I did have an idea behind this post earlier today, but I’ve since forgotten what it is…

…it must be the hour.

However, I was able to take some photos before the sun set, today.  I’m not sure how many of them would actually be interesting to anyone but me, but…well.  I just took a shower and am waiting for my hair to dry before going to bed.

Earlier, I did what homework I could…until meaning stopped coming out of my reading.  At that time, I got out the cabochons to see if I could pair any with the lacy pink thing.  What I got was this:

glass cabochon (~1″ tall) plus various trial netting swatches.

…which was kind of interesting. I realized that I might have some Czech seed beads which matched the cabochon exactly.  Because I recently reorganized things, I knew exactly where to look:

This is what a hank of Czech seed beads looks like.  I was talking about how Czech round seed beads are usually sold in hanks, half-hanks, or strands…these are loops of thread with beads threaded onto them, knotted together at one end.

These beads, I got a long, long time ago, at a store which closed down for (likely) good reasons.  I’m not sure of the name of the color, but they have a rainbow coating on them like the above cabochon (called AB, or “Aurora Borealis”), and they’re pretty close in color.  I’m fairly certain they’re size 11º.

I’ve wanted to use my cabochons in bead embroidery before, but haven’t, because I haven’t had the beading foundation you see in the background of both of these images.

Beading foundation is like stiff interfacing, and in some cases can be literal normal interfacing, like the kind used for sewing (usually it’s called “Pellon,” for the brand name, at least where I live); however, what you see above is called “Lacey’s Stiff Stuff” and is supposed to be really good, in terms of holding stitches and not stretching.  It can be hard to find in person and expensive once found, though.  This piece is about 8.5″ x 11″ and bought on top of bulk discount pricing, so it wasn’t …individually, that expensive.  😛

I do have Pellon interfacing as well (at one time I was trying millinery), which has a bit more give to it and is much thicker.  I had heard not to use it, though, in one of my books (Dimensional bead embroidery, by Jamie Cloud Eakin) because Lacey’s is supposed to be better for this specific task (i.e., bead embroidery).  As a consequence, I put the idea aside…for too long.

More Czech seed beads…strung in hanks, and loose in a bead tray.

The photo to the left displays two hanks of Czech size 13º seed beads…I think.  The pink ones may be 15ºs — which will help in bezeling cabochons.  The coppery ones are likely actually glass coated in copper (there is a term called “Galvanized” which might apply to these, but I’m not sure because of the circumstances under which I got them [bead convention]), and are called “Charlottes” because one side of the bead is ground into a flat facet.  (No, I don’t know the origin of the term.)

The triangular thing is a stackable bead tray, here with some of the Czech 11º seed beads you saw in the hank above — only here, they’re loose and ready to use.  Of course I came back into the house today and promptly accidentally overturned the (entire) tray onto the floor…with a jacket cuff or something.  Hunting stray beads happens frequently, here.  And it doesn’t help that they bounce, roll, and scatter on linoleum, and can get totally lost in carpeting.  Though holding a light parallel to the floor helps to find them, at least when they’re shiny.

Fairly certain candidates for the netted necklace.

This, to the right, is a photo of the beads I am fairly sure to use in this project…the exception being the copper beads (unstrung from the above hank) in the lower right vial.

I did some work taking inventory and found that altogether, I have 80 of the “Peaches and Cream” dagger beads (upper right) and 96 Fuschia 4mm Czech firepolished glass beads (far left, center).  Each inch, about, of the pattern I made uses four dagger beads, and maybe 5 firepolished ones.

Given this, I have enough beads for a 20″ necklace…at least, in outer diameter.  The three long center vials are Japanese seed beads (typically sold in vials); the two on the right contain size 11º, while the one on the left contains size 8º.  I’m pretty sure that the far right vial of these center three contains dyed glass, however, meaning those beads are unlikely to stay that color forever.  Everything else, though…I think is relatively stable (though I’m not sure about the size 8ºs…which came from a different supplier that doesn’t give marks for lightfastness).

