Sometimes art is just a time sink.

I think I’ve decided to spend more time engaged with schoolwork, offline craft work, and offline writing — after having gone to a social meeting recently and viewing the cess pool that exists in certain tags on the Reader (making me question why I feel the urge to post here at all). Of course, this is also bridging off of my attention being more divided due to my final project, and restarting my craft blog.

Today, nothing much happened because I was actually tired…but I’ve been tired in the daytime for the past week or so. It’s very likely due to taking medication too late — which I did not, tonight.

Yes, it can be kind of intimidating to do anything real…but the alternative gets me more and more focused on this site and the pursuit of art for its own sake — even if it’s something I don’t want to do. Not to mention, taking up time which would be more wisely spent elsewhere.

Right now I’m thinking that if I do anything creative…I’ll try and channel it into my beadwork, and jewelry design. That includes drawing, and can include painting with gouache and watercolor, by the way (not to mention experimenting with beads and finding tutorials). It’s just a focus.

Not to mention that in trying not to make “tight” drawings or paintings, I’ve ended up not doing many at all. Right now I’m wondering if the push toward “looseness” is just to discourage budding artists from being sharp and exact…thus making crisp images (which some other people can’t do, or don’t want to do).

Right now I think the push towards “looseness” is a fad…because it was obviously not always popular. On the other hand, I’ve been working a good deal with flow in my designs, which I probably wouldn’t have been able to do, if I hadn’t been taught to work loosely.

I have about two weeks until classes restart, and some work to do tomorrow. I did go back to one of my social media sites and…it’s incredibly annoying. Just the fact that it’s not really working that well, and there are the continual policy updates. Someone had messaged me to hook up…via an email not registered with that site. And I can’t find how to add that email. Not that person’s fault, though.

Anyhow. I will go and brush my teeth, put my clothes away, and get to bed; and hope that I can get back to sleep after having slept, this afternoon.

Sounds good.

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Tired enough not to mark grammatical subject

Up again at midnight. Up again at midnight online. Up again at midnight not doing homework. Up again at midnight with work to go to in the morning. Up again at midnight writing instead of trying to sleep.

After looking over my Czech bead collection, it made me want to get more. Still haven’t photographed what I have; by the time I thought of it, it was on the cusp of evening. Sun was going down. Again.

Decided to stick with tried-&-true. Realized “Russian Spiral” stitch looks familiar from looking and not having done it…reminds me of Herringbone. (Sorry about the double pingback, Sam! You don’t need to link me twice…) This and Chenille stitch, I want to try. Pretty badly, want to try.

Went for regular rocaille (round) and Delica beads instead of the shaped/pressed Czech ones, this time around. Mix of Japanese and Czech, multiple sizes.

Really should get to bed. Really really should get to bed.

So guess, you, what I would do if I could…

Hygiene highs; a day off. Taking care of myself.

Alright, so I didn’t get much done on the portfolio, today. I did go out on an excursion and brought back a couple of beading magazines. Although I don’t subscribe to any anymore, it’s good to view the ads.

I suppose I never really reported on the specifics of what beads I have recently picked up. I mentioned them close to the time, but no pics or anything. That isn’t great, for the reason that I forget what I have, if I don’t record it.

And then, there was the little macramé trial that I started and then ended…

Yeah, I want to do something with that! (It’s right next to me, now.)

Last night, I wanted to post about hygiene. Particularly, how good it felt to take a shower and wash my hair and dry the roots, getting everything done (including rubbing my face down with witch hazel, treating it, and brushing and flossing my teeth). I had to floss because I’d eaten raw fish for dinner (it will cause awful morning-after breath, otherwise — and don’t even think about going to bed with your teeth unbrushed — it’s horrific the next day), and I really had to wash my hair.

I put some sort of oil in it to protect the ends…but I’m not convinced that two drops (as the bottle said to use) was enough. I had to use the Clarifying shampoo because my hair was so gross, and that will eat through any oil or grease it touches at full strength. Because of that, I had some areas which were just fine (if not oily), and some areas which were squeaky-dry. I’ve found that it’s healthier to have it oily but clean, as versus dry and brittle.

