(almost the) First linocut done since high school!

I am trying not to title this post “Bahaha,” though I’m sure you’ll be able to sense my excitement!

I was able to take a trip out to the little art store I wished to go to.  Amazingly — I got out of there with a bunch of linocut supplies for under $25.  It probably has to do with the fact that I got a bunch of little tiny linoleum blocks — the one I’ll show here is one of the smallest, at 2″x2″ — and the fact that they were having a sale on the hard pastels I bought — which were the most expensive thing, at under $5 for a set of 12.

Last night after getting home from that trip, I honestly felt like going to bed, but I interrupted myself.  I didn’t want to go and get the art supplies and then never use them, so I started looking through my cheap little notebook at my designs.  I realized fairly quickly that the way I had been sketching was suited to linework, but that printing would probably require a different approach, utilizing blocks of color or tone.  With that in mind, I started sketching — in pencil, albeit in 8B pencil.

My initial design is at the top of this photo.  Below are iterative versions of it, on tracing paper (center), translucent marker paper (left), and Saral (carbon) paper.

I actually surprised myself with my initial design, as I’d somehow managed to draw a diamond shape which had a little less than 60º as the angle of the inner corner, making 6 petals totaling 360º.

This is the actual first transfer of that image to (translucent) marker paper, on the right:


I used marker paper because I felt it would hold up better under fineliner (I used a 0.1 mm pen, here), and I intended to fill in areas with black to see what the design would look like in high contrast.  As I was doing this, I remembered some examples in a Dover book on the principle of Notan (balance between positive and negative space), and was curious about what would happen if I introduced shapes pushing from the negative space into the positive space — this is why the petals are notched.  I also realized in this iteration that I needed to pay attention to the center of the star, because if the petals didn’t have a coherent center, it could throw the design off.

I also realized that I didn’t have to echo the almond shape throughout each petal, and wondered what it would look like if I added a recurve to the outer edge of each white area.  So I traced over this shape with the tracing paper (first image, below center), using this idea — and trying to fix the center of the design.  I did this first in 2H pencil. Then on the tracing paper, I went over the lines with fineliner again (so I could see them) and traced over that on the marker paper (first image, below left).  At this point I could color things in without losing any precious underdrawing, so I did.  I had intended to divide the outer rim of each petal into two and let the white space part the outer edge, so that the petals were implied but not fully stated — but when I filled the space in, this detail was not visible.  I also joined the positive space on the outside of the petals to save myself a headache.

Once I was happy with the design, I traced over — I think the tracing paper copy — over carbon paper (Saral paper) with a 2H pencil, on top of my 2″x2″ linoleum block.  On the first image, lower right, you can see what this did to the Saral paper:  it’s translucent where I transferred the carbon onto the linoleum.


I did not take a photo of my block before carving, but I was very happy with the line transfer.  What I was less happy with were the performances of the carving tools I mentioned before, which are from my high school sculpture and relief-printing days.  Because they didn’t perform all that well, I ended up using an X-Acto craft knife with a #2 blade to do most of the image cutting.  The area around the image was cleared out with a large shallow gouge, however.

One thing I did find to my surprise was that the little subtlety of the curvature of the white area was not immediately apparent in cutting.  I also found that small circular cutouts are difficult to do in linoleum, and that I would have been better off doing something like I did in the outer petal ring and just cut out an almond, without trying for a circle.  When I did try for circles, I ended up cutting out more positive space than I intended to.  This will change in the next iteration of this project:  almonds all the way!  😉

After the cutting was done, I started looking around for my acrylic plate and the hard rubber brayer.  I couldn’t easily find that plate, though — I know where one used to be, but since we’ve cleaned up, I’m no longer sure where it is.  But apparently…we had extra picture frames, and I was able to take one apart and use the glass that would have protected the picture, to roll out my printing ink with the brayer!

This is water-based Speedball printing ink, which came in a small tube.  I’m really thankful that I didn’t have to buy a 1 lb jar to get any ink at all — at first, all I could find were the jars, but then I found the little packs of ink hanging up in the same area.  I picked up a black, then later realized at home that I probably should have gotten white or a color in addition to the black, so I could experiment with duochrome.  But — next time.


