Getting used to this…

Within the past two days, I’ve again realized that my main job, now, is to do classwork, with self-care also coming in highly, and then, work.  I also realized that after this semester, especially during Summer but maybe even in Fall 2017, I should be able to do a Cataloging internship, as I’m taking Beginning Cataloging, this semester.  A lot of people at work have been trying to help me figure out what my next step is (if I don’t want to be a Library Assistant in a Public Library in our county), and this is looking like a good one.

I don’t have too much to say right now…I woke up late and can’t remember much (I showered and ate and read some stuff for classes…).  I do need to write to one of my Profs, though, to get the last of my paperwork in line…and should likely contact them about the Disability accommodations which I’ve been granted.

Right now, though…I’m really tired.  I’ll send off this email and probably should get to bed…


Evidence of work ;)

Yes, it actually does help me stay balanced, to work with my hands.

I have a bunch of photos from tonight.  I’m thinking that if I keep taking close-up photos of tiny things, maybe I should take a Digital Photography class…or at least try and figure out how to use this camera off of the “Auto” setting.  It would benefit me to be able to take quality photos myself; and the skills would also be salable (say, to people in my current position).

As an aside, classes did start today, and I have some work I can start in on.  Unfortunately, most of it is introductions, and despite seeing the new semester coming, I did not adequately emotionally prepare myself for telling other people who I am.  I also need one more piece of information before I can submit a request for accommodations for my last class…but it shouldn’t be too much of a pain.

The top spiral is 18g red brass wire, dead-soft.

Anyhow…the other night I was playing with that red brass wire, right?  Red brass is also called “Jeweler’s Bronze,” even though it isn’t actually bronze.  It’s a copper/zinc/lead alloy, as versus a copper/tin alloy.  True bronze is actually copper/tin, and from what I’ve heard, it’s rather brittle, making it suitable for nice castings, but not so much for wire.

I was really pleased with finally getting this stuff, because on the catalog page, the photograph of this wire is fairly terrible where it comes to color.  The photo on the left shows how it compares to the brass color of Artistic Wire (which is a brand name, just to make sure you know).

The wire here which has the Pip beads on it (those three copper-finished glass seed-shaped beads at the bottom) is a finer wire, 22g, and is natural brass tone with an anti-tarnish coating.  That coating means that I can’t forge with this wire beyond a certain point, because I can’t assume it’s safe to heat it with a torch.  Weirdly enough, on the product description pages where I found Artistic Wire actually being sold online, there seems to be a color difference between the raw brass and anti-tarnish coated brass.  However…I no longer have easy access to a place where I know I can color-check this.

The thicker wire on top, with the little bubble coming out of the spiral, is the new 18g wire I picked up from online.  This is raw brass.  This means that it will tarnish (and/or patina); however, it can be polished…and polished, and polished.  The brass color won’t come off of it, because it’s solid to the core, not coated copper wire.  In recent years it has also become popular to wear antiqued metals, as well.  The ring which this piece is hanging out of is antiqued brass — sold that color.

I’m thinking that the metal bead caps here are Vintaj nickel-free brass, or someone imitating them.

It’s interesting…at least two to three years ago, there was an upswing in the usage of nickel-free brass alloy.  This was mainly due to the Vintaj brand selling a lot of filigree-style components which could be bent and formed around other components.  An example can be seen to the right:

I used copper earwires because that’s what I could find, though find now that they set off the green of the large glass beads here nicely.

I didn’t take any photos of the insides of those new plier jaws…though I’m not certain it’s that important.  The things only cost $7, which could be why brass rubs off on them.  The insight I came to when I did push myself to work with this wire and the new set of flatnose pliers the other night, though, is that it’s very much a different process to use the materials than to pick out and buy materials.

This is a more complete view of the first subject.  I need to figure out some way to put these on a stand so they don’t wobble when I photograph them.  D has suggested an eraser and some paperclips.  🙂

The piece on the left, above — the spiral with two loops — seems like it has a lot of possibilities, but I’m not entirely sure what they are, yet.  I’ll have to play with them some more, before I’ll be certain.  By the way — the spiral component on the far right, above, is the same design as the link in the center, but done in a finer gauge of Artistic Wire, not the 18g wire.  Here is a closeup of that one, seen face-on:

this was just for fun:  that’s not 18g wire.

I’m wondering what I can do if I turn the “bubble” portion around so that it is perpendicular to the spiral, and then have a hidden link so that I could drop beads down, which would then appear to emerge from the spiral?  I’d have to do something about closing up that opening at top, but it’s an interesting possibility.

