Crafty business…(half punning)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kind of down…but I have been doing something.

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

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

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

3211w
Inspired by Beaded collars by Julia Pretl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Organizing beads…

Well, I did make it out of the house — both to the plastics store (for styrene vials), and to the dollar store, today.  That is, the Japanese dollar store, where they (still) had the little clear plastic boxes with sliding drawers.  I’ve learned to pick these things up while they’re available, as I’ve gone back there for more of an item before (that is, a box to hold watercolor tubes), to find they’re no longer stocked.

Unfortunately, this and what followed ended up taking up the rest of the evening (although I still am really glad I was able to find bobbins for my embroidery thread — which will take perle cotton, but not in a straightforward manner), so I wasn’t really able to even get another chance to study until at least 8 PM.  I’m at the computer right now, and must have started this session around 10:30 PM.  What have I been doing in the meantime?  Reorganization.  And collocation.

What the latter means in non-library terms is that I was taking a lot of time to pull together similar items and relocate them into the same place so that I don’t have to spend 30 minutes trying to figure out where I put that ½ hank of size 8º seed beads I got three years ago.

(As mentioned in prior posts, given a bead size of Xº, the higher the number of X, the smaller the size of bead.)

And I’ve figured out that the Czech seed beads really needed to be brought together in one place, in order to be seen as available to be used.  Czech seed beads are normally sold in hanks (12 strands) or half-hanks (6 strands) or by the strand, as versus loose in tubes or bags.  Although:  the newer types of Czech shaped multihole beads, I have seen sold loose in bags (and stranded, for the larger types), and the small (8g) tubes have been becoming more popular for specialty beads, like the SuperDuos.  I also used to be able to buy 6º Czech seed beads loose in large tubes (20g?) from a local bead store, though that store no longer has a physical storefront.

(The larger Czech seed beads, as versus larger Japanese seed beads, have a relatively different shape; and as I’ve said before, the sizing between Japanese and Czech beads is definitely not identical, just taken on the whole [though Japanese beads also differ in shape between brands, even when you aren’t dealing with Delica-beads-as-versus-everything-else].  However, it’s been so long since I’ve used Czech 11ºs that I’m not entirely sure which is smaller.  I think it is that Czech 11º rounds tend to be smaller and more donut-shaped than Japanese 11º rounds, though.)

Anyhow, buying beads strung on hanks (as most of the basic, small round Czech beads are sold [or were, at least:  some of my earliest bead acquisitions were bought in this manner, prior to the year 2000 — I still have most of a hank of beautiful light topaz {I’d assume the color is light topaz} silverlined beads which must be a Czech size 10º or something — they’re not a standard size, because I didn’t know what I was doing when I bought them]) means that they’re kind of hard to store, unless you have someplace to hang them.  (Even that isn’t ideal, though, unless you don’t mind the beads getting dusty — or have a cabinet with doors for them — or use them up so fast that they don’t get a film on them [which is unlikely, unless you’re seriously manufacturing].)

With the little drawer things, I can lay the half-hanks out in flat layers and then change which beads I’m looking at by opening and closing (or removing) drawers.  I was kind of surprised that some of these hanks weren’t even stored in bags; they were just lying in a drawer or in a box somewhere, for some reason I have long since ceased to remember.

Anyhow, now I have six little clear drawer sets (I didn’t think it was overkill, but), one of which is nearly full of tiny empty vials — I’m going to need that space.  I also have a couple of craft boxes cleared out because of pulling together the perle cotton with the embroidery floss, and emptying another one of oversized vials (which are now in a translucent plastic container — so that I can see them, so that I can remember I have them, and hopefully, use them).

I should get to bed, though.  My second-to-last thought here, is whether it will ultimately be worth it to unstring bits of the hanks of Czech beads, just to make them more (psychologically) available for use.  I do have the vials to hold small amounts, after all…I’ll just need to mark the lids, “C,” or something, as versus “J.”

