Perseverance

I’m sometimes torn between writing little daily updates in here, and saving the updates for something significant…or, at least, not-personal. Something that can be of use to other people. But hey, as long as I’m not getting a bunch of traffic — which probably won’t happen without frequent posting (or at least, carefully considered posting which takes SEO into account), who cares, right?

I do remember hearing about an experiment which emphasized quantity over quality… Now that I look it up, I realize it’s in a book I read a long time ago: Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles & Ted Orland, which came recommended by one of my Art teachers. The link above gives the general gist of the story, though it’s also one step later than the story: Kleon is relating seeing the same parable in a slightly different form. (Note: Austin Kleon’s homepage is apparently very interesting…)

The story goes like this: suppose there is a Ceramics class. Now suppose that on the first day of class, the teacher divides the students into two groups. One group will be graded on quantity: the more pots they make, the higher their grades will be, regardless of quality. The other group will be graded on quality: to get an A in the class, they only have to make one pot, but it has to be perfect.

Yes, I do remember the phrase, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Because this phrase comes from the 1700s and — at least, French — before being translated into English in the above (it has been attributed to Montesquieu in 1726 [in Pensées: although it is questionable as to whether all of Pensées can be thus attributed, as the Pensées seems more a collection of “articles” than a finished work] and Voltaire in 1770 [Dictionnaire philosophique, though I couldn’t find the reference in the English translation] and 1772 [La Bégueule: see the Wikipedia article on “Perfect_is_the_enemy_of_good” for a link to the poem at Wikisource — in French]), don’t rely too heavily on precise lexical meaning — in English, that is.

Anyhow, so the story goes, the group of ceramicists who were more focused on producing masses of finished works, produced more works of quality, than the ones who were focused only on making one perfect pot, who basically utterly failed. Thanks to a helpful coder at Stanford’s dschool, I know this parable is related on page 29 of Art & Fear...which kept me from having to pore through the entire book again.

And thus, we get the beginning of a new blog post. Who could have predicted that?

In any case, I’m presently involved in incremental learning, though it is a bit frustrating at the same time. I’ve learned, for example, that I’m working with about a 2.5:1 ratio where it comes to the circlet I’m trying to make. Guess what that means? I may not have cut enough cord to finish it.

Yes, a 22″ circlet may indeed require 55″ of material at a minimum, just to get around the head (meaning I would be working with 6 strands of about 2.5′ to 3′ at a time). I’m not sure that my math is right yet; particularly as I had to update my estimates from last night, having realized that I should not include the tails in my calculations.

Luckily, I think I have enough to restart.

I do now have a sizable sample that I can continue working on until I run out of cord (just for funsies). It does look pretty, but — ah, I forgot to mention this — I cut the cords for one side at 1.5 yards, instead of 2.5 yards…so I pretty much jacked myself up. This is because I was trying to rush to get things done before dinnertime, and just utterly forgot how much cord I was using. It didn’t help that the first half of the piece — around 9″ of knotting (I was trying to give myself some wiggle room) — was already done: I couldn’t compare the old and new cord lengths.

This is essentially the same scenario as the time I cut the drawstring on a bracelet instead of a cord which needed to be cut, and then couldn’t go back and fix it (if I were braver, I might have tried to fuse on a new length). I was rushing, eager to get things done, not paying attention. Whenever cords are cut, I need to be paying attention.

On top of that, 2.5 yards on one side of the circlet, was a guess: I may need more like three yards for a doubled cord on one side of the circlet, to give me enough space to actually end the thing with anything adjustable.

Yeah, I’m basically frustrated, but at least I don’t have to cut the thing apart for materials and ruin some scissors at the same time. Why don’t I just cut off the short side?

  1. I already started a desperation move to lengthen the long side and close the circlet on the side of the head instead of the back; but I don’t think it will work. I still, that is, don’t think I have enough cord.
  2. I put a lot of work into knotting the short side. I might as well keep the thing as an example.

Uggh. Not to mention that I had to actually figure out what color cord I was using, so that I could reorder it. Much of today was spent trying to figure out exactly which colors of C-Lon cord I have. I feel a bit better about that, but it’s really obvious which colors are most useful: they’re the ones which are stored in kits of my own making, and not with the rest of the C-Lon.

It’s also really obvious that cameras don’t always pick up some of the finer points of the colors I have…but I think I’ll save a discussion on that, for another day.

The good thing is, I’m learning. Even if I have to start over.

