Two sets of earrings completed…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow.

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

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Craft books, and priorities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Um…what? Oblivious family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For free. Psh.

Getting back to beadwork.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wacom and Adobe, a decade later

Alright. I eh…said a while back that if I got a higher-paying job, I might invest in a graphics tablet. When I got my first (usable) tablet, there were very few companies making quality graphics tablets, other than Wacom.

This must have been back around 2010, or before; back when I was taking graphic art classes. They weren’t really called graphic art classes, but I think it’s safe to say that that’s what they were. While I was there, I learned Photoshop and Illustrator, including some stuff (like layer masks) which I don’t anymore, recall how to do. I’d have to research it. (PeachPit Press is a good source, by the way. Or at least, they were; I haven’t read any of their current materials.)

The thing is: I haven’t worked with graphics for so long, that I don’t know that I need a graphics tablet. At least, not now. Not yet. I’m thinking that having one would ease some stuff in Web Design; however, those are very limited problems, and I could probably bite off a good chunk of that, if I just used a mouse, instead of my touchpad. And I have a wireless mouse I could use. I just haven’t, because I’d have to start taking parts off of old, unused machines.

but that’s techie, right? sasasasasa…

I’ve also given thought to signing up with Adobe. I know: it’s less than optimal. GIMP 2 just has a pretty steep learning curve. I know I could learn it; the thing is that I’ve seen more…well, techies using GIMP 2, because of its customizability, and the fact that it’s open-source and free, while Adobe charges (at least) $10/month just to use Photoshop.

The fact that I’d want vector capability as well as raster, means that either I use the Pen tool within Photoshop CC, or I get Illustrator as well. That’s at least $240/year, and I’m not certain that it’s worth it. And actually, I just tried to check this; Google says that Illustrator and Photoshop are both $19.99/month, making it closer to $480/year for both of them. I tried to navigate to the site, but they want me to enable Javascript.

Which, of course, gets the same treatment as pop-ups: back out. I don’t care that much.

I also know, though, that there are functionalities available with Adobe (or were, at least at one time), which — if I’m recalling right, from the last time I tried — GIMP 2 can’t really do, yet. I’ve noticed tilt and pressure sensitivity, primarily, to be lacking. It’s something I really liked when using the Wacom tablets (likely Intuos) at school, which I can’t reproduce yet, with what I’ve got. (My Intuos won’t do it, with GIMP 2.)

The problem is that from what I can see, Wacom’s customer service is pretty poor (to put it lightly). The entire reason for me to get a new tablet is so that I don’t have to try and use the decade-old one and hope that it’s both possible to update the driver to Windows 10, and that Wacom has actually made the driver and uploaded it. And, you know, I actually found the right one, and stuff like that.

And I mean, I could try, but I’m kinda scared.

But then there’s the other possibility: of getting a new Intuos, and not being able to download the driver in the first place, and not getting any help — with the Wacom site being down or intermittently available, as happened tonight.

The thing is…that it would seem that there is decent competition in the graphics tablet market, now. Wacom isn’t the only dog on the block anymore, I mean; and I’ve been doing offline art for most of my artmaking. But if I went into Web Design, I could use the help with photo editing.

The actual reason for me to get a tablet is for graphic design, which — from what I could tell in my Web Design class — might only use such rudimentary visual skills, that I could do it with just a mouse. I mean, sure it would feel better to make a vector drawing with a pen, but is it necessary? Not really.

I’m just kind of getting tired of rolling my fingertip over on the touchpad to inch a selection over by half a millimeter. It’s not much easier with a mouse. And yeah, arrow keys…

…yeah.

I dunno. I’m going to have to think about it. The major thing is wondering if staying loyal to Wacom and getting something that should work if it’s supported, is worth the extra money, over going with an unknown company. Back in the 1990’s, when I tried an off-brand tablet, it was basically a piece of garbage (“oh you want to draw a diagonal line? and you want it to be straight, you say? HAHAHAHAHA”); but it isn’t the 1990’s anymore.

And yeah, I still haven’t gotten that higher-paying job. I’ve just started to think about what I would do if there were a good deal, since holiday season is getting into gear.