My last thought here is that I had to realize why it was that I was doing the beading.  I’ve got to decide whether I am doing this for myself (which I ultimately am), or doing this as a business.  If I just want to bead for myself, there’s no harm in using others’ patterns and instructions and being inspired by what’s already out there (because my ultimate goal is something other than making money, and I largely don’t have to worry about copyright infringement if I’m a hobbyist).

If I want to do this as a business, though, I’d need more experience in construction and design.  Working on other people’s patterns and altering them will likely lead to an understanding of fundamentals, but at some point it will become apparent that I actually am creating new patterns, and with those I can gain some compensation.  However, compensation is not the bottom line:  being able to sustain a beading hobby, is.

Which reminds me that I should get to bed so that I can earn some money, tomorrow…

Beading actually does help my happiness.

And…I am hoping I’m not sliding back into a manic phase, again.  In my defense, I did visit a bead store for the first time in months, today (and bead stores are well known to beaders as akin to candy stores [to say it in a hopefully non-triggering way]).

Obviously (to me), it is far after midnight, here (about an hour at the beginning of this writing:  more exactly, 45 minutes, but I just came back from taking medication, which makes it 1 AM), which explains the sugar cravings that have been happening for the last two hours.  (I probably should have been in bed at 10.  As it is, I’ll probably be cold tonight…as happens when I stay up too long.)

It was a new bead store, too!  M said that she didn’t think it looked very big, but it was fairly well stocked where it comes to the newer Czech glass multihole beads.  In addition, they had a classroom divided off of the main shop where I caught someone using a handheld butane torch at a small soldering station.

I dropped a little over $60 there; making me glad I’d picked up some cash beforehand.  On the way out, we were stopped by an old retired lady who had decided that my godmother was her new best friend.  🙂  I will withhold my thoughts on that, but I will say that it reminded me of my workplace.

I have made an effort today to try and avoid worrying about my classes.  Because I’ve been catching up and dealing with the depression issues, I haven’t really gotten a real break from worry and preoccupation (except for today).  So anyhow, I was playing around with lots of little glass beads, earlier tonight.  I haven’t taken any photos, but I do think I have a good start on figuring out how to use the two-hole “Silky” beads (they’re shaped like textured diamonds).

Hint:  the thread isn’t limited to coming out of the bead in the direction of the drill holes.  Nor does it have to be limited to only flowing in one direction; it can be anchored in more than one.  I’m trying to figure out a way to use them with Long Magatama beads which will not result in the Long Magatamas sitting at odd angles…a bit difficult, when the holes in the latter are fairly huge to begin with.

I mean, Long Magatamas are meant to sit at an angle anyway, but there is angled alignment and then there is wonky unstable alignment.  I’m thinking that those beads are actually more meant to be used in kumihimo and other more fiber-heavy applications anyway, though, as versus straight traditional beadweaving — this being why the holes are so large (to allow passes of cord which are in turn woven, braided, or knotted, as versus the type of thread that’s used for seed bead weaving — typically, much [MUCH] thinner).

I picked up a reasonable amount and assortment of two-hole beads and some other shaped beads (like the Miyuki Long Drops I opted for in lieu of Rizos [there were no Rizos at this store], which…aren’t quite what I expected, though I did get a lot of them for what I paid).  I can see my tastes veering towards deep green- and violet-blues with gold and copper accents for the upcoming season…generally, the color trends in bead stores will attempt to predict and complement the colors used in coming fashion design palettes.  Among the beads I picked up were a string of 5mm blue Czech fire-polished beads (I’d never encountered 5mms before, only 6mm and 4mm)…a shade of blue which leans more violet than my norm, though they should match nicely with the fuschia beads I got…for some project which I can’t remember anymore…

Ah, right!  the lacy one.  I was designing a collar in Chevron Stitch using the fuschia beads!  This one is mostly pink with some violet-red, though I’m open to changing out the colors (honestly, I was just trying to find a way of using the pinks).  I haven’t settled on a final structural design yet, either, though I remember that at the time I was designing this, I was getting interested in tatting (which I eventually gave up on because it would be quite a lot of work to find someone who could teach me this method of lacemaking, and I’d likely have to tolerate some abrasive conservative politics, if I went to the lace specialty center near me).