One of the nice things about this ink is that it cleans up very easily with water; on top of that, it seems to be nontoxic.  It also has good tack, meaning that when I put the paper on top of it (I used Stonehenge, which is designed for hand printing), the paper did not move, even as I burnished the back with the back of a spoon to transfer the image from the carving to the paper.

There were barens at the store to accomplish the same thing, but I felt they were overpriced for something that is basically just a flat surface.  Of course, if I’d used a baren, it would be less likely that I would get those surrounding marks on my print (see above) which resulted from both tipping the inked brayer as I rolled it (it’s a tiny print, okay) 😉 and pushing the paper down into the background with the spoon during the burnishing process.

In high school, I think we accomplished the pressing by rolling a clean brayer over the back of the paper.  And, of course, if I used something like a small press, I wouldn’t have to worry about the stray marks at all…although one of the reasons for starting out with block printing is that you don’t need a press.

And, well, now — I have a good bit more insight than I did before on how to do this, and want to retry the carving process.  I have one more little 2″x2″ block of the same type, and found an old opened (throwaway) linoleum block today (it feels like an eraser).  Seriously, though, these things aren’t expensive, something I had to remind myself of before I started carving!  I think the block I carved today cost $0.66 or something like that.

It is pretty cool to see your work result in something, though!  And that’s not a bad try for being (almost) the first time I’ve worked with this technique in 17 years…(and yes, the BAHAHA moment when it works is great…!)

(almost the) First linocut done since high school!

The attempt to relax…well, I did actually read for pleasure, today…

I’m not sure I’m going to make this post public, so if you’re seeing it, apparently I didn’t get into a bunch of…what I’ve been writing about previously, today (in a paper journal).  Yes yes, I can rant and curse all I want in a paper journal…

I have been having problems concentrating today.  Much of this, earlier, had to do with the fact that I was having so much internal “noise” that I could not focus on my (assigned) reading.  This isn’t literally stuff that I physically heard (i.e. hallucination); this is thinking about things that…had little to do with what I was trying to do, except for the fact that I was doing reading for the grad program and didn’t want to be, but felt I had to.  Then I started thinking about the idiocy that is one of my classes and how my standing in the program may be jeopardized by not sufficiently learning some outmoded obsolete overly complex archaic system from a person with his own issues…which I want to drop, by the way, but I’ve gotten Financial Aid, which kind of makes that a bit more complicated.

Anyway.  I’m trying not to think ahead to Fall.  I also have something to write…for which, I can consider this practice.  That is, it’s difficult for me to jump right in to answering questions in an essay format when I haven’t warmed up.  I suppose one can consider what I did earlier to be a warm-up, as well, but it feels different to write by hand, as versus to type.

In any case, M had me writing earlier to try and clear my head.  It worked to an extent — I did get seven pages out (I used a bold pen, so that’s double-spaced), though it doesn’t solve the problem (which should resolve itself in several weeks).

I also read through the text portion of Shin Hanga, which was a nice break.  The text is only Part I of the book; the second part is made entirely of reproductions of these woodblock prints and their associated metadata (artist, year, accession numbers, etc.).  Shin hanga were like an updated version of ukiyo-e, but not…the only branch to spring from that.  Sosaku hanga (“creative prints”) were another offshoot, with one person controlling the entire artistic process — whereas shin hanga and ukiyo-e more often were the result of team collaborations.

I found a webpage (from MIT) which goes over how woodblock prints were created — well, more than one, actually; I also found an article on bokashi at Wikipedia (that is, how color gradations were made in this form of printing, used extensively in the prints reproduced in the book Shin Hanga) — and it is very clearly…complicated.  Enough so to make one seriously consider digital printmaking.  I mean…really.  The prints had to be highly labor-intensive and exacting.

