What you find when you clean up

A couple of days ago, I had…a time, putting together sets of materials for micro-macramé bracelets. Actually, sometime earlier I got the courage to actually finish the bracelets I had set aside to wait for my bone rondelles. This meant, well, enlarging the holes in two bone beads — which…I was not altogether comfortable with. The risk of what I’m concerned about is trace, however, and likely only justified by a tiny bit of awareness, plus my own tendency to worry.

I’m doing what I can to treat the materials gained from animals (in my case, horn and bone) with respect and gratitude. (I learned as a kid that you don’t want to disrespect the animal whose skin you’re wearing…or, whose body you’re eating.) It is interesting, though, to look at a bunch of bone rondelles and realize that these things have been made since prehistoric times…likely in the same forms. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same ambivalence towards using them has been passed down, either…though seriously, the animals likely had better lives, in prehistoric times.

I am going to have to find a new source for nice lampwork glass rondelles: the last several sets I’ve gotten from one supplier have turned out…ugly. I mean, terrible — just as a blanket statement. I haven’t had the gall to try and wash the kaolin clay off of them yet (which is likely disguising anything good about them), but I don’t think I’ll be ordering them again, especially in COVID-times. I’d rather use porcelain than use these glass beads, seriously.

I have a place in mind through which I can get much higher-quality (and domestic) material, but they’re fairly expensive due to being artisan-made. Still, though: according to the beads I’ve bought from the supplier in the past, they’re worth it.

This is especially as working with her beads means that I don’t have to worry about being limited to florals. Much lampwork I’ve been exposed to recently (I haven’t used lampwork for a while, as I hadn’t realized that cleaning the kaolin out of the bead hole is par for the course), isn’t really geared towards men or nonbinary people, so artisans produce what they think will sell: which leads to a glut of floral designs.

If I sell the finished jewelry, I can just pass on the extra cost and let people know they’re getting artisan handmade American material for that portion (though most of it will be cottage-industry Czech material…I am seriously leaning towards Czech seed beads, now, mostly because they nest together better, hence go around curves better, than the Japanese ones).

Over the past few days…I cleaned up a lot of the bead mess that was then spread out over three tables. In the process, I was also inspired to get out my new C-Lon with some newer colors of bead, and see what I could put together. As a result, I have four color combinations ready to go, as regards the bracelet pattern I keep thinking of as Shrimp or Shrimp’s Head (due to the terminations).

I did, while cleaning up the bead mess, find a box containing prototype versions of Shrimp (among other prototypes), in which I was still working out the closure. These range from very beginning versions from years ago, when I was new to micro-macramé, which are now falling apart; to the present — the step right before having realized the full Shrimp’s Head. I have the options to keep them as they are for historical record, or to disassemble them and re-make them in my present style, rendering them wearable. Or, more wearable, I guess.

I have been trying to get around to photographing these to log them before I ever may disassemble them and reuse the parts in more useful and complete structures. Today I did have the opportunity, but didn’t take it. For some reason, I wasn’t up to it: I believe part of this has to do with my sleep and activity schedules being, “off.”

There are perfectly good beads locked up in these trials; beads which are more valuable to me now than the price I originally paid for them. Largely, this occurs because these specific beads…I doubt I’ll be able to exactly replace (think of dye lots with yarn), and I have only small amounts of surplus in them.

Is it more valuable to me to have salable or at least usable, wearable versions; as versus having a record of the development of what is, now? Does it matter at all that I can’t remember exactly the timeline connecting all of them?

Obviously, I can always purchase more beads: but not those beads. Do I want to re-make these things, or do I want to keep a design archive?

Now that I’m thinking about it: it makes more sense to try and re-make the bracelets with other materials (before considering disassembling them), while also photographing my evidence (in case evacuation requires leaving the physical pieces) and also keeping the archive. I can imagine myself with regrets down the line if I essentially dispose of the work that built up to a successful design. It would be good to look over when I’m stuck on other designs. Not to mention: if someone else wants to see my design process.

The thing is: when I began making these trials, I did not realize that at one point I’d have a successful design, and I might want to track what I changed in each version — or at least, the timeline between creation dates, so I could tell what came before what. I could record the same data in my (offline) logs…why I haven’t done it already, I’m not sure. (If I did, I have surely forgotten about it — I haven’t read over my physical work log in a very long time.)

I just realized that what I’m weighing is the value of the information contained in the makes, as versus the value of the materials contained in the makes. They’re both pretty high — to me — though to other people, the information is much more valuable than the sentimentality I alone have attached to my materials. Not to mention, the frustration I have attached to prior versions, which could cause me to want to change them.

Maybe I should leave them alone. They might help me through harder times in the future.

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). They are now pondering whether a career in Academia is viable or desirable, given the current situation.

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