Fabric and fiber

Okay, so now I get to update you all on the quilting progress.

I kind of wish that I had planned out the color scheme better before I started sewing:

IMG_4023w

Right now, I’ve got at least one seam going on one side of all of the diamond portions of this square. Some of the wedges at the lower part of the image already have two triangles sewn to them, though. I’ve been doing this all by hand, so it’s quite labor-intensive. Not to mention, trying on my fingernails–! But I picked up some type of clear flexible rubber thimble, which may help protect the thumbnail I’ve been using to stop my needle.

Something I realized too late was that I would want the edges of the pieces to line up so that they make 45º wedges. I’m not entirely certain exactly how to make sure this happens. I know that after the wedges are made, I’ll want to sew them to each other and then to those larger outer triangles, then sew the resulting squares together.

The problem is that I’ve just been trying to sew 1/4″ (around 6mm) from the edge of the fabric. Not all my cuts are as extremely precise as they would need to be for this method to hold up on a large scale, though.

Right now I’m using mini acrylic shape templates, and a rotary cutter. I have just figured out how all the shapes would be cut out of a strip of fabric, which should help, later. If they’re lined up, they can all be sliced out of one long strip, with minimal waste.

I’ve also just figured out that if I stop sewing 1/4″ from the edge of the piece, I will want to start sewing the next seam at that vertex, again 1/4″ in.

It’s helped to kind of try and lay out what I think I want to do (as I did in my “Ideas” post), because then I have something to measure against when I find something else I also may want to do. These pieces were laying out on the craft table, and when they’re easily seen, it’s easy for me to work on them first. I’m not entirely certain, why.

I also know, though, that I do want to toy around with knitting, more; and at some time it will be worth it to make those pants! I think right now, though, making quilt squares may be less intimidating for me, while I build my skills.

Why knitting? I think I’m attracted to knitting because it’s hard. And because it’s meditative. I used to hate it, but that was when I was in the very beginning stages of learning it (I’m not sure what happened). I still can’t remember how to do a long-tail cast on, but I’ll get it, some time. (It’s possible that I like knitting a lot more now because I’m using actual wool yarn instead of acrylic yarn.)

I also just remembered that I never took photos of all my little knitting swatches…hmm. I should do that…

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Ideas are fun :)

Yes, I am still generating ideas of things to do. 🙂

As I was cleaning up the craft table, I ran across a printout which I realized is the exact dimensions of one of my linoleum blocks (2:3).

flowers in greyscale

The image to the right is what it looks like in greyscale (though I can’t remember if this is the 4″x6″ version or the 11″x14″ version, and am away from my source photos and image editor. It looks like the 11″x14″ version, though). I wouldn’t think it would be possible to do this and preserve the character of the image, but I ran across a posting earlier this week which does show that delicacy can be exhibited by a linoleum block print.

I’ve also realized that I don’t have to look at this in a painterly fashion; I can look at it as something to draw. With contour line in there, I can express the shapes. I can also edit and get creative with the background — with the lower left corner, I’m thinking of blacking it out and adding in lines of light to hint at vegetation behind.

So, there’s one project I can play with. The next one is a bit more ambitious: this is a pair of Japanese field pants (monpe), which I have some nice fabric for, but haven’t started, yet. I know I will have to make a trial pair of these, because with the version of the pattern I have, I’m one size above the maximum (I think I’m a size 16 in Misses’, right now). Luckily, this pattern isn’t difficult to alter, as it’s basically a couple of big rectangles which are slashed and stitched back together.

Apparently, the name for a trial garment is a toile. And…apparently, I don’t have to wash the muslin before I cut and stitch it, though it seems like a waste of muslin, otherwise.

I’m also not sure whether to use the elastic I have for the leg openings at the bottom. This is basically because I know latex degrades, and the elastic I have is YEARS old! But…maybe that’s OK for a trial garment?

In addition…do I stitch it by hand like I want to, or do I stitch it by machine, which will be faster and more durable?

(I think I want to stitch it by hand! I will just have to figure out a method to bind the seam allowances.)

On top of that, there is an option to integrate snaps into the legs, instead of using elastic. I’m just not sure if that’s what I want, yet.

But I guess that’s what a toile is for, right?