The possibility of, say, applying a color gradation in an outline…is possible in digital printmaking, and from my experience, I would say it is likely seriously easier than carving a negative of that linework and then applying a gradated ink wash to it and then lining it up and printing it.  On doing a Google search and then following a Pinterest link, I also found a link to the following blog post (by serendipityartist) on WordPress, from 2007.  This makes it seem less…unclear, but still, the author mentions needing to “season” the wood block and getting just the right amount of water mixed in to avoid artifacting…(I don’t know if that’s the right word when used with non-computer-generated art…)

M wanted me to write more, to clear my head further, but I found it essentially very peaceful to just look at the prints and try and analyze how they were working, from the viewpoints of color, line, and composition.  In this sense, the prints are very…sophisticated.  The reason I got the book, Shin Hanga, in the first place was to study composition:  a subject which is different depending on the cultural origin of one’s training.  I had found this first through the book Chinese Painting:  Techniques for Exquisite Watercolors, (excuse me while I shift back to a common form of title capitalization) by Lian Quan Zhen.  There are a couple of sections in that book, if I’m recalling right, about composition…which leads me to wonder if the compositions of some (or many) of the prints in Shin Hanga (the book) were invented or idealized, and not as they appeared in nature.

But that goes off on a fairly different avenue than what I’ve touched upon, tonight.

I think I’m about ready to start my essay, now…

The attempt to relax…well, I did actually read for pleasure, today…

Notes from earlier: Design, Ceramics

Well, it was a good thing to be at work, today.  I think it’s called, “networking”?

I received two valuable responses from colleagues who have both worked in Art & Design.  One of them was to informationally interview people in the field I was interested in, in order to get a sense of what the work was actually like — this is in regard to Graphic Design.  The main drawback that I can see to this, at this point, is that I do not carry the responsibility for the direction of the work…and that’s what my old Drawing teacher directly warned us about.  (I’m writing this stuff down now so I don’t forget it.)

Given that — that this is a main downside to working in commercial art (that is, that it appears that people who want work done want it done by someone who isn’t human — kind of like how I rail against people most highly valuing stones which look mass-produced [yeah!  let’s look just like everyone else!]), I started thinking again about pottery.  I did ask one of my co-workers about this; he recommended jumping in to what I wanted to do, in order to see the day-to-day reality of what it is like.  This is so I don’t get overwhelmed with worry and fear about what things “might be” like.

Something that also came up was the possibility of apprenticing to a potter.  That actually sounds like a really workable — and interesting — idea.

Right now what I’m thinking of, is:  No matter what grades I get at the end of Spring semester, I’ll plan to go back into the nearest community college I know of which deals with Ceramics (this is, unfortunately, a 45-minute commute; although I may be able to find a closer school, it won’t be in the same cultural enclave as the one I’m used to).  I can see, then, if I still like it.  I will also, this way, get to know students and teachers, who may be able to help me find a suitable Master to work under.  Come Fall…I am uncertain what will happen, but I will again be able to take Ceramics classes at a closer college.

My desire to work with clay has not decreased since I was able to use the cup I bought…it feels really nice in the hand, and it’s aesthetically pleasing to look at.  I’ve also realized that cafes and restaurants are likely good places to sell to (I noticed the cups in the drying rack of a nearby cafe, today) although this may mean that it will be most practical to make things…that look mass produced.

(?!)  Well, what the market demands, you know.  There was also a place (Heath? Ceramics) which is based in Marin County which provided the hot-cups used at the Honolulu Art Museum.

It would be interesting, though, to see what opens up if and after I learn to speak and understand Japanese language, better…I wonder if anyone would teach me how to make ceramics in an Eastern style…

Notes from earlier: Design, Ceramics

Thinking on ceramics as a realistic preferred medium?

What I’m about to get into is going to make me sound really Asian, which I sometimes get in trouble for, because I don’t look the part (I’m hapa — that is, racially, half-Asian).  I have a tendency to feel most at home in A/PI communities, though.  I’m not even sure why — maybe it’s just familiarity?  A feeling of fitting in?  Culturally, I was raised with my Japanese-American side of the family, so…well, it’s comfortable for me.  M has told me that sometimes there aren’t reasons for the things we like (I mentioned this tangent one or two posts ago).