I’m thinking of using a sulfate-free, very gentle shampoo, and just washing much more often. (I’ve heard that a vinegar rinse is good for getting rid of sulfate deposits in the hair [someone did one on me once], so I might use one just to soften it. I’m just not sure how exactly, to do it.)

I used the diffuser attachment for my hair dryer for the first time, last night. IT IS WONDERFUL. If I set it on “Cool” and High speed, it will get my roots dry, which is important to avoid mold and mildew. Avoiding that is important to avoiding dandruff and scalp itching, in turn.

As well, the “Cool” setting, doesn’t burn me.

I’m wanting to wash my hair and wear it the way it is when it’s wet and in what would be called, “ringlets,” if my hair was fully curly — it’s just in short waves, and I don’t know what the term is for that. But it’s nice that my hair texture has matured…it’s never been this consistent in texture, before. Rather, the texture varied depending on which area of my scalp the hair was growing from. (When I was very small, it was much straighter.)

It’s also never been as long as this at this texture, before. Right now, I can put it on top of my head, and it almost all stays (depending on what area of my crown it’s on)!

So…I’m thinking of continuing to grow it out, so I can get to the point where I can pile it all on top of my head. If I dry it with the diffuser, it should also be good to wear it down, while the rest of it dries. The diffuser actually adds lift to the root area, which helps it look alright.

I started out this post talking about beads and beadwork…

I suppose it’s OK if I don’t get work on my portfolio done, every day. I’ll only have one more class on top of this, for the foreseeable future. And even if I do get a better job, I shouldn’t have to work much more than 20 hours.

Also, so long as the portfolio project isn’t done, I’m thinking that it’s probably normal or good to keep it in the back of my mind, all the time. I should probably just not worry or stress over it too much — at least, not yet. After all, no matter what, it’s not going to be done for a while.

With the beadwork, I’ve based a color scheme around a number of ceramic beads, but have come to realize that the ceramic beads are likely too coarse for the design. I think the color scheme still works, though: warm aqua luster, violet vitrail, bronze.

And…I keep finding more beads, stashed away in plain sight. I need to get them all together. I remember looking for some for that scarab necklace (bright fuschia size 6° silverlined rounds), that I found a couple of days ago in a forgotten project drawer.

Anyhow. I haven’t been working on that today, either.

Seems like a lot of the stuff I have to do, has to do with organization. I think that’s accurate.

The thing I’m kind of irritated about is my lack of noting prices per quantity on the descriptions of my bead vials. Prices normally vary based on what’s in the glass, and what treatments have been applied to the glass. For example, pinks and deep reds (which aren’t just coated), generally have gold in the glass formulation, so they cost more. But something like a teal will generally be much less (I don’t know what makes it teal).

I remember that a while back, the “Apollo” finish (a bright bronze-gold coating over clear glass) was new and stupid-expensive. It’s gone down in price, now.

But if I’m making anything to sell, the final price is based on the cost of production, ideally. Otherwise, I risk underselling myself, and not being able to hold the price of a certain item, steady. Unless, that is, I risk overcharging (which I probably should, as versus putting something out using a baseline price formula).

I think I feel a bit better now, making jewelry with the intention to sell (though I haven’t been doing it much, recently). It helps to know people into art (who value artistic labor), and it helps to have done it, before.

It also helps to know that I’m not undermining my integrity by doing something generally classified as feminine. I am female, but as regular readers here will know, I don’t see myself as a woman — or a man (feminine, is something different: I have found that just because I don’t see myself as a woman, that doesn’t mean I have to divorce myself from everything associated with women).

In my first round of making jewelry to sell, I didn’t know myself as well, and didn’t know why I liked to do it. At this point, I know it’s okay to sell something for personal decoration, even if no one absolutely needs it. I didn’t feel great taking money for something someone may want, but have no absolute life-or-death need for. Especially when they may have needs that they’re sacrificing for “wants”.