Anyhow, it looks like lace.  I do have a couple of snapshots of it, but they’re very much just working-process things, playing with layout of different projects and such.

I also am wondering if I should get more sliding polystyrene drawer sets, considering that one of my sets is now almost totally full of tiny vials of beads.  That is, it is fulfilling its purpose as intended…and I do have other storage methods available for the contents of the other two drawer sets — it’s just that I’m surprised at how efficient it is (and that I’ve still withheld copious amounts of beads [read:  bronze and green] for the sake of project organization).

I also have two more sets of small Sterilite drawers which will assist…I just have to empty them of the quilting, knitting, and (most of the) crochet paraphernalia (small crochet hooks are invaluable in macrame).  Now that I think of it, I can put most of that into small boxes and into the box that holds my yarns, then use the opened-up space for tubes and packs of beads, organized by type or project.  Or, I could put my metals and tools in the Sterilite drawers, and use the polystyrene drawers for more transparent storage where visibility of my stock is a priority.

That actually sounds a lot better.  My storage methods have gradually changed as better options have become available…I’m just afraid that my polystyrene drawer sets will not be dependably stocked by the place I got them from.  I mean, I originally went back there for something which was no longer carried, then found these drawers for like $3 per set.  On the other hand…is it worth it to drive out there to get 3 more sets to match?  It is only $9, but …I just have so many storage options already…

Anyway, it’s now 2:30 AM.  I should really get some rest.  I can think about it overnight, though for some reason I hope I don’t end up going back out there…

Oh, and:  I did start weaving the bracelet I mentioned before with the Ladder-Stitched bugle beads, only I’m doing it in Dark Copper (dark red) and Moss Green, right now.  I’m going to do more than one…but likely putting a copper clasp on this one.

I just needed to do something less predictable than start right up where I left off with the first bracelet, last time.

Down time

I’m not kidding when I say that this is the first time I’ve been able to get back to the computer for the last 10 hours.  We’ve just had our Valentine’s Day night out…because I have a meeting on Tuesday night.  Why THAT night?  I don’t know.

But it does leave me with a lot of open time to catch up on classwork…though it will be work to get all this done before the 20th.  My classes all turn over on Mondays, now…but! Monday the 20th is the first day I’m going to have off of my job with regard to school.  This means that I have 5 days from morning to night, with nothing better to do than homework.  And exercise.  And hygiene.  And sleep.  And cleaning.

I am fairly certain at this point that I should be able to get through the next week-and-a-half.  There is the question of what kind of grade I’m going to get in Cataloging, especially as I’m behind (though that would, at this point, not be unusual [given that the Prof didn’t assign the right reading]); but I can’t worry about that, now.

As much as I know I need to work on my homework, I also know that I haven’t worked on either art or beading for quite a while.  My free time has largely been taken up with either sleep or exercise, or the increased need for hygiene that exercise entails.  Given, though, that even that could be seen as a necessity…particularly since the only reason for my weight gain has been medication-related and could become dangerous (it doesn’t show any sign of letting up, though I’m certain that part of the recent weight gain has to do with fat being converted to muscle, given that my waist size has gone down and my pants are getting looser)…I should really schedule in some time for breaks.

I do have a few books on painting checked out, right now — I wanted to learn more about underpainting (no one ever taught me this skill) — but I think that working in some way with beads will be a bit easier, at this moment.  After all, I look at my beads, and immediately start thinking of what I could make out of them.  This is not something which comes to me as easily with paints.  (Maybe somewhere in there lies the key as to the difference between design and art?)

