Thinking ahead to Watercolor classes, and reapplying for Library school…

I’m having a little bit of a freakout over working with (toxic) watercolors, come Spring.  I’m sure it will be fine, however, I will want to get a box of good-quality disposable gloves along with my paints for Spring semester.  I’ll need it, at the least, for cleanup, though I should probably be wearing it through the whole session.

I’ve thought of wearing a cotton glove underneath the main glove to reduce the discomfort of sweat buildup.  In any case…I’ll probably be fine.  It’s only one day a week.

I have given thought to taking a different class than Watercolor (like, a one-unit one) to make Spring less strenuous; however, my first choice would be Studio Art Lab, and there are only four people signed up for that as it is, meaning that it will probably be cancelled.  Unless, that is, it ends up like the first semester and people kind of filter in over the first two weeks.

The main reason I’m worried about taking Watercolor is that it will push my anxiety if one of my conditions acts up.  (I don’t talk about it often, but I have OCD.  And yes, I work in a library in a manual position…it pushes my limits every time I go in.)  And, it’s the last semester of my Art AA; and I’m taking seven units.  The main scare is that my capstone class will take up a lot of my time, and I might not be able to do well in all of my classes at once.  And Watercolor, for me, is a Beginning class.  Along with my capstone, I’m thinking it will be a lot of learning, and not learning which is all at the same stage.

I did, however, check my grades — I got As in both my classes for Fall, which I did not expect.

Like I said earlier, my Intermediate Drawing class (prior to Special Projects, this last semester — the Advanced stage isn’t given, here) felt like it should have been four units instead of three.  I’m pretty sure Figure Drawing will be fine — I know what to expect there.  There will be a lot of paper I’ll need to buy, for that; mostly newsprint, likely two pads of 18″x24″.  I have plenty of Bristol, Drawing, and Sketch paper for that, as well.  I also have enough charcoal and ink to last me a while.  🙂  For Watercolor — I still have to go through the watercolor paints D found and see which ones are viable.

To use those in-depth, though, I’ll need a palette, and I haven’t decided which palette to use.  My good one — from back before Amsterdam Art closed (what is Amsterdam Art???) — currently has gouache in it.  The disposable one seems more suited to figure out what is useful or not.  This is because I might have a lot of loose gum arabic floating around from separated paints, and I don’t want to mess up a good layout of my paints with one which, without question, should be thrown away.

I…am thinking that if I come into any extra cash, I should put it towards my Watercolor painting kit.  It was my Xmas present to myself, after all…  Most of my cost of attending school (other than opportunity cost) will probably go to watercolor paints, brushes, and papers.

I’m hoping that the pigments required for class are less-toxic (as when we used Scarlet Red instead of Cadmium Red in Color class), but I can’t bet on it, given that the person I spoke to who took this guy’s class before, said he teaches in a “traditional” manner.  I don’t know what that means, quite, but I’m trying to prepare myself for hardcore cleanup after my painting sessions.  (I should probably take a little vial of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap and put it in my kit, just in case.  It is annoying when there is no soap.)

I kind of don’t like pushing myself…but I want to get out of college in a timely manner, and move on to earning more than I am now.  I want to get more and different work experience, so I can try and get a handle on where I want my career to go — now that I’ve decided that I really don’t want to go back to the iSchool.

And, I mean, I really don’t want to go back — but the draw there is that I’ll actually have a secure career path that pays enough to support me, and my art.

EDIT:  I re-read those last two paragraphs and thought back to the times when I left off of something that could have been good.  Like, Japanese language study.  Or, Art.  I’ve had enough of an interim during which I could see the development of my own thought processes.

I just went and reapplied to iSchool.  And, it seems — there are better financial aid options this time, than the first time around.

I just feel like I’m attached to this computer so often that it would really be good to put that time to good use.  The good thing about going to Library school while working at a library is that it’s relatively smooth — so long as I don’t exceed my job description.  😛  It would then be easier to get into a Library Assistant position, and I won’t have to say goodbye to the profession forever after I leave my current grunt position.

Yeah, I’m kind of mixed up on it…it’s just kind of special when people check out their first book ever, and seem so beatified that they don’t have to pay money to take it home.  🙂

The thing is that I don’t have a lot of experience working outside the library…though I do have about six years working within one now, it seems.