There has been so much happening, recently, that I’m not sure where to start.  The major problem that I’ve been having is…well, 1) stress, and 2) confidentiality.  The first just makes things harder across the board; the second causes me not to express why I’m stressed…adding to the stress.  Not to mention, people around me being stressed, doesn’t help.

As regards art…I pretty much haven’t been doing anything freehand, though I have been doing a lot of observing.  I think it’s OK this way.  I do have photos to work from…though it’s difficult in the respect that I’ve never taken a digital photography class…and so I have only gut instinct and fairly minimal knowledge about composition, to work from (my Art degree is only an AA).

As regards the classwork (for the Master’s program)…I still haven’t gotten around to doing that Discussion Post that I never did.  And right now…well, it’s been a while since I read the sections in question, so the longer I wait, the more work it will be to respond.  The positive point is that I’m all caught up now, except for that.  I’m not sure if it’s worth it to go back to at this point, however, and I know I don’t want to just repeat what others have said.

Right now I’ve gotten some quiet, which has not been an easy thing to come by recently, and allows me to…well, relax a bit.  Maybe I should read or do some research or something, and see if that helps.

I could do some art, too, but…I haven’t been in that mode, for a while.  I have been thinking of taking either Ceramics or Printmaking over the summer.  Ceramics would probably be easier to access, given that I have a small college not so far from where I live, which teaches it.  The Printmaking class — the one that I know about, anyway — is at least a 45-minute trip, one way.

However, one of my friends from the Art program was in the Printmaking series, last I heard of him; and unless I’m mistaken, he did like it.  For my part, I’m more interested in the old-style manual printmaking than Digital Printmaking…although the latter seems like it’s where we’re headed.  The drawback seems to be that Digital Printmaking may emulate the style of manual printmaking…without the process or limitations of printmaking, within which the style makes sense.

I also did just see an exhibit on woodblock prints…which was inspiring, to say the least.

Ceramics, though:  I went to a tea shop recently and purchased a small porcelain tea cup…which got me thinking about three-dimensional work, again.  Ceramics would enable me to work sculpturally, and also integrate color into my designs.  There is also that element of randomness which causes …well, it helps one let go of control, a bit.  So far as I know, there is no really accurate way to tell what a glaze will look like once it’s out of the kiln; bisque firing (the first firing after the clay is formed, before the glazing) also takes a chance, as pieces can explode if there are any air bubbles within them.  If they do this, you want them to do it at the bisque phase, not the glazing phase — the latter can cause fragments of a work to stick to everything else in the kiln.

At the tea shop…this is a relatively upscale tea shop…I paid either $15 or $25 (I’m no longer sure which) for a beautiful tea cup in a common Chinese style (where it comes to shape) with a modern twist on blue glaze (or is it something else, like paint?) over white clay:  it’s a linear pattern, as versus figurative.  I don’t believe I’ve taken a picture of this, yet, though that would be something to do.

There was also a red-on-white version of the same style, but for some reason, the red stripes were somewhat in relief, as versus the blue ones, which were smooth.  Texturally, the blue-on-white was preferable to me; I just wasn’t sure, either, that the beautiful red was not cinnabar (mercuric sulfide).  The latter has been widely used as a pigment, historically — though I wouldn’t take that as an indication of safety.

What I realized, though, is that as I have gotten further into tea drinking, I have begun to collect teacups (Asian teacups, more precisely) and teapots.  And I realized this is a niche market which I both might enjoy producing for, and participating within.  One of the Japanese gift shops relatively near me has a section just for pottery; it’s also common to find these sections in Asian supermarkets.  As each piece is unique…and one only has to buy one cup for their collection…price, as a barrier, decreases in importance.  The main thing that I’m concerned about there is lead exposure (most stores don’t mark whether pieces have lead in them or not), though I think that as long as the cups or pots are not exposed to acid, it should be OK.

(And I just now have realized that I can take my skill at painting and do so on ceramics!  I don’t know why that never came to me, before!)

I did enjoy Ceramics when I took the classes in high school (I took Ceramics/Mixed Media twice, then); the main issue I had with the class is that I had untreated OCD and would wash my hands until the skin cracked (which was easy, as clay will dry out one’s skin…think of facial masques made of primarily kaolin [a transparent {or translucent?} Chinese clay], and you’ll see what I’m getting at — these masques are primarily used to treat acne and oily skin, so far as I know).