As regards painting:  I’m also thinking that maybe I need to go back to drawing and rework my way into painting a bit more organically.  Drawing in monochrome kind of inspires working in color (pastel and/or aquarelles), which inspires working in paint.  Given that my major interest in painting is with colors, color mixing, and color dynamics, though, that leaves a lot undefined…maybe, too much.

Eh, maybe I’ll play around with the acrylic inks.  Just to see what I can get out of them.  Color mixing + Sharpie labeling, I guess.  It would be good to use a unique identifier for each swatch, too — that way, if I start mixing colors with already mixed colors, maybe I could keep them straight.  (Maybe it would be a good idea to work back into gouache, at that.)

It really kind of is annoying, though, that I have to use the disposable palette with the acrylic inks…(the inks will dry flat on a regular palette, and become impossible to remove without scraping the palette surface…obviously not a great idea on a cheap [easily engraved] plastic palette).  My painting teacher discouraged the use of these in my Painting classes, although the alternative was probably clogged drains in the atelier — from students rinsing partially-dried scraps of acrylic resin into the sink and not using a filter over the drain.  (I ended up donating two of these — too late.  Seriously, it would have been nice if someone had cleaned out the paint catcher so the sinks would stop flooding.)

I think I should try and work on my assignments first (after taking care of daily hygiene and possibly exercise) and then work at the arts and crafts after I get so full of reading that my mind is blank.  There is going to be a lot of reading, over the next week.  This isn’t so bad, but I have to prepare for my mind not functioning at its best after having taken in so much.

I have the bracelet project going, which should be fairly easy to get back into, or I could toy around with more micromacrame variants.  I still have that scarab pendant that I want to make into something, but I have very few examples of vitrail (it’s a lead crystal/glass finish) among all the beads I have, and I’m pretty sure that’s what the scarab is finished with.  I’m thinking of something involving multiple Lark’s Head sinnets, interwoven, with beads in between the rows of knotting.  It should look different than the last one I did (which was based on square knots), I think…but I won’t be able to tell for sure, until I attempt it.

Right now…I should be able to put in some time on the exercise bike, but I’m not sure if that will be too stimulating and keep me awake longer than I should be.  The alternative is reading, though.  Or, showering.  Or just going to bed, which I don’t want to do.

yeah, I needed this.

Well, this was a much-needed day of rest, relatively.

I was able to recover a project which I started in 2011.  This is a bracelet based on a necklace pattern that I had noticed M making.  She has decided to rework her necklace, and…somehow, maybe it was the recent bead reorganization I’ve been going through, or the fact that she was going through her stock, but I recognized two tubes of small bugle beads that I had loaned her.  Then I realized that I had the rest of the set for that bracelet ready to go, and had bought additional materials with the thought of making it.  It’s basically a kit, but stored dynamically instead of together.

I actually even have part of the project in the beginning stages, done already.  Apparently my wrist hasn’t changed too much in size, in six years!  I was working on an alternate version of the design, as the initial design sprung very much from the pattern someone else made (although it just took principles, pretty much:  the aesthetics are different from what I’ve seen of the other person’s work).

This incorporates rows of ladder stitch connected with netting and/or peyote stitch (in my version it’s basically peyote, because the gap is so small), with picot fringe.  All of this has to be tiny, because the bugle (tube) beads I’m using are tiny (they are as wide as a Japanese 15º round seed bead…and I can’t deviate from using 15ºs, without changing the spacing between the bugle beads).  I’m pretty sure they are size #1 (bugle beads are sized differently than other beads considered “seed beads”) — they appear less than 1/4″ long.

Aside from the fact that I had written down the color combinations I used in my sample; that I included the beads for the one woven button I thought I would have to make, and also included a xerox of the relevant pattern for that button…the kicker is the color work.  Plus, I was able to find all the pieces to go to this, which date back to at least 2011 (when I recorded the names of the beads which went together).