I also only have 3 years remaining in which my intro courses will still be viable.  If I take 6 units per semester, I’ll be done in three years — right at the end of my allotted time (seven years).  And, hopefully, I’ll be able to market myself as an information professional…which is one of the things I’m supposedly suited for, says one of my career-orienting websites.  This is especially so if I opt for a non-traditional position, like the one I’m aiming for — Digital Archives.

I just was thinking about how things seemed to fall into place, with my graduation in Spring 2016 with the Art AA (if things go well) and re-entry in Fall 2016 to the iSchool.  I should be out of there by Spring 2019 — with about $30,000 in total debt, which means a little over $300/month in student loan repayments.  This is, of course, unless I seek grants and scholarships, some of which I think I can get.  And, if I work for the government for ten years, I might be able to get the total remaining balance cancelled (though I’m uncertain on this, as I have reconsolidated since incurring the first $13,000).

What I’m thinking right now is that I shouldn’t let that horrible first semester and horrible teacher and set of conservative texts keep me from obtaining an education that will allow me to have a reasonably good quality of life.  Even if I and the ALA are not on great terms politically (seriously, not every librarian is going to agree with the political email blasts), this is a gatekeeping diploma, at core.

And hey, I might get something from it…even if I think to myself that there are better paths to the endpoint I’ve envisioned.  Those paths, though, aren’t the one that is presenting itself to me, presently.

I think that, really, the biggest issue I encountered when entering iSchool the first time, was trying to introduce myself.  But…I think, I just need to get used to the fact that people are going to know information about me that is basic that I don’t want to share.  I mean, when we’re told to introduce ourselves and everything I could say that matters most about myself is linked with queerness and disability?  Oh, right, and the art stuff.  😉  And the writing stuff.  But…really, the main reason I’m in the program at all is that I was set up to work in a library by an institution which works with disabled people, so that less of us end up in poverty and/or homeless.

My major freak-out last time was whether I wanted to speak online, because my voice might change if I went on testosterone, and could I handle people not knowing who I was even though I was the same person talking over the same instrument…or would people reject me and make things hard for me because I’m in a group with them and they hate queer people…  It’s like wanting to go running outside, but then thinking, “what if people see me and then I take testosterone and then they see me again and know that I’m trans*, and will they then attack me…”  This is probably to the level of being a mental health issue.  It didn’t help that back when I was in iSchool, I had a seriously paranoid friend who was all about permanent data trails on the internet…

Well, yeah, and the “sexy librarian” @&$% she pulled on me that ticked me off (in combination with dude who always greeted me with gender-based inappropriate comments).  I’m not really seeing her anymore now, though, so hopefully that %*#$ can live in the hole where it lies.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to go there.  But the sexualization of librarians is both absurd, and it’s a harmful sexist stereotype.  Not to mention that I don’t even know how often that friend even went to the library…  It’s like when I met with some people from one side of the family and the only connection they had to anything that had to do with the library was annoyingly shushing me in my face…because apparently that’s what the library means to them.

Sigh.  So anyway, I suppose today was productive in some kind of way.  Ack!  It’s 1:20 AM!  I should take my medicine and get to bed…


A bit off topic.

I’m not sure if it’s post-holidays, post-Finals, nothing-I-am-forced-to-do depression or not, but I’ve mostly been, well, sleeping, for the time in which I haven’t had work (and as mentioned previously, I did have two surprise days of work, last week).

I haven’t been able to decide whether to get myself up and get to work on my own projects and needs, or to soak in the time when I don’t have to do anything — because it will be over soon.  Consequently, I’ve been in bed way too long, and apparently I’m starting to have nightmares in which I shout in my sleep.

On top of this, the entire identity tangent has become stronger…now that I have the time to deal with it, it’s kind of become a bit overwhelming.  I can see why people have pets, now — in the times where there is nothing to do, a pet can keep a person from thinking about all the things that are wrong that they can’t do anything about.

I was also gifted a small amount of money for New Year’s, which I’m trying to figure out what to do with.  I suppose I don’t have to do anything with it, though; I can save it for the art supplies I’ll have to buy later this month.

