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!


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.

Evidence of work ;)

Yes, it actually does help me stay balanced, to work with my hands.

I have a bunch of photos from tonight.  I’m thinking that if I keep taking close-up photos of tiny things, maybe I should take a Digital Photography class…or at least try and figure out how to use this camera off of the “Auto” setting.  It would benefit me to be able to take quality photos myself; and the skills would also be salable (say, to people in my current position).

As an aside, classes did start today, and I have some work I can start in on.  Unfortunately, most of it is introductions, and despite seeing the new semester coming, I did not adequately emotionally prepare myself for telling other people who I am.  I also need one more piece of information before I can submit a request for accommodations for my last class…but it shouldn’t be too much of a pain.

The top spiral is 18g red brass wire, dead-soft.

Anyhow…the other night I was playing with that red brass wire, right?  Red brass is also called “Jeweler’s Bronze,” even though it isn’t actually bronze.  It’s a copper/zinc/lead alloy, as versus a copper/tin alloy.  True bronze is actually copper/tin, and from what I’ve heard, it’s rather brittle, making it suitable for nice castings, but not so much for wire.

I was really pleased with finally getting this stuff, because on the catalog page, the photograph of this wire is fairly terrible where it comes to color.  The photo on the left shows how it compares to the brass color of Artistic Wire (which is a brand name, just to make sure you know).

The wire here which has the Pip beads on it (those three copper-finished glass seed-shaped beads at the bottom) is a finer wire, 22g, and is natural brass tone with an anti-tarnish coating.  That coating means that I can’t forge with this wire beyond a certain point, because I can’t assume it’s safe to heat it with a torch.  Weirdly enough, on the product description pages where I found Artistic Wire actually being sold online, there seems to be a color difference between the raw brass and anti-tarnish coated brass.  However…I no longer have easy access to a place where I know I can color-check this.

The thicker wire on top, with the little bubble coming out of the spiral, is the new 18g wire I picked up from online.  This is raw brass.  This means that it will tarnish (and/or patina); however, it can be polished…and polished, and polished.  The brass color won’t come off of it, because it’s solid to the core, not coated copper wire.  In recent years it has also become popular to wear antiqued metals, as well.  The ring which this piece is hanging out of is antiqued brass — sold that color.

I’m thinking that the metal bead caps here are Vintaj nickel-free brass, or someone imitating them.

It’s interesting…at least two to three years ago, there was an upswing in the usage of nickel-free brass alloy.  This was mainly due to the Vintaj brand selling a lot of filigree-style components which could be bent and formed around other components.  An example can be seen to the right:

I used copper earwires because that’s what I could find, though find now that they set off the green of the large glass beads here nicely.

I didn’t take any photos of the insides of those new plier jaws…though I’m not certain it’s that important.  The things only cost $7, which could be why brass rubs off on them.  The insight I came to when I did push myself to work with this wire and the new set of flatnose pliers the other night, though, is that it’s very much a different process to use the materials than to pick out and buy materials.

This is a more complete view of the first subject.  I need to figure out some way to put these on a stand so they don’t wobble when I photograph them.  D has suggested an eraser and some paperclips.  🙂

The piece on the left, above — the spiral with two loops — seems like it has a lot of possibilities, but I’m not entirely sure what they are, yet.  I’ll have to play with them some more, before I’ll be certain.  By the way — the spiral component on the far right, above, is the same design as the link in the center, but done in a finer gauge of Artistic Wire, not the 18g wire.  Here is a closeup of that one, seen face-on:

this was just for fun:  that’s not 18g wire.

I’m wondering what I can do if I turn the “bubble” portion around so that it is perpendicular to the spiral, and then have a hidden link so that I could drop beads down, which would then appear to emerge from the spiral?  I’d have to do something about closing up that opening at top, but it’s an interesting possibility.

I should also note that I’m thinking about playing around with something I’ve seen called “Egyptian Spiral Chain.”  I’ve messed with it before, and it’s a very…kind of addictive pattern, just because the components form up very quickly, and the chain itself feels very solid and heavy once one starts to assemble it.  The major problem, I’ve seen through one of my classmates’ experiences, is the clasp:  The version she made was prone to loss.  I do, however, see an appropriate fix for this on the first page of Google Images.