I have a feeling, though, that I probably am going to be doing some off-brand, open-source work: I’m not the kind to buy a Mac and a Wacom and use Adobe, just for brand recognition. That’s not what I aspire to.

But that gets into…some other topics…which I probably shouldn’t get into, now. It’s too late, and I’ll say something stupid. You know I will.

Giving myself time: one plan towards two ends

I’ve got a plan as to how to handle the tension between Web Design and Librarianship, though I’m not sure if I’ve already written it here. I think I’ll remember it, but just in case:

Since I am on the edge of getting an LIS degree, and will therefore soon be able to move into a Library Assistant or Librarian position, it makes sense to take one of those jobs immediately after graduation. Either one has a much higher pay scale (compared to what I’m doing now) and at least the possibility of benefits. The LA position is paraprofessional; Librarian positions are professional.

If I do get the Master’s, I plan on re-taking Cataloging through the ALA. I will also have the income then to take additional courses. There are a lot that I’ve wanted to take, but didn’t have time to. Continuing Professional Development will be expected of me as a Librarian, however.

I will likely also have the income for tools and books to further my interest in and study of Web Design. This includes up-to-date graphics programs (though the most fundamental are currently cloud-based), a DSLR camera, and a graphics tablet. (The tablet comes first.)

Depending on my living situation, I may also be able to put some money away towards the possibility of tuition and fees for a MFA in Design. Right now this is so far out of reach, that it’s unrealistic to think about blowing all that money on something I’m not even sure I’ll like.

However, during my time as a Librarian, it will be possible for me to work on my Web Design skills, learn Web Design and Development via the Internet as much as I can, and work on the website of a library via a Technical Services and/or Virtual Library position. It will be possible for me to be a Webmaster in that arena, though probably not for a while.

Some time later, after I have the money to be able to take on a Design MFA without breaking myself (timewise or financially), and I have identified a school at which to study, then I can decide if I still actually can use an MFA, or if I know what I need to know, already. I will also likely know by then, if I actually would rather stay a Librarian (that is, if I like being a Librarian).

This matters because becoming a full-time Web Designer would be a change into a very competitive, for-profit field, and also would likely entail a cut in pay and benefits. I would be able to work independently, though. It’s also a more creative position, but there are other ways to be creative that aren’t, you know, careers. And this is assuming that there is still a Web as we know it, by the time I reach this point.

Given that thought, it would be best to invest in soft skills, as well as technical ones.

If I worked in a Public Library, I could feed my need to be creative by helping with art and craft programs; if I worked in an Academic Library, I could feed it by developing study aids and doing Instructional Design. (Not quite the same thing, but the same feeling of accomplishment when things start to come together at the end.)

Right now it looks like weighing the benefits of creativity and integrity against each other, although as I think I’ve said before — I’m not even totally sure I am still a creative person, on medication.

Medication can also change…so that’s a variable that I should keep in the back of my mind. I may not be on what I’m on now, for the rest of my life. Before my symptoms were controlled, I was constantly creative (in a way that I actually produced things), but I couldn’t care for myself as well. There’s kind of a trade-off there, I mean.

I’m starting to get a headache, here: I went to bed at 5:30 PM, about, and woke up at 9, then watched some cartoons and the first Deadpool movie. It’s now 2 AM; I can get back to sleep. Tomorrow, I can plan on working on some of my ePortfolio tasks…particularly, essay writing. I hope I’ll be up to it.

And yeah…I suppose it is possible to “dabble” in Web Design…but either Web Design or Librarianship could take up all of my time.

I spoke with someone who says this sounds like a solid plan, though I was talking over his head at some points. I hope it’s a solid plan…

And yes, I did just totally forget about my desire to learn Japanese language and work in Special Collections. That is the alternate pathway, if I don’t end up liking (or just can’t or don’t want to do) Web Design. I should have time to study nihongo alongside everything else too, in the early stages…

Hmm. Exactly where and how would I work that in, though?

If I don’t go for a Design MFA, though, I could still put the money I saved towards a Japanese Language and Literature MA…!

Photos. I finally took photos.