(And yes, I do want to make a pair in pink, now, in addition to the one I’ve got planned in black, blue and grey ikat…after this! After this!!!)

FREE!!!

I am just coming off of an attempt to write creatively, which…isn’t working all that well at this point. I think the material is too close to me, plus, I just finished pretty much all of my schoolwork for Spring Session. That means I had a lot of writing and synthesis to do, and Creative Writing…I’m not sure if it’s too different, or too much the same.

My material deals with “psychic” phenomena (or “mental phenomena,” if you like) from when I was young. I had an insight about it the other day, but it may be both too personal for me to write, and maybe it’s something that shouldn’t leave a trail. (It has to do with confusion between good and evil, and lack of discernment. It could be a seed for a poem, or more likely, a story or novel.)

Anyhow, yes, I did finish my Finals! Right now, what’s left are some backed up readings, and after that, a bunch of housework. I was helping re-pot some plants earlier, which was really nice.

For now, I know I can clean up this office, my bedroom, and my bathroom.

There are some things I also want to do as versus have to do. This includes quilting, and getting back to embroidery. Sewing is one of those things that’s on the back of my mind (I still want to make a pair of monpe), but it isn’t urgent.

The other things…are testing out the new watercolors, and getting through organizing my art & craft supplies.

Anyway, heh, yeah, I should get going for now! I hope to check back in later.

One pressure valve, released. Two to go.

I can say that today, I gave myself a break from studying. I also reorganized a good section of my art and craft supplies, and me being me, I realized that I have way more than enough stuff to play with. And if one mode of expression isn’t working out, as things currently stand, I can switch to a different medium.

Also, though: I now have 29 different Fat Quarters (quarter-yards of fabric) to work with. Actually, I have 31, but am probably not going to use a solid or the fabric I bought today which I found was screenprinted! The solid was for embroidery practice…and now that I think of it, I have some of it stretched on a hoop around here, somewhere. The other, I really liked, but on getting it home realized that…it’s not at all what I thought it was (the upshot is that I only lost $1 on it, and I can use it for a wall hanging or something).

I have also realized that it’s possible to make a quilt top with nothing more than Fat Quarters and Jelly Rolls (long strips of fabric). And that libraries are sometimes (much) better sources of books than Amazon, because Amazon seems to run on what’s popular more than what’s useful.

So, my last major assignment for Reference Services (the Research Guide thing) went well, though I was up late working on it, and didn’t get to bed until early morning. I had basically been working on it really hard-core for at least three days, which is probably the reason that I barely thought at all about my other two classes, today.

I still have to take my Final in my Database class, which means I should study. Even though the Mock Final was easy, it was also ungraded and just a study aid, so I don’t know if my answers were correct. I’ll want to make sure I can confidently answer the questions, before I start. If I’m lucky, it will take around 30 to 45 minutes. I would like to do that before the material becomes too stale in my memory.

The other thing I have to do is depersonalize my Instructional Design proposal, and make an example of something I would use in my proposed Instructional Unit. That shouldn’t be too hard, and I already have something in mind (a timeline of the evolution of thought around gender variance in the U.S.), but that will likely take more energy than I would like to put into it, considering it’s due so soon.

It’s easy for me to conceptualize what happened in what order, but pinning down hard dates is going to be much more difficult…unless I hardcore utilize some history texts, or contact a nearby Historical Society.

In the meantime, what I’ve started to do is reorganize all of my art supplies and storage, which might get me to use it again. My problem is that things are put away out of sight, and then I forget that I have them. They just become furniture. A bunch of 11″x14″ pads of paper, I’ve moved to the place where I stored my ArtBins, while the ArtBins are now under the craft table. My charcoals and Conté crayons and pastels, I also found tonight. They have an allure — maybe from the fact that they get my hands dirty.

(Though a bunch of my Conté sticks are missing. I’m not entirely sure where I put them — unless they’re with the rest of my unused pastels and charcoals, and there’s a good chance they are. However…being earthtone, they’re best for drawing people’s bodies…which isn’t what I’m inspired by.)

