Digital-IRL Balance

At this point, I’m not entirely sure what to do with my online presence. There is something both deceptive and addictive about social media, including blogging. To be honest, outside of very close relationships, extended family, a couple of themed social groups, and work, my primary social interactions are online.

I know this is double-edged: it’s possible to find people who support you across the world, but at the same time, that information you put out is available to anyone and everyone with a reasonably functional internet connection. Unfortunately, that leaves one open to judgment, drama, harassment, and exploitation, also from anyone around the world…not to mention gaining a high from being friended by a computer program.

I spoke with family today about this. The issue I can see is that meeting online gives people too much information, too early; before they’ve proven themselves a worthy recipient of that information, or more to the point, without requiring they do so.

Also, dealing with making things — In Real Life — and dealing with digital surrogates of reality, often unnecessary digital surrogates…it contributes to an awareness of a sense of artificiality. There is the question of why a person would play a cross-stitch game when they could actually cross-stitch, and have something at the end of it, for example. In this particular instance, I would see the game as clearly inferior, unless there are issues of accessibility remedied by the game (for example, enlarged graphs which eliminate the need for magnifying gear).

I was also talking with someone about the difference between using a digital tablet to make art, and actually doing so without the computer as an intermediary. It’s evident to me that if one is not making professional illustrations, it may not be desirable — in my case, isn’t desirable — to go completely digital. However, I wouldn’t know this without having had the experience of both making art IRL, and making digital compositions.

Also, having studied online, and having primarily aimed for a Technical Services position, the underlying digital architecture of the systems I use has become clearer to me, even if I’ve only seen just the beginning of it. There are restrictions in a digital environment (the exceptions to which are called affordances), which do not necessarily exist, off of the computer.

So the question is one of digital/IRL: how do we retain the benefits of the reach a digital presence allows, and the sophistication of information provision it affords; at the same time as we balance our life so that the necessary restrictions of a digital environment do not dominate and restrict our creativity, and so we are still able to live a life of the quality that existed prior to ARPANET?

It’s a question I’ve been dealing with, recently. As I’ve begun to get some distance from my studies, I find myself experimenting with — and using — tools to practice arts and crafts, which I have not prior had the free time to use. It’s nice, I mean, to be able to do things and not be tracked or observed while doing them. It’s like an extension of the realization that I don’t have to worry if a paper book is watching me back, as I read it.

Over the years, I’ve put a lot of information about myself online, not all of it reliable. 😉 The truth of the matter seems to be, though, that people only know as much information about me as I allow them to know. However: for me, the main issue is being known as versus being unknown.

I went through the first part of my life believing — perhaps falsely — that I was unknown. If no one knows anything about you, that is, it’s much harder for them to accurately and specifically target you. (Of course, though, then; as humans are wont to do, they tend to make up information about why they [and others] should hate you so that they can feel justified in doing so.) The major problem with checking out of the game this way, though, is that your impact on the world, as regards your thoughts and perspective, is minimized. You stop being a participant, that is.

Is it possible to make things better while not engaging with problems? The answer I immediately jump to is, “no,” but I’m not sure that’s accurate. If I am being a good person and quietly living my best life given the circumstances, am I making the world better, just by existing? By setting an example? I (truly) don’t know.

For about the last decade, I’ve been out in the world more than I had been at any time prior. I’ve gotten to the point of actually being able to feel like I have a voice and place in society, and that it doesn’t have to be what other people say — or think — it should be. This is primarily because I have a private life and a public one, and people from the latter (IRL) often do not (and should not) make it into the sphere of the former.

With social media, and even with Web search, the public and private spheres tend to collapse. At least that is so, with me. (Or should online be considered a hybrid environment?) At some point, I become irritated that I can’t say what I actually want to say; I question why it is that I am stopping myself from saying it; and sometimes, I just go ahead and break that barrier. Anonymity, although illusory, lowers the threshold of that barrier.

The problem is that once something is said (or done), it tends to stick around for a while, and can follow one for a while — even if it is obvious that saying or doing it was a mistake. I’m going to be gracious here and say that I don’t think anyone really would want to make mistakes (and then be held responsible for those mistakes, at least; there often is the lure of doing something “wrong”, at the time).

The problem is that there are still people who are shocked that other people are different or fallible. If we all expected that there are going to be things we don’t like on virtually any person we select — that no one is 100% morally guarded, ideal, and superior at all times — we wouldn’t be surprised when evidence to the contrary comes up, and maybe we would be able to stop living in fear of it coming up.

That is in no way to condone shaming, but that is to say that everyone makes mistakes; in the Digital Age, however, those mistakes tend to be recorded and replayable.

But do we check out because of the possibility that we may one day be seen by others as imperfect?

