Two sets of earrings completed…

…Though one of them I love extensively more than the other.

I do have to get on job applications again, but after work on Wednesday, I was more excited that there was still sunlight (I thought I was working from 9-6, but I wasn’t), and started playing with the beads I got on Tuesday, and didn’t tell you about.

I went to a newer bead store in the area for silk thread, and ended up coming away with $45 in colored glass fire-polished beads (retail, not wholesale; their wholesale value is probably about $20, considering I did get the silk thread). These beads have facets ground into them and then are reheated so they melt a little and get this gorgeous flashy (“vitreous”) surface. Some of these beads have surface treatments, though most are transparent (I am not sure about the little 3mm lavender ones I got; they may be a little milky).

Because I went to a bead store (and not Michael’s), I’m confident that the beads are not just coated in dye. There are online sellers for this stuff too (Czech fire-polished glass beads), but it’s an entirely different workflow than designing in the bead store itself.

So I ended up spending a little more than half an hour in there, making critical color and purchasing decisions (in person!) which worked out pretty well, once I got the beads home and matched them with my pearls (the ones I got in Honolulu for $75 retail, meaning I’ve invested about $100 in the piece I’m working on now [not either of the two sets of earrings]…for which I’m still trying to design a decent layout. It’s going to take some playing around to get to a working conclusion, though).

See, this is why I got a Master’s degree, because this stuff is expensive and not affordable unless:

  1. it’s an occasional indulgence,
  2. I’m selling,
  3. I’m already set up with tools and materials, or
  4. I have a discretionary fund gained from having family subsidize my living expenses while I have a stable job.

Numbers 2, 3, and 4 may be something that come to fruition if I get a gainful Library job, stay with family, and have enough free money to purchase supplies in bulk (as versus groceries, utilities, clothing, incidentals, and rent). It’s really not a big thing to get a resale license; it just means submitting taxes quarterly on any income.

If I became an Adult Services Librarian in a Public Library setting, I could also teach this stuff for free and thus share my enthusiasm, build community, and learn from other beaders. I say “Adult Services” because a lot of these materials are not meant for use by people under the age of 14 — developing brains might be harmed.

From working with paints, I understand that a lot of colorants may be specifically unsafe for use with children. If I were planning on ever getting pregnant, it might also give me pause to expose my own body to these materials, but that is likely nowhere in my future.

Anyhow, I was able to use some other pearls I had from before to make a pair of earrings I really, really like. I mean…these are top-drilled pearls, basically rice-shaped and teardrop pearls (though on this strand, it was the odd teardrop) which are drilled in the short direction, across one end. They’re not easy to use because of the chaos factor; it’s never really known what direction they will point.

I had some round gold-filled spacer beads in my stash — two sizes — which I used to fill the gaps between the top-drilled pearls, and bent the thread line so that both ends came out through another bead at the top. I ended up, however, using brass wire (I think it’s 28-gauge, though there’s an off-chance it may be 26) to go through the thread path, then bending that top bead over, looping both open ends of the wire around the first established wire loop, then threading both ends back up through the top bead and finishing with a wrapped loop.

The finished item has some movement to it, but not enough to really detract from the overall design-as-worn. They’re actually super-cute, and a creative way to use a bead that is not meant to be inherently symmetrical.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out whether I want to buy a decent amount of gold-filled round wire so that I can do more stuff like this, without using something that will tarnish. Fine gauges of wire are actually surprisingly affordable (for anything containing precious metal), as they don’t use a lot of material.

You still want to practice first with the cheap stuff, though. I have brass and copper; and hardware-store material is fine or even preferable, here. Silver-plated wire, I just avoid; even “non-tarnish” wire will tarnish, and badly; or you’re dealing with, “Nickel Silver,” which I take to mean, “white metal with nickel in it,” and I’m allergic to nickel. Then there’s steel, which is an entirely different animal.

I use gold-fill wire and beads instead of gold-plate (when I can, or in projects I especially care about) because I don’t want the gold on the outside to flake off from applied pressure. I’m very familiar with the latter on gold-plated findings (metal bits used in jewelry) and focals, though usually cheap gold-colored wire is just brass (or brass-plate, if we want to get cheaper; I’ve even seen copper-plate wire. I mean, how cheap does it have to be?! I can get pure copper wire at the hardware store, and it’s not expensive!).