Otherwise…I picked up a book on Shin Hanga, or New Printmaking (although it’s called “New,” the art movement seems to have declined in the mid-20th century — kind of like how Modern Art was followed by Contemporary Art, but the title makes it sound cutting-edge [I suppose it was, then]), at a museum store (same museum that had the woodblock prints); it appears as though it will be very inspirational.  I passed up a book on manga to purchase this one, though.

Although I have plans, at the least, to begin Japanese language review and new practice and language acquisition during the Summer…I still can’t read most untranslated Japanese graphic novels or comics, now.  I’ve just realized that maybe this lack of content delivery may be why I am more drawn to color and Fine Arts — I mostly don’t receive any content that’s written in Japanese language.  Add this to the sparing art which constituted examples in the text I was looking at…and Shin Hanga was more exciting.

There’s also the fact that I knew a good number of the authors and manga series referenced in said book…and I don’t necessarily want to duplicate knowledge I already know.  Plus, even if I do or did want to create a graphic novel as an endpoint (which I am not sure still holds as much weight as I’ve considered it to, in the past; given my reluctance to enter into generating narratives [something I’ve mentioned before, here, I’m fairly sure]), it would be best to study what the people I admired, studied — not to study and emulate their styles.  The latter of which, by the way, seems to be a path particularly looked down upon by Western artists.  Though, I’m fairly certain that competition from Japan in the U.S. comic book industry also has something to do with it, at least when we’re dealing with people from the U.S.

I’m going to try and relax, now.  I haven’t gotten to just chill for a while, and I probably need it…

One other thing:  I have realized very recently that a lot of things considered as “crafts” had useful, utilitarian functions, at some time.  Particularly when it comes to things like basket weaving and cordmaking and papermaking and knotting…at one time, these were very useful crafts.  I did take a look into the Western Art wing of a museum recently, and found a lot of “flat art”…and I’ve been wondering about the legitimacy of the valuation stating that arts (particularly the Fine Arts) are more valuable than crafts.  What I’m beginning to think is that this might be the popular viewpoint in this era, but that is by no means an absolute and accurate reflection of reality (and in fact it may have to do with colonialism…and sexism…)

Well, the reasoning behind the valuation of Fine Art is probably something that most people don’t even consider, either…

Thinking on ceramics as a realistic preferred medium?

I did have an idea behind this post earlier today, but I’ve since forgotten what it is…

…it must be the hour.

However, I was able to take some photos before the sun set, today.  I’m not sure how many of them would actually be interesting to anyone but me, but…well.  I just took a shower and am waiting for my hair to dry before going to bed.

Earlier, I did what homework I could…until meaning stopped coming out of my reading.  At that time, I got out the cabochons to see if I could pair any with the lacy pink thing.  What I got was this:

glass cabochon (~1″ tall) plus various trial netting swatches.

…which was kind of interesting. I realized that I might have some Czech seed beads which matched the cabochon exactly.  Because I recently reorganized things, I knew exactly where to look:

This is what a hank of Czech seed beads looks like.  I was talking about how Czech round seed beads are usually sold in hanks, half-hanks, or strands…these are loops of thread with beads threaded onto them, knotted together at one end.

These beads, I got a long, long time ago, at a store which closed down for (likely) good reasons.  I’m not sure of the name of the color, but they have a rainbow coating on them like the above cabochon (called AB, or “Aurora Borealis”), and they’re pretty close in color.  I’m fairly certain they’re size 11º.

I’ve wanted to use my cabochons in bead embroidery before, but haven’t, because I haven’t had the beading foundation you see in the background of both of these images.

