ceramics, personal, work

Good tea amidst stressors…

Today, we actually got to visit Teance’s new headquarters in Berkeley. That was the good thing. The…not so good thing, is that I did check in with HR, and apparently they feel I could benefit from more training in working with children. They didn’t tell me this until I initiated contact today (after a week of near-silence). Should I be looking to work within an Academic Library setting? (That is, a College or University library setting: I might be more comfortable with the patrons, there, whereas Public Library settings, I’m seeing now to revolve around babies, children, and teens.)

Another not so good thing: our visitor has to leave pretty soon, and I don’t know if anyone is really happy with that. The third not-so-good thing: our power company has instituted rolling blackouts and threatened to cut off the power last night (which never happened). This is likely because they’ve been implicated in causing two large-scale fires with death tolls relatively recently…it’s not like I can remember the names of either of them, though.

Also, I’m supposed to go and take my test to regain my Learner’s Permit, tomorrow (EDIT: later today). So I can, you know, drive. Again.

I have also recalled why I stopped making gemstone and sterling jewelry (expensive — not from the stones, so much as the metals). And there’s talk of my relative now moving out of the country. The latter makes me question why it was that we were planning to move out-of-state to join them if they’re only going to move again…

Good part first (turned into “good part, only”): Teance is now open, and their Yin Hao Jasmine Green tea is pretty good. The location is also very close to the place we normally get tea from, so it’s easy to stop off there and get some higher-quality tea.

I’ve been doing some research on East Asian tea ware: I do like some teas like Tieguanyin and Chrysanthemum, both of which are more characteristically Chinese than Japanese…so I was thinking that they may work better (have evolved along) with Chinese ware, more than Japanese ware.

I did find a Taiwanese oolong that I’m curious about…it was mid-range expensive, which means that it wasn’t extravagant, but that it should be high-quality. I haven’t yet opened it. Even though I only got one ounce, it takes up a lot of space in its package. I also inadvertently crushed some of the leaves doing something, today, that I can’t even remember anymore. I only regret this because when I opened the Yin Hao, it was full-leaf. So, I mean, I was really crushing stuff.

So…the Yin Hao is very nice, less astringent than most green teas I’ve tried, although on first brewing it did initially smell like baking soda. It’s a good thing that I only brewed a very small amount in a little bit of hot water initially, as I could then rebrew (and rebrew…and rebrew…) the same leaves without losing a lot of flavor (though some mellowing does happen, as I’ve found with many teas). Anyway, I don’t feel I lost anything by brewing just a small amount of leaves. At this rate, one ounce will last a while.

Anyhow, I noticed that the Taiwanese oolong recommended a Yixing or porcelain teapot, whereas the other two I got (Yin Hao Jasmine [Jasmine-scented Green] and a Genmaicha [Green, with roasted rice]) were okay to brew in glass. I also did get a Longjing (Dragon Well) from a separate grocery, as I’ve forgotten what it even tastes like.

I started looking up Yixing ware and that led me to gaiwan brewers. Gaiwan…I’ve seen before, though I don’t own one, and haven’t used one yet, myself. Upon reading around, I found that instead of going for a Yixing teapot, a porcelain or glass gaiwan set would be better for my tea-drinking habits.

(The reason I’m looking at a different way to brew this stuff is that it’s kind of clumsy to try and clean out either of my tall, narrow Pyrex teapots.)

Well, and for the Japanese teas, I probably won’t have to worry about finding a genuine zisha (purple sand) clay pot, as I drink lighter and herbal teas. I did, however, realize that one of the more notable teapots I found in Japantown this last time, was likely related more closely to a gaiwan than to a normal Japanese teapot. This would explain why it was unglazed, lacked a handle, and was meant to be lifted by its edges. It was beautiful, but it was also $85…

I’ll think about it, okay? (Maybe.)

The major reason why I wouldn’t get a teapot like that, is concern about what minerals or metals would seep or leach into my tea. This teapot in particular was also black…which sounds like some kind of basaltic clay (or soot from the firing), unless a coloring agent was added.