The reason to use gold instead of brass is the fact that brass will tarnish, and polishing something like this (with tiny tiny hooks from the wire ends) with a polishing cloth, will likely damage it. Ultrasonic cleaning will likely damage the pearls. Gold-fill wire will not tarnish, eliminating that variable, and making the piece harder-wearing.

As for the cost of gold itself…it’s so expensive that it’s out of the question to use solid gold wire (at least until I get my own atelier and sell in Nordstrom or something; at which point I’d likely be using something more expensive than glass [think Cubic Zirconia or lab emerald], for that center bead).

The economics of this did become clear to me today, though. If I used gold-filled wire, those earrings wouldn’t really cost me that much to make, and all of the gold would be gold-plate or gold-fill. Aside from that, I used three pearls and a firepolished glass bead for each earring. That’s not a lot of money I’m putting out, but I could easily sell them for at least $25-$35/pair, as I’m using real gold (even if it’s not solid) and real pearls. (I should remember, though, the wasted 28-gauge [28g] wire that is just used to hold onto the rest of it. There are places to recycle this, though. With the amount of damage gold mining does to the environment, it’s a little bit of relief.)

The fragility of 28g wire isn’t even an issue here, because earrings don’t get bent up like necklaces, bracelets, and rings, do — especially if the bottom edge has no jagged ends sticking out to get caught in something like a knit sweater.

I did come to the realization when first considering selling, that I’d have to move a lot of earrings to come out ahead, financially. This is because earrings don’t take a long time to make or design, relatively; they also use a relatively small amount of materials. On top of that, the personality of a set of earrings changes greatly depending on their color scheme, meaning I could use the same pattern in different ways, and thus save some time on the design aspect.

At this point, it is 1 AM my time. I will wait until tomorrow to photograph my work and upload images, but being the instant-gratification-yearning person I am, I will post this and then go to bed. Someone on the other side of the globe will like it. 🙂

I also made a pair of earrings using a macrame technique and some titanium-fumed Crystal Quartz…which I didn’t even get around to. Tomorrow.

Tomorrow.

And, right, there was the realization that the seed beads were no match for the fire-polished rounds in sophistication…I just don’t want to forget that I noticed this…

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Craft books, and priorities.

The last two days (prior to today) have been spent going through my personal library. I hadn’t realized how many books I had. Nor did I realize the content of all of those books. When we move, no matter where we move to, I’ll have to pack some of this stuff up.

The task is reminding me of my Collection Development class, though much of what I’m doing now is basically what we call, “weeding,” in the Public Library sector — more of a Collection Management thing than specifically a Development thing.

The surprising thing is how many of my beadwork and jeweling books are still of use, though I was able to find duplicate content from many of my older and introductory books in later, newer and more complex publications. I can also tell from the collection, how much I was looking for books which would assist me in the “design” portion of jewelry-making.

There are a few things I do really well. One of these is beadweaving. I’ve also found silversmithing to be something I’m competent at, though it’s not something I’m overall drawn towards. However — I can use basic pick soldering skills to work at silver filigree.

It’s something I haven’t tried yet, mostly because it does require the use of a torch, now outside of my past studio environment (though it uses a smaller flame than heavy-duty hard soldering). It also requires a way to polish the final product…which, to the best of my knowledge, can only be accomplished through a gentle method like tumbling (tumblers are expensive), or the use of 3M rotary discs with something like a Dremel or Foredom flex-shaft.

I mention filigree, as a lot of what I’ve wanted to do has to deal with the use of specific shapes I want to emphasize (and right now I’m still used to working in 2-D). It shouldn’t be difficult to make a shaped frame, if you know a bit of wirework and how to pick-solder. The rest of it requires bending wire to fill the frame, and soldering or fusing those pieces into place. I know I bought a book on wire filigree, but right now I have no idea where it is, or if I had it and got rid of it.

The main drawback would seem to be the fact that filigree is usually flat, though with the right shaping tools (like a dapping block and punches) and some creativity, that’s not necessarily how the final piece has to turn out. I’m thinking about things like flower petals, and arcs…though the first seems as though it would be difficult to do cleanly if it’s a hot connection instead of a cold connection (such as wire-wrapping).

That’s mainly because a connection has to be flush, clean, hot, and in-contact to solder; I’m not sure if the same is the case for fusing. All of this also requires some specific start-up costs, though…I’ve had handmade filigree earrings, basically from a street vendor before, and they were (are) pretty much, beautiful. (I actually bought them at a table in the Student Union, in my undergraduate University.)