Beading foundation is like stiff interfacing, and in some cases can be literal normal interfacing, like the kind used for sewing (usually it’s called “Pellon,” for the brand name, at least where I live); however, what you see above is called “Lacey’s Stiff Stuff” and is supposed to be really good, in terms of holding stitches and not stretching.  It can be hard to find in person and expensive once found, though.  This piece is about 8.5″ x 11″ and bought on top of bulk discount pricing, so it wasn’t …individually, that expensive.  😛

I do have Pellon interfacing as well (at one time I was trying millinery), which has a bit more give to it and is much thicker.  I had heard not to use it, though, in one of my books (Dimensional bead embroidery, by Jamie Cloud Eakin) because Lacey’s is supposed to be better for this specific task (i.e., bead embroidery).  As a consequence, I put the idea aside…for too long.

More Czech seed beads…strung in hanks, and loose in a bead tray.

The photo to the left displays two hanks of Czech size 13º seed beads…I think.  The pink ones may be 15ºs — which will help in bezeling cabochons.  The coppery ones are likely actually glass coated in copper (there is a term called “Galvanized” which might apply to these, but I’m not sure because of the circumstances under which I got them [bead convention]), and are called “Charlottes” because one side of the bead is ground into a flat facet.  (No, I don’t know the origin of the term.)

The triangular thing is a stackable bead tray, here with some of the Czech 11º seed beads you saw in the hank above — only here, they’re loose and ready to use.  Of course I came back into the house today and promptly accidentally overturned the (entire) tray onto the floor…with a jacket cuff or something.  Hunting stray beads happens frequently, here.  And it doesn’t help that they bounce, roll, and scatter on linoleum, and can get totally lost in carpeting.  Though holding a light parallel to the floor helps to find them, at least when they’re shiny.

Fairly certain candidates for the netted necklace.

This, to the right, is a photo of the beads I am fairly sure to use in this project…the exception being the copper beads (unstrung from the above hank) in the lower right vial.

I did some work taking inventory and found that altogether, I have 80 of the “Peaches and Cream” dagger beads (upper right) and 96 Fuschia 4mm Czech firepolished glass beads (far left, center).  Each inch, about, of the pattern I made uses four dagger beads, and maybe 5 firepolished ones.

Given this, I have enough beads for a 20″ necklace…at least, in outer diameter.  The three long center vials are Japanese seed beads (typically sold in vials); the two on the right contain size 11º, while the one on the left contains size 8º.  I’m pretty sure that the far right vial of these center three contains dyed glass, however, meaning those beads are unlikely to stay that color forever.  Everything else, though…I think is relatively stable (though I’m not sure about the size 8ºs…which came from a different supplier that doesn’t give marks for lightfastness).

Oh, and:  the little short vials on the far left and far right, did not come with these beads.  They’re the “tiny” vials I mentioned in earlier post with regard to storage.  I got them from a store which specializes in plastics and fiberglass, for about $0.20 each.  This is kind of crazy inexpensive, when I see that there are smaller clear containers (the AMAC tiny ones) which cost 4.5x as much and are less secure.  If they weren’t $0.90 each, I would buy them to store crystals, but seriously.  That’s kind of a splurge, for storage.  (It wouldn’t be, however, if I were selling gemstones or crystals — as I’ve seen those boxes used before.)

I did have an idea behind this post earlier today, but I’ve since forgotten what it is…

Crafty business…(half punning)

Well, there are a number of things going on here…I’m trying to decide which to divulge, at the moment.  The trouble with concentration is still going on, though I’m taking it relatively easier on myself than I had been.  Meaning that I got some more work done on that bracelet I mentioned a couple of posts back, though I haven’t taken any photos of it yet; you’re just going to have to trust my word that I worked on it.  🙂

Probably the biggest surprise with that is the amount of impact the picot beads are having.  I mean, right now the color scheme is teal, deep copper-red and a tiny bit of violet.  The moss green beads aren’t really very visible any more because they’re sandwiched between the teal and copper.  These two colors come forward in contrast to the dark green iris beads, which comparatively recede (their colors aren’t as saturated).  I hadn’t intended for the picot edging to be as dominant as it is (it adds a significant amount of width to the bracelet — meaning in this case, two mid-size stripes along the edges), but as I said to M earlier, I’ve realized that I can do this pattern in a whole bunch of different colors.