I actually have a set of 10 NuPastels and a set of Sargent Art hard pastels, the latter of which have never been used. The thing about NuPastels is that I know some of those colors are staining…which isn’t really comforting, unless you like that kind of thing (and it is possible to like it). I liked the stained fingertips, before I thought about it a bit (I’m fairly certain the culprit was Phthalo Blue. I still have those little guys [the blue NuPastels]).

The other thing is that they need to be sealed, but I’m not as against using fixative now that I know what I’m doing and also that I don’t have to do it. I’m not forced to do it for a class, that is. My biggest question is trying to figure out if I have the appropriate cartridges for my respirator (I would need “organic vapor and mists” cartridges); but now that I have an easel, I can spray much more easily, and out of the wind.

I do want to try and use the General’s White Charcoal stuff again, though, even though I’ve been wary of whether it’s toxic or not. From what I can tell, it’s likely that the Prop 65 warnings are on there just because of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, but without knowing…it’s kind of tough to decide to just use it.

I am cautious, though. I am. And I know what I’m doing, so…that probably makes a big difference.

I also threw out some stuff which needed to be thrown out, and put my brushes into an empty furikake (rice topping) jar, which is almost kind of perfect. I took them out of their travel case, because the case was just getting dusty, and the brushes were staying hidden. I know myself a little better now than I used to. If I can see something, I’m more likely to gently edge myself into using it, and end up painting before I’m aware of myself enough to stop.

So there’s that which I want to photograph — just so I can remember where everything is — and the watercolor lightfastness chart four-month results I never posted here (I’ve eliminated some colors from my “good to use” list, for various reasons, while some — like Prussian Blue, which fades a little in intensity after four months in direct sun, but is still beautiful and handy for mixing, I’m a little torn about. Just get some anti-UV glass and don’t put your paintings in the window, I say).

😉

You know, I don’t believe I’ve taken my medication, yet. I should probably do that.

I was wondering how I could be so energetic, so late…

And before I forget, I’m going to remind myself here that if I am at a loss as to what to do with my watercolors, just try mixing chromatic greys, neutrals, and black, and seeing what comes of it. The test images can be anything I want…

Laying off the schoolwork (I’ll get back to it tomorrow)

The semester’s winding down, I’ve decided to take only one unit in Summer Session, and I’ve been re-learning knitting and crochet over the past two days. I mean, it’s been two days with minimal studying.

I think I’m ready to get back to my Zen & Art project, although I haven’t been in the mood to read. What I may take away from this project, though, may be the idea of making art for the process, instead of focusing on achieving a planned finished product.

That is, I’d be focusing on the method and whether I enjoy the method (and the quality of the method), not necessarily the goal. By that, I mean instead of striving for perfection as regards an ideal finished product, just let the process be what it is and enjoy it. (Kind of like focusing on the process of exercising, as versus just trying to get through it so I look better…when the first method is more effective at helping my posture and appearance.)

I never did take a picture of my workspace (a.k.a. the “craft table”), but I need to clean it up, anyway…I have little drawers which are full of creative tools. Maybe I should photograph it after I fix it up.

It’s taken me a bit of time to realize this, but I believe I am still in a learning/sampling mode where it comes to my own art. By that, I mean that I’m still searching for a favorite medium, which affects me in that I don’t want to invest too heavily in one art form just to find out I don’t like it.

I’m hoping Watercolor isn’t going to be this way, but to be real about it, I got into watercolor because I like playing in colors (and I just like the way watercolor disperses and floods the paper and is easily mixed and diluted), not so much because I want to paint things that already exist.

The issue I’m having is that I’ve established an identity as a creator, but have gotten so detached from my own core identity, that I’ve had to reclaim it in order to empower a creator identity. It’s easy to slide under the radar as “normal,” but I think in any artistic endeavor, you’ve really got to be willing to put yourself out there if you want to be honest in your work. Without honesty (however that can be expressed), it’s extremely difficult to say anything…that I would want to say, I guess.

Maybe art hasn’t always been about self-expression, but for me it is; and this is why I’ve chosen not to get a job in Commercial Art. This is also why I’m getting the Library degree, so that I won’t have to make things I don’t agree with and don’t actually support (or which contribute to harming people), in order to stay alive.