(I’m not looking forward to carrying 7 units in Spring [I had enough trouble with 5 this last semester], in addition to probably at least $200 in art supplies and books; but I need at least 6 units, to avoid money stress.  Amazingly, paying for the books and supplies means I avoid repayment of my loans, which seriously drain me and are the main reason I’m planning to look for a second income, after Summer.)

There are a couple of things I can think of to use the money for.  Besides art supplies (I probably need to channel this energy into one or more art projects, as the art has tended to be what has kept me sane) — these would be experiments on the way to some sort of body modification.

I really don’t want to go through with it — I’ve tried to buy myself out with the promise of exercise and large-gauge jewelry, so far — but there are unavoidable signs in myself that at the very least I’m extremely androgynous; at the most, I’m trans* and digging my heels in about not wanting to transition.  The in-between approach would say that I’m gender-fluid and have swung heavily but temporarily into a trans* masculine state.  The problem is that when I do this, it feels entire, complete, and like it will last forever.

It’s only really been since break started that I’ve become OK again with calling myself trans*.  In addition, the desire to be physically male was something I could deal with while I was in classes and talking to people and having distractions.  Now, it’s just overwhelming.

I know ways of altering my visible physiology so that I look more male.  I’m just really resistant to doing any of it, largely because it isn’t simple.  I’m not a textbook FtM TS case; until recently I considered myself solidly genderqueer/gender-fluid.

It would be easier if I didn’t have the fluidity ranging back into feminine territory, because then I wouldn’t have to feel like, “well, what if I want to be pretty again and I can’t do it anymore?”  Because it would clearly be like, “I’ve never wanted to be pretty as a woman,” and the decision to transition would be easier.  The thing is, though, the qualities of “man” and “woman” are unclear to me; I think they’ve always been unclear, and I’m not sure anymore that it’s a point of training.  I think it may be hard-wired, given that we seem to be a diverse species (even as much as certain elements try to constrict and hide that diversity).

There are a few things that are holding me back from medical transition:

  • my hair (which has always been a point of pride with me)
  • acne (which used to be really bad; I don’t want it worse)
  • my gut (it’s bad enough that it’s the way it is, now)
  • heart disease (I don’t have it yet, but have a family history of it)

Three of those things are relatively trivial.  The fourth is one that makes me pause — two close (male) members of my family have had high blood lipid levels and cholesterol; they both went on statins; both had adverse reactions to statins which were life-threatening, both went off of statins.  At least one of them continues to have ongoing problems which weren’t there before the statins, and now seem more or less permanent.

I have seen a doctor who has said that if I start to lose my hair, he can treat that; if I start to get high cholesterol, he can treat that.  But, not only is that guy not there anymore; but I’m wanting to avoid being on as much medication as I can.

This is given that I’m already taking one hormonal medication because of irregular cycles and virilization (though no one has told me exactly why I was having high testosterone in the first place, it was there [and apparently not PCOS]), and three others for mental problems which have arisen because of the peer abuse I got for being gender-nonstandard.  Although — it’s very possible that my depression, which started at puberty, was a response to my body changing, not necessarily my peer group starting to be stupid (though that happened, too).

My main issue is that I want to be beautiful, but my idea of beauty includes both feminine and masculine beauty.  So, I’ve wanted to have the combination of muscles and curves, and a full head of hair with a deep voice and a somewhat not-sparse beard.  The first is possible; I’ve done it before.  The second…not so much.  Before I started the hormones I’m on now, my hairline was beginning to recede, which — along with the unpredictability of my cycle — is the only reason I started them.  And then there are things like wanting to be taller and stronger.  I can do the latter, but not the former (even though there really should have been an intervention to delay my puberty when I started talking about this in high school; that would have likely made me taller).

There’s the possibility, although remote, given my diagnosis — that if I did start testosterone, my mental state might lift to the point where I wouldn’t need as much medication for the other issues.  However, in between now and then, I’d probably need more, because the stress of transition would likely exacerbate my illness.  This is, until people get to the point where they’re used to seeing me masculinized, and aren’t trying to engage me in dialogue anymore about why my hair isn’t longer.  (Or laughing at my large muscles — like I did it for them.)