I should also note that I’m thinking about playing around with something I’ve seen called “Egyptian Spiral Chain.”  I’ve messed with it before, and it’s a very…kind of addictive pattern, just because the components form up very quickly, and the chain itself feels very solid and heavy once one starts to assemble it.  The major problem, I’ve seen through one of my classmates’ experiences, is the clasp:  The version she made was prone to loss.  I do, however, see an appropriate fix for this on the first page of Google Images.

The piece I was working on prior — the one with the macrame which I was scared of putting online?  I did take some pictures of it, seen below.  I also realized, though, that what I actually needed to do to photograph this was not to photograph myself wearing the neckpiece in the mirror, but to hold the camera up to face myself, and look at the viewfinder in the mirror.

close up of focal

The main reason I even got the 18g wire is that I didn’t have any wire heavier than 20g in a yellow color (and yellow is significant to this design).  This meant that those rings which are holding onto the bells (which in turn hang off of the mother-of-pearl ring), are subject to deformity because they’re so thin.

If you’re wondering how I made the rings so large, it’s because I was using what are called bail-forming pliers, online?  They’re really invaluable for making large rings, though.  Before I remembered I had these at my disposal (their protective coating in machine oil [ugh] had caused me to put them away and not touch them for years), I ordered a $9 set of dapping punches in order to use the handles as mandrels.  However…with the inexpensive dapping punches I got, the manufacturer didn’t really pay all that much attention to the diameter of the handle…so they aren’t as useful as I had hoped they would be.

In my Silversmithing class, that is, it was apparent that the dapping punches were high-quality, and also that they had different-sized handles available for “swaging” (or forming a sheet of metal so that it is curled along one axis only [as versus two for “dapping” or doming], possibly lengthwise).

And, of course, the dapping punches came heavily coated in machine oil, as well.  Gross.  I guess they didn’t want them to rust, in storage.  Which is why they put them inside three boxes and three plastic bags and drowned them in petroleum…

Luckily, though, the bells hanging off of the pendant at present are in very little danger of falling off.  The brass rings had to be drastically opened to get them around the relatively thick mother-of-pearl component, and the loops which are physically part of the bells are wide enough that the bells are probably not going to slip off.  I just would like the connections to be more durable.

I don’t have any photos of this piece in-process, though.  I probably should have photographed how I got the inner disc to float inside of the mother-of-pearl ring…I tied it in with thread while I wrapped and knotted the connection at center top.  After it was securely in and I had the bottom of it secured in wire, as well, I cut off all the threads…and still had to rotate the piece to center it (as the mother-of-pearl ring is not consistent in thickness and width, the disc rests differently inside the ring [as regards being centered or not] depending on the location of the connections).

I think the only piece I haven’t showed you yet is this one:

scarab pendant

This is almost entirely, at this point, getting its identity from the center bead.  I’m fairly certain this is a Swarovski scarab, which is new for this season.  I got the flat-nose pliers because I hoped to be able to make closer and cleaner bends in wire when doing wirework, if I had pliers without a lot of thickness at the tip.  As things are — I really under- over-estimated the overall size of the pliers, so as a consequence, what I thought were really fine tips, turned out to be somewhat fine tips.

All of the metal in this piece (minus the wire it’s hanging off of, just for this picture) is sterling silver.  That means I had to buy sterling beads and a sterling bail…though, luckily, I was already buying sterling beads, because in the long run it seems cheaper to make earwires than to buy them ready-made.  Some skill and knowledge is required, though:  for example, the ends of cut wire need to be rounded or filed or sanded so that they don’t rip piercings when the earwire is inserted.  Also, the loop at the bottom of the earwire, in best design, needs to be centered under the center portion of the top bend of the earwire.

That bail, by the way — I’m talking about the tube portion of it, topmost — has a lengthwise opening of about 2mm.  This means that I can pass up to four lengths of C-Lon (I believe I’m talking about the standard size, not the heavy size; though I’m not certain) through the opening.  C-Lon is an industrial upholstery thread which comes in tons of colors (or did, last time I checked).  S-Lon, from the best of my knowledge, is parallel, but came about after C-Lon…though that conversation is a little weird, given what we’ve been talking about recently on the blog.

