Sometimes art is just a time sink.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds good.

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Sometimes things just fit together and you get a glimpse of the big picture:

Although I didn’t absolutely need a break from study and work, today — or, at least, didn’t think I did — it’s been nice to disengage from the career/training thing, for a bit.  Tonight I took a cue from what I had been writing about in an earlier draft of this post, and set to work on a few earrings I’ve wanted to repair for months, if not years.  I had stashed them away, and chose not to work on them, for one reason or another — even though in one case, the repair was incredibly easy (switching out sharp, steel earwires, for higher-quality silver ones).

What I’ve realized — and I’ve just earlier this week read a really, really interesting paper on Intellectual Property (IP) which in effect told me that I wasn’t violating anyone’s IP — is that the beadwork thing that I’ve been involved with is relatively…well, it’s niche.  It’s kind of like lacemaking, just not that niche (…I don’t think?).  🙂  It’s a craft and creative pursuit where the things that are made are not necessarily groundbreaking, and as such are relatively unaddressed in IP law.

Since I stopped making and selling beaded jewelry largely because I did not understand where I stood in regard to this…and now I know it’s OK to use techniques I’ve learned from books (just not to use patterns from books if I’m selling them for profit, re:  community regulations), and have a sense of a framework and where I stand (as part of a community of practice)…it’s kind of spurred off an enthusiasm that I haven’t felt in a long time.

Another reading I did, further back in the semester (I think we’re about halfway through, now), stated that most costs in manufacturing could be attributed to labor.  This was another thing which gave me some heart, because creating beaded objects is relatively inexpensive so far as materials go.  The vast majority of the cost is taken up in the time and skilled labor needed to produce these objects…and then there is the time taken up in managing a small (tiny) business.

And as a craft jeweler based in the U.S., I can’t compete in the same market as people who make beaded jewelry in other countries, and sell their jewelry in the U.S. for what is, in effect, below cost here.  If I make beaded jewelry, I’ll need to be strategic about it — and be willing to sell it for what it’s worth, meaning that I’ll need to make sure that my jewelry — in quality and added value — merits the cost I’ll be charging.

So…there’s this, and also the fact that my experiments in suminagashi, plus my recent experiment (one, so far) with linoleum block printing, plus my training in Digital Imaging, is paying off in my Web Design course:  I own the rights to files I’ve produced, to use as graphics in my Web pages — and those graphics are not born-digital, which I feel gives me a certain advantage.

I’m starting to see a theme, here:  I think it’s highly likely that I would be best off in a job in which I get to be creative.  Thus, Web Design is highly viable, as is Web Development with a Design component.  And, I can do it in a library setting, if I really want to contribute to a Public Good.  That is, I don’t have to leave Art and Design behind for Librarianship or Information Science:  there are ways to merge these paths, particularly where it comes to Info Science, plus Art and Design and technology.  And it is worth it to continue the pursuit of Art and Design, because creativity is what I’m actually “about.”  (I’ll need to work on that phrasing for my Elevator Speech.)

Right now I’m working on a new earring design which I came up with a couple of nights ago.  I can see where it needs to be tweaked; I can also see where the beads I’m using are inferior.  I don’t have photos now, but I should be able to take some, soon.  Essentially, the bright metallic coating on some of my glass beads (SuperDuos) rubbed off in the short time I was handling them in order to weave the pattern!  Kind of disappointing…unless they’re meant to be fatigued (like stonewashed denim)?  I’m not sure.

There is an upcoming bead show, but I’m uncertain as to whether I’ll actually be able to have the time to do it.  That’s all in the future, though:  for now, I’ll focus on what’s in front of me, and try not to deny myself too many opportunities for creativity.  ❤

 

Needing to work with my hands:

So…I did only work a half-day today, but when I got home, I seriously did not want to dive right into schoolwork.  Tomorrow, I’ll see what I can knock out, though it looks like my main (school-) work days will be Sunday through Tuesday.