Developing Site Plans: Hobby vs. Business, part three

I’ve been doing some research, and have realized that there is definitely enough information out there for me to link to, in order to solve some of the most persistent questions that at least I have had, about beads and beadwork (answering which, will likely lead to more questions). That is to say, although I may need to do some of my own firsthand research to resolve some of the mysteries of, “beadland,” a lot of the work has been done previously, and is linkable. Because of this, I’m seeing where I’ve been told I can combine my Library & Information Science skillset, with my love of writing and hunting down information, and my desire to continue my beadwork practice.

Of course, that also means that, should I go ahead with the model that has been presented to me by my Career Counselor, I will be devoting a substantial amount of energy to information-gathering and writing. This is with the goal of becoming a Content Producer and Information resource around the topic of beadwork…which…should be fun! Probably not as fun as beading itself, but you know…working with beads all day every day for the rest of my life may not be as fun as it sounds…? Particularly, I know I learn from doing (which I do enjoy); however, there’s an intellectual component to research that is not quite the same thing as what I’m doing when I’m entering pure design. (When I’m just following directions, it’s really not there.)

In this, I’m looking at remaining a hobbyist when it comes to jewelry construction, and growing my Content Production skills for the future. (Yes, meaning I’ll need to learn Digital Photography.) I’ll also still be aiming to create my own designs. Along with this, however, I get the chance to test out beadwork design books and review them, and test out books which are primarily about technique, as well. Staying a hobbyist means that I don’t have to worry about some of the things I’d have to worry about, as a business owner. They aren’t even the same thing, though, really. They don’t even have the same aims, and I can see that, now.

I should be able to actually share some of my resources with my readers, which could be detrimental (to me) to share, if I were aiming to make money off of selling jewelry. A lot of this stuff is affordable. Most of the cost of handmade glass beaded jewelry comes in the form of compensation for skilled labor, and then in purchasing metals (particularly, anything with actual gold) or stones — in my experience, at least. Given that I am not using natural/mined stones at the moment (except eventually, some of what I have from the past), I don’t have to worry about skyrocketing costs which would cause me to need to sell.

There are also restrictions placed on a company’s speech, that I don’t have to worry about if I’m speaking as a noncommercial entity. An example is the prohibition on discussing pricing schemes which impacts businesses because of Federal antitrust law. If I’m not a business, and I’m not charging anybody anything, my impression is that I don’t need to worry about running afoul of that (though that shouldn’t be taken as legal advice; I’m not a lawyer). Of course, though, then my own machinations as to how much my own constructed works are worth, is essentially an endeavor run out of curiosity/for fun/for prospecting, not out of a practical need.

I should note here that I’m finding more and more parallels between beading and fiber arts (like, say, knitting). The materials might not be that expensive (though they can be), but because of all the work that goes into a piece, it would be unaffordable to purchase that piece in a finished form, unless the seller expressly undercharged for labor. (Then there are Art Quilts, but I’m speaking more on the scale of a hand-knitted sweater, rather than a gorgeous wall hanging.)

There are a few things that I could charge for, but I’ve been advised not to monetize my practice too early. These things are: original patterns and kits. I could also sell one-off jewelry; however, I think the risk outweighs the benefit, in that case. There is the alternative of offering the patterns for free and noting everything needed for them, which would shield me from any question of tax concerns, and give me the opportunity to learn how to create image-based printable digital files. It would also keep me from having to take clients’ personal information, which is an obvious benefit to the client, and also a benefit to me where it comes to my own level of risk.

The benefit of selling kits is that even if the pattern is distributed outside of my control, kits are a way to reap some income, despite it. It would essentially be a service designed to save the end-user money, if they don’t have the materials already. (I’m finding that many of the things I make, use a wide variety of beads.) The question is whether I want to invest in becoming a materials warehouse, which would still require certain aspects of going into business (particularly related to buying, packaging, and shipping; plus, keeping track of stock). Selling material goods means I have to prepay sales tax; selling just a digital file (no physical copy) does not have that requirement in my State, from what I’ve read.

There’s also the question of how many people really will not be able to buy these things separately, due to financial or shipping limitations. There are a number of sites I’ve seen, which do sell (very!) small retail quantities of beads. While this might be something of a pain for a producer; for a small-scale hobbyist, they may be ideal. The larger problem is not having the needed equipment, or not knowing how to use the equipment, once they have it.

Rectifying this problem gets into teaching, which is a dilemma. Teaching a physical craft such as beading, over the Internet, is not what I want to do: especially as I have no video skills (other than screencasting). I mean, it’s going a little too far in a social direction, and I am by no means a highly social person. As well, we need more sites and materials available for midrange and advanced beaders, not 20 more examples of beginner’s materials.