The biggest issue here, for me, is the one of being kind of trapped in metropolitan areas because of people outside of them having no idea or sensibility about what I’m going through.  I would like to live outside of a major metropolitan area at some time in my life, though I’m told that the politics are very different in rural areas.  From my time away at college, also, I know that there are areas of the country which just basically have no connection with my ethnic diasporas as well…and it’s just really tough to live like that.

This is not to mention the unemployment and underemployment rates of trans* people (who were hit very hard in the last recession), and the doubling of that rate when it comes to trans* people of color.  (Speaking of underemployment, I do fall into that category, as well — largely because I was too scared, given the statistics I’d read on unemployment and abuse, to put myself out there right after college, as someone who was visibly gender-variant and disabled.)

When I look at it that way, it’s enough to make one not want to be gender-variant; but then again, I don’t have a choice in the matter.  My choice is in how I want to present it, and if I’m able to hide it.  I’m pretty sure that living my life in the way I want to is going to lead to people knowing that my gender is different…

I’m having a hard time being quiet about this.  When I feel like I can’t talk about it to people outside my immediate family, or online…it’s hard to deal with.  And yeah, I know this can get back to me.  I’m a creative person, though, and when I feel I can’t express what I need to, I shut down.  Like I’ve been doing for the past week, or so.

But then, should I do what I want, and really get back into shape…dress for my gender, and maybe start to bind…people are going to know, anyway.  Yeah, it’ll lead to some stares (like the ones I got from the two kids the other day), but that might be preferable to straight men thinking I’m a sweet little girl who doesn’t know that my gender is made to please them and I’m doing it wrong…

Aftermath of the Neocolor analysis…

Today wasn’t so bad.  I picked up some extra hours, and so was able to go and get eight new Neocolor II crayons with a light heart.  🙂  (My extra hours should cover my loan payments for January, and after then, I should be able to defer them.  After Summer, I’m planning on getting an additional job and trying to transition out of college.)

It’s actually a good thing that I stayed up last night analyzing my stash (of crayons), apparently?  I had been torn between the Neocolor I (water-resistant) and II (aquarelle) lines, until, after a lot of work, I realized that it would be better for me to fill out my aquarelle crayon line, as versus my water-resistant crayons.

…I can’t even remember how I got to that point.  What I can recall is surveying the contents of a 15-pack of Is I was considering, seeing which ones I didn’t have, which ones I had extra, which ones within the line of 40 colors I wanted (Neocolor IIs have a much larger color range).  I narrowed it down to about five, which runs about $10.

I also took a look at the Gamsol MSDS…which is not much to worry about (unless it’s imbibed), except for the danger of fire.  Given that I could get the same results with water as with solvent depending on the color lines, I decided to go for the aquarelles.  Then today, I actually went out to the art supply store (I think I was as surprised as anyone else), marking color samples on the way.

I hadn’t surveyed what I had in Neocolor II crayons last night, and I realized I didn’t want any duplicates, today.  Luckily, I wasn’t driving.  🙂  And I remembered that the “Russet” color looked familiar; I had it in IIs, but not Is.

There are three four crayons I’m sure I want to get when I have to go shopping for art supplies in the coming semester:

Ultramarine (Deep? or normal?)
Golden Ochre

I thought I’d never want these colors (besides the ochre; I’m having a bit of love for earth tones, it seems), but it seems that they would contrast with what I’ve got now, relatively well…and color interactions may kind of be the lifeblood of color work.  Neocolors kind of beg for pointillism and mark-making.  There are also:

Raw Umber
Burnt Sienna

…which I would think would be basic enough to be included in a small set, but whatever.

Before I went to the art store, I picked up a small sturdy plastic box for the crayons — about $5.  It’s hard to find containers to fit these things!  I had hoped a small Crayola box would work, but the Neocolors are about 1 cm too long for a Crayola box.  I think I mentioned this before.  I spent like $1.50 for a set of 24 Crayolas, hoping to be able to use the box.  (@_@)…

It just didn’t work out…

I’m thinking of trying to build a box on my own…it shouldn’t be too hard.  The problem would be keeping it from unfolding itself.  But!  I found out that the little box I got would also work really well for full-length soft pastel sticks!  It would probably be a pain to get them out, but they should fit.