Tonight…I really needed to do something with my hands.  I guess it’s something that I’ve been relatively away from, after having migrated away from beadwork and macrame.  Not that I don’t like to do it anymore, but it has to be a hobby.  I can’t make a decent wage at it, unless I design things and then sell multiple instructions and kits (which has occurred to me more than once).

The labor cost is just too high, and that’s because of the cost and standard of living here.  (There’s something called “opportunity cost” in Economics, which is basically the money lost by doing one thing which could be gained, by doing something else.)  Patreon and Etsy, together, might be able to help me here.  Being able to create digital video recordings, and/or animations, would also help — though I stayed far away from film, when I was taking Art classes.  I do think I know someone who could help me or put me into touch with someone else who could, however.

Then there’s actual serious torch-and-pickle-and-power-tool jewelry making…which I have not been comfortable enough to attempt in my home.

Anyhow, wanting to do something with my hands, I thought back to when I had been engaged with crochet, sewing, and knitting.  Knitting really isn’t easy for me, but crochet is.  The largest problem I can see with crochet, however, is how to make things so that they’ll really insulate and have a function, other than looking nice — the larger holes in more lacy patterns can render a piece useless, except aesthetically.  That’s not to mention that cold air blows right through acrylic yarn, and quilts…I’ve never made a woolen quilt, but I imagine it to be expensive both in terms of materials and labor.

(I can knit things that are functional, but I think the repetition makes it easy for my mind to wander.  I could…do something like a seed-stitch muffler, however.  I do think I have enough cotton yarn [although what I have is all I have.  I think Mouzakis {Butterfly} yarn went out of business after I bought my stash].  I don’t know why I’d do that, though, except to challenge and/or frustrate myself.)

And I started looking around for my hand-sewing instructions, which — HA! — I actually did find.  After years!  I took that class back in 2009!  Someone else must have found my binders and put them away.  I’m just glad we didn’t throw them out.  I was thinking I might have to take a couture sewing class, again…

Anyhow…along with this, I also found two embroidery hoops.  One of them was set up and ready to go, with a threaded needle already tucked away in there…and M had already asked me about embroidery books…so they were readily available, and I was set.

There’s just something different about manipulating a needle and thread, you know?  I mean, as versus drawing or painting…though the end result can be things like color fills and lines, which are like drawing and painting — only, on a dynamic (and sometimes useful) surface.

I’m fairly certain that the needlework portion is what got me hooked on beadweaving, in the first place.  But this…is different:  for one thing, what is made is something that can be used and worn and functional, as versus…something that’s just for decoration.  Decoration can be great, but sometimes I’m trying to look at a more practical angle (which I’m trying to avoid using certain keywords to describe).

And yeah, I know that embroidery isn’t altogether practical, but knowing how to hand-sew did extend the life of one of my favorite shirts.  And if I wanted to, I could likely use sewing skills to make my own clothes — although in all likelihood, this would end up being more expensive than buying them.  The benefit would simply be a customized wardrobe, and possibly an adjustable-size wardrobe, at that…which actually might — at least a bit — begin to pay for itself.

What I would do if people asked me to sew for them, like people asked me to bead for them–???  I have no idea where that would lead.

My play for tonight isn’t really much to look at — I’ve got to gain a bit more skill and knowledge before I won’t be embarrassed to put my stuff online (!), but it was calming.  Repetitive fine motor movements do that, right?

Alright, so:  tomorrow is another work day.  I’m certain I’ll be taking something in to work on, during lunch…I haven’t decided whether it will be reading or embroidery, though.  The sheer dirt of working in a Library does give me a bit of pause, when combined with the possibility of pricked fingers:  but I’m using an embroidery needle.  How bad can it be?

Trying to work out the logistics of copyright RE: crafting. This is not legal advice…

…rather, it is me trying to figure out, out loud, what is meant by the differentiation of “technique” and “pattern.”  (Writing helps me get my thoughts in order.)