But I can compile a bunch of beginner’s materials! 🙂

I also, at this point, am still considering carrying on with the project I started some months ago, to take a tour of beadweaving stitches (not all of which, I already know). There will also be updates as to my design process, as I work through generating new patterns.

To be continued…


Hobby vs Business, part two
Hobby or Business?

In progress (baby shots of a gift)

I’ve had to stop knotting for the night: my knuckle is giving me a hard time (apparently I have an RSI from note-taking), and I know that if I even write with a pen, right now…it’s going to make it worse. (Typing, doesn’t.) I did get in a good amount of work on the circlet before I began to notice the pain, however. Given that my crafts depend on the usability of my hands (and the fact that my hands aren’t yet fully toughened: we’re a week out from Finals?), I decided to give it a rest for tonight.

Note: I am giving links to resources; however, no one whom I’m linking to has paid me or otherwise done anything to encourage me to do so (as of 12/26/21).

Image of the knots mounting a beaded micro-macrame strap to a toggle loop closure.

To the left (or just above, on mobile), you can see how I’ve mounted my nylon cording (as mentioned before, I believe this is standard-size C-Lon in Aurum) onto the toggle loop. This was made using three Mounting Knots with three strands of C-Lon, as shown in Joan Babcock’s Micro-Macramé Jewelry: Tips and Techniques for Knotting With Beads. Her Mounting Knot is essentially a reinforced Lark’s Head Hitch, but it often takes some thinking (and for me at this stage, some reworking) to get everything on the toggle in the correct direction. (As I said in my last post: don’t make the mistake of roughly drawing a cord out through a knot, or you’ll risk destabilizing the bond of the cord and separating the plies, if you haven’t previously sealed the ends of the plies together. After that, slipping a bead onto the end of the cord and pushing it up to the work [unless you’ve sealed the end of the cord with something like Fray Check] risks detaching the plies from each other and ruining the cord.)

The toggle was not meant to be used this way, but it’s what I have, and I’m a bit wary at the moment about buying new things when I don’t have to. Not to mention, the price of gold right now, does not really encourage buying. The toggle will also barely be visible in the finished product. The main thing to remember at this point is what the front and back of the piece look like. The knots don’t look the same.

And, to answer a question you may have which just came to my mind: no, this project is not in Joan Babcock’s book. I developed the band pattern myself, and have been thinking about releasing it to the wild (unless you can tell right off what I did, in which case, have fun).

Length of a beaded micro-macrame strap in topaz and emerald shades.

To the left again, you can now see a sample of what I’ve gotten done, tonight. I probably don’t need to go over all the exact beads I used, but those are the Toho Transparent Gold Luster Pink 6/0 beads in the center, which are giving me a little more faith in Japanese 6/0 seed beads. There aren’t any special finishes on any of the faceted beads you see here, but all of the rest of the seed beads (including the Miyuki 2.8mm Mini Fringe beads) on each side have a Rainbow finish.

To be honest, I’m kind of amazed that the camera picked up as much of the rainbow effect as it did: it usually surprises me by cancelling it out.

You can see, however, that the mini fringe beads have an angle to them, meaning that they naturally shape the desired side curves into curves. Normally, I’d be using Czech glass rocailles (round seed beads) for all three of the beads in each one of those units, due to the fact that they’re rounder and can nest into each other more easily, because of it. The thing about Czech glass 8/0 seed beads, however, is that complex color/finish combinations, are hard to come by. They also have a greater tendency toward irregularity. Sometimes this is welcome, as when doing sculptural works; however, generally speaking, when the beads as a set are a little wonky, I have a harder time dealing with it.

In any case, you can see I used a relatively squarish bead to border each side of the drop beads. Those are Toho 8/0 seed beads, which are also more widely available than Czech 8/0 beads, in my experience.

Each of the squares on the macrame board are about 1/2″ apart, so you can kind of gauge how big this thing is. As a circlet, it’s going to have to be just under 2′ (that’s two feet) long, which is the biggest project in this method I’ve done, so far.

And yes, I was stressing about what length cord to cut. Right now I’m dealing with lengths of 2.5 yards for each of the cords, which — folded in half — give me 1.25 yards of working length for a band that has to be around 11″ long on each side. I haven’t cut the cords for the other side, yet. No, I don’t know how much wiggle room I’ve got…I’ll be able to tell fairly soon, however.