I basically had to put spacer beads on this scarab bead, too, because the drill hole is so freakin’ big that the headpin (that is, the vertical wire with the stopper that the scarab is hanging off of) might have passed through it, or broken through it, on a bad day.  I do have two of these in different colors, but still…too beautiful to destroy.

Right now, I’m working out how to make the cord that is going to be the other major component of this piece.  I’m actually not sure how I will do it, yet, though I am looking at doing something delicate and lacy like a Lark’s Head sinnet…just not sure how that will integrate, and it will definitely not necessarily take up all of that 2mm!

Liking the new wire…

This won’t be a long post:  it’s midnight here, and I’ve got an early morning and long day, tomorrow.  What happened is that tonight, I broke into my new red brass wire…and actually used the flat-nose pliers I’ve just purchased.

Oh my gosh, you guys, the wire.

I got 18g dead soft raw red brass wire — not craft wire, but the kind I can torch, pickle, and polish.  (Craft wire, when colored or coated, gives off [relatively highly] toxic fumes when torched, a.k.a. “brazed.”)  “Dead soft” refers to the softness of the metal — it is the softest grade, then come half-hard and full-hard variations.  It’s easy to harden wire (it hardens as it is worked or compressed), but to soften it, it has to be heated.  Heating patinas the metal, which then has to be pickled (treated with chemicals to remove oxidation) and polished to regain a bright finish.

I’m lucky that I did get dead soft wire, because, for one thing, this is 18g — about 1mm wide — and brass is not the easiest metal to bend in the first place:  something I remembered tonight.  (Copper and silver have both seemed softer, to me.)  Something I realized tonight is that flat-nose pliers are good for flattening wirework, but not ideal for making spirals…at least, not these.  The wire crushed and pivoted as I held it, and the brass actually rubbed off onto the steel plier jaws (if I’m remembering correctly, this brass alloy contains a small amount [up to 0.5%] of lead, which may account for its properties).

I’ve not had flat-nose pliers in relation to jeweling for, basically, my life until now; and at this point I’m glad I didn’t spend the extra $10 to get a different pair.  The ones I’ve got are functional, but necessary?  They will be useful where my nylon-jaw pliers would be harmed…otherwise, I have more than one pair of needlenose pliers, which are more accurate, less marring, and with a smaller footprint on the wire.  Mirror-polished flatnose pliers would be a different thing, totally…

Granted, though, I haven’t tried forming the two pendants I have in line, yet, so I don’t know if I can make a cleaner, closer bend with the flatnose pliers than I can with the needlenose (which is the initial reason I got the former).

Right now I’m burning out, so I’ll try and get some sleep; but as a note to myself for tomorrow, I do want to photograph and show what I was working on, tonight…

Trying to work out the logistics of copyright RE: crafting. This is not legal advice…

…rather, it is me trying to figure out, out loud, what is meant by the differentiation of “technique” and “pattern.”  (Writing helps me get my thoughts in order.)

I should note that I am not an authority on copyright law; I’m just a crafter who has been struggling with the question of what is “right” and “wrong” in regard to the ethics of making jewelry to sell, for years.

I did go to work today, and it wasn’t bad — amazingly, it seems to help me.  Even though I do still struggle with shyness, the social contact seems to benefit me, and I often feel better after I leave than I did before arriving.  At work, one of my co-workers (who had noticed my new collar) asked me if there was a reason I wasn’t selling on Etsy.  I couldn’t…quite…give her a good response!  Though I realize that a lot of it has to do with being a little wigged out over the possibility of unintentional copyright infringement.

Now that I realize more clearly, though, what goes into creating a specific design, the difference between technique and design becomes clearer.  With my last collar design, I realized what in fact was my work (that is, my design), and what I had help in doing…which was just a basic knowledge of sinnets which I had to know (or be taught) in order to construct the beaded straps which helped complete it.  However, the overall message and feel and content of the piece was not contained in that sinnet.

This is not legal advice, but just my current understanding:  Design seems to be something that I create for a specific purpose, with a specific message in mind, with specific materials.  Technique (also possibly more helpfully considered “construction technique”), includes the elements (like beadweaving stitches; parallel this to embroidery stitches [and yes, those two can cross over]) which are used to substantiate the design.  Technique cannot be copyrighted.  Design can.

Design is something difficult to put a finger on before you do it, but after you’ve done it…especially after you’ve done it for years without realizing it — and then you face the possibility of publishing it, and start wondering if someone will mimic your work with no knowledge or understanding of its underlying logic, for monetary gain…it’s perfectly clear.