But other people’s money-management, really isn’t my business. And that’s a ground-rule I really need to keep up.

I’ve also found that I myself feel better when I know I look good. The attention I get for that isn’t the reason I do it — or even something I really desire — but I try to take compliments in stride.

After all, nothing says I can’t be a gender minority and gorgeous at the same time…

Distance grown from past pleasures

At the risk of being wiped out from lack of sleep, tomorrow, I’m going to give in a little to the urge to write. The most significant theme I have right now is that much of I was once enthusiastic about, I’ve grown distant from — because I haven’t had time to devote to actually doing what I wanted.

Along with this comes the recognition that what I know isn’t necessarily correct, just because I know it (or thought I knew it). This applies to my cultural studies, particularly with Buddhism…that is, just because my ancestors and heritage have something to do with it and it’s part of the fabric of my existence, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily correct or true, or not-problematic, or better than anyone else’s heritage.

These are two different topics that I may be able to intertwine, though maybe I shouldn’t. Actually, the latter could be its own post, so maybe I’ll actually save it for a different one, and link to it from here, after I’ve actually written it.

Time division

Looking in my archives, I’ve realized that I’ve grown a bit distant from a lot of things I used to like. These include:

  • Reading
  • Drawing
  • Beading
  • Writing creatively
  • Learning Japanese language

Now that I’m planning to factor in time for myself (aside from University requirements), how to spend that time is coming to the fore. The major focus (or distraction) I’m having now is that some of these things require more or less daily commitment in order to progress and avoid losing skills. Japanese language is pretty much like this. Drawing is like this, too. It’s a reason I stopped playing guitar. And, of course, reading even a single work, requires a set time commitment.

There are also some just basic things that I need to do or maintain, like:

  • Hygiene
  • Driving
  • Exercise and stretching
  • Laundry
  • Housekeeping

And then there are more urgent things, like:

  • Applying for jobs
  • Preparing my portfolio

When I put it like that, it’s easy to see how the first group of items got left behind. They just aren’t that urgent.

Fear of flying: Overthinking design

Right now I’m coming off of a few days of intensely dealing with beadwork and jewelry design. While I could plow forward and keep at it…the phrase that came to mind is, “I wonder if I’m missing something.” I mean, I could definitely keep moving forward on this, but I know my hands will be sore. Maybe that could be a self-limiting thing; like, I can work on micromacramé until my hands get sore, and then I’ll stop and do something else?

That could work, actually!

My major concern is that I tend to over-intellectualize things, when I need to be diving in and learning by experience. Of course, that’s hard when you’re afraid to mess up or fail…when messing up and failing is how you learn.

So there’s tension here between my intellect and its perfectionism, and the part of me that is generative and messy and creative, I guess. I wouldn’t be surprised if those are actually different brain regions in conflict.

I really should have taken a picture of the craft table before I cleaned it up. It was…awful.

But something grew out of all that messiness, and I’m wearing it, now. And I actually now have a storage solution for all my wires and cutters and pliers, that actually works (I used the big toolbox I got the other day that turned out to be gigantic). So now I have another free flat storage area…

Maybe I just need to get more comfortable with uncertainty. I mean, you can’t fly if you’re afraid to jump.

And no, I don’t know where that last sentence came from…it just came. I guess that counts as a, “jump.”

But I’m not going to learn macramé if I’m afraid of, “wasting,” cord on learning. My necklaces aren’t going to make themselves, but to make them, I have to be willing to be wrong a few times (maybe, several). And I have to be willing to experiment if I want to ever make truly great and original art.

I mean, it’s not like I don’t have unpopular cord to play with. For supporting frames, it’s not like I don’t have heavy (and cheap) wire and tools to form it, with which to experiment.

I just have to let myself experiment. Like give permission, to.

After all, those spools of cord are meant to be used, not meant to be hoarded. Hoarding them doesn’t make me an artist; it makes me a collector. Using them (to learn or to make) is something different.