I just remembered that I’ve been talking about “fire-polished” beads on this blog, without showing what they are: the transparent faceted beads (knotted in as singles) to the left and right of the band, are Czech 4mm fire-polished beads. (I tend to use a lot of this size.) There really doesn’t seem to be anyone else making these so far as I can tell, though I’ve found at least two overarching companies that have them. These are Preciosa and Starman.

Due to the fact that I have not yet researched whether Preciosa is an overarching brand for Bohemian glass beads or a distributor; or whether Starman itself is simply a distributor and wholesaler — or a distributor, wholesaler, and manufacturer — what I can say about their relation to beaders, is limited. What I know is that I’ve purchased both Starman and Preciosa fire-polished beads, and they’re slightly different; but I won’t go over that again. Preciosa seems to be the brand you’re most likely to find, at least in the U.S.

But generally speaking, I’m finding that glass beads — like yarn or hand-dyed fabric — do not necessarily turn out in a standard way, period, especially when they’re handmade. I guess the good thing is that, with handmade jewelry, no one expects them to turn out standard? (Unless they’re crossing over from mass-produced fashion jewelry to handmade, or something similar. I’m not sure how much this actually happens; the price points for handmade have got to be much higher than fashion jewelry; and if a buyer doesn’t really know about the effort put into handmade jewelry, my sense and experience has told me that they probably won’t want to pay handmade prices. The target demographic groups are likely different.)

But yeah. Market pressures…

Anyhow, I hope to continue work on this tomorrow, and hopefully have it completed in the next two days, then gifted; then I can move on to brainstorming the next gifts…

Yes, Finals happen too close to Xmas. Do I truly understand why I keep taking classes and putting myself through this (instead of just taking a job)? Not exactly…

I forgot to mention that I almost gave up on the design here and copied a trial bracelet pattern I’d made before, but it seems my brain won’t allow me to do that! I should be able to show you the original, soon…

Errata, 1/29/2022:

As versus editing the above, it appears the easiest way to rectify my error is to disclose that what I thought were 2.8mm Miyuki “Mini Fringe” beads at the time, are likely actually 3.4mm Miyuki Fringe beads. The cord I’m using — C-Lon Tex 210, or “Standard” width, is also closer to a, “Marigold,” shade, than, “Aurum.”

Site Plans, and working on a late Xmas gift

I’ve been compiling data from multiple sources where I’ve written about the potential future of this site and blog. Two nights ago, I entered these into a document; last night I printed them out. This is essentially one and a half pages of what I could post on this site (given that it’s beading- and jewelry-related), the majority of which was first brainstormed in a letter to my career counselor. I hadn’t realized that so much was there.

I’m pretty sure I’ll need to cut it down…or find a different Theme with more Menu sections–! Right now, though, it’s looking interesting. There is a lot I can work with, even without going to the length of creating a forum or giving more socially-oriented help (like direct teaching).

There are a number of different section headings I could use, though I believe I’ve already mentioned most of them in the past (though they’re scattered around). It might be to my benefit not to share all of these at such a nascent stage, and all in one place. I still have to make some kind of logical order out of all of it, not just groupings based upon shared characteristics. That is, given that this is my project, what do I want to make it into, and what services do I want to exclude? Is there an underlying logic to what I’m willing (and not willing) to do?

So, today is Xmas. Unfortunately, I was so wiped out yesterday that it was as much as I could do, to get a rough draft of this post eked out before I fell asleep. I’ve got one project in the pipeline which I understand how to do, which is just awaiting final construction right now.

Two or three nights ago, I was able to work out the design, and I know I can complete it with what I have now; although it is a different use than intended, for the toggle! Working on this piece has raised more questions, however…as work will tend to do. I have some drop beads I’m using, which I last night figured out are Miyuki 2.8mm “mini fringe” beads. I didn’t even know Miyuki made mini fringe beads (they’re smaller than the 3.4mm regular Miyuki fringe beads), but I was able to go into my spreadsheet and rectify the error from two years ago.

I believe I’m using the C-Lon color, “Aurum,” for the band, though this shows a discrepancy with the label I made at the time of integration into my materials. I am also learning to use “mounting knots” as versus straight lark’s head hitches, for mounting a cord onto a ring. It actually does work better. I’ve just got to remember not to drag the cord against a loop if I make an error and have to undo the knot. Abrading the cord will cause the strands to separate (unless they’re glued or fused together).

I have flagged figuring out the mystery of all the drop beads, for future consideration…i.e. “fringe” vs. “mini fringe” vs. “Magatama” (or “small Magatama”) vs. “Long Magatama,” vs. “drop” vs. “long drop”, etc. To make things more challenging, there are also Czech drop beads — which, from a trip to General Bead in San Francisco (a long time ago), I know come in myriad sizes, including some that are pretty tiny.

