough leeway to allow the bracelet some motion. It would also add texture.

And, of course, as I saw before…not all of those drop beads are the same size. So I also have some leeway, there. It would…just be kind of nice, though, to know who made those beads…not every supplier divulges their sources (sometimes, intentionally).

And…yeah, it’s…now 2 AM here. I…should go to bed…

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

Notes

My attempt to be concise has failed: the intro, here, is what’s going on locally. The rest is about beadwork and jewelry-making as a micro business.

Today was bearable, partially because I’m learning it’s okay not to overwork myself; what to do when I am in danger of overworking myself; and that I don’t have to keep my personal and work lives fully separate. I just have to avoid oversharing.

I guess it’s kind of like my Web presence.

Tomorrow…I need to re-pot my dwarf Umbrella Plant before it falls over. :) Meaning that I should water it, tonight. I also want to work on some coding, and start some kind of beading project — whether that’s bead embroidery, or working on the SuperDuo bracelet (cream, blue and amber), or working on the bronze and green project (which I’ve decided is okay if I do just use the two-hole beads as spacers for a double-stranded necklace — I really want to make a double-stranded necklace!).

I’ve spent the majority of my free time today either reading beadwork books, or browsing beadwork books. I don’t know what this place is going to look like, if I keep collecting these things.

I’m still torn on whether or not to put the project I photographed in my last post for sale…for one thing because I’m not wholly satisfied with it even now, and for another thing, because it has special significance to me. The pearls I used in it, I purchased on my last trip to visit family in Hawai’i.

I could make another version of it with far less personal significance, and likely sell it for less than this one. I’m attached enough to the one I have now, that I’ve decided that I’m not letting it go for less than $85. I predict I should be asking more, but like most beginning crafters, may undervalue my product (the upper limit above which it just gets ridiculous, is $145; $120 is middling but compensates me well for my skill and labor, and pays off everything I bought to make this).

The same place I bought the large pearl from, has told me that they will ship to the mainland; I have half a mind to ask for a 12-mm Tahitian black pearl, to make another version of this necklace. I don’t entirely know how much that would cost, however (I’m guessing between $12-$24 at retail), and the black pearls I saw there last time weren’t really iridescent. (I have a thing for rainbow sheen on pearls, but I don’t know if that sheen is artificial [like an Aurora Borealis (AB) coating on glass] or not…)

I had wanted to work on the collar project with the pink netting, but I know I still have more design work to do on it (I’ve realized how to make it curve), and that it will likely work out best if I do not attempt to incorporate the cabochon, at this point. The distortion caused by attaching a netted collar to a mounted oval cabochon…I’d have to conceal, and I’m not entirely certain how, yet (especially as that join is at the focal point of the necklace).

However…I can do a netted collar without the cabochon…or incorporate the cabochon as part of the clasp, and wear the clasp in the front. That…would make sense! Hmm. I’ll have to think, on that.

I can work on the body of the netting as-is, and see if I even have enough beads to encircle a neck comfortably…

So before Tuesday night, I want to have some stuff finished (a friend has asked me to show some of my work that night…which could get interesting). Particularly, the pink bracelet and a violet version, would be the easiest entry points into that. Working with cabochons is almost starting from zero, for me (I’ve only mounted two undrilled cabochon-like stones ever, and one of those was in a metal bezel, not a beaded one).

And…yes, basically everyone is saying I need to be selling on Etsy! I’m pretty sure I’ll need to take them up on that…

The pearl drop necklace (on chain) is in hiatus until I figure out if my chain is much too delicate to be hanging anything off of…it’s 1.3mm wide. It’s tiny. And stretchy.

28g wire will fit through a link, but with 17 of those drops…will the chain break??? The problem is that the links are so small that I have to wire the drops directly to the chain. That means that if the chain deforms or breaks, to avoid undoing my work, I’ll have to cut the chain rather than cut the drops. One or the other has to happen, and I’m not looking forward to either, because this is utilizing gold-fill and gold-plate, not pure brass.

Though, I would have a good set of tarnish-resistant chains for tassels or earrings, later…

Yeah. I need to be selling this stuff…the major issue right now is making stuff so nice that I want to hold onto it…but I hardly wear any jewelry, normally! Really!

garments, sewing

Starting work on blouse.

Today I put in a bit more work on a for-real version of the Folkwear Nepali Blouse, with the new pattern. Yesterday I was basically scoping out the requirements of the pattern and seeing how much material I actually have. I also overlocked the edges of my fabric and put it through the wash. Today consisted of cutting out the pattern pieces, or more properly: adjusting the paper pattern pieces, laying them out, pinning them down, transferring the markings, and cutting them out.