I’m posting this here instead of on Hidden Jewels (for now), mainly because it’s a continuation from the past two weeks. I couldn’t concentrate on reading today, so I went back to the photos I’d taken earlier when the sun was at full blast, and did a tiny bit of photo editing.

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To the left, is a close-up of one of the quilting cottons I picked up yesterday at a local quilting shop. It’s a batik, much nicer in quality than the ones I’ve gotten at the chain fabric and craft stores. I can guess at how it was made…and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was from one of the handmade bolts.

I’m just wondering, at this point…if I wanted to go into crafting as a vocation, basically in my case, apparel design or jewelry design (though I’m more interested in apparel design, at the moment)…how I would do that.

M had been talking about my being able to go back to my art after graduation. The one place I researched which I know has a fashion design program, is FIDM, and their biggest selling point is making friends and networking, which isn’t really my strong suit.

There are a number of steps which come before being able to design apparel, however. I’m thinking that it starts with making clothes (or jewelry) from patterns, then graduates into mixing and matching elements from different patterns, then goes into draping and designing one’s own patterns.

My biggest hurdle with this is the fact that my own sense of style isn’t traditional. I can be interested by traditional work, but the lack of readily available patterns for menswear, for example, is one of those things that I notice and don’t really “get.” As a female person who sometimes wears clothing made for men (and who would wear more of it if it were cut for my body), I know that not everyone who is female wants to wear traditionally feminine clothing. I also know that clothing styled for men doesn’t have to look horrible on a female body, but the apparel industry isn’t really geared toward gender-variant expression at the moment.

Anyhow, going off of my last post, I did get up enough nerve to take some more photos. Not a lot of them, mind; I could have gone at it and photographed all of my Fat Quarters, too, but decided to try not to go overboard. 🙂

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The alternative to the carpet background is to lay down some muslin or something.

So…the above image is of the four bits of fabric I got yesterday, about 3 yards in total (each piece is .75 yards), which cost about $38, including tax. For fabric, that’s pretty good. At least it is where I live, where the cost of living is apparently pretty stupid high.

So…the two on the left are batiks; as I said, possibly hand-painted. The second from the right is faux shibori, I believe (shibori is a method of tie-dyeing which can get really intricate, though I think this one is just a pattern). On the far right, I believe that’s an indigo ikat pattern (ikat is a method of dyeing threads in a particular pattern before they’re woven, and then weaving them together so that a design shows up in the finished fabric).

I’m really interested in fabrics right now, and I’m pretty sure it’s because of the color issue plus the texture issue. I just get stimulated by color (I still don’t know how or why), and I get stimulated tactilely by working with fabric…which is also a mystery. It’s just nice to feel things that feel nice. Which is weird because I don’t consider myself a highly physical person…cloth is something else, though.

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Above are the Kona Cotton Fat Quarters I got a while ago, on which to practice embroidery. Only the pink has been embroidered at this point, though (I used an orange Olympus-brand sashiko thread which doesn’t appear to be that high in quality). That, in turn, was only a trial where I was pushing myself to do anything except be on the computer. It worked…even though I did the embroidery non-traditionally, because I didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t study the optimal thread path before starting.

Well. (It would matter if the stitching was weight-bearing; one of the original uses of sashiko is to reinforce fabric.)

I guess when you just want to get started as fast as possible, to kick yourself out of doing nothing into doing something, it helps.

And I guess we’re pretty deep into the night, now. Here, I mean. I’ll see how I feel, tomorrow. I might want to work; I might not want to. I might be able to work, or not.

Oh, wait: I go to my job, tomorrow.

Coming up, I’ll just start reviewing my old work for the ePortfolio, without committing to writing anything. Working from Competency to Competency, I should have an okay time getting an idea of what to write…my Prof still hasn’t returned my first essay, yet, so I don’t even know if I’m doing the correct work.

I also need to summarize Chapter 1 of the reading for Collection Development, and read over other people’s responses…

I can take my textbook with me tomorrow and try and work through Chapter 2 and review Chapter 1 on my lunch.

I can also take one or more quilting books with me, in case I can’t concentrate… 😉