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. πŸ™‚

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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Gathering myself.

There’s a lot I want to talk about, especially in relation to Hawaii. The big thing right now is, though, that not only am I dealing with jet lag (causing me to be sleepy, and the bed to be incredibly comforting during random stretches of the day), but my stomach hasn’t been agreeing with me since I tried to go back to work on Tuesday, which I had to bail on at the last minute because of nausea. Yesterday was okay, but today–? Today, I couldn’t even go out.

Of course, while I was in Hawaii, it wasn’t great either, but aside from one bout of food poisoning, I was mostly okay. Right now, it’s hard to eat or drink anything without feeling sick, and I woke up at maybe 5:30 AM today with the worst nausea I’ve had in a while. I’m hoping right now that I don’t get vomiting and diarrhea. I did just try to drink some apple juice, and felt little bubbles moving all around in there. I already know my guts are mostly empty.

If it’s “Traveler’s Diarrhea,” which I’ve read can strike right after one returns from a trip (which this did), it will probably be over in three days. Meaning it’s questionable if I’ll be able to work on the weekend, or if I’ll lose even more pay.

And yeah, I did just get out of bed maybe half an hour ago, and am sleepy again. This is annoying.

I did keep a log of offline personal journal posts which I made while in Hawaii, but there are only seven entries for the 14 days. Mostly, this is because I caught some kind of cold (likely from work) before we even got there, and so was too sick to do much, for the first six days. (Because I had used a special discount to book the room, we couldn’t back out of the reservation without a sizable penalty.)

By New Year’s Day, I was all right, mostly. I think that I was non-contagious by that time, so we visited family to meet and share osechi (New Year’s delicacies).

The trip ended on the 11th — or, at least, that’s when our flight got in; I didn’t get any sleep until after 2 AM, on what was technically January 12. In the house that was 55Β° F.

It’s kind of a shock to go from 78Β° F, balmy and sunny; to 52Β° F, cold and rainy.

But I did get to see the people at work again. I guess that’s something. πŸ˜›

Speaking of which, I should follow up on the leads I got from visiting one of the libraries at UH Manoa. IF, that is, I can find the paper…!

Ah — just found it. I apparently wasn’t using a pen with high-enough contrast, so it didn’t register that there was writing on it. I’ve now bookmarked the sites on the browser I normally use to come to this blog, so I shouldn’t have to worry about losing the paper, anymore.

I need to remember that I don’t have to have a Library job as my first job out of Library School — especially if I’m relocating. I need to look at all of my skills…and maybe see which ones I want to develop further.

That ties in with the Bullet Journal thing that I’ve been wanting to start. I’ve been writing down activities that I want or need to participate in, which will help me not waste the time between now and the time I find a job which fills more of my hours.

I know that I want to get back to studying Japanese language; I can do that via my books, and my Library’s access to Rosetta Stone. I believe I also set aside a special notebook for this.

I also want to get back to reviewing/learning HTML5, CSS3; and get back on learning JavaScript (at least!). I have a place where I can do this, online; and it’s free, until I’m significantly advanced.

I also should, at some time, retake Cataloging and Classification.

On a more basic level, I need to work on my driving skills (which I may need, in order to establish residency in Hawaii). I also want to get back to reading what I didn’t have time to read in Library School (both for classes, and not). I also need to be walking off some of my calories.

I’ve written further on what I wished to do immediately upon exiting the Master’s program in some of my backposts (notably, there was an entry with a bulleted list). This is enough to keep in mind, for now.

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. πŸ™‚ (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…

Nerdette

So…last night I got an alert that there is another local Librarian I position opening up, this time in a Public Library sector. I have until two weeks into January to submit an application, whereas the Academic Library application is due the first week of January.

Is it a good thing that I didn’t narrow my focus between Public and Academic Libraries early? I guess I’ll find out.

I still have to confirm my references and find out who to address my Cover Letter to for the position I’m working on now, but other than that, I think I’m good.

Today…well, we didn’t do too much celebrating, though I think we’re all happy that the Sun is on its way back. To my surprise, I actually did get a few gifts, the cutest of which is a…really big Rilakkuma plushie. With a zipper in his back, and everything. πŸ™‚

(Google it!)