I should note that I am not an authority on copyright law; I’m just a crafter who has been struggling with the question of what is “right” and “wrong” in regard to the ethics of making jewelry to sell, for years.

I did go to work today, and it wasn’t bad — amazingly, it seems to help me.  Even though I do still struggle with shyness, the social contact seems to benefit me, and I often feel better after I leave than I did before arriving.  At work, one of my co-workers (who had noticed my new collar) asked me if there was a reason I wasn’t selling on Etsy.  I couldn’t…quite…give her a good response!  Though I realize that a lot of it has to do with being a little wigged out over the possibility of unintentional copyright infringement.

Now that I realize more clearly, though, what goes into creating a specific design, the difference between technique and design becomes clearer.  With my last collar design, I realized what in fact was my work (that is, my design), and what I had help in doing…which was just a basic knowledge of sinnets which I had to know (or be taught) in order to construct the beaded straps which helped complete it.  However, the overall message and feel and content of the piece was not contained in that sinnet.

This is not legal advice, but just my current understanding:  Design seems to be something that I create for a specific purpose, with a specific message in mind, with specific materials.  Technique (also possibly more helpfully considered “construction technique”), includes the elements (like beadweaving stitches; parallel this to embroidery stitches [and yes, those two can cross over]) which are used to substantiate the design.  Technique cannot be copyrighted.  Design can.

Design is something difficult to put a finger on before you do it, but after you’ve done it…especially after you’ve done it for years without realizing it — and then you face the possibility of publishing it, and start wondering if someone will mimic your work with no knowledge or understanding of its underlying logic, for monetary gain…it’s perfectly clear.

Generally speaking, designs are sold for personal use:  that is, it may be OK with me if you follow my design to make yourself a collar, but it is not OK with me if you use it for commercial purposes without asking, or thinking of reimbursing, me.  With me, this is largely because I struggled to put that design together, and because a part of myself is invested in that design.  When you follow a pattern, a large part of the work is already done for you.  It would be best to consider them tutorials, though:  a step on the way to gaining the knowledge and skill you need to design your own work (which is, even when simple, immensely more satisfying).

There’s effort that’s gone to in order to choose and combine elements and materials, to fit them to each other, to choose and execute construction techniques, to build a feel and aura and message or concept behind the finished piece, to translate one’s process into words and images that others can understand.  The finished piece is, thus, the result of a set combination of decisions.  If these decisions are replicated without question (sin making the instructions; I doubt anyone would replicate that and think it was all right), the finished product is substantially similar to the original — even if its deeper significance is not grasped.

The more decisions diverge, the less like the original design the piece happens to be; however, if the design is based on an original design by someone else (say, like online Buffy fanfiction is based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer; is not Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but substantially profits from Buffy’s name recognition and branding, and still follows Buffy’s groundwork — especially if it competes with Buffy for viewers), then the best route to take before entering into an enterprise where substantial profit may be gained from its sale is to consult with the original designer (whom one might helpfully consider a partner for this one item, as they may ask for a cut of your sales in exchange for their labor, which in turn saved you labor) for permission to move ahead.

And I ask myself if it’s clear enough for me, now.  The reason why this isn’t legal advice is that it’s just what I seem to have figured out by myself in the absence of substantial trustworthy help.  Most work I’ve seen has been how to avoid having others replicate one’s own designs, not how to avoid inadvertently replicating the designs of others.  (And yes, two or more people can hold copyrights to the same design, if they originated independently.)

The clearest thing I’ve found is that judgment as to whether penalties apply for the supposed violation of copyright law is a subjective (and complex) human decision and often based on a matter of degree and (possibly) intentionality (such as one case where even a photograph was ripped from someone’s website and used to advertise an off-brand’s goods)…and so the easiest way to avoid violating copyright is to learn a number of basic techniques (and I will say it’s hard to learn these without following instructions, at first:  which then gets confusing [“is this a pattern or just a technique?”]), then with the skills learned and the principles behind why they work becoming clearer, just play around with the beads, cords, threads, wires, etc., as versus following a pattern.