I’m sure, though, that I will have to make two buttons, at this point — the buttons are beautiful (and well-designed) enough that it would seem somewhat cheap to just use a mass-produced clasp.  I do have a gold-plated metal box clasp which is actually really beautiful, but the problem is the fact that I would have to narrow down my weaving to one point of contact, instead of two, and the attachment would be weaker if I used a ready-made clasp.

I’m making this in dark blue-green, along with …I think the color name is Smoky Topaz AB, which bridges over into mauve and red-violet.  “AB” is short for Aurora Borealis, and is the name of a rainbow coating on the outside of the bead.  Smoky Topaz is the base color of the bead, which is a smoky brown.  Together, they make a bead which appears reddish-violet, except when the light shines through the bead (smoky brown), instead of reflecting off the surface of the bead (red-violet).

Taking that into consideration, I have enough materials (if I don’t count the buttons) to make two versions of this:  one heavily blue-green one with red-violet accents, and one which is predominantly red-violet and green (I found the “Dark Copper” colored tiny bugles [really, they appear more Burgundy to me] along with the “Moss Green” tiny bugles).  Both of the bugle types are really glossy (nearly metallic), and from the swatch I made, I’m really certain they will work well together.

As for the buttons…I’ll have to either use violet for the next set after the ones for this bracelet, or buy new 4mm crystals — I’ve basically looked through the places where they’re most likely to be in my bead stash, and I can’t find any more Erinite-color bicones or whatever it was I got to replace them (the latter of which are more yellowish).  If I take apart and reconstruct my trial button, I should be able to have two buttons which are reasonably similar, but they won’t be identical…because I can’t find the rest of my Erinite beads (I need two more, having found two on a trial strand), and I suspect that the color formulation has changed in the last six years.  I know that the cut has most likely changed since then (we’re on Xilion Bicones now, instead of just Bicones, and I think that change happened after 2011…but I’m not sure).

I think I got the yellow-green ones at the beginning of my warm-green kick…

Anyhow…I did do some design work last night, but I think I’ll work on the original idea, first; it’s a really nice design, and I already know how to do it (or did know, at one time — and left notes for myself).  I’ve been hammered by alternate design options in the meantime by sorting through all of my greens and blue-greens…the nice thing is that I should be able to have the time to work on this, soon.  I couldn’t really bring myself to do much more than the homework for tonight (which I didn’t know was even assigned, until this afternoon).  It’s done now, but still…I don’t recall being told that the work week started on Monday (last semester, most of my classes turned over on Thursday), and I was kind of burned out and stressed, so I didn’t check.

I have been working out, though, so that much is good.  🙂  It’s better than foregoing exercise to do homework…

(long) What to put my time into?

It’s…interesting.

Over the past few days, I’ve been having a dialogue with myself about where to put my energies.  For example, with my homework, and from there out, with my art, creative writing, reading, blogging…music…?

I have seen some people online develop in a given medium very quickly, due to daily practice.  The most obvious example of this I can think of (and I hope I’m thinking right) is Charlie at Doodlewash, but as best I can remember, there are others whose names I have neglected to pick out of the ever-coming tide that is the Internet.

I’ve started to think about my activities, not in terms of what I do well, not in terms of what I presently can do, but in terms of what I want to do.

This is assisted, no doubt, by the curricula I’m presently studying…though that might get a bit arcane here.  Basically, when someone realizes they need information, they likely start out with a very poorly-formed idea of what it is they’re searching for, because they don’t know what they don’t know — and asking them what information they need is asking someone to define the parameters of what they don’t know…which, they don’t know.

When I first started researching Buddhism, for example, it was along with studies of alternative spirituality (particularly Theosophy and Spiritualism; I don’t remember whether Pantheism was along with, or after, this) and the Western Occult Tradition.  Right now I know more about Buddhism than most people around me — I know more than what every beginner book I’ve seen recounts, as though it’s new — but I reached out of my sphere, in the first place, to try and escape people and their twisting of religion to support their bigotry.