Last night I realized what a nerd I was. (Wait, is it, “nerd,” or, “geek?” “Dork?”) This has been confirmed tonight by the fact that I fixed a computer issue on my own…and it was easy (!).

Then there’s the fact that I work in a Library. And the fact that I’m trying to learn Japanese (for heritage reasons, tho’!), and that I used to be into video games and anime/manga. And am trying to learn coding and Web Programming. And that it’s easier for me to communicate with other people through text as versus speech. Not to mention the arts/crafts/graphic design/literary arts angle, and the fact that I actually aspire to making a webcomic. And have assembled enough resources to make that possible.

I could go on; I just probably shouldn’t. πŸ™‚

I’m not totally sure that the arts angle is nerdmaking, but the fact that in the past, at least, I would be associated with, “books,” is likely notable, and distinguishes me from some…other people, I know. Who live in an entirely different world, one which I have no interest in being a part of. To those people, “nerd,” “geek,” and, “dork,” would be words of condemnation, which means I take it as a mark of pride.

(Of course, now our books are interactive…and, I’m thinking, more of that is coming, as electronic media become more ingrained into society. Does this mean I should be learning video and animation rather than comics? I really don’t know.)

I guess it would be different if I actually did go back to school for math (it would be Calculus) and learned advanced statistical analysis…I just don’t want to do that. I mean, seriously, Database Design was enough. I don’t even want to do the Big Data class, out of fear that I’m just going to get lost, again.

So the plushie is kind of funny/weird, because in Japan at least, Rilakkuma is supposed to represent a bear suit. Rilakkuma isn’t really a bear. He just puts the bear suit on on top of himself…so you don’t really know his true identity.

But arguably, he could be wearing the suit because he likes the way he’s treated when he’s wearing this adorable suit which he intentionally puts on (like being held against young women’s bosoms, which I have done much of, and which Rilakkuma’s flat head encourages). Rilakkuma roughly translates to, “relax bear,” which kind of suggests that he’s setting an example for you to relax with him.

I’ve thought about his design as an extension of a mask, or, “face.”

Yeah, I don’t know. It’s just my interpretation, and I can’t read Japanese well enough yet to get the entire backstory. But I guess that’s what you get when you have adult-themed plushies, as an adult: existential anxiety over not knowing what it is you’re cuddling. Which someone intended.

I’m not even going to get into Gudetama, though that one is kind of funny, if you can muster up the schadenfreude to laugh/worry (and then self-reflect) at the pathos of this apparently clinically depressed egg that wants to go back into its shell…

Though I believe that’s a more common sentiment than some (most?) people would want to acknowledge.

I just realized that I’ve gotta get up early, tomorrow. Rilakkuma’s waiting for me.

πŸ˜›

Getting back around to art.

Apologies for the lack of images: today was the first time I really allowed myself to explore with art materials for over two years (or that’s what it feels like, anyway). As such, I’m not entirely to the point of displaying what I made, though I like it well enough to continue.

So…this started out with an outing today. D and I went to a small Asian knickknack store (Japanese-branded stuff, but the name of the store doesn’t sound Japanese) to try and find a replacement for the pouch that got littered full of shredded foam (as I mentioned in my last post). I guess there’s something to be said for the creativity of a culture which routinely uses gifts to show goodwill…the new pouch has a good-luck cat face on it. It was the only thing in the store that came close to what I needed.

As it turns out, it was easy enough to rinse and hand-wash out the pouch that used to hold my jump drives. The cat-face pouch is holding all of my jump drives now, so if the other one gets ruined, I still have an option.

It’s kind of weird that these little purses are my go-to for holding jump drives, but whatever. (They’re padded, and nice.) I could imagine, though, being a little kid and getting this as a present, with stuff inside…it would actually be really cute, and a nice gift.

The major trouble I’ve had in the past with Christmas is that it perennially seemed to be a day where people showed me how much they didn’t know who I was (with the exception of my nuclear family). This is the reason why as an adult, I am purchasing the stuff I really want, on my own. I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to work (buying oneself Christmas gifts), but it’s a way I could see things going in the future. Anyhow…

What began with cleaning up my craft table eventually turned into prioritizing and shifting storage (I got the 30 half-stick set of Rembrandt pastels, which needed some place to live), which turned into playing with charcoal and huge flat pencils (which I had to sharpen with a knife), and coming up with a design I liked.