I did realize, though, that I also wanted to deal with sewing and embroidery: it’s just a newer thing to realize that I can alter and change patterns. I also realized that not all patterns are stereotypically excessively feminine, even though the main companies like Butterick’s and McCall’s, I remember as…not made with myself in mind. I’m not sure that’s accurate, though, because it’s been a while since I looked in either of their catalogs.

The main issues I have are restrictive and constricting patterns, and the lack of masculine wear. However…in my mid-thirties, now, my clothes are kind of encouraging me to move on into skirts and dresses, because they just fit better and are more comfortable. As long as I can move enough to fight or escape, I’m fine. The issue arises when I try to run in a pencil skirt and clip myself; or lift my hand above my head, and my shirt exposes my belly; or lean over, and others can see down my collar; or my dress is made to stay up only by clinging to my breasts. That’s when I have issues.

But the first time we went to Oahu, we went to a muumuu factory…and I got some really nice, comfortable, lightweight dresses that fit. It’s amazing to me. If I lived in Hawaii, I would without question be wearing skirts and dresses. It’s just really sticky, otherwise.

Both beadweaving and sewing are methods of fine hand-work that can have a lot to do with color, but they aren’t the same thing. In one form you’re working linearly; in the other, with joining two-dimensional flat pieces.

In sewing, I just need to learn when to use which stitch, and when it’s actually smart to switch to a sewing machine. I’m interested in hand-stitching, which came from manipulating a needle and thread in beadweaving. After a while, you just get used to sticking yourself; but for some reason, I get pleasure out of manipulating a needle and thread.

The other tangent I intend to continue on is working with beaded micromacrame. I’m just not certain which of these — sewing, embroidery, wirework, beaded micromacrame, beadweaving, or beadwork more generally — I’ll end up dealing with most (maybe I should rate how far I have progressed in each, in my Bullet Journal?). I do realize now, however, that all of these skills will likely be in-demand if I become a Public Librarian. I know enough to be able to teach or co-learn, and I have the interest.

I should get some rest before I stay up into the early morning again: I have work tomorrow, and need to pick up some fresh produce, afterwards. Luckily, I don’t have to stay there long, and the work should already be underway by the time I get there; the tough part of resuming work after a holiday closure, should be either done or in-progress.

I’m also considering getting a lucet (for interlooping) tomorrow. Like a crazy person. But we’ll be in the area…

If I ever get these interlooping things in hand (har har), I can show you what the chains are supposed to look like… (Hardly anyone knows what interlooping is, like hardly anyone knows what tatting is. Don’t feel bad…)

Japanese-language skills.

They grow, they do.

One thing I can say about having been to Oahu recently is that it gave me ample opportunities to read Japanese language — and overhear conversation, which isn’t of much use at this point, except for distinguishing regional dialect.

I read the name of what is likely my family’s dialect [chugoku-ben] in one of my books (Okamura, 2014), based on the region my ancestors came from, combined with the historical context (that is, why and when they came). It’s fairly clear to D and I that there are some speakers (mostly older, at this point) who are easier for us to understand; this likely has to do with both dialect and generation. That is, if it is chugoku-ben that we recognize and understand, it’s likely the chugoku-ben of older generations, not as it is moving on (as many things continue to do) in Japan.

I can only read nihongo partially right now, due to the fact that I don’t know a lot of kanji as things stand. However…if we do move to Oahu, it’s a pretty sure bet that I will have the resources and immersion necessary to actually learn the language. That, in turn, should give me greater access to one of the cultures which has been likely key in my formation. (Most of my adult life has been spent seeking out my own identity; so to be able to recognize the influences on me, would help.)

As stated prior, there are a good number of kanji that I see and recognize, but of which, I just don’t know the corresponding meaning or reading. I was reading through the Table of Contents of a Genki textbook the other day, and found a bunch of these. Because I have so many resources, I’m thinking of hacking it and taking bits and pieces from multiple sources to hasten my learning.

Right now I’m trying to figure out if and where to get rid of my old Japanese-language manga (these are tankoubon, not like an issue of Shounen Jump [I don’t know the technical term for one of these: zasshi?], which would be more akin to a large phone book with multiple individual installments of various running manga published by Jump Comics).

I’ll probably end up taking them to a comic-book store or a used-book store. The thing is…I would give them to the library, but I suspect they’ll be sold at $1 a piece in the bookstore, which is far below their value. I also am not certain they would sell Japanese-language books. However, I’m not sure they’re worth packing up and taking to Oahu (especially given that these series are so old).