Right now it’s got a copper theme, but there is also a green and violet one which I want to make (the one I first intended to make in 2011, I think, which I found the sample and instructions for [I made the instructions for my future self, by the way]), and a green and gold one which I can start, at the very least…and I want to make a violet-red one, too.  After that, I can see whether I want to go into oranges and golds.  It depends on the colors that are available this season.  We just came out of (or are coming out of) a trend with matte fluorescent colors, which I’m not really sad to see go, but it may become more difficult to find brightly colored beads (as regards fashion trends in supplied bead colors).

In addition, if I’m using the tiny #1 bugles, I’ll have to use 15º Japanese or 13º Czech seed beads to match, unless I want something that is intentionally not-flat or with larger spaces between the beads.  There’s also the option of using standard-size bugles, though I’m not altogether fond of the ones I’ve seen.  They lend a very directional quality to the beadwork which isn’t my favorite, even in the piece I’m working on, now.  Nor am I a fan of seed beads (including bugles) with hexagonal cross-sections — I think they have too many hard lines, for me.  I’m thinking nebulously about using Twin beads, SuperDuos, or DiamonDuos in stacks which will slant in a particular direction, then joining these somehow and adding edging.

M also stated that she thinks that the design I’m making is unique enough that I don’t have to cite the person who inspired it…and now that I’m seeing it work up, I can clearly see both the inspiration and the clear divergence from the pieces I’ve seen made from the patterns in the book, Beaded collars.  The techniques are similar, but the techniques are also public-domain.  I’m thinking that the similarities really fall in the combination of the techniques (and not even all that clearly in some sense, as I’m using peyote stitch, not netting stitch).  I will likely also experiment with different edging and joining methods in the future, as well.

And I’m just hacking my way through connecting the two ladder-stitched strips.  If it works, that is, I’m doing it.  I had a system at one point, then I screwed it up.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe it was too regular and predictable?

I also don’t know how my mind is figuring out how to regularly put on the picots and space out the connecting lines (it requires weaving in and out of the bead holes with a needle and thread [for some reason, I like needlework], and I keep ending up in a place I don’t want to be with the needle — which is where the pattern of weaving started to come into play), but I’m sure that if I make enough of these, it will become clear.

What else…?  I spent a significant amount of time today helping M with her projects — particularly, teaching her how to do wrapped cord endings.  This mostly went well.  Mostly.  I kind of messed up one by leaving too much loose cord at the beginning of the wrap and then wrapping the rest of it so tight that I couldn’t tighten the loose loop.  But learning is the point, I guess…

And I do think that I have realized that while I may combine metalwork with my beadwork…the primacy of color in beadwork is something that really draws and continues to engage me.  Particularly, when things don’t turn out as predicted!  There is the drawback that anything I make can be picked apart and reproduced by someone who’s skilled enough, but as long as I’m not making a living off of it (which is a far goal for anyone:  making substantial money off of beadwork?), I probably don’t need to worry about it, so much.

The point at which to worry about it comes when I have a publisher and book of designs, and even then…what can be copyrighted is limited.  And the beadwork magazines are full of designers’ progressive iterations off of other artists’ designs.  We learn together.  I am presently under the impression that not copying others’ designs rote and selling them is more of a personal honor thing than anything — under some circumstances, clearly just copying and selling copyrighted work for money (this is not viable as a business plan, and in fact makes me wonder why someone would fully copy another person, except to learn [as is — and has been — a widespread method of learning in the Arts]); in other circumstances, work that is just not fully mature in iteration, using stepping-stones set in place by more mature designers; and in some circumstances, the designer has enough experience that they are drawing off a wide pool of skill and thus their work does not directly look like anyone else’s, because they’re in their own flow.

I’m not at the latter point yet, but I’m not at the first, either.  My biggest trouble may just be becoming overloaded with work which I need to drop (as I wouldn’t be able to — or want to — wear it all [seriously, I have a personal sense of style which my beadwork doesn’t necessarily conform to]), and that stuff could be sold and the proceeds (likely) put back into making more jewelry (or donated).  Then there’s just giving the stuff away, which I’ve also done…no guarantee that it will be appreciated that way, though.