The design itself looks like a red lantern, but it’s basically a back-and-forth motion that I surrounded with strategic areas of darkness, indicating a glow. In turn…I’m thinking I can expand this and make it a motif of a larger drawing.

The major drawback to using marker (as I used on my 4th and 5th iterations of this sketch) is that I can’t get that real subtle shading from dark to light which is so easy to attain with charcoal, unless I use a large number of markers. (Markers also have the drawback of fading, which is just something of which to be aware.)

I also then scribbled in some color, first with a red (Scarlet?) LYRA Color-Giant pencil; then on another working, with red Tombows. The black marker I used was a Pitt Big Brush Pen, which is good for mimicking the mark of a broad piece of round willow charcoal.

After I had done this, it was really apparent that my drawing was very, very “graphic” looking. By that I mean, it’s really bold. At that point I realized that maybe I shouldn’t be fighting the fact that my art looks bold, and got out my dip pen nibs and inks.

I actually have too many inks; this is from a time before I knew how to use decent graphics programs and scanners, so I had been on a quest to find the “blackest” black ink. I used Speedball Super Black tonight, which was fairly nice…I just didn’t realize that I had never opened the bottle!

So it was me and this big pad of drawing paper, and a nib and nib holder (I forget what the nib was called, but it was the Hunt Ex-Fine Bowl, I think: it looks like the Speedball #512. For an “Extra Fine” pen, though…it didn’t really make fine lines).

And to answer that question: no, I still haven’t gotten a replacement lighter to burn off the anti-rust coating of most of these nibs. What I did today was use a nib that my sister gifted to me. Since it was already used, I knew it would hold ink. I did read that the anti-rust coating could be removed with alcohol — or pen cleaner — which is what I may try with my newer nibs (before singeing them as a last resort).

What’s weird is how easily illustration (particularly, with people) is coming to me, now. Maybe I need to stop calling it, “weird,” though. If I’ve been doodling characters for 20 years and have taken multiple life-drawing classes, it’s no longer, “weird,” if it’s easy. I should rather expect that.

It’s also really easy now for me to control a stiff pen point. I think I can thank my Pilot Metropolitan for giving me practice with that…

I also have a sheet of extra Bristol Board that I’ve been screwing around on with my fountain pens, and gave it a go with the dip pen. Other than needing to steady my hand, the Bristol presented no problems with feathering, unlike the drawing paper I was messing around with. I also have DELETER paper, which is basically ultra-smooth, but I’d have to look around a bit to source it again!

I would ideally want to plan out a composition (and, you know, get a script) before I went to Bristol and pen-and-ink, but practice has to start, sometime.

I still have to test out those Princeton Neptune brushes — as I was reminded of by reading backposts, the other night. I’m pretty sure Bristol can handle light washes; I’m not sure about the DELETER paper (as I don’t think I’ve ever tried it with washes).

Of course, then, there’s the option of filling with hatching…hmm. But I’d have to think carefully about that. Unless, that is, I used the Microns, Copic fineliners, and Copic markers (in addition to dip pen?!). I don’t think I ever did try using the Copic markers on Deleter paper…

Hibernating?

For some reason, I slept through most of the day. I’m not entirely sure why, though looking forward to getting a computer back into operating condition is not really my idea of a great time. (I’ve also been having issues with heart flutter, likely related to caffeine sensitization; but neither does it speak well about my level of stress.)

So…let’s see, I was offered an interview to become a Library Assistant, but I’m not too hot on the position — it’s a Substitute/Floater position, just like the one I was offered from a different county. The benefit is that it will give me experience: the drawbacks are many, but primarily the first few weeks to months will be hell, as all the creeps in the area introduce themselves to me.

I must have checked something that said I was interested in this…which I shouldn’t have, as three declines get one kicked off the list. I don’t know if that’s for a year or a lifetime, though.

And actually…I’m not really interested in that position. Kind of like I’m not really interested in the class I was offered for Spring semester…I mean, I really need a rest!

For now…well, it would be nice to take some time to calm down. I know that I’m looking for an entry-level position in an Academic Library, ideally. I want to spend the next few months reviewing HTML and CSS, then moving into JavaScript.

The class I was offered by Open University is a Tech course, but until I learn a Programming language for real, I don’t even know if I want to be in this path. I know that Database Management (DBM) was not where I wanted to be; I suspect the others of these classes may be like DBM.