Not that I think I’d ever really get back to these, but for the sake of records:

  1. Bastard!! #5 (this is the actual title, I’m not randomly cursing)
  2. Inu Yasha #22
  3. Last Final Election, The (a collection of YYH slash doujinshi)
  4. Rurouni Kenshin #1
  5. Tenshi Kinryoku (Angel Sanctuary) #1
  6. Yuu Yuu Hakusho #7
  7. Yuu Yuu Hakusho #14

When I got these, I was so young that I may have colored in some of the graphics, but I honestly can’t remember in which of my manga I may have done this…

And yeah…my Japanese instructor from college told me that it’s best not to learn Japanese entirely from manga and anime, or your frame of reference gets distorted (that is, you end up talking weird, and thinking it’s normal).

Nevertheless, these (like my Sailor Moon books which compiled screenshots of the multiple series that never made it into official English translation) did provide me translation fodder when I was a kid.

Now if I found something like Urusei Yatsura, or another classic, that would be different…(come to think of it, a lot of the anime we had [like Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer] was on VHS, and is thus unreadable without a working VHS player…HELLO OBSOLESCENCE).

Then again, it’s what — seven books?

And holy…I just opened to a random page of Inu Yasha and knew what point the story was at, because I could read most of the words with the help of furigana. I also knew who the characters were, and what the time period was, in which the story was taking place.

I still don’t want Rurouni Kenshin or Tenshi Kinryoku, though. That latter one is super depressing, and the former…just too silly. Though Samurai X (the movie), which was the precursor to Rurouni Kenshin, was good.

So now I’m down to what — five? (I’ll just have to cut something else out.)

I picked up Bastard!! because I liked the drawing style, though seriously, that manga is basically adult, for the U.S. I have one of the videos, too, which is kinda soft-core. Not kidding. Don’t try to watch that one with your parents in the room. Not even if you’re an adult. Just don’t.

And…yes, I actually would be okay with giving away Tenshi Kinryoku and Rurouni Kenshin to the Friends of the Library…

…but not the other ones.

I’VE MADE STRIDES! 😀 😉

I’ve also found that letting go of the desire to create a graphic novel has paradoxically made it easier to play around with paper, pens (I’ve recently discovered [non-desiccated] Posca markers), and Washi tape, and make some interesting stuff.

I’m thinking of trying to write letters (physical ones) to family on the island, now. It would give me motivation and an aim in getting back into Art Practice, though it would likely be Art Letters or something, where I’m doing something that’s between an art journal and a letter. I’m thinking back to Van Gogh here, but I’m sure that illustrated/designed letters have existed elsewhere in the past.

Anyhow…I’ve got way too much to read, especially if I’m going to be dumping a lot of this stuff. I won’t be able to tell what’s worth keeping without looking at it, that is.

Maybe I should set aside things that are on my shelf which I have never read…

Works Cited:

Okamura, J. Y. (2014). From race to ethnicity: Interpreting Japanese American experiences in Hawai’i. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Gathering myself.

There’s a lot I want to talk about, especially in relation to Hawaii. The big thing right now is, though, that not only am I dealing with jet lag (causing me to be sleepy, and the bed to be incredibly comforting during random stretches of the day), but my stomach hasn’t been agreeing with me since I tried to go back to work on Tuesday, which I had to bail on at the last minute because of nausea. Yesterday was okay, but today–? Today, I couldn’t even go out.

Of course, while I was in Hawaii, it wasn’t great either, but aside from one bout of food poisoning, I was mostly okay. Right now, it’s hard to eat or drink anything without feeling sick, and I woke up at maybe 5:30 AM today with the worst nausea I’ve had in a while. I’m hoping right now that I don’t get vomiting and diarrhea. I did just try to drink some apple juice, and felt little bubbles moving all around in there. I already know my guts are mostly empty.

If it’s “Traveler’s Diarrhea,” which I’ve read can strike right after one returns from a trip (which this did), it will probably be over in three days. Meaning it’s questionable if I’ll be able to work on the weekend, or if I’ll lose even more pay.

And yeah, I did just get out of bed maybe half an hour ago, and am sleepy again. This is annoying.

I did keep a log of offline personal journal posts which I made while in Hawaii, but there are only seven entries for the 14 days. Mostly, this is because I caught some kind of cold (likely from work) before we even got there, and so was too sick to do much, for the first six days. (Because I had used a special discount to book the room, we couldn’t back out of the reservation without a sizable penalty.)

By New Year’s Day, I was all right, mostly. I think that I was non-contagious by that time, so we visited family to meet and share osechi (New Year’s delicacies).