Although I’m getting tired again just sitting here writing…I think that if I get to work on the circlet, I’ll be OK.

Using the mini fringe beads adds a built-in curve to the side of the circlet…meaning that there is no annoying place where the beads bump up against each other in a blocky fashion. I think I’m on the verge of using more Japanese size 6/0 and 8/0 beads. After having gotten fairly deeply into using Czech size 6/0 beads, I’ve learned that they are really not necessarily consistent where it comes to size, and that using a Japanese 6/0 next to a 4mm fire-polished round may actually turn out better. Plus, there’s a greater (or at least, “different”) color range in Japanese seed beads.

The problem is differentiating Toho from Miyuki from anything else (Matsuno, etc.) in the 6/0 range, and seeing that even these are not all the time comparable sizes to each other. I found the other day, for example, a Silverlined Light Topaz set of beads that I got from I-don’t-know-where, with a brand I hand-wrote on the tube and now question — which look like they’re supposed to be 6/0s, but they are on average, much bigger than my old Toho 6/0s (I’m pretty sure the latter are Toho, because I have not seen any other “Transparent Gold Luster Pink” beads which look like this. These are from the old bead store I frequented which shut down, which never labeled their bead brands…and I’m curious how these ended up in the supposedly, “Czech 6/0” section). Even given that: the new Tohos in the “same” color and size seem to be different than the old ones! Gah!

(I’m frustrated here majorly because there is an ongoing thread on this blog of my realizing that bead sizes may just be a nice ideal, rather than referring back to solid reality.)

Maybe I should be happy that there is a multitude or range of sizes at any one time? Maybe Toho just upgraded their machinery? I don’t know. Does it actually, practically matter? That, I also don’t know. For instance, the size difference between two of my 4mm fire-polished rounds is apparent to the eye, but when used one by one, it may be possible to “fudge” the difference.

We’ll see. In any case, I’ll also see whether, even with the sizing discrepancies between old Tohos and new Tohos (which…I think they’re made in batches all at once — but it has been some years, they probably had to make more), they’re still more regular than the Czech 6/0s.

I’m also on the verge of knotting more loosely than I have been…and it’s looking nicer. I’ve been experimenting with diagonal half-hitches, and have learned that I can’t strangle the life out of that type of knot, at least when I’m making bars of knots that I want not to warp.

I guess I’ve written enough to satisfy myself, for now. Time to bead, I guess?

Errata, 1/29/2022:

As noted in the post directly following this one, I should disclose that what I thought to be 2.8mm Miyuki “Mini Fringe” beads in this post, were more likely 3.4mm Miyuki Fringe beads. The color of C-Lon Tex 210 (Standard weight) that I used was also more likely to be, “Marigold,” than, “Aurum.”

There is no substitution for practice…

…though at the moment, I’m not practicing. Not beading, at least. Writing, that’s another story.

I still have to work on an Xmas present for someone, though this person wouldn’t mind it being late. I think one of my greatest issues…at this point, at least, is that I’m more skilled with color combinations, than I necessarily am with how to assemble those combinations. I took some photos of what I’ve gotten together, but unfortunately, they’re really bad photos.

Of course, though, I can relate that to the fact that it’s dark and raining, and I was using overhead lighting. The beads are all in plastic bags or tubes or vials, causing glare; the background is the (ugly but functional) table and carpet. Anyhow, the photo doesn’t reflect on the things I’d laid out. My brain can pick out and focus in on the raw elements. The camera, not necessarily; which may be a reason why good photography is an art form.

In any case, I’m working with a palette of greens and various shades of, “Topaz,” the latter of which is basically a trade name for a brownish-gold (though it moves into yellow-gold in the lighter tints). I’ve also added a splash of purple for contrast, which allowed me to bridge out of the blue-greens and into greenish-yellows. It’s an intentionally broad set of colors; the difficulty now is narrowing in on the set I’ll use. For that, I’ll need to consider technique, form, and structure.

Well. The potential structure of this piece relates very much to the technique used…though it will, of necessity, have a structure, it’s difficult to suss out what it will be, before making it. So let’s not concentrate on that, right now.

There are three techniques I’ve been considering: beaded micro-macrame, bead embroidery, and beadweaving. Nothing says I can’t combine any two of these (or all three), but it took a while for me to realize that I could bead embroider the piece; and until a day or so ago, I hadn’t even considered weaving it. The last option came about when I realized I was considering looming this to use all the colors, and realized I could also just make it in square stitch (which gives a look similar to looming, but without needing to weave in all the warp threads, or necessarily have all the beads the exact same size. However, each bead needs to be sewn in individually, as versus being laid in as one of a row).