Oh, and:  the little short vials on the far left and far right, did not come with these beads.  They’re the “tiny” vials I mentioned in earlier post with regard to storage.  I got them from a store which specializes in plastics and fiberglass, for about $0.20 each.  This is kind of crazy inexpensive, when I see that there are smaller clear containers (the AMAC tiny ones) which cost 4.5x as much and are less secure.  If they weren’t $0.90 each, I would buy them to store crystals, but seriously.  That’s kind of a splurge, for storage.  (It wouldn’t be, however, if I were selling gemstones or crystals — as I’ve seen those boxes used before.)

I did have an idea behind this post earlier today, but I’ve since forgotten what it is…

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!

Crafty business…(half punning)

Record for today (I forget these things if I don’t write them down)

I think I’ve remembered that I’m in grad school, and thus, no one is watching me to make sure I do all my practice exercises.  😛  In any case, I did attend the meeting tonight, and feel relatively much better — especially after having gotten through the chapter on Dewey (except for Dewey Abridged, which I just skipped — as we’re going as specific as possible, and the Dewey Abridged section repeats a lot of material).

I’m getting to the point where I can look at my wrong answers and see where I made a mistake, so this much is good.  (I’m also really glad that I bought this book, because there are highlights all over this chapter, not to mention I’m doing a number on the spine.  The book is about 2″ thick, so…)  The section I read today did clarify a lot that I didn’t know — particularly, through examples.

I’m now on the second half of the lecture that was given about a week and a half ago (I’m still behind), but I don’t have to do any more new textbook reading, for now.  Well, I can; I probably just shouldn’t — I should concentrate on the upcoming graded exercise.  What I did do tonight — other than the meeting — was complete Exercise #4, start in on #5 (there are seven for this unit), go over some mistakes, and start rereading and working through the Week 3 Lecture Notes.

It seems like a lot of getting the answers correct depends on picking the right trail to take through the site, and one doesn’t know the correct trail, necessarily, unless one reads the notes at each juncture.

Right now I can’t bring myself to work further on the (interactive) lecture, largely because of being faced with a textwall where it comes to entering into working on Table 3B.  I guess intimidation isn’t a good excuse, though, because that textwall is still going to be there, tomorrow.

Did I do anything fun today?  Not really — the help session was kind of the high point of it.  I also haven’t exercised in a couple of days, which I’m not really happy about, though I am still losing weight.  Yeah, I guess last night was my fun time.  I did find the photo I was thinking about in my last post, though:


This is the image which I’ve been scared to start painting, because I know it isn’t going to turn out the way it looks in the photo.  Plus, I love the photo.  I could do a watercolor version of this, but I’d have to use masking fluid for large areas of sunlight, and I’m a bit paranoid about becoming sensitized to latex via fumes or skin contact.  Or maybe I can use tape?  I didn’t think about that until just now…

I can see how I could work into this image with Permanent Rose and Phthalo Green/Viridian Hue (in watercolor), or Quinacridone Magenta and Phthalo Green and Blue (in acrylic) and maybe a warm color like Indian Yellow…then there is the question of the background.  Is it possible to mix a shade akin to Hooker’s Green, without actually using Hooker’s Green?  It’s probably possible…I just have hated Hooker’s Green since I first got exposed to it in colored pencils, but maybe the pencils were just dull.

I suppose, what do I have to lose, right?  Besides time.

I do have a lot of reading coming due for Metadata, but I’d rather miss the 1.5 points for the Discussion Post than the 100 points for the Dewey exercise.

And I still don’t know how to underpaint, though maybe if I made things in Phthalo Blue/Green and white with gesso, it would provide a good foundation for the rest of the project.  One of the big strengths of this image is the limited color palette, though…something I’ve found with botanical images in general.  Plus, the high value contrast between the shadows and highlights.

