Breaking the silence

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted to this blog, or worked on the site. Most of that time spent otherwise has been productive, but as I’ve heard recently, it’s also OK to prioritize play.

A lot of my hesitance to post here has to do with the fact that I’m not at this point, precisely sure what my goals are for this site; whether I even want to continue to renew the domain (I have a while to think about it); or what to do if my investigations turn up realities which are harmful either to my business (should I form one), the other businesses in my niche, or the businesses my business would depend on. Those last two questions are something I did not really consider, when starting this site. I started working with glass in the hope that it would be more environmentally-friendly than working with stone (which would have to be mined); however, I can see now that I should not have assumed that without investigation.

Granted, if one is simply a hobbyist working occasionally with glass, crystal, nylon, polyethylene, cements, metals…this is a different position than being invested in the business of craft jewelry and having to deal with the materials for extended times, on a daily basis.

I’ve had a large amount of time to mentally adjust to the idea that Art Glass may have hazardous components, and that glass beads may (at least at times) be considered Art Glass. (For example, millefiori beads are almost certainly Art Glass.) Whether the components are still hazardous to the user in their finished form (as versus to the maker in the process of production, to the environment as a by-product of production when precautions are not taken, or to human settlements downwind of unbagged furnaces), is a different question, and one I can’t answer, right now.

Aside from any concerns I may have about the safety of my materials, the fact is that many of them are versatile, inexpensive, more varied in shape than what is usually found in stone beads, and very beautiful. Of course, beauty is not a sign of safety. It may well be that the potentially harmful components are in effect locked inside the glass. At this time, I’m attempting to get beyond my concerns, as I know I’m underinformed. Research on this topic is not easy. Where I have come across direct information (such as the chemical formulations of particular glass colors), I’m not able to gauge what it means, as I’m not a chemist or toxicologist, have only taken one biology course in my life, and never took Organic Chemistry. I am also very annoyed that sandblasting “beads” seem to abound in top hits on questions about glass bead composition, even when the question being asked is obviously about the safety of beaded jewelry.

It eases my mind a bit not to sell, at this time. That means I don’t have a litigation concern, because I’m not engaged in business for profit. I also am not giving these things to people under 15 years of age, which is the widely agreed-upon (and in some business circumstances, legal) safety cutoff point where it comes to jewelry.

In reality, I’ve been dealing with glass beads for about 25 years. I’m thinking that any damage which was to be done, may have been done already, or at least is well underway. (Of course, that’s also the logic my grandmother used before she died of lung cancer after smoking for most of her life.) I’m not sure I’m going to be able to think my way out of this one without facts, data, or understanding, because there is anecdotal evidence to argue in favor of paranoia. However, as I was taught in Critical Thinking, anecdotal evidence is not always reliable, or entirely applicable to all situations. In this case, it informs me more about how humans (including myself) may accept or explain away potential hazard, than about whether a potential hazard is objectively real.

I have realized that beadwork is one of my actual, true hobbies. Other people are into painting, or sewing, or knitting. I’m into beadwork: particularly beadweaving, and beaded micromacramé. I have started trying to learn bead embroidery (see the pink-and-bronze teardrop pendant in the third picture), but am not far into it, at this point. I should try to remember that, even if it is a relatively rare and sometimes lonely avocation, there is no reason why beadwork should not be OK as a niche interest. Some people have lacemaking or tablet weaving or spinning yarn. I have beadwork. 😜

In any case; in cleaning up, I’ve discovered that I have several projects in-progress, and materials lined up for several more. On putting away some new beads, I also found a seed of an idea for a new earring design. I’m told to make note of it and finish what is now in-progress first, however!

I suppose that actually does give me a reason to go back to my Craft Jewelry notebook. I probably shouldn’t put my design embryos out into the public eye right as I think of them. But in the spirit of — at the very least — reminding myself of where I’m at today, I’m posting a few pictures of what’s currently in my trays. Not everything is included, here; but the color schemes are likely what’s most important.

A double-spiral bracelet piece framed by green, blue, yellow, and purple tubes of glass seed beads and two packets of fire-polished round beads.
A double-spiral rope bracelet fragment in green iris and ochre
The colors I’m considering using for a larger piece (brown and green) frame some trials of one of my original modular designs. One of the trials, made with nylon thread instead of polyethylene, is broken.
Trials for a modular necklace/bracelet pattern
Pink, violet, gold, and brown are the dominant colors in this bead mix which I’ve separated for this project. A pink rhodochrosite drop bead is encased in shades of smaller gold and violet beads.
Materials for an attempt at bead embroidery
A rose-gold contrast should work with the paler and deeper blue-violets as a color scheme.
Blue-violets, purple, and rose-gold/copper seem to go together

You can see that I seem to begin by finding a color theme, and then work my way out, from there. I also have issues, however, with separating out all the really gorgeous colors in hopes of using them in a project, and then forgetting where I put them: like I’m a freakin’ squirrel, or something. (As I get older, I get more and more annoyed with squirrels. There are stories behind why, that I’m not getting into, but it has nothing to do with their habit of caching nuts: more to do with their scrabbling up and down the walls, and dashing out into traffic.)

I’m hoping to get to these projects, coming up…though I can’t say, when. Maybe I should schedule in time for working with the beads, though, like I’ve considered scheduling in hours for exercise, writing, and hygiene — in addition to my normal self-paced courses. If I can manage to get to bed earlier, actually fall asleep, and then get up earlier, that would be ideal.

I am just coming off of a period where I’ve had to deal with some pressing life concerns. It’s gotten me out of my groove. And prioritizing courses and the life stuff together, have meant that I have been otherwise occupied, so I haven’t gotten really to play, all that much. As a matter of fact, it means I haven’t even gotten to everything essential (like exercise). Today I’ve taken the time out to write, which is something. I also actually took photos and edited them, which I haven’t done in — probably, months.

I will try not to abandon the project of this site, at least for now.

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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