Generally speaking, designs are sold for personal use:  that is, it may be OK with me if you follow my design to make yourself a collar, but it is not OK with me if you use it for commercial purposes without asking, or thinking of reimbursing, me.  With me, this is largely because I struggled to put that design together, and because a part of myself is invested in that design.  When you follow a pattern, a large part of the work is already done for you.  It would be best to consider them tutorials, though:  a step on the way to gaining the knowledge and skill you need to design your own work (which is, even when simple, immensely more satisfying).

There’s effort that’s gone to in order to choose and combine elements and materials, to fit them to each other, to choose and execute construction techniques, to build a feel and aura and message or concept behind the finished piece, to translate one’s process into words and images that others can understand.  The finished piece is, thus, the result of a set combination of decisions.  If these decisions are replicated without question (sin making the instructions; I doubt anyone would replicate that and think it was all right), the finished product is substantially similar to the original — even if its deeper significance is not grasped.

The more decisions diverge, the less like the original design the piece happens to be; however, if the design is based on an original design by someone else (say, like online Buffy fanfiction is based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer; is not Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but substantially profits from Buffy’s name recognition and branding, and still follows Buffy’s groundwork — especially if it competes with Buffy for viewers), then the best route to take before entering into an enterprise where substantial profit may be gained from its sale is to consult with the original designer (whom one might helpfully consider a partner for this one item, as they may ask for a cut of your sales in exchange for their labor, which in turn saved you labor) for permission to move ahead.

And I ask myself if it’s clear enough for me, now.  The reason why this isn’t legal advice is that it’s just what I seem to have figured out by myself in the absence of substantial trustworthy help.  Most work I’ve seen has been how to avoid having others replicate one’s own designs, not how to avoid inadvertently replicating the designs of others.  (And yes, two or more people can hold copyrights to the same design, if they originated independently.)

The clearest thing I’ve found is that judgment as to whether penalties apply for the supposed violation of copyright law is a subjective (and complex) human decision and often based on a matter of degree and (possibly) intentionality (such as one case where even a photograph was ripped from someone’s website and used to advertise an off-brand’s goods)…and so the easiest way to avoid violating copyright is to learn a number of basic techniques (and I will say it’s hard to learn these without following instructions, at first:  which then gets confusing [“is this a pattern or just a technique?”]), then with the skills learned and the principles behind why they work becoming clearer, just play around with the beads, cords, threads, wires, etc., as versus following a pattern.

Trust me, it’s much, much more satisfying to build a thing yourself, when you get to the point where you can stand on your own two feet.  But the vast majority of us have to crawl before we can stand.

“Patterns” are usually visible because they make at least one large diversion from popularly disseminated technique instructions (which are visible in a number of places — particularly online, and in print).  They are easy to see after you’ve been around the scene for about 10-15 years, because if you look in a number of beadweaving, wireweaving, bead embroidery, chainmaille, macrame, etc., books and magazines, you’ll see the same basic foundations repeated over and over again (within each craft category, of course; although at times some work, such as micromacrame and wireweaving, do cross over with each other where it comes to aesthetics).

These basic foundations, distilled out of ten or so, “recipes,” I’d say are generally safe to use (I really don’t think anyone can be said to own Brick or Peyote Stitch at this point:  although they do originate with multiple Aboriginal groups…as far as I know, they did originate in different places at different times, not necessarily with contact between those groups, and are part of the basic core of a beadweaver’s repertoire.  The sad fact is, though, that a lot of techniques were transferred long ago from people who didn’t, and don’t, have the power to demand compensation).  The, “recipes,” themselves, though, used in their entirety and without derivation, are something I’d try to keep my own hands off of, where it comes to sales.

An example of a “technique” would be RAW (Right-Angle Weave), Spiral Stitch, or Russian Spiral Stitch, as recently showed up in my Reader.  (Thank you, Sam!  And if you see this, can you tell me if you feel I’m correct or off?  [Granted, I know we’re all finding our own way, but as you do design professionally, I’m thinking you might know more than I do.])  Specific variations, such as CRAW (Cubic Right-Angle Weave), I am uncertain of the legality of using, because the variation (or this variation of it, at least) originated at one specific (recent) time in history.  However, going by the “technique is okay to copy/use” and “design is not okay to copy” rule, I would believe it would be safe to use CRAW in your own designs.  The absolute safest route, would be to write to the person who originated CRAW and ask, though the technique is so widespread now that I wouldn’t think it necessary.

