Switching chairs

Yeah. That’s what it feels like. Switching chairs, and switching modes: between writer and designer.

There is a small area we’ve allocated to be my beadwork, “studio.” In essence it is the corner of the room, albeit a corner of the room with excellent lighting. What would make me feel better? A white sheet or Vellux throw blanket under the chair and on top of the carpet so I don’t drop beads and lose them forever in the carpet. Or until I look down there and find a random one…or three. It wouldn’t be so bad, except that with past vacuum cleaners, those beads have turned into broken-glass BBs and shot through the vacuum bags, sending dust everywhere.

I’m not sure if that is going to happen so much, anymore (those were old-school vacuum cleaners).

I just realized I have a lot of fabric I can use as drop cloths (I even have some lightweight unbleached muslin, which sounds perfect)…but there are problems with this idea I can see already. Like how to prevent beads from rolling under the wheels of the chair and getting crushed.

Anyhow. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll sew a drop cloth…

I did go back to the beading table after about half a week of being away and looking over at it nervously, using one of the design questions which had arisen in my work, for impetus. In the process, I’ve found another design variant…which is fairly cute! The thing is…depending on the configuration of the beads in the outer rounds of my design, I can go from a lozenge shape, to a round, to a puffed square. I did not really expect that last one! Nor did I expect to be able to weave it as quickly as I did (or to need to adjust what I had to)…but, experience.

I can also utilize these as links in larger pieces…though those are going to be some expensive larger pieces!

I should probably actually draw out what I’m doing in my work journal. It will be tedious, but it will prevent me from having to start from scratch if I try and restart doing this in 7 months, after no practice. Right now, it’s fresh in my mind.

What I can see being an issue in the future manufacture of this pattern is the fact that bead sizes…really do not seem to be all that consistent. So a pattern or variation of a pattern which works with one set of beads, may not work with others — even if the beads say they’re the same size.

I might be able to use one variation of the pattern with one set of colors, that is, and need to switch to another pattern variation for a different set of colors. I think this does depend to an extent on the brand of bead I’m using (in my case, Toho vs. Miyuki — the Miyuki 11/0s I used, at least appear to be smaller than the Toho 11/0s I used in my previous trials), but size variation has been noted…in a lot of places. I can’t find the links right now, but it’s also known that even within a brand, one can’t expect every color and finish of bead to be the same size (for example, if one is looking at a matte bead [which may be smaller] as versus a Duracoat Galvanized one [which may be larger]). Just looking at my own stash, I can see this.

And, having a relatively significant stash of beads from a bead store no longer in existence which did not mark the brand(s) of seed bead they were selling…means that a good number of at least my size 11/0s are to be used as-they-are. (I didn’t know any better, as a youth.)

Within a bead’s own brand and lot, at least, they seem pretty consistent. But as I have said before…bead sizes may be more of a nice ideal than a reality. Kind of like Capri Gold or Sliperit or California Gold Rush. These finishes all apparently wear (off) very easily (though I only have personal experience with the last two, to memory). They’re beautiful ideas that don’t work out well in reality (though the manufacturers say they can be stabilized…really, who wants to spray varnish [which is usually hazardous] or paint Mod Podge on a bunch of beads?). I really can’t remember if or when I ever tried the Capri (Gold) finish: I just know I’ve been avoiding it for as long as I can remember, and may have been warned about it early on.

EDIT, 5/8/21: I just realized that my terminology here may be confusing. Capri Gold finish — a metallic coating — is an entirely different thing than Capri Blue (as a color name) in glass or crystal, which is a blue-green hue typically distributed throughout the bead. To the best of my knowledge, Capri Blue is relatively permanent. I had referred to Capri Gold as just, “Capri,” until I remembered Capri Blue.

Also…something I wanted to note. Doing things differently, just because it’s possible to do them differently, really gives me a deeper understanding of my work, and ensures I come away knowing more than I did when I sat down. There’s no reason, that is, to be afraid of failure: the most I lose is time and a little bit of thread (and a little bit of organization).

Ah — I remember what I intended to write…that when using very fine threads, a coarse needle will be apt to slide off. Recently, I purchased some C-Lon Beading Thread in size AA (fine), which is about equivalent to a Nymo O (fine)…and, well, it works best on a size #13 or so needle (very fine). With the Nymo B (midweight), I had been trying to avoid ultrafine needles so as not to break beads by trying to force the needles through a packed space. With the C-Lon AA, I don’t have to worry about that space, so much.

Nymo, which at least at one time (25 years ago) was industry-standard, is a multifilament untwisted thread which comes in four sizes: D, B, O, OO. D is the heaviest; B is midweight, O is fine, OO is extra-fine. I haven’t needed to use OO in a very long time, though I have some. The drawback to the size is that it’s hard to find it in colors other than black and white. C-Lon Beading Threads (both Size D and Size AA) are multifilament, untwisted threads, finer than C-Lon Micro Cord (the latter is great for teeny tiny micro-macramรฉ, but it is a twisted, round cord, not flossy like the thread. C-Lon Cords are available in weights up to almost 1mm thick: don’t get the beading thread and the cords confused). I’m using size AA, which is finer. I have some D, just to try it out; if my memory’s correct, it’s a bit heavier than any of my Nymo threads…but I can’t be sure at the moment, and don’t remember where I put my comparison bundles. In any case, it’s possible to look up thread diameter comparison charts, online.