The piece I was working on prior — the one with the macrame which I was scared of putting online?  I did take some pictures of it, seen below.  I also realized, though, that what I actually needed to do to photograph this was not to photograph myself wearing the neckpiece in the mirror, but to hold the camera up to face myself, and look at the viewfinder in the mirror.

close up of focal

The main reason I even got the 18g wire is that I didn’t have any wire heavier than 20g in a yellow color (and yellow is significant to this design).  This meant that those rings which are holding onto the bells (which in turn hang off of the mother-of-pearl ring), are subject to deformity because they’re so thin.

If you’re wondering how I made the rings so large, it’s because I was using what are called bail-forming pliers, online?  They’re really invaluable for making large rings, though.  Before I remembered I had these at my disposal (their protective coating in machine oil [ugh] had caused me to put them away and not touch them for years), I ordered a $9 set of dapping punches in order to use the handles as mandrels.  However…with the inexpensive dapping punches I got, the manufacturer didn’t really pay all that much attention to the diameter of the handle…so they aren’t as useful as I had hoped they would be.

In my Silversmithing class, that is, it was apparent that the dapping punches were high-quality, and also that they had different-sized handles available for “swaging” (or forming a sheet of metal so that it is curled along one axis only [as versus two for “dapping” or doming], possibly lengthwise).

And, of course, the dapping punches came heavily coated in machine oil, as well.  Gross.  I guess they didn’t want them to rust, in storage.  Which is why they put them inside three boxes and three plastic bags and drowned them in petroleum…

Luckily, though, the bells hanging off of the pendant at present are in very little danger of falling off.  The brass rings had to be drastically opened to get them around the relatively thick mother-of-pearl component, and the loops which are physically part of the bells are wide enough that the bells are probably not going to slip off.  I just would like the connections to be more durable.

I don’t have any photos of this piece in-process, though.  I probably should have photographed how I got the inner disc to float inside of the mother-of-pearl ring…I tied it in with thread while I wrapped and knotted the connection at center top.  After it was securely in and I had the bottom of it secured in wire, as well, I cut off all the threads…and still had to rotate the piece to center it (as the mother-of-pearl ring is not consistent in thickness and width, the disc rests differently inside the ring [as regards being centered or not] depending on the location of the connections).

I think the only piece I haven’t showed you yet is this one:

scarab pendant

This is almost entirely, at this point, getting its identity from the center bead.  I’m fairly certain this is a Swarovski scarab, which is new for this season.  I got the flat-nose pliers because I hoped to be able to make closer and cleaner bends in wire when doing wirework, if I had pliers without a lot of thickness at the tip.  As things are — I really under- over-estimated the overall size of the pliers, so as a consequence, what I thought were really fine tips, turned out to be somewhat fine tips.

All of the metal in this piece (minus the wire it’s hanging off of, just for this picture) is sterling silver.  That means I had to buy sterling beads and a sterling bail…though, luckily, I was already buying sterling beads, because in the long run it seems cheaper to make earwires than to buy them ready-made.  Some skill and knowledge is required, though:  for example, the ends of cut wire need to be rounded or filed or sanded so that they don’t rip piercings when the earwire is inserted.  Also, the loop at the bottom of the earwire, in best design, needs to be centered under the center portion of the top bend of the earwire.

That bail, by the way — I’m talking about the tube portion of it, topmost — has a lengthwise opening of about 2mm.  This means that I can pass up to four lengths of C-Lon (I believe I’m talking about the standard size, not the heavy size; though I’m not certain) through the opening.  C-Lon is an industrial upholstery thread which comes in tons of colors (or did, last time I checked).  S-Lon, from the best of my knowledge, is parallel, but came about after C-Lon…though that conversation is a little weird, given what we’ve been talking about recently on the blog.

I basically had to put spacer beads on this scarab bead, too, because the drill hole is so freakin’ big that the headpin (that is, the vertical wire with the stopper that the scarab is hanging off of) might have passed through it, or broken through it, on a bad day.  I do have two of these in different colors, but still…too beautiful to destroy.

Right now, I’m working out how to make the cord that is going to be the other major component of this piece.  I’m actually not sure how I will do it, yet, though I am looking at doing something delicate and lacy like a Lark’s Head sinnet…just not sure how that will integrate, and it will definitely not necessarily take up all of that 2mm!