What I have found, over about 15 years of studying Buddhism, is that Buddhists have their own problems to deal with, irritatingly enough.  Not only that, but it’s kind of impossible to find an authoritative voice on the matter.  Buddhism is 2500 years old, and orthopraxic (right action) instead of orthodoxic (right belief), or so my World Religions class would have told me.

Instead of asking and expecting a clear definition of nirvana or Buddha-nature, it’s more like, “does the interpretation you’re reading agree with you or not?” or, “where are the holes, and are they large enough to matter?” or, “is this logically coherent?  (Be honest.)  If so, what are the consequences?”

I may not be reading enough modern thought, in this field, though.  I’ve come to realize that the world now is different than the world 2500 years ago, though people’s problems are still largely the same.  The issue with me is the idea that everyone’s “awakening” will be qualitatively the same; that inherently, everyone is the same.  This may have been unquestioned 2500 years ago in India, but I cannot go without questioning this, now.  Living in a major metropolitan area will kind of do that to a person.

In addition to this, the entire idea of a “soul” or spirit is one of these things which …I have not read a full treatment of, from a Buddhist perspective.  What I gather is that a phenomenal self is recognized, but that this self is constructed, and not essential.  This differs from, pretty much, every other religion I’ve studied; but it also becomes entangled in current-day discourse about constructivism vs. essentialism as regards gender; a.k.a. whether all gender is “socially constructed” or “inborn.”

As a person whose gender expression (and historically, identity) inhabits a range rather than a locus, it’s hard for me to have an opinion on this.  The major point is that Second-Wave Feminism (I think this began in the 1970’s) has tried to argue that what one is “born as” is what one “is,” with the transgender movement historically fighting against this.  This axiom would state that, for example, a transgender woman was “really” a man and thus could be excluded from “women’s space,” without everyone in the group feeling bad about it.  In consequence, everyone which was included looked similar enough to be assumed to be qualitatively similar (as definitions of “man” or “woman” did not go beyond physicality; causing the [hypothetical] inclusion of trans* men within women’s space, instead of trans* women).

However, the current state of transgender politics seems to be coming to a newer resettlement where very young children are expressing identity with members of a sex which they do not physically align with…so now it seems that the argument is again back to “one is born as what one is,” just that the mistake (and it does seem to be a mistake) of assigning a person to a gender category based on their physiology…causes more harm than good.

In short, we are back to an essentialist argument, but with what is “essential” being something one cannot physically see (though there have been studies showing similarity of regions of the brain between trans* women and cis (non-trans*) women, and dissimilarity of those same regions between trans* women and cis men, at the least; last I checked, trans* men were not well-known enough to have any acceptable sample size.

But anyhow…I’m not sure if I should be a philosophy major or something, 🙂 but my own experience of myself brings me to the point of feeling that …I do or may have a “soul,” which is distinct from other “souls.”  I wouldn’t say it to be irreducible to something like any other living being would experience — that is, I’m not sure at all that what I recognize as myself is “essential” — but there does seem to be something that sets me apart in this life, that, when violated, brings me illness.  That is to say, I have a “nature.”  It’s a very changeable nature, but it’s still a nature.

And this, in turn, is separable from an ontological stance which states that no one has a soul.  The clearest representative of this to me is Scientific Materialism, though I am not a subject matter expert on this, having veered away from materialist philosophies, myself.  I did purchase a book on Sartre (Existentialism) recently as well, and it would be interesting to see what he says about it…but this is mainly for my own breadth/surveying the field.

The problem I’m having is being unsure that any organized religion is actually and honestly for the good of its members (excluding the priesthood).  In short, I’m not sure if any of it is true, and I know there are vulnerabilities commonly found in seekers which are being played upon (notably, in Buddhism, the experience of psychic pain and the drive to death [thanatos — it’s a Freudian idea]).

I’m not sure I’ve seen the latter actually explained outright anywhere in relation to the desire for nirvana and cessation of rebirth; but I know that for me it has been an issue.  Buddhism was one of the things which kept me alive when I was going through a fairly relevant depressive phase, to the point where I realized that if Shakyamuni had ever actually existed, he was probably a depressive who lived before we had a term for it.