To make things more confusing, it’s possible that Nymo adjusted their sizes years ago between the time when I bought 20 of their bobbins in multiple colors in size B; and the present, where the new size D may compete with the old size B. I think that something happened, but I don’t know what.

A regular “beading needle” without a given size (the ones I have may be around a #10 or #11…though they’ve been outside of their packs so long I really don’t know which, other than by feel) will easily drop off of C-Lon AA of its own weight, if the needle slips from my fingers. I’ve had to use ultrastrong magnets to find these things, at times. You don’t want them getting caught in your carpet, especially with the end sticking up. (I should let you know that I’m conditioning my thread using a cake of Thread Heaven which is so old that I can’t remember when I got it…it makes the thread more slippery, which helps eliminate tangles. And…yeah, oddly enough, it still seems to work.) C-Lon AA also feels more slippery than my old Nymo B, from the start.

Who knew, right. The C-Lon also…is prone to shredding at the tip while one is trying to thread said needle (I haven’t yet tried pointing it with my mouth [kinda questionable in this day and age] or with beeswax [which might be the nice way to do it]). However…it’s smaller than the Nymo B I have (which is also prone to shredding, but over long periods of heavy use) and much smaller than K.O. Beading Thread. This is because K.O. is twisted and feels like it has a round cross-section, which makes it bulkier when passing through a bead piercing. Both Nymo and C-Lon Beading Thread are flatter. More like DMC embroidery floss than perle cotton, if you know what I mean — though they don’t have the relatively clean separability of DMC floss.

And yes, I did just realize that the, “perle,” in, “perle cotton,” may refer to, “bead,” in French! Huh! I have seen beaded lace (I’d use perle cotton for lace; not so sure if I’d use it with beads)…

Anyway, since I’m making earrings at this point, I figure that shreddability is probably a factor I don’t have to worry about, so much. ๐Ÿ™‚ Now…if I did what has presented itself to me and produced bracelets? I don’t know, though I suspect I might want to use FireLine for that.

Hmm. Should I make myself a bracelet and then wear it until it falls apart and call it research? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Those of you who have been in the circuit a while will know that FireLine is a gel-spun polyethylene thread, originally used as fishing line. It’s very strong and abrasion-resistant, and can come in very fine diameters. Problem is, knots have a tendency to slip out of it, especially as compared to other beading threads. Working with this thread requires at least some degree of a friction anchor — or, weaving back and forth until the thread is secure, even without a knot.

I suppose it is nice to have two separate workspaces: one as an office, where I work with information and data; one as a bench, where I work with my hands and some as-yet-undefined parts of my mind. (It’s really a table, but I like to call it a bench.) ๐Ÿ˜‰ Between the 2nd and the 7th…I believe I had been working on blogging. Plus Business stuff, and math. Yesterday was particularly horrific, as I remembered a blog post I had written which proposed a break-even point which, well, I can see why I wrote it — but it really undercut me and my business. (It wasn’t a break-even point, so much as a going-out-of-business point.) I faced the option of taking it down entirely and/or revising and responding to it like a sane person. In the end, I did both. I’m not sure if I’m going to be putting it back up again: I’m also learning that it may not be in my own best interest to divulge too much about pricing and pricing strategies, and what’s acceptable. I don’t yet have enough information on these points to be able to reliably know what I’m talking about, here.

The spaces also help keep me aware of my time balance: I can’t sell handmade goods if I never make anything to sell. At least, I can’t sell handmade goods, that I make, if I never make anything to sell. Having the split tables/desks tells me when I haven’t been working enough at one of them. It’s also difficult to write about beading if I’m not beading and thus have nothing to write about.

The option has come up of monetizing this site somehow and working with research online to be of benefit to my community. I have discovered, that is, that there is a depth of information online in regard to beadwork that I’ve just begun to tap. I’ve been doing things like looking for famous beading authors, and then seeing what other searches are related to that search — people I don’t know. It’s kind of a rabbit hole, and feels way more nuanced than it was 20 years ago.

I am trying to work out the time split I want to have: whether I’m primarily a writer who beads, or a beader who writes. They’re both really engaging occupations for me (though I may have to kick myself to get started with the beads — I think it’s a, “fear of the unknown,” thing), but then I also need to figure out what I’m going to do to support myself — using one, the other, and/or a third route of work. I could easily research beading all day, and do some beadwork on the side, and then write about my research in the hours I don’t have because I’ve been researching. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Would that be enough, though? I mean, how do you actually find a job in relation to beads? It’s a relatively niche category…which actually could be good for me, in that I would likely stand out.

I suppose my levels of tolerance for handwork will become clear, if and when I do really get into serious hours — trial or not. My primary concern is my vision (as in it’s bad, and will likely only get worse); my secondary concerns are tremors (not a major problem yet). It is possible for me to graduate into a freelance writing career, once I can no longer work with seed beads. And I would likely enjoy it.

Hm. Maybe it actually will be worth it to post some writing samples.

I’ve been wondering whether it’s actually healthy for me to spend so much time at the computer…but if I’m researching and learning new things, it probably won’t be that bad. I mean, if I’m taking in nothing new, that’s one thing; but chronicling growth, meeting new people, that’s another…

Published by Haruna

Haruna is a Librarian by training, currently pivoting from Public Services into Technical Services. Their undergraduate major was English -- Creative Writing, and they hold an additional small degree in Art (i.e. Visual Arts). Currently, they are trying to figure out whether to place their energies more into language and language arts, or producing handcrafted jewelry and face coverings, for the interim...

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