Fear of drowning: Tension in drawing

Drawing is one of those things — another one, anyway — that I get scared to jump into, because I keep forgetting that I know how to swim. But I’ve been looking back over my work for the Art program, and …I have had this “thing” about not wanting to be tight in my drawings.

My drawings — a lot of them, anyway — aren’t tight. Most of them aren’t what I would consider, “overworked.” And yet there is this fear of making tight and overworked drawings, likely because I’ve seen them and I’ve done them and I know they suck the pleasure out of the work. But, maybe I don’t have to fear that.

A couple of my drawing instructors would really, “admonish,” people to consistently try and work, “looser.” But I look at a bunch of my figure studies, and they’re fine. Maybe it’s because with a lot of them, I only had a 5-minute pose to work from, but a lot of it is notation of key elements.

If nothing else, I can take that away from my Figure Drawing training.

And I’m finding less hesitation about working with the human figure, now: at least, my own.

I’m thinking of taking in my Monolith graphite sticks to work tomorrow so that I can practice just drawing from life, in monochrome. Sometimes, it’s good to get back to basics.

And I still want to make a design for a linoleum block print using the flower image I mentioned a while ago. Maybe I should just use that as a jumping-off point, though, instead of trying to copy it. After all, I’m not sure there’s any more virtue in copying it than in imagining it; it might just be easier in the initial stages, when I don’t understand the forms.

That’s a good enough stopping point. It’s all I can think of, at this hour, and I have work to get to, tomorrow. I’m sure these things are very connected, but just how is something that isn’t totally clear to me, at the moment. In a few months, I bet it will be…

Finished Object: Scarab necklace.

So, a couple things have happened. I passed my written test for Driver’s Training (yay!), I did not fail Programming (yay!), I got a giant frikkin’ toolbox for my metals…which I’m wondering if I need, now (yay?), and I found some SuperDuos (? sadly, beads make me feel rich).

If you’re wondering why I didn’t post earlier, it’s because I spent 7 straight hours at the DMV, reapplying for an original license.

SEVEN. HOURS.

We got there at 7:30 AM and weren’t done until 2:30 PM.

But. I can practice driving, again.

About that necklace I mentioned, last time: I was able to finish it, and it wasn’t a lot of work at all. One thing I need to keep in mind, though, is that when I’m closing the crimp endings, it’s to my advantage to close one half at a time, instead of immediately squashing the thing flat from one side. If I do the latter, I may end up with a slippery connection, as happened this time. I was able to mitigate it somewhat by tying an overhand knot directly after the crimp, so it will have a harder time moving…but crushing it halfway across, results in an inward-biting fold in the center of the crimp which may be more secure.

As it was, I tried using G-S Hypo Fabric Cement on this, and…I think the tube is mostly dried out. Like, there’s air in there and some vapor, but not much else. Normally, I’d use clear nail polish, but I kind of feel tacky using that, at this point. 😉

I should replace my cements, though. Not fun trying to coax anything (anything at all!) out of a needle applicator when you know the tube could bust at any second.

I took a number of photos earlier. Bathroom time! (I was using the viewfinder through the mirror, not taking a picture of the mirror itself…)

Photo of green beaded macrame choker with scarab

In the process, I saw where my design could be improved. In particular, I’m looking at the fine pinkish stripe. Because it’s on the bottom and borders the green size 6º beads, the pink is sandwiched between two bright greens…and because of my skin tone (which is closer to pink than to green, thankfully), it begins to get lost. I am wondering what would happen if I either made it broader and/or put it on the upper edge of the choker. I could broaden it by interlacing another one or two rows of lark’s head hitch (the knotting pattern I used), which I’m fairly curious about, now.

I was concerned that the second choker would be too short, as I made the length of the knotted area the same length as the cord on the original version, which can be seen below.