The form is pretty straightforward: as a circlet, it will need to be able to rest on the head without sliding down. I haven’t done too many concept sketches (which I should do), though it’s fairly evident to me that there are many ways to make a circlet — or, in the case of one of my designs, it (unintentionally) looks like Maleficent’s headgear had a child with Magneto’s helmet.

Yeah, well. I’m uncertain how that one will work, because it quite literally needs to be sculpted, and have underlying shaping that will depend on wire and sewing. It’s probably a bit of an overextension for me, as regards my skill level right now — plus, it will be very difficult to clean. Not to mention that I’m not sure I have enough interfacing or backing, to complete it. Because of the design, it should be adjustable, but still: that also means it can fall down. Probably not the greatest design for a non-costume piece.

If I were willing to tweak my color scheme, I can see a fairly cool use of the Light Topaz beads I got back when I was 17 or whatever (if I can find them), which I have to use in stringing because of their unpredictable proportions. The issue with using these, in stringing combined with beadweaving, is that they may grab onto hair. There are just a lot of little places where hair can get caught between beads, or between a bead and a thread, and any kind of motion would seem to magnify the effect. For some reason, maybe the lack of motion and the fact that the beads are larger, I’m seeing this as less of a threat with macrame.

Beaded micro-macrame is what I initially assumed I’d do, because I have the beads to do it, at this time. I actually intentionally bought them so that I could remake a successful design I visioned up some time ago. It just seems a little…uncreative (?) to depend on that pattern, and in reality, I don’t even know how long I’ll need to make the cords to complete one side of the thing. I had envisioned using a soldered gold ring at the front of the piece to anchor the cords, and then have dangles falling from it. The thing is, these rings can be very expensive — and the ones I’ve found are too large.

I’ve found some that are not expensive per-piece (about 25x less expensive than the ones I mention above), but I have to buy them in lots of 100, and I’m not sure if they’ll tarnish. About the same price: get 100 instead of 4. I’ve found less expensive ones from a quality metal supplier, but they’re bronze and thus will, without question, tarnish. I’ve read that clear nail polish is superior to lacquer to seal these, in some instances…though, do I really want to go there? Nail polish eventually yellows, at a minimum…and apparently, varnish can flake.

If I had the equipment to mass-finish soldered jump rings, this might not be as big an issue (although I’d still be working with brass, which is not ideal next to skin). A jewelry tumbler would not be a welcome addition to the household, because of the noise. As well: I don’t, at this point, know how to safely solder gold-filled wire (if that’s even a possibility), or if the ring has to be plated after soldering. I don’t want to use plating solution either (for pretty much anything other than copper-plate), so…I’m pretty much stuck with ready-made rings.

The “out” that I can see, is in utilizing the ring of a gold-plated or gold-filled toggle clasp for the front of the circlet. I have these. They’re a bit small, but the diameter needed really mostly depends on the width and number of cords used. It’s also questionable, how much of it will actually be seen. If I use the pattern I’ve built beforehand (as versus attempting to do something else), I can get away with using this, or something like it.

The benefit is that I can get these in smaller numbers than packs of 100. The drawback is that some of the materials which the outlet which sells these, stocks, are not worth buying. It would be to my benefit to make sure that I’m not getting one particular brand that has recently burned me (with tarnished “rose gold” jump rings, which were darker than the copper I bought with them). Said brand, I’ve seen before in “craft stores” and fabric stores…they aren’t quality. If my memory is correct, I’ve bought sterling from them, that tarnished.

Hmm. I’m seeing a possibility, here. I can at least try it this way…then I can try something different, if it doesn’t work out. The good thing is that skulls don’t really change sizes, so I can build this to fit. Do I want to use my standard closure, though?

Hmm. I might have to…I can adjust the length by altering the number of beads in the clasp complex…

New projects: Bee earring pair, completed. NFS.

I’ve been wanting to write about this for about 24 hours, but I haven’t been sure, quite where. This blog does allow me to post visual records, however — at which, my work journal is much less efficient. I did get a set of earrings completed, yesterday, and photographed, today. Unfortunately, I’m not the greatest photographer; fortunately, I do know how to use photo-editing software (to a degree). That doesn’t quite make up for a blurry shot, but it helps when trying to get the photo to resemble reality.