I am hoping very much that the carcinogen in the General’s White Charcoal is only titanium dioxide.  I was reminded that this is now considered a carcinogen, last night while browsing.  It’s only really a problem when it’s loose and aspirated though (or in contact with an open wound), to the best of my knowledge (though I’m not an expert, so this is just a musing, not advice).

So if I were blowing the dust off of my image and then breathing the air without protection, I’d be vulnerable to eventual lung damage.  However, if I used it more responsibly (tapping off the dust instead of blowing it up into the air, and wet-mopping the work area of excess dust after working with the pastels, also using a particle mask to be safe), I’d have much less of a problem.  There are also other ways to mitigate dust, but I don’t really work with pastels enough to warrant that, at this point.

I’m not sure if the problem is entirely asbestos contamination.  I’d heard of that…but then I also read that the pigment in Golden Titanium White was titanium dioxide from rutile.  If you know a bit about geology, rutile is a mineral that grows in needlelike crystals.  If you’ve ever seen “rutilated quartz,” the little needles shooting through the quartz are rutile.  (There’s also “tourmilated quartz,” which looks similar, but the needles are columns of tourmaline, not rutile.)

I’m not sure of rutile’s directions of cleavage (I’ve never thought to look it up before), but I’d suspect that it might fracture into fibers, and might break into small, microscopic needles — akin to Kyanite.  If that’s the case, then I can see why titanium dioxide itself could be considered a carcinogen — I’d parallel it with fiberglass, in that it can get into one’s system and just not get out.  With fiberglass, it’s not that the glass is toxic, more than that it just wounds you over and over again and might not get fully out of the body.  So it’s mechanical damage, not a toxin.

On another website (which I may have linked to on a prior posting), I read that the damage was linked to whether the titanium dioxide was “bound” or “unbound.”  I’m thinking that something like pastel dust would be “unbound” and thus a hazard (in contrast to when it’s in sunscreen, when it might be “bound” — except with open wounds)…though again, I think that the only danger is through breathing the dust.

To be a responsible internet poster, I should give a disclaimer that I don’t really know what I’m talking about.  🙂  I have a bit of a clue, but don’t know if I’m fully right — in fact, I generally assume that I’m in some way wrong on a daily basis, but unless I said that, you wouldn’t know it.  So again:  don’t rely on what I say to save your life.  It’s the Internet.  Anyone can say anything.  Your health is your responsibility, no one else’s.

But anyway…I was looking at Rembrandt pastels last night, having toyed with my Titanium White one after I got off the blog.  I still really like it.  It is listed with a Prop 65 Warning, but I know that there’s no cadmium or lead in it (hence no soluble cadmium or lead), which puts my heart a bit at ease, given that cadmium, lead, and chromium are three of the top pigment-constituents that I watch out for, and none of them are in that brand.  (It seems like there was one more besides mercury [which everyone knows about and which doesn’t seem to be on the market, as a result], but I can’t recall what it is, now.)

I think I’ll use that one for Figure Drawing, in Spring.

I guess, you get older, you find safer ways of doing things, eh?  I’m wanting to work at least monochromatically with the Rembrandts (white plus a deeper color on a tinted ground), but they’re really expensive, and so color decisions must be made before investing.

All right, I’m getting really tired.  Need to hang up, now…

About that naivete thing.

I decided it was worth it enough to try and get into the naivete/reflection thing that my friendship with certain twenty-somethings has been teaching me about myself at a younger age.

So, I have some friends.  Who are younger.  Actually, it’s really quite probable that most of the people I’d consider myself actual friends with, are younger than me.  This is due to my being in community college, and not so much hanging out with older people on a friendship basis.

Well — and — also, in my job position, we get a lot of people who are in junior college the first time around, or in University and hanging on to the income stream.  The way it’s structured, my job at the Library is pretty sweet, if one’s taking a lot of daytime classes.

I also realize, though, that I’m doing a lot of the job of a Clerk, and that I’m just not full-time (I think they even keep us from being, technically, half-time) or dealing with the more technical end of the job.  Nor am I getting paid Clerk-level wages, which would go a long way to having a livable income level.