What I can say is that it’s hard to say something authentic when you’re afraid to say something authentic. The issue is that when you have to create or you don’t feel whole, that then gives you a choice between being a messenger of whatever good you serve, and/or using your talent to route money to a business or political cause. I would rather be the messenger of the Divine than replace that message with something that is designed to make someone else rich and powerful.

There are a lot of artists who work spirituality into their art, including one of my past Art teachers (whom I remembered while incidentally watching a show on Mediumship, last night). Today I saw a minor exhibit at a quilting shop (who knew quilting shops existed???) and it was really inspiring, especially with the Artist’s Statement which related material about visions, spiritual connections of the artist’s work, and being spoken to by the materials. This person was heavily into quilting, so much so that her work was art, more than practical (and was priced as Art).

And I’ve realized that different methods and strengths (and loves/passions) are needed for different art forms. For example, knitting and crochet are very tactile and involve a lot of repetition and high attention. Painting deals more with intellectual problems of composition and subject matter than I am altogether comfortable with…although I’m a color nut and so I am attracted to the colors just because they’re intermixable colors… Quilting seems different from both, but I haven’t gotten deeply enough into it to be able to tell you what it teaches me.

To bring in another contrast, I can mention relief printing, which deals a lot with drawing and carving, and the fact that hand-pulled prints are all unique even though they are taken from the same block. I started to do this, and even got the knives and blocks and stuff for it, quite a while ago. I just haven’t been back to it, and I don’t know why.

What I do know is that if I continue dealing with fabric and fiber, I will be able to block-print onto fabric. But that’s in the distant future, right now.

Because it’s almost Summer, I’ve been expending more on creative materials. I can see the chance to use them, on the horizon (this is as versus spending very little, except on necessities and books, during the semester). I think I may be celebrating in anticipation, though, instead of waiting until Finals are over and then planning to celebrate.

Lest I forget, the creative materials I’ve bought over the past few weeks include materials for quilting, watercolors, and needlework (this is a misleading term; I mean crochet and knitting, though I have still wanted to get back to embroidery as well. Then there’s also garment construction [sewing]).

The big common thread that all three of these have is color and color play, something that got me into beadwork as a youth, as well. Today I went to a yarn store which I didn’t even know was there (my folks found it for me) and bought actual nice yarn. Like wool yarn that isn’t scratchy.

It helps that I have some experience in this already and knew I was looking for DK (Double Knitting), Worsted weight, or Bulky yarn, and something which would hold good stitch definition (i.e. which would show the stitches) and not untwist as I worked it (this has been an issue with some 2-ply Fingering weight yarn…which I now know is irritating for me).

Yarn weights in the U.S. have specific names; from largest to smallest, they go something like this (I’m not totally sure this is accurate, by the way, but to give you an idea):

  1. Extra Bulky
  2. Bulky
  3. Worsted
  4. DK (Double Knitting)
  5. Sock
  6. Fingering
  7. Laceweight
  8. Cobweb

Basically, I had too much lightweight yarn (Numbers 5-7) and barely anything with any give to it which was midweight or heavyweight (numbers 2-4). This matters because heavier yarns work up into fabric, much faster. It’s also easier to learn on heavier yarn. I think some of the first good yarn I ever bought was this light laceweight stuff, and I didn’t realize that lacework was:

  1. best suited to experienced knitters/crocheters/tatters (it’s not that easy), and
  2. took forever, because you’re generally using a tiny hook or tiny needles, and that vastly magnifies production time (unless you’re doing a lot of openwork; that is, making something with a lot of relatively large holes in it).

Given that, I’m not entirely sure why the laceweight stuff is always in the front of the local yarn stores…

I also didn’t know to use bamboo needles (not steel or aluminum, which are both too slick), as a beginner; or not to use acrylic yarn to learn on (acrylic has absolutely no give to it, so when knitting, it can be difficult or impossible to force a needle into a loop that’s too small. It’s also a very poor insulator).

Anyhow, I got on here tonight with the idea of sharing the swatches I’ve been making, but I’m not sure I am all that capable of keeping my mind clear enough to photograph, edit, and then post the images. But I have three swatches I made today, and more than three which I made yesterday (I’m just not overjoyed with some of the ones beyond the three I mention).