A craft jeweler’s stock management

Two things that have happened recently are having obtained supplies for jewelry making; and then, storage solutions for the same supplies.  I was able to visit the Japanese dollar store yesterday and pick up a few sets of small clear polystyrene boxes with drawers.  These cost about $3 each.  Then I stopped by the plastics store and picked up more clear polystyrene vials than necessary…I ended up using about $9 worth of vials (the extra small size of vial was $0.20 each), whereas I bought many more than I needed because of not knowing how many I did need.  I should note to myself that the variant of vial I have termed “extra small” (out of XS, S, M, and L) is the one I used the most of, by far (I wonder if they would let me exchange the bigger ones for more tiny ones?).

I specify “polystyrene” because it’s something I’d want to remember; it struck me as odd but logical that I would find two instances of the more optically clear plastics and that both would be the same material.  These aren’t white polystyrene foam (a.k.a. Styrofoam); they seem to be made of the same material CD jewel case covers are made of, according to Wikipedia and some conjecture.

The largest benefit to using these is that it makes it very apparent what my stock consists of, enabling me to forego using multiple tiny plastic bags (which I usually have used until they fogged up and shredded apart, or no longer zipped shut).  With the system I have now, it’s very clear what I have to work with…and the vials are reusable.  The only drawback is that they don’t cushion the beads from knocking against the inner walls.

I also have been kind of torturing myself with looking over beads…I have the either fortune or misfortune of knowing several reputable bead suppliers online, which have been in business for years.  Since my regular two bead stores closed down, it’s been kind of a pain to get access to quality, low-cost (or unique) beads and components (I don’t assume craft or fabric stores to have quality beading supplies, though these are the materials I started out with as a child); right now it is apparent that the prices of designer beads are also…not cheap.

However, I’m seeing that most places sell these in small quantities (10g, which is not a lot; I’d say this is a 3″ vial?…or in multiples of 30 or 50, if I’m recalling correctly).  The benefit of this is that it’s possible to buy very small quantities of beads in large color ranges, and not, say, have to buy an entire hank or half-hank of Czech seed beads or 30 grams of Japanese seed beads, if you only need a little.  The great advantage of this is that you aren’t stuck with an entire 30 gram vial of a color you’re never going to use, if you get home and realize under natural lighting that the colors you’ve chosen for a project don’t actually coordinate.

The brick-and-mortar bead store that used to be closest to me used to unbind hanks of the Czech seed beads (I think there are 12 strands per hank?) and sell them by the strand — which was super convenient, and probably saved me a lot of money, in the short term (while still allowing the store owner to make a sizable profit — though I am not certain it was sizable enough to keep her in business).

Of course, do I need six entire strands of size 13º gold Charlotte beads when I’m just trying out a button pattern I found in a magazine, or is that overkill?  (Size 13º is very small, a little bigger than a poppyseed; the designation “Charlotte” indicates that there is one facet ground into one side of the bead.)  Gold, by the way, is one of the more expensive finishes…half a hank is an investment!  I wouldn’t want to work with anything smaller than 15º beads, which are smaller than 13ºs…at that size, it’s easy to split a bead with a needle that’s too wide.  Then, also, the thread and/or wire has to be really fine to go through beads this size…and at that diameter, things can be really fragile; both the beads, and what they’re strung on.  I’ve also broken needles — fine needles, even! — trying to pull them through beads.  Size 15ºs should probably be strung or woven with an ultrafine steel twisted wire needle…which won’t break just because it’s bent.

The bead sizes go smaller, but it’s hard enough to see the 11ºs (larger than 13ºs), which are basically the standard size you would be most likely to encounter, followed closely by size 8ºs, and more rarely, size 6ºs — the latter of which I think are also called “E” Beads.  I have very rarely seen 3ºs, which appear like plastic pony beads (except I think they’re usually glass if they’re given an “aught” size — that little “º” reads as “aught,” so 11º reads as “eleven-aught”), and are large enough to be strung onto braids (hence, the term “pony bead.”).