I added 4″ of length in the middle of the pattern, as my toile (muslin mockup) was so short as to be uncomfortable (my gridded cutting mat was of use, here). I am uncertain as to whether to extend the side slits above the added length, as the slits in the toile start right at my waist. I also would like to insert a panel (maybe a triangular or trapezoidal one) so that when the side slits do open, it shows the underlying fabric instead of an undershirt or my skin. I am not entirely certain how to do this yet, or if it would be more worth my time to construct an undershirt or sleeveless shell.

The issue with using a shell is that the front of the blouse is constructed so as to curve around the breasts; a shell will likely take away that bit of detail. Amazingly enough, the detail itself doesn’t make me uncomfortable; it may be because of the fabrics I’ve been using.

I’m used to stretch fabrics requiring underlayers because of all the “landscape detail” they show, by clinging. A crisp cotton or muslin doesn’t seem to have that problem — at least so, at this point. However…a clingy and low-cut tank top with a long hem, of the type I already have, would clear up the problem — and not require a huge inverted box pleat. The lack of modesty around the breasts wouldn’t then be an issue, because those areas would be covered by the blouse itself.

Right now I still have to mark and cut out the underarm gussets, the two back panels (though these are already pinned), and the ties.

I’ve been using white Saral paper as transfer paper, instead of the Dritz stuff from the fabric store. It works much better, at least so far. I’ve also been using a white marking pencil designed for quilting, though it’s super-soft! To mark the dots, notches, and squares on the pattern, I’ve been using a leather tooling stylus — something like an awl with a ball at the point. I just press on top of the pattern with the Saral paper underneath it. It does have a tendency to tear up the pattern, though.

It seems like the pattern paper now is more delicate than I’m used to. I’m using washi tape to piece together the extension panels, and even though it’s light and repositionable, it has still torn this paper, just like tissue paper.

The other thing I can mention is that I keep forgetting to place my cutting mat underneath the areas I’m marking. I’m not using a marking wheel with really deep teeth (of the type that I accidentally marked the table with before), but it’s still something to watch out for.

I also meant to mention last time, if I haven’t, that using a sewing machine in no way takes away from the pleasure of sewing for me. I was mildly surprised. It makes things go much more quickly and efficiently, though I am sure I will want to review my hand-stitching techniques (I may need slipstitch and basting in the near future, in addition to a way to hand-finish seams).

craft, garments, sewing

Getting back to projects :)

I thought this post would go best on Hidden Jewels, as it’s a craft post. What I was doing last night is a continuation of the Nepali Blouse project (Folkwear #111) which I seem to have last posted about in 2010. I finished the toile (muslin mockup) for this project last night, along with working on the toile of the Japanese Field Clothing (I’m using the monpe/mompei section) pattern (Folkwear #112), to the point that I can see how it’s supposed to fit.

The thing about leaving a project unfinished for almost a decade is that your body shape can change during that time. In my case, I changed from a Medium to a Large (I think?) in the Nepali Blouse. I learned not to cut a pattern along the line which currently fits, now; I cut out the pattern to Medium size in 2010, so now that I need the Large size…I’ve cut off and thrown out what I needed, as waste. Of course, now I need it, as over the last 9 years (about a quarter of my life so far), I’ve put on a bit of weight (which is to be expected).

Instead of eyeballing the differences in sizes for that pattern, because it’s so complex, I decided to just get another copy. So far, it looks like the same pattern, but I’m just referring to the copyright date here: I have not matched up the components. I’m not really looking forward to cutting out all the pattern pieces again, so if I could match up pieces I’ve already cut and confirm them as the same, it would be great.

Right now, I could be working on this project. But just like last night I felt best working on something with my hands instead of writing, right now I feel the need to keep records.

It’s amazing how easy it was to switch out my computer for the sewing machine. I mean, seriously: I can just clear off a section of the craft table and sew on it. It’s kind of awesome.

The other pattern — the monpe — I had to scale up, though it was relatively simple to do so, looking at the differences in measurement between each size. The current version of Folkwear #112 isn’t the same as the one I have, though. However, as the pieces are mostly rectangles, and the changes in sizing are only along one side of a pattern piece, I feel okay with doing the calculations on my own.

The hard part about that pattern was telling the front from the back of the fabric (and the inside of the pant from the outside), which shouldn’t be too much of an issue with the fabric I have (a one-sided print).

 

beading, beadweaving, beadwork, Business training, color, glass beads, jewelry, metalsmithing, occupational hazards, seed beads, small business planning

Self-observation + Link to Matubo seed bead review

Observation first, before I forget.

I really like working with seed beads and fiber.  And I really like writing about seed beads and fiber.  I originally started the metalworking classes because I could see some things being done with seed beads which could be more cleanly and simply done with metal (like cabochon and faceted stone setting).  And I could see the use that those skills would open to me in doing something like making my own clasps.  But I don’t think at heart that I’m a silversmith (for the love of silver, at least).