I also now have a sizeable stash of decent (a.k.a. nice, a.k.a. pleasure to work with) yarn. If I wind a few hanks into balls, I can free up a lot more space in the yarn box, too.

(Preliminary) reasons to write

I just got back from a library more useful than the one I work at 😉 (I forgot how nice that library is), and am going to take a quick break here to note down some things I found last night, when writing.

I took about 20 minutes last night to begin writing out the narrative of the story I’ve mentioned recently. I’m actually feeling very good about it, and about having taken some time last night, to read in Drawing Words and Writing Pictures. It’s been a long time since I’ve dealt in fiction, but the value of it came to me when I was trying to fall asleep.

Fiction allows one to try out being different people and making different life decisions than the ones one has made, or possibly might make. It allows one to look at life from multiple perspectives, without necessarily validating one over the other (though to be honest, I don’t particularly strive for objectivity in my fiction!).

One of the things which has stopped me from reading fiction in the past has been the sense that some authors (particularly in the Classics) wrote for the reason of reinforcing and validating their own worldviews. I’m not sure anymore that this is the case; as I’ve mentioned before, my memories of my young adulthood are distorted by untreated illness affecting my cognition, and as such, they’re unreliable.

This is kind of a difficult truism to combat, though. If one believes it, it may prevent them from reading fiction at all, and from writing it as well. If one doesn’t read any more narrative after that, one just continues to hold the belief while the world around one moves on. It might not even help if one tries to get out of it by reading creative prose; often, we see what we are looking for, particularly when there is no one “right” interpretation of a text.

It’s generally accepted that in literary arts, as in fine arts, there is no one “right” or “correct” interpretation, by the way…because not even the author can know such a thing. There’s just too much subconscious and unconscious content for this to be true, and often the interpretation of a text has as much or more to do with the reader than it has to do with the writer.

In order for multiple divergent readings to be possible, we have to grant that the work stands on its own (that is, in fiction, we don’t judge the author for what they have written, even if we do judge the work itself) and that not one reading is “right.”

Hmm. Maybe that’s where I get my philosophical relativism from.

I also at times have felt a bit of…trepidation at letting the reader inside of my head, because I’ve attempted literary analysis on my own work before, and in the past it hasn’t been pretty. (Don’t do that, by the way. Especially not if you’re concurrently dealing with mental illness and cognitive distortion, as I was.)

What I have found is that taking time out to write enhances my productivity, rather than reducing it, as I had assumed. It takes time to write, but then it also helps when you come to things with a fresh mind, not burdened by unexpressed ideas. (Unexpressed ideas can turn into unexpressed obsessions, which is where writing serves well as a method of exorcism. Once you write it down, you can stop repeating it to yourself in an attempt to remember it.)

The problem with unexpressed ideas, as well, is that before they’re put into a format where they become objects, it’s difficult to manipulate them and see the deeper meanings behind them. Whereas, I know as a writer that when I encode things into English (as my first language), I start making connections and realizing ideas that I didn’t know were there.

And these two reasons can be enough reason for me to write, for now. I’m sure more (real) reasons to write will arise as I actually get back into fiction writing.

In any case, last night I didn’t get a lot written, so far as length was concerned — I was writing (legibly) by hand in a small sketchbook, which reduces my writing speed significantly. In turn, that makes me think about my phrasing (not to mention the art of handwriting), more.

I did, however, begin to lay the foundation for a larger story…and I was surprised at how much was already there, going unexpressed. It might actually turn into a novella (or alternately, graphic novel series).

In addition, I was immediately able to see opportunities to expand on what I had begun. This is where my degree in Creative Writing actually helps!

I guess it’s nice to feel multi-talented. 🙂 Or that my undergraduate degree is actually useful for something.

I think that’s about enough time spent, here. Of course, there’s always more to say, but I will post it when it’s ready to come out. 🙂

Growing into myself: nonbinary gender presentation.

I am not sure if I have mentioned here, my recurring dream series in which I’m investigating (or considering) gender transition. I think it started when my first gender therapist retired. Since then, I’ve been through — a lot. Enough to cause me to wonder if I am following the pattern of having been gender-variant in youth (the stereotypical term is “tomboy,” but I wasn’t a jock), and mainstreaming a bit, in my adult life.