I wouldn’t put these onto a kid’s hair, though:  the plastic beads are much safer and lighter.  There’s the danger of glass chips (even flying glass chips) from the beads knocking together, and stress on the scalp, if a lot of the glass ones are used to decorate braids.  Of course, though, when I was a kid and had braids, I wanted this.  I don’t think we ever did it.  (Of course, though, now I know how to add wrapped ends to the ends of my braids!…though that doesn’t really help the bead angle.  I wonder how they would stay on…?  I’d probably need a seam ripper to remove the wraps, as well…)

Anyway, I started out this post thinking about the two-hole beads I bought, recently.  I only got very small amounts, but it’s really made me want to get more; the design possibilities are just…something I hadn’t thought of.  In addition, the designer Czech beads (which I personally prefer to most of the more angular, Art-Deco-looking Miyuki two-hole beads; the exceptions being the Magatama lines) are going on and off of the market all of the time.  There are some beads that are not easy to find, now, which were common a year ago, and new ones are out now that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen in-person.

On the other hand, from looking up a lot of this stuff just briefly, I think that the real issue is that each individual online outlet only carries a specific range of beads; so to get a diversity of them, it’s necessary to target a number of different outlets.  I think the companies that make the beads (as versus the ones that sell them) are trying to drum up new business and interest in beadwork, but the sudden introduction of new beads all the time can be disorienting.  It used to be that we were just working with bicones and rounds and ovals and drops and cubes, and now it’s really…it can get overwhelming.

That’s not to say that it isn’t nice:  new bead shapes and bead hole placements, and creative use of multiple holes, are a goldmine where it comes to designing — especially with the finishes available now (especially if I compare them to my fabric-store beads in sixth grade which had colors which obviously rubbed off).  It’s just really a challenging process to be given what basically amount to new Lego blocks every few months, and be competing with published and accomplished designers to find excellent uses of them.

Actually, I did kind of withdraw from the beading scene after my magazines started putting out designs which relied upon the two-hole and specially shaped beads, many of which were only available online.  I’m not an early adopter…I already know this.  🙂  And I’m really cautious online, which is probably the biggest pain about any of this.  I kind of just don’t trust the Internet in the first place, though it’s relatively easy to see why this is:  my formative online years were not sheltered.

Another reason why I almost permanently Withdrew from my online program…

Checking in: bead heaven

Things have been going relatively well.  School does start up in about a week, and I’m not thrilled about that; particularly as I’ve started to get used to not needing to do anything on an urgent basis.  The exception to this is work, which has been a grounding force for me, but maybe I’ve just gotten spoiled with being able to take four days off in a row if I worked three in a row.  (I’ve gotten most of my textbooks already, and am a bit…intimidated by the subject matter.  But I should be able to tell if Cataloging will be comfortable for me by the end of the semester.)

Well — I think I know the real culprit, actually, and that is having the time to be able to invest in making jewelry…which is one of the select, rare things that I dove into which I had been granted implicit permission to explore as female.  I had doubted myself and wondered whether I was only in it because I was trying to find anything good about being female…but there are other good things, too; not all of them easily nameable.

I’ve worked my way up to metalworking (that is, Jeweling/Silversmithing) classes (though I mostly used copper [which I kind of love] and brass), but it’s not easy to make a life as a jeweler.  What I can say is that to succeed at it, you really need to love what you do.  This is not an issue for me; but the sheer time, effort, and money (plus management, marketing, and administrative) skills needed to run a small business, is.  This is not to mention the faith that it will get easier, someday.

I had been trying pretty hard at the two-dimensional art…which is just a term I use for drawing and painting (I sometimes use the term “flat art” to myself, but rarely aloud, because it sounds pejorative [but familiar]), though I suppose if one got creative, one could do this on three-dimensional forms, as well.  🙂  I’ve thought of the latter, but haven’t taken a ceramics or sculpture class in years (I did spend two years [or was it semesters?] of high school in Ceramics/Mixed Media, though!…and now that I think of it, at least one or two semesters of middle school in Wood Shop.  Huh.  Didn’t realize I had that alternate path going, there…jewelry design and construction seems a rather organic parallel and/or outgrowth).

Anyhow, I say, “trying,” because I …now that I think about it, I think I actually did start learning beadwork prior to trying to learn how to draw well (first, loomwork; then, peyote stitch)… but the reason I got back into the Fine Art path was related to trying to salvage something of my first degree in English.  I wanted to make a graphic novel (or more likely, if it turned out I liked it, more than one).  I didn’t know, however, if I even liked to draw anymore.  I had done drawings, but had gotten bored with them (I didn’t care to see yet another anime face [which I and everyone else already knew I could draw], and as time went on, my expressions had become more and more limited), and so re-entered classes around art to see if I could revive whatever drove me to draw in the first place.