Initial trial choker

However, it’s plenty long enough. I don’t know why, except maybe the drape could be messing with me. I’m strongly considering getting rid of the extension chain I put in the back of the green one for safekeeping, as the chain tends to tangle with the hook-and-eye clasp I’m using. The only reason I’m using that, in turn, is that I can’t find my narrow-gauge silver wires or jump rings (wire rings). I thought I had found some, but no — that was (more) extension chain!

I didn’t want to cut apart a soldered chain just to get a jump ring. (Chains are pretty expensive.)

All of the silver clasps I have that are right now unused (except for the sterling filigree box clasp, which I would prefer not to use, as box clasps aren’t known for being secure), have piercings that are too small for the rings I’d be inserting into them. (The rings are at least 20 gauge, if not thicker.)

I do have sterling wire in some finer gauges, but that’s going kind of expensive for a connector. I’m unsure where all my silvertone brass wire, went. While it is possible that I was wholly using sterling, before, that seems kind of wasteful. And I know I had some “non-tarnish” craft wire that tarnished (surprise), and I must have gotten rid of that. I’d had it since high school, so what do I expect, right? 🙂

But when that stuff goes bad, it’s pretty terrible. I mean, it turns crusty.

If you’re wondering about Lark’s Head Hitch, I’ve got a close-up for you below. It’s not too hard. If you look in basically any beginner book on macrame, it will probably be in there (just not this version).

Close-up of Lark's Head Hitch chain

One thing that I did find out about my working process: I was unsure nearly the whole time I was making this thing, if I’d have enough cord to finish it cleanly. I used a bit more than two arm-spans each, of the green and pink cord. One of the reasons I added the beads is to space out the knots, which then extends the reach of the tying cord.

I really toward the end, wished I had left more cord at the beginning of the necklace, in case I wanted to extend the other side of it. It would have been easy. But I left myself only about 3″ of working space — just enough to insert into the crimp ending and secure it. It would have given me options, if I had more.

As stated before, I’m thinking of where I can take this, next. In addition to a wider band, I’m thinking about fringe. Short fringe, at this point, but enough to give an impression of feathers.

I really don’t know what that will do; and if I’ve learned anything over the past 48 hours, it’s that I won’t know, until I try it.

WIP: Scarab necklace

Apologies for not having any photos, tonight. I have a work-in-progress (WIP) which will very much be worth sharing when it’s done, but unfortunately I threw my back out today, and haven’t gotten to finish the last 2″ of knotting on the WIP.

Luckily, I’m pretty sure the back thing is just a muscle spasm (don’t twist while carrying heavy loads and descending stairs at the same time), but it’s meant I haven’t been able to do much. On top of that, this and taking medication around 1:30 AM this morning (from staying up late knotting and not noticing the time), kind of wrecked my motivation for today.

So the project itself is a knotted micromacrame choker-length necklace with a central crystal drop and seed bead embellishments. After 1 AM, I was reminded of the need for sleep, and my pinkies were about to blister, so I called it a night. (They’re still a tiny bit sore, today.) Given what was on TV, I think I was working at least 3-4 hours — though this was on two projects.

I made a first project that led directly into the second, as it looked more like a prototype than finished work (although it’s wearable) — but I wasn’t about to cut it apart, right after making it. I had used a set of silver-plated crimp endings; crimps don’t come undone. I would have had to just throw them away, and they still look fine. It’s the cord and the lack of embellishment, that I don’t like.

The craft table looks like a disaster area…but maybe it’s supposed to? I really did want to finish that necklace last night, but I’m already viewing it as a prototype for something more. For instance, working off of the cord loops with thread, to attach finer beads: the center drop bead is a Swarovski scarab, and I’m thinking of placing falcon wings on either side with fringe. The major issue is how to secure the thread ends, but if I worked the thread in from the beginning, it would be well-anchored at both ends of the necklace like everything else (and hidden).

But yeah…it feels really good to be working on (and with) this stuff, again. There’s something about looking at beads that lets me know that something awesome can be made out of them with the right amount of applied skill and creativity.