If I think about it, a lot of what was labeled, “queer,” in my youth is absolutely normal for an adult person — like wearing my dad’s old clothes. The kids I grew up with just had unrealistic gender expectations, I think.

It wasn’t until after I was 19 that I learned what, “transgender” meant, and though I feel like I synced very well with the student community at the time, I can’t really trust those memories. Back then, I had a mental condition which was going untreated, which affected my judgment and cognition.

As the memories formed, that is, they were formed on the basis of a messed-up input system, calling the validity of my judgments at the time, into question. The fact is, though, I still have the memories which were made with the invalid encoding…so I have to take that into account when I remember them. I don’t know how else I would remember them, though.

At this point in my life, I’m in a much more stable condition, but there is still the history of about two decades of experience in which I was learning all I could about gender variance. That was two decades of questioning my gender.

I know now that I am likely not a transgender man, even if I may want to be. I’m thinking that it must be simpler (no offense meant) for a person who identifies as something for which there’s already room in society, even if it is an expansion of an existing category. Whereas, from the place I sit, I see no clear and set (and desirable) path forward as regards nonbinary people.

I know that I feel most at ease when I consider myself nonbinary (that is, neither a woman nor a man) — the term “enby” has come up in relation to this on the Reader, apparently a reading of, “nb,” for, “nonbinary.”

Of course…that doesn’t mean that what I’m going through is necessarily any less intense than it would be, if I were a cisgender man or a transgender man. What I actually am is something that I’ve decided not to really advertise, because it could get actually intense. And I’ve had enough of that, in my youth.

I also still have anger problems. That’s relatively okay when you’re a kid. Not so much, when you’re a legal adult.

The thing is, it then becomes apparent, when I do come out, that I’m skating under the radar as a woman — when I do not consider myself a woman at all. Regardless of whether I’m obviously female, or whether I wear mainstream clothes. I have no obligation to mark myself. However, I’m not totally settled in this arrangement.

The thought has come up to partially transition (my dream was specifically about getting top surgery so that I could take testosterone and not appear as a man or significantly androgynous person with breasts), so that I’ll be more obviously nonbinary, but that is a uniquely dangerous position in this society. It would seem less dangerous, apparently, than being a transgender woman of color — except for the fact that I could then be mistaken for a transgender woman of color. (Then again, I’m uncertain of the statistics of societal violence against nonbinary people.)

Amazingly, I’m not alone in having a lot of trepidation about that. It’s one thing if you’re driven and need to transition. It’s another if you maybe somewhere in the back of your mind, want to transition, but see people being killed for transitioning.

I also fairly obviously, to myself, have a mental map for a body that leans feminine, even though my gender identity does not coincide with “woman” (and seriously does not coincide with “straight woman”…I just don’t want what most straight men can offer me).

And yes, I do know that a lot of what I’ve been involved with, craftwise, is femininely-oriented. There’s a reason for that: I was trying to get as much out of being permitted to do things like sew and make jewelry as I could, to see if there could be any reason for me to stay female. So now I’ve got a history of crocheting, and stuff. 🙂 The art is more gender-neutral, but again, I have this attachment to flowers…

I mean, you see where I was going with my opening paragraph now, right? But still, those are hobbies, and not anything that tells me who I am. Even if I were male, I’d still be able to crochet, and sew, and make jewelry, and art with floral themes…people may just look at me weird. 😉 And that’s what I’m up against, when I’m thinking about transitioning to a male presentation.

And then there’s all the stuff about arteriosclerosis and acne and body hair, and I tend to back down when I consider that (though I did find my first coarse arm hair, the other day…I’m pretty sure that my body will take care of part of the masculinization process itself, as it ages).

Not that I wouldn’t like to be a buff, soft guy. I think it’s closer to where I am, than not. But that’s idealized, and it comes with a very high price. (It would also be easier for me to go to the gym if men [who see me as a woman] would stop hitting on me. Seriously.)

So at this point…I’m basically choosing not to disclose, or to selectively disclose, my gender status. And I’m not choosing my wardrobe (largely) based on what will get me pegged as a gender and/or sexual minority (GSM): mostly because I’ve aged out of being able to comfortably wear most mens’ pants and shorts (age means curves…and there isn’t anything wrong with wearing clothes that fit because they fit).