Right now I am taking a needed break from pushing myself to write, here. But you see, something still got written. When I was training to be a writer, the mantra was basically to write every day, even if I didn’t think I had anything to write about.

I think I can stop doing that, now — at least, in public. There’s more to life than reading and writing, that is…

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Side hustle

I’m giving very heavy thought to restarting my jewelry as a, “side hustle,” regardless of the fact that no one really needs jewelry. Also regardless of the fact that I’ve known people who design with glass beads to be looked down upon by metalsmiths.

EDIT: for those who don’t know, a, “side hustle,” is something one does on the side of one’s primary employment for extra income.

We are considered, “craft jewelers,” or, “handcrafters,” or rarely, “artisans” (as I would be likely to call myself). We’re known for working hard, and being underpaid and underappreciated. Because handworked jewelry takes so long to make, in a capital-based (and not labor-based) economy with a high cost and high standard of living, the sheer cost of labor makes each piece expensive. Competition from labor-based economies outside of the U.S. drives prices for comparable items down. The lack of use of precious metals and gems leaves us without justification for price inflation. There is often no official training for any of this. All of this combines to the point that most U.S. handcrafters work hard and long for what are poverty wages in the U.S.

However, for me it is just a side hustle, for now. If I’m going to do it (or want to do it) anyway, the act of doing it could be reward in itself. I’m also getting much, much closer to having a signature style. This is why I’m going back to beading instead of metalwork or painting. It’s what I want to do. The drawback would be becoming so advanced that I am no longer able to design and make, but end up teaching and running a business rather than playing with colors and beads.

Last night and today, I’ve been working again at beaded micro-macrame. At this point, I’m very likely to get blisters if I continue knotting, so I decided to hold off on working further on my prototype, for now. (This is the project in pink and blue-green that I had mentioned in an earlier post.)

Image of a workspace and macrame pad.
Working version to the right. It’s interesting what you come up with when choosing beads for structure rather than color…like the center “Green Opal” 6/0 beads.

I have found that I prefer C-Lon cord over S-Lon. The brands are kind of hard to tell apart; according to one source, Marion Jewels In Fiber, S-Lon is likely an off-brand of C-Lon. Marion states that they seem to be the same product from different brands.

My present experience with known S-Lon shows slightly different working properties; it seems slightly stretchier (though that could just be me), and the S-Lon I’m using (pink, above) shredded lengthwise as I pulled it from the spool. This isn’t something I’ve seen at all from the C-Lon I’ve used (for example, the yellow cord on the left in the above image).

However, the color is a dustier pink than the C-Lon cord I have now, as it’s from a closer fashion season. (I don’t even remember the year — or season — in which I got most of my stock: I just recall that it was through a local bead convention.) Because of color considerations, if I re-make this in pink, I might use the same cord…though I seriously need to refresh my cord color palette.

Beaded bracelet in ice greens and pinks.
Sorry about that white pin messing up the shot. No, not the one on the left. The other one.

This kind of design is hard to do without actually playing with cords and beads, until something snaps into place like it was meant to be there. I had to mess around with knotting and re-knotting cords until I got something that looked symmetrical and regular, and just generally O.K. Even at this point, there are errors remaining, though I might be the only person to notice them.

The upshot of working with beads is that they can always be cut apart and re-strung or -knotted, though. The loss is mainly time, and whatever thread or cord or wire that was used (though that time loss can be legitimately counted as time spent in design). You can also recycle precious metal scrap, though I haven’t tried it yet (most of my precious metal is sterling silver, and it isn’t really that expensive, compared to gold). In metal shop, we also used to recycle brass and copper scrap, but I honestly don’t know where that stuff was sent.

It’s also weird how changing the stringing material affects the pattern. I tried working something in yellow cord at first, which the fuchsia beads stood out against. When using the dusty pink cord, though, the fuchsia beads fall into the background. I thought it looked kind of tacky with the yellow, but maybe it’s just a fashion risk?

I guess it just means that when I change cord colors, I need to change the bead colors, too…

It’s kind of surprising how much of an effort I had to raise in order to work with my hands today and yesterday, rather than read or work on job search or job applications. (This is a job [albeit self-employment], these are job skills.)

I’m not entirely sure what’s behind the reticence to work with my hands, kind of like I’m not entirely sure how or why there seem to be no places to learn skills like I’ve learned, outside of books and magazines and bead stores. I would think that this would be interesting to people…if I became a Public Librarian, I would really like to put on Bead Nights and stuff like this.

In comparison to knitting, I would think it would cost less. Is the interest too ethnic to be accessible to a wider audience? Do people just not like getting stabbed with needles? 😉

But really, I’ve been doing this since I was 11, so…

Too many future visions.