Trust me, it’s much, much more satisfying to build a thing yourself, when you get to the point where you can stand on your own two feet.  But the vast majority of us have to crawl before we can stand.

“Patterns” are usually visible because they make at least one large diversion from popularly disseminated technique instructions (which are visible in a number of places — particularly online, and in print).  They are easy to see after you’ve been around the scene for about 10-15 years, because if you look in a number of beadweaving, wireweaving, bead embroidery, chainmaille, macrame, etc., books and magazines, you’ll see the same basic foundations repeated over and over again (within each craft category, of course; although at times some work, such as micromacrame and wireweaving, do cross over with each other where it comes to aesthetics).

These basic foundations, distilled out of ten or so, “recipes,” I’d say are generally safe to use (I really don’t think anyone can be said to own Brick or Peyote Stitch at this point:  although they do originate with multiple Aboriginal groups…as far as I know, they did originate in different places at different times, not necessarily with contact between those groups, and are part of the basic core of a beadweaver’s repertoire.  The sad fact is, though, that a lot of techniques were transferred long ago from people who didn’t, and don’t, have the power to demand compensation).  The, “recipes,” themselves, though, used in their entirety and without derivation, are something I’d try to keep my own hands off of, where it comes to sales.

An example of a “technique” would be RAW (Right-Angle Weave), Spiral Stitch, or Russian Spiral Stitch, as recently showed up in my Reader.  (Thank you, Sam!  And if you see this, can you tell me if you feel I’m correct or off?  [Granted, I know we’re all finding our own way, but as you do design professionally, I’m thinking you might know more than I do.])  Specific variations, such as CRAW (Cubic Right-Angle Weave), I am uncertain of the legality of using, because the variation (or this variation of it, at least) originated at one specific (recent) time in history.  However, going by the “technique is okay to copy/use” and “design is not okay to copy” rule, I would believe it would be safe to use CRAW in your own designs.  The absolute safest route, would be to write to the person who originated CRAW and ask, though the technique is so widespread now that I wouldn’t think it necessary.

Patterns are fine to play with and learn (particularly technique) from — and by, “pattern,” I mean some kind of set of instructions which differentiates itself in a major way from the techniques which are so known and widespread as to be basically public domain.  But it’s best to get permission before selling items made fully or partially based on or from patterns, for profit — especially if you end up making a lot of money off of a design which didn’t originate with you.  (Of course, some pattern designers will say it’s OK to use their designs for profit, and if they say that, it’s OK, too.)

This can creep up on you, though:  be careful, particularly if someone says, “I want you to make me one like that,” referring to something you’re wearing which you can construct from instructions, but did not design.  Being a beadworker who is trying to be ethical, you let them know you did not design the piece and let them know where they can find the instructions for it.  They don’t want to make it themselves.  They then pay you for your labor (uh oh) and wear it, and other people again want you to make them “one like that.”

I’m not a lawyer, but I believe this is where you can get into trouble, particularly if you end up making a lot of items with very little brainpower exerted in design.  But “design” (and the difference between “design” and “technique”) can be a hard thing to wrap your head around, especially if you haven’t had a lot of art training!  And really especially, if you haven’t been around long enough to know what the basic techniques are, and how to deduce them from the sea of instructions around you.

Using a half-hitch or a petal stitch (embroidery term creeping in there) or Cavandoli knotting (macrame term) is not forbidden, just because you had to learn from someone.  You don’t have to go it alone.  You do, however, have something of an obligation to at least ask the people who taught you if they would like compensation, if you sell something they designed for profit.  If you just used what they taught you but didn’t use it in the exact method of their tutorial, though — and this is not legal advice, but — I’d say you’re probably OK.