The trip ended on the 11th — or, at least, that’s when our flight got in; I didn’t get any sleep until after 2 AM, on what was technically January 12. In the house that was 55° F.

It’s kind of a shock to go from 78° F, balmy and sunny; to 52° F, cold and rainy.

But I did get to see the people at work again. I guess that’s something. 😛

Speaking of which, I should follow up on the leads I got from visiting one of the libraries at UH Manoa. IF, that is, I can find the paper…!

Ah — just found it. I apparently wasn’t using a pen with high-enough contrast, so it didn’t register that there was writing on it. I’ve now bookmarked the sites on the browser I normally use to come to this blog, so I shouldn’t have to worry about losing the paper, anymore.

I need to remember that I don’t have to have a Library job as my first job out of Library School — especially if I’m relocating. I need to look at all of my skills…and maybe see which ones I want to develop further.

That ties in with the Bullet Journal thing that I’ve been wanting to start. I’ve been writing down activities that I want or need to participate in, which will help me not waste the time between now and the time I find a job which fills more of my hours.

I know that I want to get back to studying Japanese language; I can do that via my books, and my Library’s access to Rosetta Stone. I believe I also set aside a special notebook for this.

I also want to get back to reviewing/learning HTML5, CSS3; and get back on learning JavaScript (at least!). I have a place where I can do this, online; and it’s free, until I’m significantly advanced.

I also should, at some time, retake Cataloging and Classification.

On a more basic level, I need to work on my driving skills (which I may need, in order to establish residency in Hawaii). I also want to get back to reading what I didn’t have time to read in Library School (both for classes, and not). I also need to be walking off some of my calories.

I’ve written further on what I wished to do immediately upon exiting the Master’s program in some of my backposts (notably, there was an entry with a bulleted list). This is enough to keep in mind, for now.

Complexities

I’ve been thinking about my last post. I don’t think it’s the case that I literally want to hurt people who want a heteronormative relationship with me. Saying that was a quick way to get across my frustration, whereas if I were to write out what I really feel, it would take a great deal of thought and deliberation to seek out words I could say which might be understood.

Now that isn’t to say that I haven’t broken up with others who had dreams of my being their wife and mother of their children…but the case I’m thinking of was a special one, and it was extremely frustrating. Not least, because the person in particular knew I didn’t see myself as a woman, and that I had no interest in participating in their erasure of my identity.

Growing up, I never bet on being legally able to marry anyone I wanted. Nor did I feel any sense that I controlled my own sexuality or my own identity. As I’ve aged, I see the care my parents have put into raising me, their continued support of me, and the hereditary problems I likely carry which have made my own life more difficult. I kind of don’t want to pass those problems on to a child of mine. And just because I can bear a child, doesn’t mean it’s anything I’d want to do. There are too many unwanted children; and particularly, everything else remaining the same, I’d be okay being sexless.

So…I want to revise what I said, last, but I don’t quite have the words for it, yet. I did find a book on asexuality, today; according to that I may be “graysexual.” This means that once in a very (very) long time, I may find someone I’m attracted to. That also often means not only that my attempting to communicate this is stilted, but that I’m just not attracted to most who are attracted to me. That’s on top of the gender issue, where I’m often assumed to be something I’m not.

Writing that out helped clarify something to myself. I guess it’s a trait of the written word that I can express myself here without the pitch of my voice or the appearance of my body intervening in the communication.

It’s funny; earlier today I was talking with a coworker about how writing here the other day (and getting back into beading with natural materials) got me to remember that one of my core beliefs is best described as Panentheism. I don’t consider myself Christian (and have no need to be), though I can see the significance in seeing myself as a spirit first, and a person second. (Most of the information I’ve found on Panentheism is based in mystic Christianity…which I don’t follow.)

It might indeed be weird if I became strongly Panentheist (the belief system states that the Universe is the body of God, but God is also more).

Aww, am I going to have to go to the crystal store, now? 😉 (HA! I have too many. I just need to get back into contact with what’s here, maybe…maybe.)

Um…what? Oblivious family.

Today we did meet with extended family for the first time since coming back from — I guess I will likely have to say it eventually — Hawaii. I’m hoping they don’t decide to follow us there.

There’s a veil of confidentiality that I’ve been hesitant to break as regards myself and my family here, because — well, I’ve been fairly open with what is happening with me personally on this blog. I’ve said quite a lot here that no one in my extended family ever suspected was part of my experience. I’ve also said a lot here that no one outside of the Art program at my last community college, and outside of the Psych professionals I see, knows that I have experienced (it’s extremely difficult to make art while at the same time, not revealing anything about oneself).