I initially intended to go into Digital Services, but didn’t realize …just how technical it was going to be. And that I get intimidated by learning technical stuff, even though I’m drawn to it. (And yes, there is a gender component, here.) I’m thinking, why be in school unless you are learning something you can’t learn any other way?

As well: there is the matter of my Japanese-language study, which I’ve had to lay off of totally in order to focus on my schoolwork. I need to get back to that. And I want to take Cataloging and Classification, again. (I also want to read the various materials I’ve collected but did not have time to read!)

I mean, what if I actually am better off being a Cataloger or an Academic Librarian (or a Collection Developer?), rather than a Techie? What if I actually want to go back for an MA or MFA or PhD in something I love, and become a Subject Specialist in it? I’ve been afraid to limit my options, but if a specialized option is the best one…?

Talking to people isn’t so bad! It’s just when they push your boundaries and start dealing with you personally, that’s hard. Librarianship is a Service position, and along with that goes dealing with people you would rather not. It’s just that in an Academic Library, the service community is not necessarily, “anybody who walks in the door.”

What I had been looking at with Digital Services, though: that’s merging into an Information Sciences field. I chose this majorly because of having been ticked off in Cataloging & Classification, and not wanting to deal with the public, but still wanting to help a Library.

The major scare of this for me is the tough time I had in (Honors) Math, the distaste for math I’ve had since then, and my lack of having practiced it in any regular sense, ever since my Undergraduate work.

That, I think, is where the actual sticking point is: I’m an Arts and Humanities (and minorly, Social Sciences) person with interest in how Technology can further these; more than a Hard Sciences, Math, and Engineering, person. I do think, though, that I could handle talking in front of a group more easily than I could handle applying algorithms to Big Data.

Hmm. Maybe I should write to the person I spoke with recently, about this…

Anyhow, the following are my ideal priorities for the next six or so months:

  • review HTML
  • review CSS
  • learn JavaScript
  • review and extend Japanese Language
  • review/retake Cataloging & Classification
  • gain Entry-level position/experience in Academic Library
  • Read

I mean, that is basically, what I want; and I have time to deal with getting a job I’ll actually like, rather than one I’m forced into because of monetary concerns…

Natural flow from drawing to painting?

The couple of days since my Term Paper was due have been spent…basically, cleaning things up. There is now much more usable space on my craft table; a bunch of my storage has been cleaned and consolidated; and I’ve realized the disadvantage of having a watercolor palette with fixed wells.

Aside from this…

I’ve realized that when I went into the Art program at first, I took Color Dynamics before I took Painting. Consequently, I learned about color relationships before I learned about composition or image-making within painting (as versus drawing). It’s kind of evident, now. Do I want to take another Painting class?…Kind of. Will I have the time to? Not sure.

Could I learn it another way? Not sure. I’m pretty sure that by trial-and-error, I could learn, but that might be the scenic route. Of course, after college, the scenic route is the only route; it just helps to be on the right path, in the first place.

For me, painting is a natural outgrowth of drawing: monochrome bridges into color; markmaking bridges into broad swaths and washes; use of single colors and glazes, shift into color mixing. It largely came for me when I realized the limitations of using a single (narrow) point of contact (pencils, pens, markers: the extreme of which is Technical Pen, Mechanical Pencil, or Micron), a single color at a time, and not being able to shade the colors of my tools in the way in which I wanted.

The bridge here may be charcoal, which merges into pastel. By using the broad side of a stick of pigment, it’s possible to get closer to the feel of painting, as versus drawing. Pastel pencils can also provide that markmaking experience common to drawing, while providing some of the malleability of pastel.

The major reason to avoid pastel work is dust, which is something I haven’t quite reconciled, yet. I have not had a Drawing teacher who did not caution against breathing pastel dust. I do have an area where I can draw and not depend on a vacuum to pick up this dust; it is fairly necessary to avoid the vacuum. You want to wipe up pastel dust with a wet rag (what’s called “wet-mopping”), not blow it into the air or brush it away. This is for health reasons.

The brand of soft pastels I find myself most attracted to are Rembrandts. I’ve mentioned these before; the largest hazards in these seem to be white pigment (Titanium Dioxide), and black pigment (Lamp Black). Titanium White makes tints of colors, while Lamp Black makes shades.