Also, unless I went into enameling, and/or heavy use of colored stones, I probably wouldn’t want to really get into metalsmithing that deeply.  Enameling can be hazardous, which is a reason I’ve avoided it in the past.  In one of my classes, I observed someone blow powdered enamel (a.k.a. colored glass dust — “colored” meaning probably toxic to ingest; “glass” meaning tiny shrapnel which may shred your lungs and never get back out) off of her bench and into a cloud.  I held my breath as I walked past.  She still had a cough the next semester.

How do you really guard against stuff like that other than wearing a respirator the entire time you’re in class?  What if I hadn’t happened to see what was going on?  What if I didn’t know to look away every time the enameling kiln was open?  (An enameling kiln radiates infrared light when the door is open and it’s hot, and that can damage eyesight unless protection is worn when looking towards it.)

I still remember when I had to spend 10-15 minutes cursing over the pickle pot because someone dumped out my tiny copper rings into the pickling solution and it was so dim — and the pickle so saturated with copper (it turns deep blue-green instead of clear when it’s old) — that I couldn’t see them.  And I remember coughing for two weeks afterwards from the fumes, as well.

But let’s get back onto a positive note, shall we?

I have enough experience from my time in smithing classes (two semesters — more than that, and I didn’t want to put myself back into the situation) that I feel reasonably confident that I can construct and solder a toggle clasp on my own, or fabricate a clasp from sheet and wire.  It probably wouldn’t be the greatest-looking thing or the most creative thing (creativity is very much helped by fluency of skill), but it’s possible, and I know it’s possible.  I can also make custom closed jump rings from wire and solder — easy, with the right setup and materials.  Or, so I say now that I know how to cut the jump rings away en masse and cleanly.  If I’d used silver for my class project, I would have wasted about $60 worth of silver while I learned how to avoid twisting the saw.

Plus there is the bezel setting I learned at the end of first semester, which showed me that even though it looks simple to set a stone in a metal bezel, in reality there is a lot of work which goes into it, and it requires some finesse to avoid, say, melting your bezel into a puddle instead of closing it.  It also requires some finesse to achieve a secure seat for your stone, and to avoid inadvertently damaging the stone in the process of setting it.  This is not even getting into whether what you’re setting it on looks good or not — more often than not, this is a flat piece of sheet metal, sometimes with stamps, soldered buttresses or designs of wire, or, in some cases which I especially admire, bits of granulation.  I can’t do granulation yet, so of course, I’m impressed.  ;)

Form is explored in metalwork, but often at the expense of color.  Color dynamics are a big attractor and driving force for me.  My seed bead, colored pencil, and marker collections attest to it.  I have wanted to get into painting, but so far the only experience I have there is in one Color Dynamics class which used gouache, plus Continuing Drawing — there was an introduction to pastel painting at the very end of that session.

I know there are liver of sulfur and shakudo and shibuichi and the golds and coppers and brasses.  I even know that there are the reactive metals to work with, titanium and niobium, and these.  But do I really love metal?  At this point, my enjoyment of metalwork is not high enough for me to go out of my way to expose myself to the hazards of metalwork.  Hot metalwork, at least.  Cold connections are much less intimidating.

In addition, there seemed, in my metalsmithing class, to be some prejudice against beaders.  I inadvertently ran up against this when I started constructing a beadwoven chain for my metal pendant in class.

At this point, having done some work in design myself — I mean, beyond changing the colors of a pattern, and I mean — really taking a concept through multiple models to achieve a workable formula (that collar with the daggers may have to be altered so it curves more), I can see the point that people who work in metal may think that beaders are unoriginal because they/we stereotypically don’t take a project from concept to conclusion, but rather have to learn via patterns and mimicry before we can stand on our own two feet.

But where are you going to find a way to learn to bead unless a) you know someone who does it who is willing to teach you, b) you take classes at a bead store — if there is one near you, or c) you learn through finding pre-made patterns (in print and online) and following them?  I mean, seriously!

It wasn’t until I confronted the idea of going into business with my own jewelry start-up that I found I didn’t have the complete set of skills I’d need to do business in the way I’d want to do it.  I’m gaining that skill now, and I’m slowly de-shocking myself from the scare of potentially treading on someone else’s intellectual property rights.  In two to five years, maybe I could have a viable business.  But there are a lot of things to get in order, first.  Particularly, identity and my target market, plus maybe figuring out what lies behind the drive to bead.

There are a lot of things that I didn’t know about myself that I’m learning about myself, which could gain me a signature style, which could in turn become a brand that I’d be able to sell within the U.S. for U.S. level living-wage money.  Probably not urban living-wage money, unless I’m in a place I don’t want to be, but nonetheless.