And again, this is just what I’ve puzzled out over the period of time during which I’ve been trying to figure out what is safe to sell as my own work.

Helpful commentary, not destructive commentary, is welcome.

I need to ease up on myself.

I guess I have actually done some studying today, although it wasn’t what I intended.

I’ve slightly changed the pronunciation of my chosen name, along with its spelling in kanji.  It, oddly enough, fits a question that came up yesterday, as regards another one of my names…I could either have it read “Spring Light”, or “East Light”.  The second reading is closer to the meaning of one of the names I’ve sought to replace with something similar.

I’m thinking that it’s best to shy away from the ultra-masculine “Kage” names, though at an earlier time in my life, I would go after those.  It just wouldn’t look good if I ever traveled to Japan and had the name of a (male) great feudal lord in my name, you know…whose name is also, coincidentally, used by a number of online roleplayers…

…and, I am, eventually, planning on legally changing my name.  But I’m not sure exactly how I’d enter my first name on forms, considering that in the method of Anglicization I’m using, there’s an apostrophe.  (The actual pronunciation has a glottal stop, meaning there’s a staccato right after the first syllable.)  I would then, in my daily life, be going by one or another shortened version of my chosen middle name.

What I’ve found interesting is that the old Japanese-English dictionary I used to use is now compatible with tablet computers; so I was actually able to write in the kanji using my old graphics pad and stylus.  (I reinstalled this recently, even though I will probably have to get rid of it when the upgraded OS comes out.)  From there, it was easy to find what I was looking for!

Of course, to do this, I’m thinking that it helps to know the stroke order (which I was able to intuit for some kanji), and the site is almost completely unnavigable without being able to read kana.  One would be able to see the forms, but not read the readings or know which pronunciation to use — kanji change their pronunciation dependent on which words they’re used within.  And without knowing kana, it’s just a mess of squiggly and angular lines.

*smiles*  So yeah, I guess I did a little good.  🙂  I even successfully read a bunch of things in kana today.  Go, me.  😉

I’ve also been reading in two of the art books I’ve borrowed.  The book on color, in particular, makes me want to paint — which is probably nothing but a good thing.  🙂  I love playing with colors!  It’s the main reason I ever got into beadwork…which I still haven’t been doing.  For some reason, today, I got back the idea to take up knitting, though that would likely be a nearly total waste of time for me.  I just have some pink laceweight yarn that would look nice in a rippled shawl.  It would take forever to knit, though — and I don’t have an easy way of threading rescue lines in with my circular needles.

(I forget what those are called — lifelines?  Basically, if you’re knitting lace, you can thread a line of unwaxed floss in through a row of work so that if you severely mess up, you can take the needles out and rip back all the stitches up to that line.  The line preserves the stitches in that row and orients them correctly to reinsert the needles — which matters, because twisted stitches show up in the finished product, and affect the tension of the finished product.  Why lace, you ask?  Because I didn’t know how hard it would be.)

Well, maybe it wouldn’t be a waste of time, if it got me doing something, other than sleeping.  I suppose there’s a gendered component to that, as well…which could be…well, some kind of reinforcement of something that I probably shouldn’t speculate on.  One of the books I’m reading, though, says to think about drawing, not making a drawing, and that kind of Zen-type working method is extremely present in knitting.  It’s just …really tedious work, or alternately, meditative.

I did get to the point today where I started to have nightmares while asleep, which shows me that I have really been sleeping too much.  Fun dreams are OK.  Scary dreams…not so much.  I don’t know why the Harley Quinn twins were hanging off of Grandma Maxine from those Hallmark cards, but I think it’s related to clips of the last Silent Hill game I saw.

Then there’s that acrylic throw blanket that I began at least two years ago, and never finished.  It’s just not a warm thing.  Pretty, yes.  Heavy, yes.  But not warm.  And it’s probably going to pill, and I can’t shave it because dimensional crochet.  I think I recorded some info on that, over on another blog.  At least two years ago.