Patterns are fine to play with and learn (particularly technique) from — and by, “pattern,” I mean some kind of set of instructions which differentiates itself in a major way from the techniques which are so known and widespread as to be basically public domain.  But it’s best to get permission before selling items made fully or partially based on or from patterns, for profit — especially if you end up making a lot of money off of a design which didn’t originate with you.  (Of course, some pattern designers will say it’s OK to use their designs for profit, and if they say that, it’s OK, too.)

This can creep up on you, though:  be careful, particularly if someone says, “I want you to make me one like that,” referring to something you’re wearing which you can construct from instructions, but did not design.  Being a beadworker who is trying to be ethical, you let them know you did not design the piece and let them know where they can find the instructions for it.  They don’t want to make it themselves.  They then pay you for your labor (uh oh) and wear it, and other people again want you to make them “one like that.”

I’m not a lawyer, but I believe this is where you can get into trouble, particularly if you end up making a lot of items with very little brainpower exerted in design.  But “design” (and the difference between “design” and “technique”) can be a hard thing to wrap your head around, especially if you haven’t had a lot of art training!  And really especially, if you haven’t been around long enough to know what the basic techniques are, and how to deduce them from the sea of instructions around you.

Using a half-hitch or a petal stitch (embroidery term creeping in there) or Cavandoli knotting (macrame term) is not forbidden, just because you had to learn from someone.  You don’t have to go it alone.  You do, however, have something of an obligation to at least ask the people who taught you if they would like compensation, if you sell something they designed for profit.  If you just used what they taught you but didn’t use it in the exact method of their tutorial, though — and this is not legal advice, but — I’d say you’re probably OK.

And again, this is just what I’ve puzzled out over the period of time during which I’ve been trying to figure out what is safe to sell as my own work.

Helpful commentary, not destructive commentary, is welcome.

Breaking the silence

Writing the last post, I realized that a lot of what I’m going through now would seem to be the consequence of having been a largely silent child.  I don’t consider myself an intensely private person; at the same time, I get intimidated by social media (I’m not even sure of the last time I went to Facebook, though I know I initiated contact with someone and then forgot about it), and form deep, intense connections with a very small number of people.  The only reason I’m on social media in the first place is that it was a requirement for my Library & Information Science program.

Is blogging considered social media?  I don’t know.  I did start out my first blog, Hidden Jewels, a very long time ago; seven years, unless I’m mistaken.  I would have been 28, and have just entered the job market.  At the time, I was in the Business program at the college from which I ended up getting an Art AA.  I bailed on the Business program because of realizing the difficulty of making a living at craft jewelry.

Even if I did start my own business, I would have to have a side job to make ends meet.  I eventually turned to Library work as a primary way to survive, which would give me the time and funding to be creative on the side — in some way that I wouldn’t have to rely on jeweling and/or beading to feed myself.  Though I would like for it to be possible, I simply don’t have the skills right now to sell my work for as much as I’d need to sell it in order to survive and be assured not to be in poverty.  It would be easier if I were a bench jeweler, but I’m not that interested in Fine Jewelry.  (Except in electronics and engineering applications, gold is overrated.)

I should probably read more in that Quiet, book.  Basically…as I grew up I was unable to be unknown, and the publicity (which had to have been a slew of rumors going on behind my back) was not a good thing.  I’m not sure how much I want to recount, here, but a lot of my private time at recess ended up being spent making crafts and dealing with things which were, in my perception, either the sensation of the spirits of other speechless life, or imaginative projections.  At a certain point you get tired of your (human) “friends” hurting you.  I learned that it was better to be without friends than to be with abusive “friends.”

I think the problem is that I was too open.  Plus, I didn’t really know much about racism or sexism or homophobia or transphobia, all of which ended up impacting me, pretty much concurrently.  Given the applicability of Intersectional Feminism, here, it becomes apparent that statistically, given my genetic background and my social environment, things were not laid out for me in such a way that I had much of a shot at lifelong mental health.  I’m really lucky that I’ve had no suicide attempts or hospitalizations, thus far.

Maybe this is the reason I withdrew into myself to the point that I channeled all that energy out into my writing.  Right now, when I write fiction, it feels escapist, but it’s pretty much an escapist nightmare more than anything, which …kind of isn’t the definition of escapism.  Historically, though, I’ve had issues with embodiment which have been related both to gender and race (if you’re new to the blog, I’m mixed-race, but primarily identify with the side of my family I was raised around).