And what was that?  I’m not entirely certain.  It would have been an interesting question to ask myself at 14, but I am sure that it relates to anime, manga, and visual storytelling…particularly storytelling that came from a culture different from my own (it’s different to be nikkeijin than nihonjin).  In particular, I saw a level of compassion for the antagonists in some series (like Sailormoon and Slayers) which did not exist in American media; this happened at about the same time as I was struggling with being outcast.

I’m not sure if that’s just excellent marketing to a specific target audience or what, but it left a favorable impression on me.  It probably also ties in with what I was saying before about appreciating international media (including writing).  I’m fairly certain that animation was my first in-road to two-dimensional art (I was 14, what can I say), but at the same time, there is no way that I want to work in Animation, now (though I do have one Certificate (something like a ground-level certificate) in it; and right now I question my ability to tell a good story and not lead myself into madness in the process.

In this case, the classes were kind of a test, like last semester was kind of a test, like this upcoming semester is kind of a test.  I’m a little intimidated by the latter, if only because these two classes may be the final classes intended for my track…I’m not sure; maybe I should ask an Advisor…but I did read to take Beginning Cataloging as soon as possible, if interested; this is probably because it weeds out a lot of people.

Back to the original story, though:  jewelry, particularly when it works with color, is something that strongly engages me.  I got out of it because of concerns over environmental damage perpetuated by mining companies — particularly those mining metals.  In addition, there is the somewhat ridiculous culture which insists that gems which all look alike (as though mass-produced) are the most valuable.  This is in Fine Jewelry, though (the kind one finds in department stores); I am more of an Art Jewelry and/or Craft Jewelry person.

And…I just realized probably no one but me knows the difference between Art, Craft, and Fine Jewelry, here…gah, do I have the energy to explain it?  It’s kind of an aside, and I’m not even sure if I have all the particulars correct.  Art Jewelry is one-of-a-kind, usually handmade and unique, using unique stones.  Craft jewelry incorporates materials like fibers and beads, wire, and PMC (Precious Metal Clay) and may be woven or knotted, typically handmade.  Fine Jewelry is what is typically thought of as jewelry:  diamond earrings, gold engagement rings, standard wedding rings, etc. — I’ve seen a lot of CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided-Design/Computer-Aided-Manufacturing) work to this end.  There’s also Fashion Jewelry, which tends to be inexpensive, mass-produced, and low-quality.

In any case…I was drawing the other night and kind of lamenting that this seems so uncreative, to stick with painting and drawing as my art forms, as though I knew nothing else.  Then I remembered my beads…which I’ve been collecting since I was about 12.  And my cords, which relate back to what has been called micro-macrame, because of its delicate nature when compared with macrame of the U.S. 1970’s.

I had been shunning the beads after a series of run-ins with one of the established, “if it’s been done before, you can’t do it,” voices in regard to copyright and (even if unintended) copyright-infringement.  Then there’s the whole, “if you have to consult instructions, you’re not ready to sell,” stuff, and the, “but you didn’t make those components, you’re just an assembler,” argument.  I realize now that listening to these voices is not doing me any good, because all it is, is “I do unique work/I’m skilled/I’m actually creative (UNLIKE YOU).”  Ultimately, this reads, though, “I’m insecure and am afraid you’ll be competition/better at this than I am, and so I’m going to try and make sure you never continue in this path.”

Unfortunately, sometimes one has to withdraw from groups with these people in order to get out from under their grip, especially if they’re presenting themselves as mentors.

In beadwork, the line between public-domain and copyrighted design, and what constitutes “design”, is pretty unclear:  until you actually start wholeheartedly designing things.  Now that I’ve started really consciously getting into design, it becomes clearer:  technique help is OK to consult when constructing something to sell; wholesale mimicking someone else’s work and claiming it as your own when selling it, isn’t.  That’s just the impression I get, not legal advice; but it becomes clearer when one stops following patterns and only consults one’s library for technique help and some inspiration (which will not be directly followed by copying what inspired one, to sell for money).