Speaking of which, this project has me thinking on making beaded beads as earrings.  The thought came up before, but I didn’t jump on it then, for some reason.  I’ve known how to make beaded toggles for a while, and I’ve thought they could make good drops…and that stuff is definitely public domain!

Crafty business…(half punning)

Kind of down…but I have been doing something.

It’s been kind of an off day (though I have been having more of those than usual, recently)…though it got better when I stopped even trying to concentrate.

I lay down around 7 PM last night, fell asleep, then my alarm went off at 9 PM (medication time).  I got up at 10:30 PM, took medication, then couldn’t fall back asleep until at least 1-2 AM.  Then someone woke me in the morning to let me know they were leaving, and I fell back asleep.  I got out of bed exactly 12 hours from the time I lay down the second — no, third time (I got up and ate something at around 1 AM).  So I was out of bed at about 1:30 PM.  Then I tried to read again and found the cataloging textbook to be so incredibly boring (it’s an instruction manual more than a textbook) that I went back to bed…(it doesn’t help that the Cataloging professor still hasn’t let me know if I’m reading the correct chapter).

After people returned home, I got out of bed and started studying someplace which was not my bedroom…still couldn’t concentrate.  Watched one and a half episodes of African history, during which time I decided just to stop trying to concentrate, and started in on beadwork (which is what I actually wanted to be doing).  I have a photo of how far I’ve gotten, tonight (note that the ladder-stitched sections that trail off the right side of the photo are nearly long enough for my wrist, in themselves):

Inspired by Beaded collars by Julia Pretl.

I cannot totally claim credit for this design; it was inspired by projects in a book of M’s:  Beaded collars, by Julia Pretl.  Though I found the collar patterns in that book to be a bit large for my taste, the basic idea of rows of ladder stitch joined with netting, and using picots on the turns, comes from that book.  However, as I’ve mentioned, these rows of ladder stitch aren’t joined by netting, but rather peyote stitch.  (The joining rows are so short that it disallows netting.)

The entire thing is also rather small — something that doesn’t quite show up, here, except in the relative enormity of the weave in the tablecloth.  The entire thing is narrower than the diameter of a quarter, I think.  The copper-colored glass bugle beads are less than ¼” long each (I think they are Size 1), with most of the other beads being Japanese size 15ºs.  The larger beads are Japanese size 11ºs, which are still pretty small.

I still have trouble deciding which beads to use in combination; the matte 11ºs are “raku”, a relatively expensive finish.  On the other hand, the teal fringe beads are colorlined (that is, there is a color lining the holes), and as such are prone to fading on exposure to the elements (particularly, I am guessing, light).  However, the beads don’t tie together as well when I use my teal silverlined 15ºs.  This is a bracelet which is made to go with another one which I haven’t made, yet…same color palette, but different color placement.

I wish I could tell you the thread path I was using to get the little peyote joins lined up and also the edge picots (I’m using double needles, which is as much as I can coherently say)…but the thread path is so complicated and haphazard that I don’t think I could give directions for it, at this time.

And…I’m either really tired or really low-energy, right now; I can’t think really well.  I’m probably just in a depression.

What I can say is that I averted a minor disaster by taking the time to untangle at least two or three large snarls (which required close work with needles and awl)…and have remembered the trick of storing presently unused needles in my clothing (pant leg, shirt), to avoid the lines of thread being tangled.

I don’t know how long this episode is going to last.  I’m not even sure I’m cut out for Master’s work in this field (right; for those of you new to this blog, I’m studying Library and Information Science)…I mean, I’m 35; I should be moving ahead in the job market rather than in grad school, I feel like.  But I only have a limited amount of years in which I’ll have the luxury of being able to do grad school and still have help from parents.

Which, then, calls in the mortality bit, and maybe I should stop thinking about that, right now.  I’d make an appointment with Psych, but I’m fairly certain all they’re going to tell me is to increase my medication and eat well and sleep…and the medication is sedating (and causes weight gain), so it’s like either sleep 14+ hours a day from the depression or sleep 16+ hours a day from the medications.

It wouldn’t be so bad, but I have deadlines to meet…and I hate having to actually use accommodations…

Kind of down…but I have been doing something.