Recently…I’ve been getting back into beadwork and the background stuff of, “what if I was running my own business”/”what if I was charging for this”/”what is the value of what I’m making”/”how much did I spend.” Right now I have so many projects in-progress that it isn’t even funny, it’s intimidating — though I’m including the two I began a very long time ago and then stashed away.

I’ve done the math (last night, when I slept for so long [likely social anxiety and depression] that I began to get nightmares, and so didn’t go back to bed until 2:45 AM), and the single-strand pearl necklace I’m working on now costs about $23.50 in materials (without the clasp). That’s about a third of the cost I could have minimally invested to buy all the strands of beads that went into making it; though I did buy more that I didn’t end up using, and as such, have some additional materials going forward.

Because of this, I’m thinking of taking that materials price and multiplying it by 3 in order to recoup my labor and design time, plus allowing me to buy what I’ll need for the next projects. I don’t even know how much design time I’ve put into this, but I know it’s a lot — and also that it isn’t over. I need to remove these from the strand and then restring them back onto it (I’m using asymmetrical beads that need to be reversed).

Anyhow, last night I was writing an Excel file — which I realistically need to do, for every bit of beaded jewelry I make. Unfortunately, some of my materials I purchased such a long time ago, that their price (along with the number of beads originally on the strand) has been permanently lost.

I still do not know how to grade pearls, so some of these costs are things that I can’t even gauge for myself. The cost of pearls depends on their size, grade, shape, luster, color, iridescence, freshwater or saltwater origin, any damage, etc. I have not taken the GIA’s pearl grading course and lab…so I have no idea of the value of what I have.

I do have a ballpark idea of what I probably paid for it — between $18 and $33 per strand. Each strand was probably 14″-18″ long, though the place I got these from is no longer in business. The only way for me to really tell is to restring them (and hope they are all in one place, which I know for a fact is not true for some strands: I make trial designs and usually don’t cut them apart, unless I need to recover the beads).

I also found that the multiple strands of pearls cost much more per-bead than the multiple strands of glass beads. You would think I would know that, but it’s really easy to go overboard with glass beads and get too many, narrowing the design choices toward the end of production (instead of while brainstorming in the bead store — which still does require a good degree of discipline and vision).

It’s just a little bit of a shock to find out that each 6mm pearl you’re using cost $0.50 (but then, you only used 10 of them), while each of the 10 5mm AB firepolish beads you used cost $0.15 each. That means that even though you used the same quantities of both, the pearls ran you $5.00, while the glass ran you $1.50, or 30% as much (or alternately, the pearls cost over 3x as much). Multiples matter.

I also have been looking back at another project — the lacy peach-and-pink-toned Chevron-Stitch necklace for which I wanted to use a glass cabochon as a centerpiece, and the green-and-bronze necklace with the stone donut centerpiece which may fall apart (the donut is fractured along the line of the [extraneous] drill hole; its wrapping [by which I secured a brass flower to its center] may be the only reason it’s still in one piece).

I must have taken an hour and a half in finding my beading foundation (Lacey’s Stiff Stuff interfacing: it’s special because it doesn’t deform, at least according to word on the street). It was with my sewing notes, in a binder, in a set of drawers I rarely ever go into. Like with scrapbooking stuff. I didn’t actually get around to using it because I took so long finding it.

Then, I had also taken a macrame kit out of my bedroom to prevent it from getting dusty…and ended up matching its colors (pinks and blue-leaning greens) with other colors (more blue-leaning greens and some warm yellows). Now I am not entirely clear on what I’m making, only that I originally wanted it to be macrame, and it may end up being macrame that’s embellished with beadweaving.

I didn’t want to start out this post talking about the job search again…I’m kind of getting fatigued in contemplating the “what if’s,” like: “what if I happen to get this job. Do I really want this job? Am I really prepared for this job? Is this job my best option?” Particularly, the tenure-track positions are kind of scaring me (what if I don’t get tenure?), and I’m torn between Public Service on one hand and rigorous back-end academic work, on the other.

Tenure…means at least six more years of stress, on top of a second Master’s, which is at least two more years of stress.

Particularly, I’m feeling that my draw towards arts and crafts could be put to use if I taught sessions and skills in a Public Library setting, whereas it would just be a diversion in an Academic Library setting, unless I majored in Art or Art History, and became a subject specialist there (still an option, though there is no Metal Arts or Jewelry program at UH Manoa). Above entry-level positions, I would need a second Master’s, which would most likely be in Japanese language…I just feel like I’ve lost so much of it, though.

But isn’t this what I wanted? To work behind the scenes and learn Japanese language and become a Subject Specialist in it and move to Oahu and be with my siblings?

I just hadn’t anticipated the pressure, I think.