And…I have wandered far away from what started this post.  The question is whether to continue with this line of study, or drop it and find something else.

I am thinking that if, every day, I practiced guitar for at least half an hour, I would become fairly good at it, after a while.  This is, as versus my art.  I have to do enough reading as it is, but I could get back into that (reading for pleasure), as well.

Art is one of those things which I know I was praised for, very early on.  I know it’s something I’m relatively talented at.  But without a clear subject, it’s tough for me to get into; this being why I was prolific in the Art program at my Community College, but which I have trailed away from without the outside support and prompting.  I’m fairly certain that if I did get back into Creative Writing, this would in fact give me things to draw.

Of course, that’s Illustration, there — which is actually the drive which caused me to come back and try the Art program again in the first place.  When I first came back, I didn’t even know if I liked drawing, to be honest.  Things had just gotten really dull for me, where it came to image-making.  I remembered that I had originally liked to do it (when I was making a story with pictures [could you call that a comic?], as a kid), and I remembered that drawing the same thing over and over again — as I did as an adult — wasn’t worth it.  I’d get bored.

I re-entered with the hope that instruction and refreshed subject matter would help me see if writing and illustrating my own Graphic Novel was even something I would enjoy; and if not, I could just trash the whole Graphic Novel idea and work on pure writing, instead.

What I can say is that Art is difficult.  There hasn’t been a time for me when it hasn’t been difficult, except when I was a kid and didn’t care at all whether things looked wonky to other people.

And then, Writing…writing, writ large, 😉 isn’t hard for me.  Fiction Writing, though…is just psychologically difficult.  I have a habit of not being able to clearly tell the story I’m writing, apart from reality.  But through the Art program, one of the things I realized is that Art is not a representation of reality.  Photography isn’t a representation of reality.  Fiction writing, is not a representation of reality.  Neither is television, nor movies.

Verisimilitude to reality is used to a greater or lesser extent to provide familiarity and context to a story or message…to be honest, I’m not entirely certain what I or we are trying to get across in a way of thinking about the Humanities in terms of content as versus form.  The one thing I am certain about is that when one is within a story, that story is constructed around you, to a certain extent for you (and to a certain extent, by you).  For what purpose?  …I’m not entirely sure.  If you have thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

In any case, thinking back on it…it does seem, now that I think of it, that I’ve found expression through writing and art, and now am re-trying music.  Music is interesting, though I’m so new to it that I’m not entirely sure I can say why.  Certainly there’s a rhythmic component, and the emotional states elicited by certain tones being played next to each other and harmonizing (or not).  Then, of course, being a time-related thing, it is also — like writing — linear in format.

Tonight I was just having fun with arpeggiating guitar chords — particularly, starting with the F-major that’s closest to the top of the neck.  I think I could, eventually, make a habit of writing my own music; the question arises of if it is what I want to do, though.  Do I want to write?  Draw?  Paint?  Play music?  Make beaded jewelry?  It’s fairly obvious that writing is part of my lifeblood — I don’t feel right when I don’t do it.

I miss my beads.  I stopped my practice and working on new designs when I realized that this was not something that I could rely on to pay any bills (except maybe a blog bill for a nice layout here, if I started on Etsy); but it is what got me into Painting (which enables much more subtle custom color adjustments).  There is a lot of work which goes into designing and constructing beaded jewelry which has to do with light and color…it may be playing with my tendency to engineer from prefabricated parts, as well.

(Two of my most favorite toys from when I was a kid were my Erector set, and a circuit board D got me for Christmas, one year…)

And, hey…I just realized the linear component to that, as well…it’s just that with what I do, there is the mode of interweaving that can be realized, as well as anchoring and knotting.

Interesting…but I think I should get some sleep, right now!  Heh!  If anyone has anything to say about the content we try to get across in the Arts & Humanities, I’m more than listening…