Business vs Art

Well, I found out what was bothering the tendon in my finger. It wasn’t typing. It was, rather, all the note-taking I’ve had to do for three classes. When I first began online learning (years ago), I was a bit shocked that I had to resort to analog recording methods outside of the computer. It doesn’t shock me anymore, but it is annoying to have to take notes in an area which was obviously not made to accommodate both writing by hand, and a computer. I would need a wrap-around station for that, and — to be honest, that’s going to be one expensive desk!

I wouldn’t have known, except I noticed a small pain resulting from holding a pen too tightly. That, in turn, is probably linked to tension…from the most annoying of my classes, where dude has too much information on the PowerPoint and won’t let go of the PowerPoint files themselves. That class has a sizable pile of notes. I started to change my grip tonight, then got distracted by something I no longer remember, and here I am, now. It’s easy to forget that classes are still ongoing: I can get ahead, but for no longer than a week (excepting the Business Plan which I was alerted to, far in advance).

D’awww.

In any case, I’m hoping that the next few weeks won’t be too bad. Even if they are, though…I’m probably not going to fail. If I do fail, it doesn’t impact my GPA. The thing I’m worried about is getting sick over the holidays — it doesn’t have to be COVID, it could just be a cold — but I’m almost done with this school …stuff. And no, I don’t really want to get sick now, after all the effort I’ve put into it.

There’s still the factor that this is going to go on my academic record, which has unknown consequences if I, for example, were to start a third round of study to begin a second Master’s or a PhD…which in turn, would only be useful if I intended to become a lifelong academic and write and/or teach for the rest of my life. That’s not to say anything about the ease or lack of ease in gaining tenure (particularly, the second: I’ve heard of faculty living out of their cars, though I can’t remember from what source, at the moment)…or what I sense may become an ongoing battle for the ability to educate our youth.

But that, then, gets back into Sociology, which has been quite saddening as a discipline, in my experience. It’s not great for a person who has a preexisting inclination to cause themselves suffering, because then you have to expose yourself to all the …stuff 🙂 which is meant to dehumanize and disempower you. That, then, means that the battle to maintain a sense of one’s own humanity also becomes personal, in addition to being outward. I’ve had at least one Professor who failed at that task. It isn’t pretty.

Well, seeing anybody’s soul getting destroyed, isn’t pretty.

I have considered schooling to be my actual job for most of my existence this time around (I was able to do this in lieu of getting a paying job; education has always been important, here), so looking at it that way, it makes sense why I would be concerned about bad grades. To be real about it, though: these classes were for me, and no one else. And in practicality, am I really going to directly apply any of what I learned, save from my Entrepreneurship class? Seriously. If I start working at a bead shop and need to take care of inventory, that’s one thing, but how likely is that to happen in the near future?

Working as a scribe would be a more likely candidate as a job description, though to do that, I really don’t actually need Business education — except to know which exact information is important to record. I suppose that…actually would, come in handy.

It almost slipped my mind, the reason I came here to write, tonight. I’m actually feeling oddly happy at realizing what was going on in wanting to bead for money. The issue is that I look at my beadwork as an art. I didn’t realize I was looking at it as an art until realizing that there are reasons I am not at this point a Silversmith or Goldsmith. If I was doing this for the money, I would have gone into one of these fields; although it probably isn’t a big secret that becoming a Bench Jeweler doesn’t really pay that well, especially when you look at all the hazards and the precision needed to do the job.

My most apparent reason for working with beads is my relationship with color: this is an aspect with which metalwork really can’t compete well. To use color in metalwork, you have to rely on patina, enamels, or anodization. Enamels are quite interesting, but they’re also fairly hazardous; one of my friends who used to work by a stained glass shop said that glassworkers tended to get sick. I can believe it: the materials used to color glass aren’t necessarily good things for biological systems to be exposed to. Plus, stained-glass workers are often scribing and breaking glass, meaning there are small fragments which are getting around.

I’ve had my own concerns with my beads, though I hope that having the glass in solid and not powder form, is safer. I also try to ream out any beads that I need to, under running water. Just gotta say, as though you need the reminder: do not get the motor wet!