I’m just finding myself…eliminating activities depending on whether I see them as dead-end hobbies, or not.  I don’t want to get to 35 and find out that everything I’ve been doing for the past 10 years is stuff that one would do if they were a married homekeeper with spare time and a secure income stream.  You’ve gotta kind of have a relationship for that to work, and I’m…just not that social.

The best I can hope for from the beadwork avenue is publishing my own patterns, and/or kits, and/or teaching classes on how to make beaded jewelry.  I never did show any of you my work, eh?  Let’s see….

Design, (c) S. Fujisaka, 2013.
Something I made before I got discouraged…

BA-HA!  So that graphics program does help!

This is a pattern I made by screwing around with beads and cord.  I’m not sure if anyone else has stumbled across it, though I’m sure someone has, and I just haven’t found them yet.  Or, they aren’t online.

The thing about this is that…with my art skills and my writing skills, I should be able to make patterns and sell them.  (I should also be able to help others make patterns, as well.  DESKTOP PUBLISHING, BABY.  And those patterns could be copyrighted, as versus a product made from those patterns…)  Actually hand-producing these things doesn’t make sense in my country, because of the high cost of labor and relatively low cost of materials.

Sure, you’ll need some things like Alligator Tape to protect your hands if they’re soft…and, well, a macrame board, pins, beads, cord, skill…but it’s really not hard to do — for me, at least.  But then, I’ve been beadweaving since I was about 14.  I moved out into macrame because of the question of copyright law; it’s much easier to create an original design with knots, for me, than it is with bead-weaving (though I’ve done some of that, too — the new Czech two-hole and four-hole beads are really expanding design possibilities, at least for beadweavers [the holes only allow one pass with the cord I’ve used for knotting], and the field with these is still young).

The main issue with selling kits like this is the entire copyright dynamic, which probably then bleeds into quality control and branding — depending on whether it were possible to copyright handcrafts at all…whether it is or not, I have no idea.  I should probably just write the U.S. Copyright office, or visit them online, or something.  I’m just kind of scared that they’ll tell me I’m doing something unethical (which is, again, the reason I dropped beadweaving).

But now that I think of the startup costs, and the time spent in design and parts acquisition, not to mention resolving errors, this is probably not as inexpensive as it seems.  The trouble is that I’d currently be underselling myself at $30.  $40 is more reasonable — then I’d be breaking even with labor and materials.  The thing is, like with any other handmade good I’m thinking of, the majority of the price is labor.  I could up the ante by using more expensive/fancy beads (e.g. Apollo finish — which is what, a year old now?  Two?), but whether that will be appreciated or not, is not something I know, from here.  Especially as I don’t even know the longevity or durability of many “fancy” colors and finishes, like Apollo.  However — it would be worth it to ask, and I’d get experience in some form of Business by cold-calling or writing Toho, for example, and asking them for some kind of brochures about durability, UV resistance, green manufacturing, etc.

What I do know is that it’s possible for me to make really, really beautiful — and original (to me, at least) — stuff.  And I have enough materials to do this now, without dealing with buying new stock (at this point, a lot of my stuff is vintage, given where I bought it).

But anyway…that’s something I was doing before I became discouraged about the entire questions of legality and tax codes and economic globalization and brand image and marketing.  But — I have, really, dreamed about working for a niche magazine publication which deals with beadwork.  It could be really cool.  I could also begin to teach classes…that could be really cool, too, especially given that macrame has the advantage of avoiding pricked fingers (unlike beadweaving, when done with most needles).  And, I probably have enough skill and experience to work for a bead store…though maybe not the right temperament.

I should probably re-join my Bead Society and try and actually make it out to the meetings, this time…it’s not an entire waste of daylight.  Unlike, hibernation…