In any case, the world of my dreams — and illusions — has long been safer and more compassionate than the world I live in.  Most of this hasn’t been disclosed, though, except in my writing.  Maybe it’s because of this that I was drawn to writing.  Though I don’t think I’ve been an avid reader, outside of what had been assigned at school and what I occupied myself with as an alternative to being alone (the library was good for this)…I have been someone for whom writing has been necessary.  It’s a way to keep track of and organize my thoughts.

Otherwise…there was a long period when I didn’t know who I was.  Maybe because of a lack of social interaction?  I’m not sure.  I did develop my own internal “social” spiritual interaction, but that was probably a last resort from being externally understimulated.  It doesn’t happen so much, now.  I’m not certain why, though I suspect it has to do with medication, and more outlets with which to show myself who I am.  Of course, writing is instrumental in this; my long-term memory isn’t great when it comes to remembering who I was in 2011, or what I was dealing with, etc.

Writing for an audience seems like a different thing, though.  I really, really am not used to other people reading, and responding to, what I write!  It’s almost as though I were talking, and someone is actually listening to me.  😉  I have gotten used to making speeches as well, but it still makes me uncomfortable when I am expected to take, and defend, formal positions on problems which I know I don’t fully understand.  I know it’s really easy to go wrong, that way; and it seems understanding would be desirable before being forced and/or expected to spit out an answer.  It’s the major reason I tried to get my brain sorted out before even seriously considering testosterone.  I was terrified I’d make a decision for the wrong reasons, and then be unable to undo the damage.

But maybe that’s something social people do?  Take positions on problems they don’t fully understand and rest in (ignorant) faith that they’re right?  I’m not sure.

Maybe the issue is being pushed or forced to make a decision or take a stance when one is not a warrior type, but more of a balancer, or a person who sees multiple factors acting on a situation without assuming that any side people are taking up even addresses the correct problem.  (Something I learned in Critical Thinking is that it is indeed possible to use language to construct nonsensical propositions.  Often the key to solving a problem is asking the right questions.)

It is very much easier not to take a stance when one is silent.  It’s easier to run silent — except when one reaches the point that it becomes imperative to say something and actually stand for something and actually deal with the consequences — both positive and negative — for having done so.  If it’s something that really checks out, which is really important or urgent, it’s not an issue:  things need to be addressed, and worked out through dialogue (what is dialogue called with more than two sides?).

But the problem is that people rarely if ever question whether what they think is right actually is right, and this seems to hold across the board.  It seems to be something about the nature of the brain…which I don’t personally understand; but I’m sure we agree that we can’t all both disagree, and also be right, about everything all the time — and just because it’s you who thinks it doesn’t make it right.  (I use the second-person tense here because I want to make it clear that this is not a weapon to throw at people who disagree with you.  If this observation is correct, it applies to everyone.  It applies to me, it applies to you.)

Anyhow; it’s much easier to exist…for me, just to plain exist, without taking a stance all the time.  And I’m certain that this is related to growing up as a silent child.  But there are times at which it is necessary to speak up.  For me, an outlet was necessary, and that outlet was writing and storytelling, in lieu of speaking and socializing.  At the same time, reading…does help.  But I am still in a place where I need to see my own words reflected back on me, maybe to see myself as a person.  To me, language is a mirror, through which I can see myself.

Though maybe, as I “come out” further and further with regard to both my disability and all the other hidden levels I contain, my life will become richer for it, and I will be not just surviving, but living.

Preparing for Spring semester

I’m writing this now without too much appreciation for the time or what I could be doing.  Class starts back up this week, but unlike Fall semester, I don’t seem to get early access.  There is some paperwork I need to file…though I just realized that today is Sunday, not Tuesday.  Whew!

I still only have half a week to get everything in order before the semester begins, however:  and as I said before, I’m not particularly either looking forward to classes or definite that I will enjoy them.  Then again, that’s how I thought about my database class last semester prior to actually being in it; which turned out to be super fun.  This semester, though:  I’m getting financial assistance which is contingent on me keeping my grades up and staying in the program.  So I need to submit some paperwork, not to mention renew my accommodations (which I’m not sure I can do early).

The result of this is supposed to be taking some stress off of me…although up until now, it’s been just me deciding if I’ll move forward with this.  Now that I’m getting help, it’s kind of scary.  Last semester, it was a $1000 commitment to retry the program.  This semester, it’s basically free…but I have to do the work, and I have to hang in there — and I have to decide what to do if it doesn’t work out.