Even my closest relatives (outside of M and D, and I am sure you can guess what that means) don’t know the whole story of what I’ve been through. That’s not to say that you all do — but I communicate more easily and more readily through text than I do through voice. There’s something to be said about being able to consider and think about what one wants to say (or write) before one says it (or writes it). And then there is the decision to be made about whether or not to actually make that writing public, which is separate.

I am just kind of ticked off right now. You see, my family tends to attract, and support, “clingers,” for lack of a better term. And because one member of my family has decided to co-dependently compensate for another person’s laziness (it is questionable as to whether he actually experiences what his (lying) ex said he experiences (he lies too, by the way): therefore we don’t know if he’s simply a bum or is chemically lacking motivation), I’m now finding others comparing me to the clingers.

Excuse me, I just spent three years in grad school so that I can become an Information Professional. Grad school. Three years. Like I would have put myself through that if I had plans to be a leech for the rest of my life on my family. (The context seemed to imply that I didn’t deserve to go to Hawaii, because I hadn’t earned the money to do so, myself; and not only that, but I would never be a productive member of society unless my parents stopped supporting me. From the guy who has no children. Sorry my parents care about me, brah.)

I also have to compensate for a legitimate, documented, legally protected, serious, stigmatizing disability. The choice to work was mine. The choice to go through a program to eventually obtain lifelong gainful employment so that I wouldn’t have to depend on Disability payments and Section 8 housing and live the rest of my life in poverty, was mine. The choice to treat my disability with medication and therapy and recover from a lack of basic functionality, was mine. The choice not to have children when I couldn’t even take care of myself, was mine.

If my uncle thinks that I’m not really employed because he’s all about money and has no experience with life difficulties or human relations and I’m too slow for him, that’s on him. It’s not my problem. I am doing the best I can, and right now honestly I want to slap him for implying that I don’t have a job because it doesn’t pay enough.

Or maybe he thinks that my “job” was to find a man and have children, which just disgusts me. It’s simply disgusting. Especially when you consider that I’m not even attracted to most men, which means that he would expect me to be a whore and sell out my uterus to survive.

But wait, maybe he doesn’t know that I have no interest whatsoever in being a wife or mother, and that I want to punch men who ignore that. (Plenty of men ignore that.)

EDIT: I have been bothered by the previous paragraph for a couple of days. Please see my next post for an elucidation on the actual situation.

Since ninth grade, when I realized that I was more attracted to girls than to boys (though that was a comparison of few:slight, and the boys I liked were either years older than me or not attracted to girls), that hasn’t been part of the program.

I assumed that I would need to make a living on my own. I also assumed that, given the amount of attention other girls were giving to their education, I might also have to support them in addition to myself. Because the high-school girls I knew were more interested in finding boyfriends than in being self-sufficient.

The major issue is that one of my family members passed away, a little longer than a year ago. He had a tendency to, as D says, “take in strays.” However, if you take a broad look at that generation of my family, everyone except D has also had a tendency to, “take in strays.” Whom…they then complain about, “having to,” take care of.

I am going to try not to go into their specific situations, just in case they (or their strays) find this blog in the future. However, I’m finding myself being compared to both my cousins in the same age range, which I find…beyond insulting, bordering on derogatory (you would know what I meant, if you knew their stories). It’s the same thing I had to deal with when growing up when my parents would equate me to my brother. Only now, my brother is not in the vicinity of my other family members, or myself, so the nearest examples they have of my generation are my cousins — and my cousins’ friends.

My cousins (and their friends) are their own mess (my cousins don’t have good taste). None of us in this closer age range are really self-sufficient, but at least I’ve been working on it. No, it doesn’t have immediate results to become more educated, but I have skills now that I didn’t have before. If libraries and the Internet still continue to be “a thing” in the future, I will have more doors open than there were.

Because I didn’t agree to work on the project family presented me (for no pay), doesn’t mean I don’t have skills. I am not worthless. But I am not compromising my own computer’s security to work on someone else’s website. For no pay. That’s like taking on random Graphic Design projects because, “it will look good on your resume!” Which is exactly the line of thought that leads to the devaluation of our skills and the undercutting of our wages…which, by the way, is a gigantic issue in Graphic Design.

For free. Psh.

Getting back to beadwork.