I should still apply to the job, though. If I get the job, at least then I’ll know if I want to even try to work in an Academic Library setting…

Images

I finally took and processed images in regard to the last two posts. Because I’m using GIMP 2 instead of Photoshop (the latter of which I’m relatively familiar with), I’m toward the beginning of the software’s learning curve. I can get it to work, but it takes a little while of looking around to figure out what I can do and where the tools are located.

Of course, that doesn’t help if you forgot that photographing something white against something black might mean that the white gets washed out.

Pearl, glass, brass, and gold-fill earrings
Trial run.

Above is an image of the more-successful earrings I made, the other night. Of course, that’s way enlarged; the earrings themselves are only about an inch long. I’m thinking it’s evident how I could imagine these as drops from a chain necklace.

The next image (sorry, I can’t yet figure out how to insert text with an image in the same block) is the second pair of earrings I made. Apparently, I didn’t trim the cord at the bottom equally on each side, which makes one earring look significantly longer than the other one. It’s not noticeable on wearing them, though.

blue macrame and crystal quartz earrings

So the spherical beads are titanium-fumed crystal quartz beads. The metal vapor causes the beads to have a bluish-brown sheen. Without the titanium, the beads would be completely clear like glass.

I should have checked these more closely when I got them; one of the beads has a damaged edge along the drill hole, and possibly an internal fracture. However, using them in this way should minimize the possibility that the edge will saw through the stringing material. There’s not much chance of it moving.

The biggest issue I have with these earrings is that the macrame ring — because of its hue — reminds me of “blue ribbon” awards. I may have to cut this apart and remake it (again). The base ring was from a gold-plated chain. It’s easier to tie one of these, by the way, while it’s still attached to the chain and then cut it loose, than it is to cut a link loose and then put knots around it. The attached chain gives one something to hold onto.

The fire-polished beads below the quartz are from the same strand of beads I used in the first image. I’m not sure what the color is called, but it has what looks like an AB (Aurora Borealis) coating.

Right now I’m looking forward to dealing with the materials I have laid out for the necklace I was initially intending to make…while trying to figure out whether to skip to a different project (the one the first pair of earrings inspired). The second will actually necessitate some purchases, however; and I have confirmed that Size 2 Griffin silk will fit through the other pearls.

Yeah, maybe work on the silk one first. I still have to do some design work on it, though…

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…)

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…

Conversations with myself #1

So yeah, I…tried to do homework tonight, until I was no longer able to function, with regard to studying. That is, I started researching why my tomato plant smells funny, and eventually came here.

I am thinking there must generally be some limit on the amount of writing to a format that can be done before one’s brain quits.

At the time I’m beginning this post, it’s near 1:25 AM. I’ve just taken medication, so I should have until about 3 AM before I become entirely useless.

Yes, I am playing with the color settings on the new editor. Why?

Anyhow…what I’m working on now, is a collaborative project. Since I got my ePortfolio turned in, I’m trying to stay motivated. I did need to use one of the projects for this class within the ePort (I actually used two), but I really should have taken this class…before. At a different time.

So right now I have what I’m working on, due early this week…and three more weeks to go of this class. I can make it. The issue is feeling “done” with the whole thing, when I’m not. I have three more weeks to go. But only three more weeks.

Right now, I’m just wondering about resuming my artwork.

newly washed rondelle beads
This is a test photo. I could use this editor for comics, couldn’t I? I mean, if I really wanted to.

I’m thinking about getting back into painting. I have two more weeks before I go back to my regular schedule at my job, unless I pick up more hours, in the meantime.

I should have the opportunity at the end of this week, but it means working through Black Friday — and I have things I want to do, on that day. Like get a paintbrush. But then again, if I go to work, I can afford to pay full price.

Right now, I’m looking at the different way the new Editor on WordPress encourages me to break up my text. It’s much more suited to Web-optimized writing; as versus longform nonfiction, as was my working default, before.

I could do something with this, hmm? I’m thinking two or more B&W side-by-side panels in each Block. Maybe with narrative in between? I might want to review my CSS to see if I can adjust the padding or margins here, though.

Even the background colors of the text could symbolize different characters talking (if the colors repeat), though it wouldn’t be entirely accessible. It could also be narrative.

Just have to pick a story to work on…see which pens to use…

(does longevity matter? If so, use the Microns. If not, Sharpies — or anything else — works.)

Yes, I have tried to use Photoshop to create drawings, before. I’m better off working by hand…

…but that was pretty sweet when I could illustrate with the Wacom. I just didn’t have a story.

(Shut up about the Wacom!)

–But I could use a Wacom!

I have a proposed solution. Do some comic art, scan it in, and see what you can do with your current image editor and a mouse, before you jump on the Wacom thing again.

…or just buy a Wacom. Whatever. If you’re willing to pay full price, it doesn’t matter when you get it.

I gotta try this…