Of course, though, then it gets difficult when someone sells a book with an extremely basic design that you probably would have thought of yourself at some time in your life…and then, what do you do?  Hands-off forever?  Write to the author for permission to use the design?  Maybe the latter, eh?

I do have more to say in regard to buying more materials — and then, last night, unstringing years of collected beads and loading them all into small vials, which I then put into a couple of clear plastic boxes with drawers so that I could see them all and color-match…but that will be easier for me to work on tomorrow; not at 2:20 AM.  I’ve already eaten an entire bag of Gummi Worms; I think I should get to bed!

Plans for tomorrow?

Please don’t hold it against me, but I’d rather not talk about what just happened.  For now.

Looking to brighter aspects of life…I should be making a trip out, tomorrow.  I need to pick up earring stoppers (I didn’t tell anyone here, but I ended up taking out my 14g rings, because I wanted to wear my own designs, again), and then hit the stone shop and the art store.

I’ve not been spending much, except on essentials — and books.  I want to alter this.  There is a bead show coming up near me, but I’ve tentatively decided not to go.  This is largely because, even though I do have at least one idea for a new earring design (bridging off of one of my prior original macrame designs), it doesn’t require much; and going to that show will have me spending at least $80-$120.

The dismay I feel is around all the new types of glass two-hole beads.  I know I will want some, and I know that they are so varied, at this point, that I could not hope to match colors and also get a good selection of shapes, unless I decide on a color palette beforehand (though roses and violets with gold and copper, tend to go well with my skin tone).

Well — maybe if I did limit myself, it would turn out OK…the “Piggy” beads, for example, are ones I’ve wanted to play with.  (These are domes with two off-center, asymmetrical holes.)  Recently, as well, two out of my three local bead stores either went under or online-only, so…this weekend may be a rare chance to see the beads in person before buying.  On the other hand, I can always buy online.  This includes the desire to get fresher colors of cords for knotting (color palettes for clothing and jewelry come in and go out with the seasons; I am no longer sure how dated my bead and cord collections are).

I suppose I can see what my workload looks like, come the weekend…and if I buy any gems at the stone shop.  If I spend $80 on stones, I’m likely not going to the bead show.

Otherwise, I also want to visit the art store to get another roll-up carrier for colored pencils, as I’ve realized that I have not used my colored pencils much at all since I got a giant wallet case for them (I have way too many colors of pencil; my collection dates back to high school).  This is largely because the case fits the pencils so tightly that I’ve broken leads getting them in and out of their elastics.  Something like the threat of breaking all your leads internally through bending, will really discourage use.  I have, however, found a rolling case for about $5, which is much more pencil-friendly.  I have two of them filled up already, and just need one more for the earth tones and skin tones.

While I’m there, I’ll look for gold gouache (I have a brand in mind), unless it’s already been bought up — and blank watercolor greeting cards.  While I’m at it, I might as well get a Phthalo Green in gouache, too.

I think I’ll be satisfied with that, without the bead show.  Hell, I’ll be satisfied with that, without stones.  But I did just look at my rock collection…it could be more interesting to drop by the stone store than the bead convention.  I slightly ache, and though these stones are relics from a time when I had more belief in their energetic properties…I can’t help but feel a little delighted at seeing them again.  It’s been so long…

Color usage in beadwoven elements

Just a quick little note, here:

I was looking at my last entry and realized one thing that I’m being taught by my reading on color in painting.  One of the books — I forget which; I can find out tomorrow — mentioned that relatively neutral tones were the mainstay of most paintings, with brighter colors added as accents.  I was looking at that photo of the Chevron Stitch bracelet pattern and …saw the cranberry tones in those matte variegated “raku” beads to either side of the center cube beads.

I could redo a Chevron Stitch bracelet, but wider and using my own pattern, to showcase both the raku beads and some of my cranberry-tone beads, along with the saturated green and olive tones.  It could be interesting.

In addition, one of my more successful pieces, done a really long time ago using a pattern called “Picot Delight” (it was free online) was likely successful because I matched the green overtone of a set of “Black Diamond” glass seed beads to a blue-green pearl set of beads…the green connected them and set the foundation for the accent colors (seafoam Czech fire-polished beads, and a somewhat greyed green-blue Swarovski crystal set).

I can see if I can photograph it tomorrow, for you.

Hmm.  Maybe studying Painting will be useful for something after all…