I’m coming off of two weeks of not having been online. Pretty much all day today, I’ve been tired…although the only explanation I have for that is jet lag. My plane came in late last night, and I didn’t get into bed until about 2 AM local time. Then I was awake for about two hours, and went back to bed. D had to wake me twice to get me to come to dinner.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been on vacation, though the first week of that was largely taken up with being sick and avoiding pneumonia. During the ride over, I was getting sick; the next six days were spent mostly in bed. The second week was good; we got to see some relatives that we hadn’t seen in over a year.

We are also looking at what type of future we want, as a family. It’s possible to downsize. I’ve been thinking of what art and craft stuff, and books, I really want to keep, especially if we move overseas. That in turn has me prioritizing what it is I really want to do. Over time, I’ve accumulated a lot of art materials…which aren’t really necessary, for the amount of art I do. The thing is, I feel like a lot of this issue has occurred because of trying out different media…and being kind of a color nut, meaning that I’ve got a lot of colors of basically every media I’ve tried.

My attachments are more to the colors than the media, though I’ve found that I probably want to work in gouache, if I’m going to be a designer. It has the solid coverage of fluid media, and the mixability of paint, without requiring the use of liquid frisket (as transparent watercolors do).

I also started out in beadwork…of which I have had a fairly conflicted love. But it’s notable that it seeded my interest in color and color combinations. This is why I took Color Dynamics early on…before having taken Painting, which (I learned later) isn’t the way the Art program was designed to work. It’s also notable that my jewelry work (by this, I largely mean beadwork) and my mandala work are related through color combinations and repeating motifs.

Being honest with myself and a work acquaintance, I’ve found that a big reason I got back into my Art program were the questions, 1) of whether I wanted to make a graphic novel, 2) if I even enjoyed the artistic process, and, 3) issues of intellectual property were much clearer, there.

These weren’t really reasons to get away from beadwork…but I overthink things, to my detriment. I think I do have, or am developing, my own niche. It isn’t widely shared, but that’s OK.

And I shouldn’t undervalue my own work just because it isn’t Fine Jewelry, or because of the costs of my materials. It’s still artwork. Well, “design work,” might be a more appropriate term. It’s also something to note that I am a Beadworker or Beader, more than a Jeweler; though I bend the lines through my experience in both. That’s becoming more common, though.

As for 1), over time it’s become clear that my skill at writing is likely greater than my skill at art; although I haven’t been writing things which I know aren’t true, for some time. That is, I haven’t been writing fiction. I tried to begin while I was on vacation (and before), and I believe it takes me out of my comfort zone. I was just raised to be a very honest person, let’s say that.

However: it’s clear to me at this point that there are ways of working around the inability to communicate some things which are hard to communicate through language: it just takes me into the realm of poetics. Which essentially, I haven’t studied, in specific. However, the limitations of language are well-known in Zen tradition, as I found when I was studying Zen and aesthetics, some time ago.

As for 2), enjoying the artistic process; it depends on whether there is a point, or reason, to engage. Like…when I was out, I depended on drawings to assist me in the process of design. I could not have done that through text. It’s a way of thinking things through and elaborating ideas, in the design process.

When I was younger, I wouldn’t go to paper and — in this case — markers; I would just start playing around with things. Now that I have more experience, I know that planning things out isn’t necessarily a no-no. Instead, it helps me think things through without requiring the work of assembly at the same time. I’ve found, though, that starting by hand, and then moving to computer graphics…may be the way to go.

To do this, I’m thinking of subscribing to Adobe Illustrator, simply because I already know how to use it, and it would allow me needed precision. Planning beadwork is essentially a design operation…and I would need the hard sizes and correct/general colors of each bead. Both of these are limitations of working things out by hand, unless I can either eyeball it (which I can decently do), or mix gouache to the correct tone.

When I was on vacation, all I had were graphite pencils, Sharpies, my Pitt brush pens, and some opaque white Posca pens I found while there. Because everything was…in false colors, I had to make some decisions about hue, saturation, and value which were not an issue with computer-generated graphics. That means that I could describe the form and pattern, and what shapes I wanted to incorporate, but not tell what things would look like in reality.

There’s…also the issue of lighting. I obtained some cultured pearls which…well, the colors change under different light sources, so it’s hard to tell what they actually look like. Of course, having a little education on this, I know that the varied interpretations of what they look like under different lightings are their actual reflected colors. What I mean is that I need to look at them — well — under natural light, not in the light of a hotel room or a fluorescent bulb. At least that would give me a benchmark to know if my (likely dyed) Dark Peacock pearls are actually green-blue-grey-magenta, or just grey.