I think, though, that one of the reasons there are so many beading pattern books on the market is that really, handwoven beaded jewelry is…it’s expensive in terms of time and design, but not in terms of materials.  It’s also relatively fragile.  So maybe it seems more profitable to sell copies of the patterns and let people make the jewelry themselves, than it is to have a firm which produces and distributes finished beaded jewelry.  Otherwise, most of what I’ve seen comes from outside of this country, and really, how do you compete with a $10 daisy-chain bracelet?

Unless you have a distinct identity, that is — and you know what you’re selling, beyond your product.  Though, of course, that can easily go icky, if you jump to conclusions.  But the reality behind it maybe doesn’t have to be really that bad.  If you’re selling things because you want to celebrate femininity, hey, good on you, you know?  But know that’s what you’re doing, and know the cultural context it takes place in; and the possible problems resulting from the flawed system that your statement only makes sense within.  And know it’s very possible that others will see different meanings in your art than those which you intend.

I think that if I’m really creative — if I really take an unusual tack to what I want to be doing, and I do something which no one else in my part of the world is doing, or which maybe no one is doing anywhere — I think it’s possible to run a handmade jewelry business.  It would be tight, financially, and it would take a lot of time.  Plus, a lot of my attention would be expended on business as versus creation, at least unless I found a partner to manage that side for me.  This is at least a two-person venture, if it’s serious, and more likely eventually at least a 5-person venture.  But hey.  The culture?  The work?  It could turn out nice.

Anyhow, I’ve put this to the side for now as an auxiliary option.  I’m not married and don’t have plans to be, so I’ll have to support myself.  Right now I’m looking at writing and beadwork as things I love, can do relatively easily, and can do immediately.

I promised you a link to a review of Matubo seed beads.  That link is here.  I ran across this by accident; the author displays photos of these beads next to a couple of other brands which I had not seen in action prior, but which I’m considering trying out, now.  Presently, Matubos are only available in 7/0 size (in Czech sizing) — the size is quoted in the article; the difference between the Czech and Japanese sizing relations is something I’ve just inferred from past experience.

Anyhow, happy crafting (or whatever you do out there!)  Treat yourself nice.  :)

fiber arts, garments, needlework, sewing, tatting

Crochet lace?

Today I realized that if I wanted to add lace accents to clothing, I can make the lace using a crochet technique.  It’s been a fairly long time since I did any crochet, but I find it much easier than knitting.  If I wanted to try my hand at it, I do have some laceweight yarn, which I think is alpaca.  I also have fine cotton crochet thread, which would likely be what I’d use if I put lace cuffs on a shirt, for example.

I found one book specializing in crochet lace patterns today, but it focused on bedspreads and tablecloths, which is not really what I want to make.  New Tatting focuses on doilies, which again, is not really what I want to make.  There’s always the option of going back to Ravelry, if they’re still up, and actually that may be a very good option.

I have in mind a shawl pattern with a lot of openwork between denser areas of stitching.  It would probably take me a while, though, given that the yarns are so tiny and the hooks are so tiny.  But! I know I can crochet, and I can read crochet diagrams; whereas tatting is almost totally foreign to me right now.  And I have all the stuff I need to crochet, including some backup manuals.  ;)

Sounds good?  :)  I’ll add it to my “things I can do” list.

calligraphy, creative writing, writing

Wanting to write and not type right now…

Hmm.  I’m sitting here at the computer and thinking that maybe what I want to actually be doing is writing out my thoughts in hard copy.  By that I mean I’m wanting to get a blank book and just start writing in it.  I think I may have one set aside for that purpose.  I know I have a mostly-blank notebook.  Of course, knowing myself, I notice the desire to want to use a special (pigment-based) pen for this so I know it won’t fade.  I just wish it didn’t make me sound so snobby.  ;)

There’s just something about writing things out by hand which appeals to me more than typing.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s related to my drive to create art.  I know that it’s related to my wanting to learn Japanese and be able to use kanji in addition to the phonetic kana.  And it’s probably related to wanting to learn calligraphy.  When you write by hand, it does seem like a work of art itself.  And of course when you write on the computer, it’s faster and more efficient; but when your computer fails, it’s gone, unless you backed it up.  There just seems to be something evanescent about writing done on a computer.  Maybe it’s the way the letters appear out of nowhere and are gone just as fast.  I don’t know.  Maybe I just need to get a better set of fonts or something.

I don’t have a lot of time to write here tonight; there are too many other things competing for my attention, like the copy of The Artist’s Way I found earlier.  But I should probably note this down.  Maybe I should use the unlined book I have so that I can draw and write in the same book?  Heh — I’ll go and look through my blank books now and see which one I dedicated to creative writing…