The thing about teapots that get seasoned with use is also apparently that, being porous, they impart flavors from past brewings into future brewings, so it isn’t great to switch around with different types of tea. It’s like there is one pot for Taiwanese oolong, a different pot for Tieguanyin, etc.

I also don’t drink intensely flavored teas (black teas or dark oolongs) much at all (they’re just too strong for me), which means I probably don’t need an unglazed teapot to season. Yes, apparently they do need to be seasoned! And I’m not really a formal-tea-ritual type of person.

I’m also still tasting a lot, which implies that a gaiwan would be best for me, until I settle into a favorite type (over Jasmine, I guess, which would also be great in a gaiwan).

I also learned a new term: tisane, which refers to an infused drink like a tea, which is not made of camellia sinensis.

Anyhow — I should get some rest, but I wanted to post this. I am not sure how much going over things in my life which I don’t like but can’t change, will help. And, tomorrow I will be able to work at my driving stuff. Things go on, I have foundations to build. And I haven’t been fired yet. :) Even if I am, I have the active backing of a vocational program. And, my family. It should be OK.

beading, craft, design, glass beads, seed beads

Priorities.

I’ve been looking through my backposts…and have found information on where, about five years ago, I thought I’d be going with my jewelry. What I’m looking at in particular is information I noted while in the Business program at a nearby Community College. There was a bead show around that time period, and accordingly, I was trying to find an identity so that I could focus my purchases.

In my area, the local Bead Society used to be closely involved in two annual bead shows: I believe this was the “Bay Area Bead Extravanganza!” (or BABE!) and the Whole Bead Show. BABE! ceased operations in 2017. The Whole Bead Show is still around, but isn’t convening in my area again, until this November.

These shows used to be spaced out so that one would happen approximately in May (I think? I keep getting March and May mixed up), and one in November. The BSNC (Bead Society of Northern California) would advertise both of these, but it seems there has generally been a downturn in interest, participation, or just awareness, within the last few years.

I have been thinking, however, that local sellers would seek alternate local venues. One of them, now passed for me, is Stitches West (the link will take you to their upcoming shows — they’re all over the country). The only reason I know about them is that Marion (of jewelsinfiber.com) had linked to them from her website.

I didn’t go to Stitches West, but from what I gather, it was basically focused around fiber arts (knitting, crochet, weaving, embroidery, etc…though that’s just what I gather as an uninformed outsider).

Anyhow, there’s a Bead & Design Show in Walnut Creek, in about three weeks. I missed Stitches West (which I would have gone to simply for C-Lon, which is silly, I know now), but I don’t plan to miss the Bead & Design Show. I would be going to this show majorly to visit one known vendor, which is the Garden of Beadin’.

I would link you to the Garden of Beadin’s website, but it lacks a bit of intended functionality (inability to delete all items from one’s shopping cart, at least); and I’m not sure if it was the source of some computer trouble a while back, now that I think of it. (This also could have been because of other online bead retailers’ websites, however: I know for a fact that at least one of them is giving me some gunk.) Because of this, it’s best to visit them in person. They also have a print catalog, which may take the place of a functional website…I’m not sure, as I haven’t seen it yet.

However: when you see their displays, you’ll know why people buy from them. They have a lot of Czech seed beads, and some Japanese seed beads, which are majorly the reason I’ve gone to them.

Now that the bead store, Baubles & Beads — formerly on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley — is closed, it’s not so easy to locally source Czech seed beads in size 6/0. I prefer the Czech 6/0 beads because they’re more donut-shaped than cylinder-shaped (like Japanese 6/0 seed beads are), so they are good for uses in which Japanese beads aren’t as aesthetically pleasant (like Right-Angle Weave).

There was also a store in Pinole called Peggy’s Perfections which would sell strands of Czech beads in different sizes. From what I can tell, I think Peggy’s business also went under, though I can’t say how long ago without doing some extraneous research.