When I see glass beads being sold in craft stores, they often note that they are not for use by those under the age of 14…I believe that this is for developmental reasons. I was using them at the age of 11 or 12, but then, I also got hit with depression at 14, and have had ongoing hormonal issues. This isn’t to say that the (cheap, 1990’s) beads caused it, but to give a view of the facts in reality. I know there is something that happened that I didn’t emerge from unscathed. I don’t know exactly what it is; I don’t even know if it’s particularly my problem, as versus everyone else’s, but my life is not, “normal.”

Anyway, I could go on with that thread for a while. I’ll stop there, and remind myself to look back into the book, Toxic Archipelago (by Brett L. Walker, © 2010 University of Washington Press). I believe I got rid of the one with the political ranting that referenced it, and which I may be remembering, now. I read something to do with endocrine disruptions from industrial toxins released into the environment…not sure which of the books it was.

The types of alloys available (e.g. shakudo) limit the types of patinas possible, though certainly there are options for coloring metal using oxidation, whether that’s a fire patina (think of the colors that develop on the bottom of a copper pot) or using an option like liver of sulfur. Anodization — the third of these — is actually also very interesting; I wouldn’t be surprised if I experimented with it later in life, but I know that this requires…machines, which probably aren’t cheap. I have been so sure that they would not be cheap, that I haven’t bothered to look them up. As I look at it now, an anodization kit doesn’t seem too bad (in relation to all the other studio gear that I’ve seen).

Another aspect of this is ecological: I have gravitated towards working with glass in the hope that it is somehow less harmful to the environment than mining. I do not have the data on this, however, so I can’t be at all sure that it is. What I do know is that I have never seen a reference to mining where I was completely certain that the environment was not being degraded. Much of the allure of stones seems to be metaphysical in nature; having been around for a while, and having some stones myself, I can see the point; but I also feel that I would not want to sell stones based on their unproven, supposedly magical capabilities. That’s not to say that something we call “magic” doesn’t exist; that is to say, think about it. If you use a stone with intention, that’s on you, but willing suspense of disbelief is maybe not how you want to enter into financial transactions?

The third thing relates to creativity: there are just many more creative options in glass at this point, than are usually found in semiprecious or precious stones. There are exceptions: I’m thinking of a lapidarist or stonecutter who really does awesome work — carvings — in gem-quality material, but I am not at all confident in my ability to find him again, at the moment. His stuff just pops up on Instagram, once in a while.

But yes, I’ve been working with glass beads for…years. Over 25 years, at this point. I’m familiar with the basic materials…I love working with colored beads. That’s why I keep doing it. And of course I would have a dream of being able to do it all the time for money, enough to survive on; but there’s a difference between a business and an art. I think every artist would dream of being able to do art all the time, and somehow still be able to pay their bills and stay alive. The economic systems that we live under now, though, tend to make this very difficult.

Now that I think of it, maybe this is one of the reasons why so many artists, historically, have been Socialists. I don’t intend to look this up right now, but I recall it from my classes in Art History, particularly around the late 19th – early 20th century. There are also other cultures that have not operated with our current social setup which have valued artists, more. Hmm. Maybe I’d want to look into this, out of curiosity? I could set it up as a project for myself. 🙂 And, I suppose I could limit my search to artists who were contemporary to, or followed, Marx & Engels.

Why did I not think of that, before?

Anyway…it seems to me at this point, that the goal of Business is to survive. To build wealth. The goal of Art is something different. I want to say, “to live,” but that’s kind of cheesy — even though it may be true.

The thing about having…thought this out the point that I know I should not bet on making a living off of it, is that it frees me from doing desperately fast, repetitive, piecework labor. I can actually do what I want to do, even if it’s something I’ve never done before and which I’m not sure will work out; because my living is not riding on it. This is the benefit of being a hobbyist rather than a business owner. I actually get to choose what I want to do, in my spare time — instead of having no spare time.

I haven’t worked out just how long I would need to work, if I wanted to actually live off of my beading. The thing is…I have a sense that it’s so long that I don’t need to figure it out. The selling prices can be tweaked, and in a mathematical model, I might even get a response that I’d need to work for more hours a day than there are in a day. And that would be OK, because it wouldn’t be real.

Maybe I’ll do that, after these classes are done with…

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, for the interim...

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