A set of two glass beaded drop earrings in shades of aquamarine and blue, with green, gold, and copper beads surrounding yellow-topaz-shaded centers.

I figured I should make some kind of record of these, as they did turn out pretty well. I really hate to have to write down the names of the beads I used (I won’t bore you with them — unless you ask), but there’s really no other way, besides reproducing the pair entirely, for me to know what I did for this outcome.

Essentially, I was following a pattern I developed earlier this year. It’s really…something, to get back into beadweaving, after you haven’t been doing it for months! I did have some trepidation, but noted it and kept going. Probably, that was the best thing I could have done.

This pair isn’t really perfect by any means, but the only reason I’ve developed the pattern this far is by making and remaking things with incremental improvement. Particularly, I seem not to have noted how to weave in the tail thread which results after the majority of the weaving in one direction, is done. This can result in the majority of the body loosening up…which is the last thing you want, after having constructed it.

The largest issue with these earrings is that they utilize size 15/0 rocaille seed beads (the tiny gold ones), and the weaving pattern requires multiple passes. This means using next-to-the-smallest-size needles I have (I believe I was using a Size 13, as I doubt I’d even be able to thread my Size 15s), using beads with relatively large piercings for their size (the ones I’m using here are Miyuki Duracoat 15/0 rocailles — using cylinder beads might be better, but I’d advise against using Czech seed beads for this pattern), using a fine thread (C-Lon AA beading thread…which I think is equivalent to a Nymo O, but don’t quote me on that) and being judicious about my thread path (i.e., not crossing over myself too much, or trying to sew through knots, if I can avoid it).

Taking this into account…I’m thinking the best way to anchor that tail thread is to follow the initial thread path which forms the backbone of the work. That last sentence would make more sense if I showed my notes, but I haven’t made a public-facing copy of those, yet. I even need to make a cleaner private copy of my notes, to that end!

There are a number of notes that I am not giving, here, which …you know, they’re pretty essential for this earring design. I haven’t yet gotten far enough in my plans for this site to be able to figure out whether it is really a good thing (for me) to publish that specific information. To be clear: I want to do it, and maybe I should at least start to try to do it; but it would help to have an established and thought-out strategy, before jumping in.

In any case, the total pattern — as shown in the finished object above — is still underdeveloped. There are things that I know how (and why) to do, which probably wouldn’t come to the mind of someone who hasn’t spent a while playing with the design itself.

Beyond that, my aim for the new year is to create more designs. That, and to get a decent job, so that I won’t have to worry about monetizing my crafts for the time being. There is some stuff that has come up about the job circuit, but — trust me, it’s not all that exciting. 🙂 The books are exciting; the organization of the books…it has to be done. I mean, seriously: has to be done, but the work — or my current view of the work — is that it’s quiet and analytical. That’s probably good for me; but still: not that exciting. 🙂 Heh. And it is probably a good thing, that it’s not exciting.

Now, I need to record which beads I used, and experiment with my next project.

A question: Would you be interested in seeing a written/drawn-out pattern for these earrings?

State of the moment: Review

I have one more Final to go (having realized that I don’t have to wait until the due date to turn things in), and am feeling that familiar lack of knowing what to do, which happens at the end of every semester. This is from the lack of pressure of layers of classes issuing assignments which automatically go to the top of my priorities list and then get sorted by due date. I have one more night to worry about, and that’s it. On top of it, I am more than annoyed with that one class, and am waiting for it to be over.

Of course, most often — the end of the semester is filled with anticipating the next semester. I’ve got the official part of that tucked away, already. What is more important and a bit more bothersome, is translating my skills and passions into a workable plan for employment, including the eventual goal of becoming financially self-sustaining.

Today I’ve been reading over some of the materials put out by my alma mater as to what job titles to search, and where to search for them. When I heard to, “be prepared to move,” for a good job, they weren’t kidding. There are jobs out there which are interesting, and may fit my personality well, and pay well enough so that I can live a comfortable life. I just can’t bet on being able to stay, here, exactly, and do them — unless I’m working remotely.

As it turns out, that may not necessarily be a bad thing? The cost of living — and particularly, the cost of housing — is extremely high, here. Not to mention that in the near future, a lot of these areas will have to deal with a rising water table and rising tides. I have been thinking of relocating to the Pacific Northwest, particularly to Washington or Canada…though it’s just an idea, right now.

We’re going to have continued climate upsets, no matter where I live. I know that Oregon and Washington have continued to receive precipitation recently, as well as extreme Northern California (say, near Eureka, which is near the Oregon border). Where I’m at, it has been raining recently, but we’re still in the middle of a drought. It seems like we’ve almost always been in a drought in my lifetime — when it hasn’t been flooding. Like we’ve almost always been in a recession, though I don’t even know how that’s possible.