I should note that I’m fairly certain these stores closed because of online competition, though when you’re buying beads to the tune of once a week, having a brick-and-mortar place to visit is important as well as convenient. Because so many local East Bay bead stores have closed, I’m kind of leaning towards telling you about a couple that I have visited.

Right now, Beadazzled on Solano in Berkeley is getting a lot of my time…and money, fortunately for the shop owner! I’m basically happy that there’s again someone in the Berkeley area who has decided to set up shop. They have a good selection of seed beads and some of the newer multihole beads, plus specialty ones like Czech O-Beads…and basically a wall of Czech glass. Because I’m into bead weaving and micro-macramé, I go there for things like these.

The other place that I visit occasionally is Blue Door Beads, in Piedmont. It’s been so long since I’ve been there that I don’t feel entirely comfortable giving too much of an idea of their stock, but I know they sell stone beads (moreso than Beadazzled), individually and in strands. I also got a lot of my 3mm and 4mm fire-polished beads from there.

There is also a shop in Concord called Just Bead It!, which (along with Beadazzled on Solano) sells the elusive 5mm Czech fire-polished rounds. At the time I last visited, they also had some of the rarer beads like Dragonscales (the glass ones)…though I still haven’t used mine. They’re tiny and delicate, and have tiny and delicate holes.

Anyhow, I started out this post talking about, basically, trying to find a brand identity, which I’m much, much closer to, now (if I have not already sussed out what I need to in order to begin). Over the years…I’ve found myself drawn most to beadweaving and micro-macramé. I also find wirework very much to be of use, however; some of my favorite creations could not have been done just using thread or cord (I may have to upload some photos here to help remind myself — I’m particularly thinking of earrings).

I may want to get into hot metalwork in order to do things like construct my own clasps…the thing is, the setup for that is so involved, and can be expensive and hazardous. The upshot is that metals sellers sometimes sell metal at market (commodity) value, meaning that it’s — in the long run — likely cheaper to make things oneself, than it is to repeatedly buy things like clasps and earwires (which can be outlandishly priced).

Right now I’m looking at trying my hand at bead embroidery (in the vein of Jamie Cloud Eakin), but to be honest, I doubt I have ever done it, and I don’t know if I’ll like it. If I don’t like it, I may be turning back to hot metalwork.

In a similar vein, I can see myself eventually getting a kiln to work with ceramics and Precious Metal Clay (PMC). The drawback to this is bi-fold: first, will I be allergic to PMC like I’m allergic to Fimo? second, the kiln — any kiln — is expensive. However, I already know that I have skill at ceramics. I also already know that I like ceramics.

The major thing to hold me back here, besides the capital investment, is the fact that I may have to deal with silica vapor from firing ceramics…which is not a good thing to breathe in, but I didn’t have a problem with it, in high school. Of course, I probably didn’t realize my own mortality in high school…

However, the possibility of making my own ceramic components is interesting…and possibly productive, in the future (especially as I’m into micro-macramé, at this point). After, that is, I figure out where to live.

Right now, for the short-term, I need to be looking at glass beads: particularly Czech glass beads, Japanese and Czech seed beads (particularly sizes 6/0, 8/0, and 15/0), druks, and likely crystals (like Swarovski, which stopped using lead in its lead crystal, and as such can’t be called “lead crystal” anymore). I should also be looking at cabochons — large and inexpensive ones — with which to practice bead embroidery.

All of that sounds solid. There’s also the issue, though, of color schemes. Right now, my color palettes lean towards blue, green, violet, brown, and some reds. Yellow and orange aren’t as present, though I do have a lot of nicely muted colors. When working with paint, I realized that sometimes a bit of a color which you didn’t think you needed was actually necessary for something to turn out the way you wanted. I should keep this in mind…

The reason for leaning away from gemstone beads is the fact that gemstone jewelry gets very expensive, very quickly. I don’t know if I have to say more on that…