Of course, this means that I go around basically unknown; but I was unable to be unknown for years, in my young adulthood. It’s kind of nice not to be singled out.

Right now the thing I’m focusing on is…jewelry. Those of you who know me from a while back, know that I make jewelry. This is the place where I show that I’m different. The issue I’m having with this is that my piercings are now opened to 14 gauge, which is a little more than 1.5mm wide.

This means that if I do make jewelry for myself, I’m dealing with heavy wire and a wider surface which will be exposed to the metal. That’s an issue for me because I am currently unaware as to whether I can absorb heavy metals, like lead, through the tunnels of my piercings, at least if the metal tarnishes into soluble salts. I’m not sure of the chemical composition of the specific tarnishes I’m dealing with, though. (And it doesn’t give me a lot of comfort when some of my jewelry obviously has developed something like verdigris on it, which is slightly toxic.)

I do have heavy-gauge “Jeweler’s Brass” wire which may (at times) have a tiny amount of lead in its alloy, which has stopped me from making earwires out of it. I have read the MSDS, which says it should be fine to wear next to skin…but this is a piercing, a scar tunnel through the skin.

The obvious solution is to use Sterling or Fine Silver wire, but that limits my color options. Solid gold is out of the question, though gold-fill is not — it’s just exorbitantly expensive. In addition, all wire tends to take on a satin finish if you bend it enough…and I’m scared of polishing or burnishing the gold right off of gold-fill wire.

In the past, I’ve worked with craft wire (it tarnishes, even when it says it won’t; and never, never torch it [it’s noxious]), and copper wire. I’m certain that I don’t know what other metals besides copper are in the wire I’ve gotten from the home-improvement store, but the latter is what’s relatively safe to braze (torch). The other option is getting metals from a serious jewelry-supply store (not a craft store!).

Also, most places which sell earwires for the jewelry trade, do not sell heavy-gauge earwires. The heaviest I’ve seen in mainstream jewelry-supply catalogs is 18g, with the norm being 20 or 22g.

While it’s relatively easy for me to shape heavy wire…dealing with filing down the end of the wire and then shaping it may require annealing (softening), which requires a torch. Torching wire means having to pickle wire (remove excess oxidation and flux), and after that comes polishing (not to mention the fire-safety precautions that need to be taken when using an open flame).

When the best you’ve got is a Dremel, and you’ve used a Foredom…you really want a Foredom (a flex-shaft rotary tool, usually with a pendant handpiece). But you only get a Foredom if you’re dealing with a lot of serious manufacturing, and it would take quite a bit of sales to make back the $350-$500+ invested. (It’s just cheaper to take a class or lab, at this stage.)

In short, it’s a lot of work. Though — I did just get an idea, which is to wear tunnels and then thread non-metal materials (like threads or cords attached to woven pieces) through there. I have been thinking of going up to 10g, so that should be possible.

Did I ever tell you why I write? Stuff like that comes out. I’m not even entirely sure why. 🙂

Because of my present size, I also have been taking the opportunity to wear mens’ shirts, partially out of necessity and partially because I can, and they’re more comfortable for me because they don’t show my body as much. It’s more of a comfort when I’m getting unwanted male attention, but that hasn’t happened for a while. (Apparently, it tapers off as a person ages.)

This doesn’t really range into anything where I’d obviously be, “cross-dressing,” however.

It’s kind of hard to do that when you’re female, as it’s relatively accepted for a female-bodied person to wear mens’ clothing, at least where I am. The trouble seems to come in when a person is obviously outside of gender norms and apparently not-male and is looking at mens’ clothing…though the most I’ve gotten are snickers, and the occasional curious guy hanging around.

If, though, if I started making my own clothes, that would open up the field to some experimentation! I would just have so many more options, and ways to self-define. I’ve seen some people doing stuff like this, here. Like I’ve experienced in other places, most of the sewists are female-presenting, though that often doesn’t mean what one might think it means!

I’m relatively new to using my presentation to display parts of who I am, as I’ve had so often to forego that in favor of just being clothed in the best available option (which often boiled down to “what fit”). It will be interesting to see where I take this, in the next few years.