I guess if I mess up, I just gesso over it…

And no, I’m not sure whether to use a limited palette or the more complex color mixing I’m known for…the latter would likely be easier, so long as I stick with the same palette through the whole thing…(like adding violets and such — things not emphasized in the photo — would be interesting).  My teacher used to tell us “not to become a slave to the photograph” and that only laying out certain colors was like “trying to conduct a symphony with only a few notes”.

Yeah, the worst that can happen is that I just paint over it…as long as I don’t use textural media…

Hey — maybe I can do a small version of it before the 30″x30″?  I have a 12″x12″ board gessoed and ready to go…it’s much less of a loss to lose a square foot of Hardbord!  And I can practice my color combinations on it…and my drawing in charcoal.  And I have another side if I totally mess up.

I made a note to myself last night as regards sharing my images…that there’s no way for me to keep a creative work entirely to myself, unless I don’t make it.  Once it’s shown or heard or read, it can be copied; but the alternative is self-silencing, which seems to defeat the purpose of creativity.  It’s like being a singer who sings beautiful songs, but only when no one else is around to hear.

In that case, does the problem really lie with selfishness, as I’ve assumed, or does it lie in fear of judgment (or even esteem)?  What’s the value of being creative if no one sees what I create?  Of course, I’d still create, because that’s a key part of who I feel myself to be, at this point; but it’s like hoarding…which would seem to be the opposite of what I came into this world to do.  Creativity is for sharing…right?  It can’t do its work if no one knows about it…

Record for today (I forget these things if I don’t write them down)

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.

Down time

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…

yeah, I needed this.

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!

Checking in: bead heaven

Couldn’t help myself: FW acrylic inks vs. watercolors, probably Part 1

I’ve waited quite a while to write this post.  Between wanting to fit in a visual comparison of the FW acrylic inks versus artist-quality tube watercolors (I’ve given up on the image editing, for now:  my digital photography skills are not as honed as my drawing skills), having come down with a cold over the holidays, and it being…well, the holidays, I haven’t gotten around to it until now.

I had intended to do a test to see if I could get the FW acrylic inks to bleed like watercolors, but unfortunately, I haven’t had the energy.  What I have been doing is swatching out watercolors over black fineliner to see how transparent they are.  Although while I was in the process of painting, it became difficult with some colors (like Cobalt Blue) to see the lines, after things were dry the transparency of (all) the paints was much more apparent, and with all of the ones I have (save heavy applications of Lamp Black), black ink underdrawings should be visible.

I should note for newcomers here that I’m not using any cadmium colors, which are known for their relative opacity, even in watercolor lines which otherwise tend towards transparency (note that intentionally opaque watercolor is called gouache and isn’t what I’m talking about now); I tend to shy away from cadmium pigments for health reasons.  There are other pigment families which also require caution in use, one of them being the cobalt salts; though I’m less wary of these (whether that’s deserved or not).

There are three cobalt pigments that I have used:  Viridian (a bluish, granulating green), Cobalt Blue (a sky-blue type color), and Aureolin (a cool yellow which leans green, and is said to darken over time).  There is at least one more, Cobalt Violet, which I’m curious about but haven’t tried yet…though I certainly shouldn’t go around collecting toxic materials for the hell of it.  In any case, all of the ones I’ve listed have seemed a bit…desaturated? to me.  I’ve been using Winsor & Newton, and almost scrapped Cobalt Blue from my palette because it’s so weak in mixes when trying to make green.

However!  There are uses for these pigments which don’t appear on the surface.  For example, Viridian mixed with Permanent Rose Red (a violet-leaning, delicate red) makes a really, really nice violet-grey.  (At least, I’m pretty sure that was Viridian I used, and not Viridian Hue — which is Phthalocyanine Green.)  Don’t ask me how.  It would be hard to explain.  😉  I might have been up for it if I hadn’t read parts of Blue & Yellow Don’t Make Green, by Michael Wilcox but I did, so…I can’t unsee it.  😉  The book I mention is on color theory and the physical aspects of pigments’ light absorption properties in relation to what colors we see them to be; I have the 2009 version, which is, of course, very dated by now (at least some of the paints tested in the book have changed formulation since 2009).