To be honest, I just added it up and I got $65 worth of cultured pearls, before tax (at retail, which is normally at least double wholesale), if I include the $9 focal pearl I purchased to be a pendant. I really love pearls, but they can look very conservative when used traditionally in a knotted strand, especially if they’re all the same shape and bleached white…that’s not quite the image I’m going for.

They also usually have very tiny drill holes to preserve weight (like most gemstones), making them a bit difficult to use. They need fine stringing material; traditionally, the widest silk thread which will also pass through the drill holes is used, and then knots are placed between the pearls to help preserve them. Otherwise, it’s very easy for them to abrade each other through normal wear.

The good thing is that I know how to clear and widen the drill holes, and I have what I would need to do it. I’m also more experienced than most, in working with pearls. The reason I bought these? I was able to see and select them in person, which I feel is almost a necessity for me where it comes to pearls and gemstones. Pearls and stones, to me, are precious based on the fact that they’re all unique (compared to most seed beads, pressed-glass, druks, and fire-polished beads, which are all made by people, and which are what I normally use). Pearls, in addition…need to be hand-selected, otherwise I’m just going by their grading as to what quality I’m getting.

The pearls I got were also beautiful. Of course, there is the effect of the efforts of people to standardize stones and pearls…but that doesn’t negate their different histories. As someone who has a history of believing in my own energetic sensitivity (I just looked up the term: I fall under “psychometry” except for the fact that I have never verified the history of an item by feeling it [this is not a carnival act]; I just get sensations)…I find that stones “feel” different than man-made beads. Sometimes this is to an extreme, and it’s not always good.

But then again, this is also coming from the perspective of a Panentheist who has recently questioned if atoms are alive [or even particles, though I’m not a physicist], so consider the source. 🙂 (Panentheism, to distort my own interpretation for the sake of brevity, is the belief that the universe is God but that God is also more: Panentheism translates as “God-in-All-Belief”.)

Metal, glass, and plastics (excluding items like the once-living beetle I have which is encased and preserved in resin) just don’t have the same qualities, but I feel that’s because they were recently formed, and haven’t had time to pick up the energies of their environments. There’s also something about the regular molecular pattern of most crystals…which could be another reason they feel so different to me. That, and their age: most crystals are old (compared to a human lifespan).

Even wood feels different than metal, glass, and plastic, but that’s likely because it once was living, and its material is organized in a vascular pattern. I will use shell and horn as well, though to date I have not used much bone.

Bone just kind of creeps me out a little, kind of like the beetle pendant I mention parenthetically, above. I think the feeling is related to the questionable treatment of the animal it came from (energetic imprint), along with the knowledge that it could contain biologically hazardous material.

Anyhow, I didn’t intend to get into the whole energy thing. It’s just that I went back to look at the store I got these from, and they really do push the energetic angle. I don’t really mind; it’s just that I question if I believe that or not (even though my experience does say that there is a difference between natural and synthetic or man-made materials).

That in turn affects the ways I’d be comfortable marketing my own jewelry, as a, “side hustle,” as a book I’m currently reading, puts it. It also affects whether I’d be comfortable working for the bead store I patronized, and supporting that angle, especially knowing I could be wrong.

But that’s that whole, “integrity,” thing bothering me, again. I guess it does say something if the people running the gem or mineral or bead stores do actually believe their own hype (which I believe most, do…there’s quite a history of gem lore).

The third thing I mentioned, which is the intellectual property deal; that…isn’t bothering me so much, anymore. It used to, before I realized that “copyright” applied to a printed pattern itself, and not anything that I made (especially if I did not copy the pattern, or if the pattern is basic, and well-known).

It’s also not bothering me so much because I realize that this stuff is kind of like Legos: there are specific ways to join these blocks together…and outside of a really unique and hard-to-come-to combination (which would be patentable, if anything), it’s basically not a good legal argument to say, “I did this first, and now no one else can do the same thing unless they pay me.”

Anyhow, I know I’m keeping the beads — and my tools — when we move, wherever we move. I also know that I’m likely going to be working by combining glass beaded components with natural ones. Metalwork doesn’t hold the same appeal for me, though the project I had in mind for the pearls was originally for silver wirework. I don’t know all that much about wirework at this point, though: it’s a new field for me.

I’m not certain what else I would take, besides my gouache and watercolors and block-printing/paper-cut stuff…