Hopefully, I’ll be up to finishing it, tomorrow.

Getting back to beading.

Today was interesting. I’ve begun to get back into (and recover) my beading stock. The major problem — which I have gone a long way toward ameliorating, today, is the fact that at various points in time, I’ve separated out tubes of beads as an attempt to notate color schemes for potential projects.

Because of that, what I have isn’t all in one place.

In particular, my size 11/0 (also alternately notated 11º and pronounced “eleven-ought”) seed beads are so scattered that my main storage areas look somewhat…well, pink and purple. But a lot of materials are still stashed away for one single project. That project includes a lot of greens and bronzes, which balance out the mix. And I haven’t yet decided what to do with what I have separated out.

That, in turn, probably isn’t going to be figured out until I just sit down and play with what I have.

Until I finish that project — or alternately, give up on it and put things back where they’re supposed to be — it’s going to be hard to figure out the sum total of what I’ve actually got. I was, however, able to recover some of the stuff I loaned M, which…is a very good thing.

She went on a discarding spree and threw out a bunch of stuff that she assumed was hers. (A lot of it appeared to be inexpensive stock gotten at flea markets by friends. Having started out with cheap Darice beads, I know not to use these for anything to wear or sell — to practice with, is another thing.) Luckily, my stuff (that she thought was hers [I was trying to be polite and not mention the error]) was nice enough not to be tossed. What I’m talking about are the materials for a certain bracelet project.

(While I’m logging unfinished projects, I should leave a link here to this one…I finally got the appropriate interfacing for embroidering a bezel for the cabochon [the big shiny thing], but the materials were sitting uncovered so long that I may have to wash the beads.)

Anyhow, I also was able to make it out to a beading supply place, today, so I have no lack of 3mm or 4mm fire-polished rounds, anymore. (5mm rounds…are comparatively rare. I’ve found them at one bead store relatively distant from me. 6mms, however, are common.) What’s weird is that I have a collection going back decades, and so they aren’t all the same size, even if I have a bunch which look like they were all supposed to be the same diameter. I also have samples of early versions of the Preciosa Twin bead…which aren’t the same as the current ones (which are closer in shape to SuperDuos).

I’ve realized that beadwork is relatively niche (much moreso than watercolor — it’s also possible that beaders just largely either aren’t on WordPress or don’t talk on WordPress, as they’re too busy beading and designing), and so readers here may not immediately know what I mean by words like, “fire-polished round,” or, “rondelle,” or, “druk,” or, “vitrail,” or, “Twin,” or, “SuperDuo.” While this is easily researched, I’ve found people (including myself) aren’t apt to do extra work in order to understand something — especially if they’re not invested in it, aren’t that interested, or it’s just way too much information that they don’t know at the same time.

Because of that (it’s a communication barrier), I’m thinking of setting up a Page or series of Pages that I can direct people to, as a kind of Glossary. I wouldn’t be surprised if a project like that brings in a lot of traffic, either. Though I’m not really all that social, I do see certain of my posts showing up over and over again in searches. If I wanted to monetize the beading, as well, higher traffic would be OK.

As for other labors of love — I’m told to produce my jewelry as art objects and then if they sell, that’s just a happy consequence. One of the drawbacks of beadwork is that it can get expensive, for a hobby. The reason I started to sell is that I was getting prolific, and had a bunch of backstocked, finished items that I wasn’t wearing. (I was also putting a lot into materials — though ironically, most of the cost of those pieces tended to be metals.) That’s no longer the case — a lot has been either sold, donated, or given away to family and friends.

Oh — but! I did restart macramé practice today. I have a pattern using 6 cords, which I’m thinking of expanding into a wider form. I came across a version of a knotting pattern I can’t altogether remember seeing before; it’s kind of lacy, and I’m hoping I can use it as a diagonal lace. It seems like a possible beginning of a zigzag pattern as well, but I’ve got to play with it more, to confirm.

Sorry no new pictures, today; though I do have to start cataloging these things…