Titanium Dioxide is a mechanical (not toxic) cancer risk. However, this is according to Proposition 65, a law passed here in California which relates whether tiny amounts of anything carcinogenic is in art supplies or foodstuffs (though I don’t think it applies to cosmetics). Prop 65 is kind of being overused, but I know enough art teachers who have battled cancer to take basic precautions against inhalation.

Lamp Black (a.k.a. Carbon Black) poses a slight toxic cancer risk and also may stain, meaning some kind of barrier, like gloves or barrier cream, may be useful here. However, when you work with art supplies…you kind of get used to slight cancer risks. Gloves or barrier cream, a mask, and basic caution not to get this stuff airborne, is the caution that I would ideally (but possibly not actually — in the case of skin protection) use.

I still have never used my jar of barrier cream, so I’m not certain if it rubs off on the image or stains the paper. I should try it and see what happens.

The biggest drawback besides this, is that it’s hard to mix colors when one wants to make intense marks of a certain shade that isn’t provided pre-blended. This is a drawback common to drawing supplies (markers, pens, colored pencils, chalks), more than painting supplies. However, it does pose a potentially useful limitation: more colors are not always better, if one gets so paralyzed by color choices that nothing gets drawn.

Right now I have a bunch of ContΓ© crayons, a basic set of NuPastels, and a basic set of Sargent Art pastels, in addition to some monochrome soft Rembrandts I got about two years ago (before I went back to Library School). The thing about Rembrandts is that they do have a shelf life. At first, they’re creamy, soft, and smooth, to the point that they draw on your hands when touched; later on (after a number of years) they turn into what feels like dried-up Air Dry Clay, and can shatter if dropped. (They even tinkle like dried clay when they are dropped; which I suppose they basically are; kaolin [the material porcelain is made from] is a common base for these pastels.)

I did have a set of half-stick pastels around here from 2015 or something, but I can’t locate them at this moment. I did do a mass purge of pastels, though, after I got scared by the Prop 65 warnings so many years ago. At this point, though, there are Prop 65 warnings for seaweed, coffee, potato chips, ginger, etc…it’s really getting out of hand. (Though I do wish that people would stop putting lead chromate into turmeric…I mean, seriously.)

The problem is that the consumer warnings are based on law rather than science, and that we are warned about the contamination of products, but it seems that nothing is done about it. The system relies on pressure from consumers not buying the goods to encourage the manufacturers not to sell toxic products, rather than actually regulating the toxic products, or not bothering us if the risk is minimal or the exposure is unavoidable (I probably still have more soot in my lungs from having grown up next to a freeway, than I would be likely to inhale from using pastels). At a certain point, a person gets desensitized and just accepts that their world is carcinogenic and the only way not to be exposed is to live in a bubble…

But, I suppose, the upshot of this is that someone is paying attention to toxins in food, drugs, and art supplies. If Prop 65 didn’t exist, I most likely wouldn’t know about this.

So…I guess this post turned into a Pastel post. Hmm. I do know that I want to play with my charcoals, again, even though it’s dirty (maybe because it’s dirty?). Well, not only that, but charcoal is fairly noncommittal…

I have also wanted to do something with ink, and have a new bottle of “waterproof” ink. I’m not sure how it’s going to perform, but I know I can use it with brush and dip pen…(I wonder if I still have my reed pens?). I have used it once before, and at full strength, it’s very black, which is nice. The issue is whether it’s truly waterproof, and how well it dilutes.

It’s possible that I may need to edge myself back into painting through using ink and wash, and pastels, plus maybe graphite sticks and the woodless colored pencils. That place where drawing organically grows into painting…I don’t think I’m there, right now. And I don’t think that’s a reason to give up entirely. It’s not like I’m back at the beginning where I’m using mechanical and colored pencil…but I am not all the way to seriously using watercolor, or acrylic, right now.

That’s gotta be okay, that I’m not at my apex after not practicing for most of two years. It also means there is someplace to grow to…

What I began this post thinking about was the fact that I think I’ve devalued my own style (with pen and watercolor, which has been relatively illustrative) because of the fact that it comes easily to me. It wouldn’t necessarily be easy for others, though…

Maybe I should take the chance on getting outside and doing some sketches…