At this point, I’d rather be selective about where I work, though.  It’s been suggested to me to become a PI (Permanent Intermittent), which would mean that I would be traveling between branches and picking up substitute hours when people are off sick.  However, it’s really apparent that the place and community within which one works has a gigantic impact on one’s experience and quality of life while at work.

I don’t think this would be quite as extreme if I weren’t working with the public.  I’ve heard that if I did get accepted into the County Clerk pool, I would get job offers from around the County, not just within the Library system.  That is a really intriguing possibility.

Anyhow, I started off here, thinking about the naivete I had when I was in my 20’s.  This includes the irritation at being stuck within a capitalist system.  It works if you have enough money; it utterly fails if you don’t.  Basically, the entire time I was growing up, because of where I live — I’ve had nearly constant exposure to the people whom the system fails.  Add on to this my sibling’s concerns about “selling out” and the concerns about the same which I find coming from within the Art Department at my school…and it’s easy to see where I would find my options to be somewhat limited.

I want to make a good living, but I don’t want to exploit people while I’m doing it.  Nor do I really want to be the target of random guy’s random anger.

I’ll continue this a bit later, if I can.

Getting tired of this…

It’s a good thing, I’m thinking, when you have at least two or three topics you could write about, and the biggest issue is trying to pick one.

  1. Career/educational stuff.  I’m really wanting to work more, right about now.  I am not entirely sure I want to continue on within the Library system, but there is a point I’ve reached where I realize that these people, when they really belong there, at least, are generally pretty chill in my view.
  2. Aging.  I’m almost 34 at this time.  I have friends who are in their twenties…who are really politically opinionated, but haven’t yet disconnected from other people telling them what they should think.  Like I said — aging.  (HAHA, SIX YEARS AWAY FROM 40, HAHA.)
  3. The structure of English education and the formal framework which we are taught is fundamental to all stories…is something I really would like to shake up, in my own mind.  I’ve realized that the dictum that all stories have to be about “conflict” in some way, and that the arc of a story should more or less follow an orgasmic path, is something that I’ve found really centers male writers.  No one questions whether Hemingway wrote “real stories”, and that’s because the way we teach English today is centered around people like him.

Career stuff.  I know just enough about English education and how it may interlock with the Library system (and thus with the ALA, thus with various categories of politics) to make a slightly frightening picture.  It might just be me — after all, I do have a weird brain — but the view that what I was taught in “English” class while growing up was heavily influenced by the ALA and what the ALA considered “wholesome writing” is a possibility that I haven’t yet discounted.

I’ve also come to the view that a Library Science Master’s is really training to become a full-fledged member of the ALA, given that the ALA says not to expect to be able to become a Librarian anywhere in the U.S. without an ALA-accredited MLS or MLIS (though I’ve heard of people getting the position with a straight MIS — Master of Information Science).

The necessity of the degree is something that’s been historically contested, as I learned in my first semester; the stratification of power within my own Library is such that it disturbs me a bit.  Where, for example, because I’m a regular staff member at my branch, I know how things should ideally work, but substitutes in ranks above me may chafe at my trying to correct them because I’m “lower ranking.”

There doesn’t seem to be any reason that a person would actually need a MLS or MLIS to be a Librarian, unless that post was a technical one.  In the latter case, the training might be better had elsewhere than in the kind of sampling experience I saw at the Library Science program I withdrew from.  In the other cases, I don’t see reason sans political and economic ones, why senior staff couldn’t train junior staff — especially since Library Assistants do the work of Librarians but can’t move up without a ALA-accredited Master’s degree.

Anyhow…I’m hoping to try for a Clerk position after Spring 2016, given that I actually do complete the Art training at that time.  I’m actually thinking that a full-time Clerk position might be interesting, and/or nice.  I also know that I’d probably be snapped up in a heartbeat if I were to offer to work at my current branch, given that a position were open.

I’m kind of getting irritated with getting paid as little as I am and with going to school — especially when I’ve reached the point where a lot of what I’m doing is teaching myself.  That is…I’m getting tired of lugging around my entire studio (sans table/easel) on my back, and riding transit, and sidestepping poos of unknown origin on the sidewalk.  Is it necessary?  It could just be a sign that I’m ready to graduate this particular incarnation of education.

