Graduation isn’t the end of the journey. I don’t know why I thought it would be, but it isn’t. There’s a lot more to learn, even after gaining a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree. I haven’t gone the PhD route yet, but I suspect the idea holds true there, as well.

After figuring out a number of things…such as the fact that I have more than enough beads to be beading (just how I will use them, is the sticking point), and that when I get bored, it’s actually very useful to read (which encourages writing)…I know that there are things I can be doing in my free time which are possible. That doesn’t mean there aren’t drawbacks (or relative hazards) to doing things (particularly where it comes to Art [pigment toxicity is commonplace], or getting a RSI by typing or handwriting [it happened]); this means that I actually have the ability to do them. There’s nothing stopping me.

Recently, I’ve been reading a couple of books on writing (On Writing Well by Zinsser, and The Elements of Style by Strunk & White), which are more engaging than the texts I had to use in my undergraduate Creative Writing training. They’re both fairly old and popular, and I wonder how many of the people whom I went to University with, knew about them back then.

Because I went to a commuter school and didn’t drive, I wasn’t able to participate in campus night life or the readings held after work hours in local (to the campus) bookstores. I didn’t get into the whole alcohol + smoking thing that it seemed everyone else was doing (often, the readings advertised, “wine,” and I was one of the only persons [if not the only person] not smoking at break), but there are other ways to bond.

I had my own set of toxins in art materials (particularly, cadmium-based paints), though they weren’t addictive. They also could have easily injured me by acute exposure (as might have happened with a tube of Aureolin: all I got was skin irritation, but you still don’t want water-soluble cobalt salts on your skin). But I really didn’t get way into Art, until after my Bachelor’s and before my Master’s. Even then, I didn’t go further than the Associate’s degree: we couldn’t afford Art School, and it’s notoriously difficult to get a job using Art that will return enough to pay off Art School. On top of that, everyone I knew who had been to Art School (including my teachers) didn’t necessarily have a great experience.

It’s also hard to tell what to do with Art, when you haven’t really found you, yet. At this point, I work with glass beads, which I was also doing before the Art Program, and with which the Art Program indirectly helped (save in Color Dynamics, where the impact was direct; same with my Photoshop classes, which apply to my postings)…but I’m finding the possibility of pigment toxicity in working with beads, too. I can’t yet confirm it, but it makes me glad that I’ve decided against selling, at least for the short term.

In the Art program, I thought that I might go into Illustration or work on comics or graphic novels (doing the writing and the art); but the prospect is intimidating. It seems like it would be easier (and more fun) to do non-sequential art! Things that can’t be immediately recognized as a person, for example (if they’re meant to represent people, at all — which are not necessarily the focus or theme of my personal work). Abstract content or method might lend itself better to the fine art sphere — though I say that, not having read comics for a while.

In my case, Undergrad (in Creative Writing) was similar to online learning, where people are so far apart that getting together may be in practicality, very difficult. It makes it harder to socialize, and to form the informal bonds through which information is exchanged and lasting friendships (and networks) are built. I might have learned a lot more supplemental information from the other students that I did not get from my Professors — like knowledge of the books I’m reading now — but I really didn’t socialize much at the time.

It would be easier for me to write a story, than it would be for me to try and illustrate it — even though my fiction writing originally grew out of drawing. As I got older, it became easier to imagine situations that were beyond the scope of my drawing ability, or which I did not want to observe and draw because they were too painful and stressful to study (like run-down inner city neighborhoods). I can narrate these passages with ease, and less trouble. As well: appearances aren’t everything. Vision doesn’t relay the entire message.

I’ve been feeling the loss of people I was once friends with, who I’ve let go over time. There’s not much I can do about it now — especially when I knew them so long ago that I’ve forgotten their full names — but it is good to note whom to hold onto, going forward; what it feels like when a person does not raise red flags.

In any case, I’m finding that there are a lot of things to learn about writing which I did not know, when I went through the Creative Writing program. I have a lot of room to grow and develop as regards the craft of writing (and it won’t expose me to toxins, though it could alter my eyesight if I don’t take breaks). It underscores the importance of editing and rewriting, which directly impacts the timeline I can expect from having typed out a first draft of a blog post, to publication. At least so, if I take the time to seriously rewrite. In recent memory, I’ve had to do this because the addition of an image (and careful observation) made much of the text obsolete, though doing it for normal Posts (as versus Pages) hadn’t solidified with me until, say, last night.