The short of it is:  it’s hard to explain how green plus red equals violet under traditional color theory, except that the green leans blue and the red leans violet…then the yellow in the green would mute out violet, and the red mixed with blue leans violet…but then there’s still green…AAHhhh…okay.

It’s…it’s just hard to think about, and I’m no longer sure that the color wheel is even a viable system, at this point.  For instance, is green GREEN, or is green blue plus yellow?  In the prismatic spectrum, there are pure greens…so where does the notion of green being “blue plus yellow” come from?  The point is that many yellow pigments eat blue light and many blue pigments eat yellow light, but they both reflect green, so green is the dominant frequency of the light that is left over and reflected.  It’s not the only color, though, as is visible when chlorophyll decays in maple leaves and you get spectacular yellows and reds reflected which were there all along, but dominated by the green light.

It’s because of this that I wonder whether any grouping of colors turning to “mud,” (dull, nondescript color) can be reoriented in some useful direction with the addition of one or more of the right colors.  After all, “mud” is basically…just a neutral, yeah?  That means it should have a lot of different colors in it being reflected all at once, with few dominant.  Take out what you don’t want, add what you do:  it would seem to be possible, at least?

I have been using a split-primary system (a modified color wheel which at least gives some direction)…but at some point randomness helps to find those gorgeous colors that you can’t get without mixing some colors not traditionally combined.  Mixing several steps further than the point at which a more cautious person (or brain-voice) would have told you to stop, can also be really fun (for example, mixing black is, generally speaking, a blast).  For me, at least.  I still don’t understand how my brain perceives color, but I think that it is in some way my thinking/language-oriented mind doesn’t know how to comprehend…like seeing what is not there rather than what is.

In any case (that was a long tangent), what I can say is that the watercolor paints I have, in comparison to the FW acrylic inks, display much more randomness when it comes to where on the image the pigment dries.  I’m not entirely sure if this is simply a quality of high flow with the watercolors, or has something to do with acrylic resin’s famed quick-drying ability.  (Those who have painted in both acrylic and oil paints tell me that acrylic dries very quickly in relation to …well, maybe anything would dry quickly in relation to oil…but I wouldn’t know firsthand.)

I have also noted that although the acrylic inks appeared more saturated than I remembered my paints being when I first used them, in one of my photos, the watercolors are clearly denser.  I’m not sure if this is an artifact of the camera, lighting, LCD display, or what.  I can get back to you on it, though.

By far, though, the biggest difference between the FW acrylic inks and the watercolors I have (mostly Winsor & Newton, with a few exceptions), is the fact that the watercolors move, after they’re laid down.  Particularly, Grumbacher Vermilion Deep (it isn’t actually technically mercuric sulfide, don’t worry), and W&N Viridian, Sap Green, French Ultramarine, and Burnt Umber…all show a tendency to highlight the texture of the paper (unless I wasn’t paying attention, this is a rather heavy Canson Montval cold-press).

Vermilion Deep, Viridian, and French Ultramarine, I would say, are all definitely granulating (or “flocculating?” hm, new word); that is, the pigment particles seem to cluster together as the paints are drying, which gives the area a distinctive texture — which, I’ve gotta say, is probably nicer in a Fine Art context.  If I were creating something to be reproduced, like a comic page, though, I might want to use the FW acrylic inks, just because they give a lot more of a reliable (though less exciting) outcome.  😛

And please, PLEASE remember to wash your brush frequently when using the FW inks!  I got a little happy and acrylic resin dried around the end of my ferrule on the first day of painting with these!  (I’m just lucky I didn’t use the one with real hair…)

Up next; unless I forget about this post entirely:  working wet-into-wet with both the watercolors and the FW acrylic inks!

Couldn’t help myself: FW acrylic inks vs. watercolors, probably Part 1