I’m also getting tired of being graded, though that’s just a stress-level thing.  But granted that I did go back into community college instead of on to a job the first time around, maybe it’s to be expected that I’m getting tired of doing work for free (or which I paid to do, which costs even more if we look at how much I could be earning [and am not], while I’m doing this).

I guess college actually is expensive, even when your tuition is covered.

Right now, I’m just trying to think, generally, do I actually need to retake Excel, or could I teach myself?  I could do the Computer Science course, online after Spring 2016.  I think the only other thing I was thinking of was Digital Photography, which I really don’t actually need.

I should probably start looking at job openings and seeing what skills are in demand, then start training on them, yeah?

Process notes: aventurine necklace, Working Day 2

One post for tonight.  Apologies for the out of focus shot:

Tonight's work.
Tonight’s work.

I’m just noting this down to give myself something to think on for tomorrow.  I’m probably not going to keep that large clear green bead down at the bottom there…I just needed a placeholder, and didn’t feel like building the tassel before the rest of the piece.

The opaque pine-colored 6/0s I found at the bead store yesterday are working really well.  I also think the camo tone matte 11/0s will work well in this piece…they might help even out the blue tone in the pine beads.  The pine-colored beads are the opaque, shiny, and large ones in the upper left corner of the photo.

Cropped out of the image is one of the two-hole stud beads which my lines are leading back towards.  Right now this is on 6-lb. test FireLine, and I’m not sure…how far back I’ll need to have the pieces join…and how to relieve the pressure at that join.  I found out tonight that I probably don’t want to use the brass stamped connector pieces (pictured in the entry before this one), because I’d have to end all my lines to do so, and right now I’m using FireLine, not something that I know will stay secure if knotted.  FireLine (I think it’s polyethylene thread, originally for use as fishing line — but much finer than normal fishing line) will be abrasion-resistant, but it doesn’t hold knots very well.  And like normal fishing line, it can be scratchy if there are loose ends sticking into someone’s neck.

Also, I need to go back and rework the thread joins below the pendant.  Right now they’re simple loops, and I want them to be lark’s head knots, for security.  FireLine is abrasion-resistant, and I am using 6-lb. test, but the less rubbing there can be, the better.

I’m facing something that…is kind of the sacrifice needed to make any art, and that is closing off myriad possibilities and unlimited potential in order to allow one thing to come into being.  I used to think it was hesitance to destroy what existed in order to make anew, or fear of failure that was stopping me…but actually at this point I think it is the threat of loss of (imagined) potential.  Potential can always be perfect.  Reality never is.

I suppose I could read about how the ancient Greeks approached this problem.  They had a thing going for approaching ideal forms (i.e. Platonic forms), in which they sought beauty.  But then, they also did not see themselves as the creators of that beauty — only the makers through which the ideal could be approached.  The creative “genius” was considered to be spiritual (daimonic) and not contained within the artist his- or her-self, but on the contrary was in communication with the artist.  (Granted that I haven’t taken a course on women in Art History, so I don’t have a clear idea of whether female people were allowed to participate in the arts in ancient Greece.)  This changed in the Renaissance, when the locus of “genius” was relocated to the artist themselves, for instance with da Vinci, IIRC…but I’m getting off track, here.

At all steps I’m considering how things can be different (next time — should I find another deep green stone donut), but to be productive…I can’t stay in the psychological state of envisioning what could be, forever.  I have to move from “what could be” to “what is,” and just remember that I can follow different paths in later pieces.

(Kind of reminds me of my life…)

But to be honest, this necklace is being made around that donut.  It is the tribute to that donut.  I’m…doing something that the protagonist in that graphic novel I’ve envisioned (but not written or drawn) does with the gems s/he finds…that is, I’m making art around what the gem triggers in me.  While I probably can go back and undo what I did and remake the thing, chances are that I won’t.  And it will be imperfect, and that will just have to be how it is — I can’t work on the same project for my entire life.  And, the donut may not even survive.  It does have a hairline fracture, and it’s possible that my binding is all that’s holding it together.