If this semester doesn’t go well…hmm.  I kind of wonder what I can do; although I’ve learned that I should plan to succeed, not to fail.  Right now I’m in nine units, which is considered full-time; a 30-hour commitment (and I can’t drop any units due to financial aid from multiple vectors); and am at 18 hours at my part-time job (which I’m not sure what I will do about, now that I’m at the top of my pay scale:  another scary thing).

That is, I am thinking that I will need to reduce my work hours to focus on school.  In that case, I can keep my job, because I’ll only be putting in 10 hours a week for the foreseeable future (which will put me at 40 hours of work a week, total, as versus 48); and maybe I can even graduate early, before the end of the next five semesters, if I work during the Summer Sessions, or only work 10 hours a week plus four classes (a total of a 50-hour commitment).

If I become a Permanent Intermittent Library Assistant, I also will have the option of working only 10 hours a week:  I just can’t know where those hours will be, beforehand, and as things are going now, I won’t have a choice about where those hours will be.  But that’s…all in the future.  I don’t even think I will want to stay in my current system — I’ve been thinking about working in an Academic Library setting (which would be the easiest transition), or a Special Library one.

I’m just hoping that the classes I’m in now will help me understand the readings for the classes; because these books are intimidating (though I will admit to not having read deeply in any of them, yet).  And I am thinking that, unlike last semester, I actually will have to work the entire 30 hours expected of me — maybe more.  I’ve gotten into a track which I’m told (and which appears to be) very technical…although technical is good for me, as compared to social (which seems like it should be easier, but for me, probably isn’t).

I’m thinking that the hours to drop will probably fall on my Monday shift:  this is because there is a Communications group which I can attend again, which will likely come in handy if I do start working Reference (which will probably happen if I work as a Librarian outside of a Cataloging specialty, at any type of Library).

The sheer rate of coming across people who either just don’t communicate well (like children) or are challenged in that way by a more pervasive condition (I am too, though I’ve learned how to mask it for basic job functions — it shows itself when I’m trying to be social) is really kind of staggering.  Though, it is possible that a space like a Library would attract people who find it difficult to communicate with other people, as it provides multiple alternate routes to be exposed to the thoughts of others which do not require “people skills.”

Anyhow…heh.  There are a couple of other things which have come up which don’t entirely have to do with Libraries.  The one I just thought of is related to the consequences of having been a largely silent child…the other one is finding color as a common thread through my art and jeweling and beading.  Maybe I’ll try and split these into another couple of posts…

A craft jeweler’s stock management

Two things that have happened recently are having obtained supplies for jewelry making; and then, storage solutions for the same supplies.  I was able to visit the Japanese dollar store yesterday and pick up a few sets of small clear polystyrene boxes with drawers.  These cost about $3 each.  Then I stopped by the plastics store and picked up more clear polystyrene vials than necessary…I ended up using about $9 worth of vials (the extra small size of vial was $0.20 each), whereas I bought many more than I needed because of not knowing how many I did need.  I should note to myself that the variant of vial I have termed “extra small” (out of XS, S, M, and L) is the one I used the most of, by far (I wonder if they would let me exchange the bigger ones for more tiny ones?).

I specify “polystyrene” because it’s something I’d want to remember; it struck me as odd but logical that I would find two instances of the more optically clear plastics and that both would be the same material.  These aren’t white polystyrene foam (a.k.a. Styrofoam); they seem to be made of the same material CD jewel case covers are made of, according to Wikipedia and some conjecture.

The largest benefit to using these is that it makes it very apparent what my stock consists of, enabling me to forego using multiple tiny plastic bags (which I usually have used until they fogged up and shredded apart, or no longer zipped shut).  With the system I have now, it’s very clear what I have to work with…and the vials are reusable.  The only drawback is that they don’t cushion the beads from knocking against the inner walls.

I also have been kind of torturing myself with looking over beads…I have the either fortune or misfortune of knowing several reputable bead suppliers online, which have been in business for years.  Since my regular two bead stores closed down, it’s been kind of a pain to get access to quality, low-cost (or unique) beads and components (I don’t assume craft or fabric stores to have quality beading supplies, though these are the materials I started out with as a child); right now it is apparent that the prices of designer beads are also…not cheap.