I’ve already found that it’s best not to expect to sit down and hammer out a post in one evening — it may take upwards of five hours to complete a first draft. I also shouldn’t expect to keep the first three or so paragraphs of that initial draft. For some reason, I could just publish these things before and they didn’t bother me — though at this point, instead of posting at 3 AM, I find it better to sleep on it and revise the post in the morning. This allows me to rein in wandering, and to notice where I forget that the reader doesn’t know what I know; which, on top of using complicated language when I don’t have to, are three of my greatest known issues. (Having a finite number helps me focus on them.)

I can then edit out irrelevant information and tighten up the composition. Daylight also gives a chance to take photographs; which, as I mentioned earlier, can communicate some things (like relative size and shape) much better than trying to describe them in words.

I’ve reached the end of what I began writing about, last night…aside from the fact that I now have to go back and edit a couple of posts because I’ve realized they contain inaccurate information. I really should make an outline when I get an idea for a blog post, however. Last night, I was putting away beads which had finally come out of quarantine, given that I’ve read to isolate plastics for over eight days, where it comes to Omicron’s BA.2 variant. There’s no doubt that I have more of some types of beads than others, but overall, I have plenty of materials to work on creative projects.

This includes watercolor and various kinds of art (including experimental drawing), beadwork, reading, and writing. As I mentioned in my opening, these have varying risk profiles: the lowest-risk (and possibly highest return) being reading and writing, for me…though if I’m willing to risk (or continue, as the case may be) exposure to unknown pigments, watercolor and beadwork also exist.

The major risk with beadwork is that I have not been able to track down much of anything about toxicity regarding glass colorants, excepting in particular an uncited mention in a Wikipedia article (“Glass coloring and color marking”) I came across while searching for information about “Paris Green,” a.k.a., “Emerald Green.” Historically, the term, “Emerald Green,” has been related to arsenic-based colorants, but I’m not sure if this holds true to glass, and I’m not sure if it’s still true of any colorant used today or just a cliché name. Paris Green was used in the Victorian Era, and then widely outlawed after people kept getting sick and dying from contact with it (particularly through textiles, wallpaper, and paints).

What I do know is that glass beads in general are not intended for use by those under 15, though I haven’t been able to track down exactly why, yet. I also remember a friend who used to work outside a stained-glass shop telling me that people who worked with stained glass, tended to get sick. I also see that the base metal to obtain green is often chromium (as in chrome oxide green in paint — or perhaps more compellingly, crystalline chrome diopside), but with the possibilities of added tin and arsenic.

D says not to worry about it so much, as most of the dangerous materials, should they be there, would be locked inside the glass. So long as the glass is not broken up and distributed (as with, “beads,” used for sandblasting, which is an entirely different application using the same term), most of the material should stay trapped. That isn’t meant as a recommendation or a solution, however. The fact remains that there are still beads (for jewelry) on the market sold under the name, “Emerald Green,” though I’m not sure if this relates directly to the highly toxic, “Emerald Green,” of the Victorians. (It’s certainly a similar hue.)

I’ve been searching online for material on the chemical compositions of glass colors for a while, now (though I’ve never thought to state my search terms so cogently). I’m disconcerted by the possibility that the written material which may answer my question may be illegible to me, because I don’t have a college-level specialization in Chemistry…though I’m also conversely glad that I didn’t specialize in Chemistry in college, in order to make new glass colors: there are too many ulterior motives.

There’s no question that Emerald Greens — both the Victorians’ and the examples I possess of unknown composition and the same hue — are beautiful and inexpensive. But the Victorian versions were known from the start to be toxic. People just kept using them because they were so pretty…which is exactly the case I might be in, at this point. Do I keep using “Emerald Green” beads because they’re pretty, or do I set them to the side and not use them because I suspect they could be highly toxic (though the exact danger level would be unknown)?

I really can’t abide by giving out the circlet I’ve been making with these, at this point: the potential exposure level is too high. Not only are there a lot of, “Emerald Green,” beads in this piece, but they’re going to be in constant contact with skin. At the same time, I have very little knowledge of any other potentially toxic colorants that are used in glass beads, so I’m not even precisely sure, what is safe — other than more obviously regulated materials, such as metal chain.

I mean, it’s like, “seriously: just buy a chain, and be done with it.”

At least with paint, I know what I’m getting into! Maybe I’ll go wash those brushes…

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.

2 thoughts on “Growth

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