Today I went back to the bead store to get some metals.  Metals are the absolute…nearly always the most expensive parts, for me — given that I’m not buying gem-grade materials.  If I were getting high-quality precious stones, it would be different, but the stones I go for are generally not gem-grade.  (Like the tiny rough ruby piece I got for $7.  Yes, it’s a real ruby.  Yes, it is nearly entirely opaque, meaning that it’s not worth much…except to the right person.  [Me.])

Even base metals (not precious metals like gold or silver [also reactive metals like niobium or titanium, though I’m not sure that these are not considered base metals]) — even base metals can run a tab which really are the most expensive elements in a piece.  But I suppose metal has to be mined and refined and alloyed and shaped and cleaned and treated and polished…it’s not as plentiful as sand which can be melted for glass.

As an example, I picked up about 25 antique brass jump rings today which ran me about $4.40 at retail (without tax).  This would be $2.20 at wholesale (without tax, which might be how they’re bought if for resale — tax should be charged to the end consumer, and the government doesn’t want to tax twice), but I’d have to buy in bulk, and I might not get the sizes I need, and they might not be pre-soldered.  (Soldering [actually, technically, “brazing” or “hard soldering” — a much different technique than “soft soldering”, which is generally what hardware and electronics stores assume you’ll be doing] jump rings is a pain — they’re tiny and easy to accidentally melt.  Although it’s easy if you know how to pick-solder (and have the patience), there is the toxin concern [cadmium in the solder, depending on its source, and depending on the jump rings, unknown alloy content], and I have no way of brass-plating a brass jump ring which I’ve closed with silver solder.)

So…I live with what I can buy ready-made, at this point.  I know how to copper-plate, but not how to brass-plate, and anyway — heating metals of unknown composition (like store-bought jump rings which might just be brass-plated — meaning of unknown core alloy) is dangerous because of the fumes.  Craft wire is almost always off-limits with fire.  I’d have to make my own rings from wire which I know is safe (usually from a jewelry supply company or hardware store — craft stores are hit-and-miss), in order to avoid toxicity concerns.  It’s too easy to breathe in something harmful.

On the upshot, it’s usually really obvious when you’re heating something you shouldn’t be, because you won’t be able to breathe the fumes (from the one time I KNOW someone set fire to craft wire and the acrid smell made me get out of the room as fast as I could).  Colored wire, coated wires (e.g. “anti-tarnish” wire), and plated wires are all off-limits with fire, so far as I’m concerned.

I haven’t made it up to the reactive metal level (where metals can be colored through what has something to do with electricity — the term is anodization), but seriously — no craft store is going to be selling coils of solid niobium or titanium wire.  It’s too expensive.  I haven’t tried aluminum, either, but honestly with aluminum, I don’t see the point of making anything that will last long enough to ask for a brazing attempt.  I don’t even know if aluminum will tolerate brazing temperatures, matter of fact…I do have one chainmaille piece made with anodized aluminum, I’m pretty sure — but there is little point in trying to solder the rings shut.  It’s just not expensive enough to warrant it.  (I didn’t make it, either, though, so I don’t have the skinny on this.)

Anyhow.  The necklace I’m doing is all brass, now.  I know I said I didn’t want to do that, but there’s the question of whether the red of the copper is a necessary component.  I know that the copper flower was much heavier than the brass one I’ve got now.  But — that little brass cone will probably work out better than the copper flower, because its shape will keep it from knocking against the beads at the sides of the necklace, and it will definitely be less likely to chip or crack any of them.

And, right — I did wish to mention that I’ve got to find a better way of figuring out what beads will go in what necklace other than building outwards from the center and adding things in as they seem right.  I could reach a bead at the outward extremes which could go really well in the center! — but I’ve already built it.

Yeah, I…yeah.  Photos.  They help.

I also have an extra little brass tulip blossom now…too big for the piece, but should make a lovely cap for something else.

Liking to buy things requires work put in to earn money…

I just emailed both of my supervisors and let them know that my schedule will be opening up.

As things stand, I’m already taking a hit of about $150 for having been off of work yesterday and today. While I’m fairly certain I’ll be able to make up the hours, granted what’s been happening; that doesn’t mean that I’m looking forward to it.  I have one pair of jeans that fit in my closet right now; the rest need to be washed.

I’ll get on that.