However, I’m seeing that most places sell these in small quantities (10g, which is not a lot; I’d say this is a 3″ vial?…or in multiples of 30 or 50, if I’m recalling correctly).  The benefit of this is that it’s possible to buy very small quantities of beads in large color ranges, and not, say, have to buy an entire hank or half-hank of Czech seed beads or 30 grams of Japanese seed beads, if you only need a little.  The great advantage of this is that you aren’t stuck with an entire 30 gram vial of a color you’re never going to use, if you get home and realize under natural lighting that the colors you’ve chosen for a project don’t actually coordinate.

The brick-and-mortar bead store that used to be closest to me used to unbind hanks of the Czech seed beads (I think there are 12 strands per hank?) and sell them by the strand — which was super convenient, and probably saved me a lot of money, in the short term (while still allowing the store owner to make a sizable profit — though I am not certain it was sizable enough to keep her in business).

Of course, do I need six entire strands of size 13º gold Charlotte beads when I’m just trying out a button pattern I found in a magazine, or is that overkill?  (Size 13º is very small, a little bigger than a poppyseed; the designation “Charlotte” indicates that there is one facet ground into one side of the bead.)  Gold, by the way, is one of the more expensive finishes…half a hank is an investment!  I wouldn’t want to work with anything smaller than 15º beads, which are smaller than 13ºs…at that size, it’s easy to split a bead with a needle that’s too wide.  Then, also, the thread and/or wire has to be really fine to go through beads this size…and at that diameter, things can be really fragile; both the beads, and what they’re strung on.  I’ve also broken needles — fine needles, even! — trying to pull them through beads.  Size 15ºs should probably be strung or woven with an ultrafine steel twisted wire needle…which won’t break just because it’s bent.

The bead sizes go smaller, but it’s hard enough to see the 11ºs (larger than 13ºs), which are basically the standard size you would be most likely to encounter, followed closely by size 8ºs, and more rarely, size 6ºs — the latter of which I think are also called “E” Beads.  I have very rarely seen 3ºs, which appear like plastic pony beads (except I think they’re usually glass if they’re given an “aught” size — that little “º” reads as “aught,” so 11º reads as “eleven-aught”), and are large enough to be strung onto braids (hence, the term “pony bead.”).

I wouldn’t put these onto a kid’s hair, though:  the plastic beads are much safer and lighter.  There’s the danger of glass chips (even flying glass chips) from the beads knocking together, and stress on the scalp, if a lot of the glass ones are used to decorate braids.  Of course, though, when I was a kid and had braids, I wanted this.  I don’t think we ever did it.  (Of course, though, now I know how to add wrapped ends to the ends of my braids!…though that doesn’t really help the bead angle.  I wonder how they would stay on…?  I’d probably need a seam ripper to remove the wraps, as well…)

Anyway, I started out this post thinking about the two-hole beads I bought, recently.  I only got very small amounts, but it’s really made me want to get more; the design possibilities are just…something I hadn’t thought of.  In addition, the designer Czech beads (which I personally prefer to most of the more angular, Art-Deco-looking Miyuki two-hole beads; the exceptions being the Magatama lines) are going on and off of the market all of the time.  There are some beads that are not easy to find, now, which were common a year ago, and new ones are out now that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen in-person.

On the other hand, from looking up a lot of this stuff just briefly, I think that the real issue is that each individual online outlet only carries a specific range of beads; so to get a diversity of them, it’s necessary to target a number of different outlets.  I think the companies that make the beads (as versus the ones that sell them) are trying to drum up new business and interest in beadwork, but the sudden introduction of new beads all the time can be disorienting.  It used to be that we were just working with bicones and rounds and ovals and drops and cubes, and now it’s really…it can get overwhelming.

That’s not to say that it isn’t nice:  new bead shapes and bead hole placements, and creative use of multiple holes, are a goldmine where it comes to designing — especially with the finishes available now (especially if I compare them to my fabric-store beads in sixth grade which had colors which obviously rubbed off).  It’s just really a challenging process to be given what basically amount to new Lego blocks every few months, and be competing with published and accomplished designers to find excellent uses of them.

Actually, I did kind of withdraw from the beading scene after my magazines started putting out designs which relied upon the two-hole and specially shaped beads, many of which were only available online.  I’m not an early adopter…I already know this.  🙂  And I’m really cautious online, which is probably the biggest pain about any of this.  I kind of just don’t trust the Internet in the first place, though it’s relatively easy to see why this is:  my formative online years were not sheltered.

Another reason why I almost permanently Withdrew from my online program…