I did just see an article pop up about how we, “may,” be in the middle of a mass extinction event. No, “are.” “Are,” is the term. We’ve known about it for a while, now. There are books about it (e.g. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, ©2014, Elizabeth Kolbert), that were published years ago. It has just hit other species first before humans on the whole have noticed it.

But yeah, not to get into the whole Anthropocene angle…it’s just that I’m realizing how fragile all of this actually is, and how…I know I should plan on being self-sufficient, but in reality…ugh. When I was 23, I didn’t think I’d make it past 30. I’m nearing 40 now, and wondering how I’m going to make this work, once my parents aren’t here to help. I can see myself working for maybe 30, 40 more years, but to be honest, I can’t bet on making it that long, and I don’t know what is going to happen once I hit, “retirement,” age (given that “retirement” is an artificial construction). It makes more sense to live with my mind in the present, rather than the future. I’ve lived with my mind in the future, for most of my life.

I’m thinking the Pandemic has a lot to do with my current mindset (not to mention the general dysfunction in the world right now, though a lot of that just coexists with [or aids and abets] the Pandemic, rather than being driven by it). I’ve found it causes less worry for me when I let go of ideas of rebirth…that is, beings have been living and dying on this planet, including in cataclysmic mass extinctions, for eons. They didn’t have Buddhism or Christianity to cause them to suffer more than necessary at the idea of death — or a continued attempted existence in an inescapable Venusian hell.

The polar ice is our safety buffer. What I know is that it’s absorbing excess energy by melting. I’m not an ecologist, but I don’t think it’s going to get better after the ice sheets are gone.

But hey, I guess if we did find life on other planets, at least we would know that someone else out there has a chance. No, I wouldn’t be as excited about people from here going and terraforming another planet. That’s a different thing. As a species, we’re dysfunctional; and when we ruin the next planet, if we survive, chances are we’ll just go looking for another. We haven’t learned on the whole yet that we dispose of the Earth and its life, at our peril.

I don’t want to get into it. But, maybe I eventually will. Maybe it’s best if I eventually do.

I mean…I did train for Fiction, after all…


So, I’ve got 10 days until Xmas. One of the gifts has been created and delivered. One. Because Finals always happen too close to Xmas. The gift in question needed to be delivered on or before the 24th, so I can say I met that deadline. I am getting really kind of tired of making jewelry out of flag colors or uniform colors or other group-affinity colors. It seems like these are almost never designed by people with advanced aesthetic senses. I really don’t get it, but then I am not really a person who values group affinity; I just happen to be in groups, once in a while.

Anyhow…there’s that. I don’t think anything special is happening for Xmas, which is kind of a relief. But I still have a limited time to complete the rest of my presents (if they’re going to be on time — they may not be). What’s annoying is that I don’t even have a job right now. Yes, I have been in classes, and they have been taking up the vast majority of my time. Did I need them?

They did show me, for one thing, that I’m overperforming at a Community College level…except for the one class where the instructor says we should all be getting 100% on the tests because, “he makes it so easy.” That’s the one I’m having trouble in, and it’s mainly a personality conflict. Dude makes too many assumptions (based on his generation and culture), and because of those assumptions, the class doesn’t work with my reality.


In other arenas…I’ve been learning about the quality of various mail-order glass beads. I may have to start returning some of these things, in the future. Most of them are very good. Then there are the others.

There are some curiosities which popped up with comparing incoming glass beads to glass beads I already had…seeing differences in the vividness of colors among sources, seeing differences in luster and depth of color (and what’s just coated), etc. I’ve found out that 3x5mm is a really great size for a rondelle (in my current design aesthetic), but there are good, clear, sparkly fire-polished rondelles, which were obviously made by people who cared about what they were doing. Then there are, “just want to throw them out,” fire-polished rondelles. I’ve learned that if the photo looks like the beads are dull, the beads probably are dull: it’s not an artifact of the camera. Yes, people actually do attempt to sell dull beads, and in many cases, I would believe, they succeed. Once, at least.

In my case, I might be able to tell which rondelles are which, by the package size (the good ones were all on strands of 100 beads each) — although I wouldn’t bet on it.

Something that came up with the gift I made, also drew my attention: not all “4mm” fire-polished beads are actually the same size. There are at least two different styles of cut for the 4mm fire-polished round beads, that is, which correspond with different stringing lengths and different weights: the squarer ones are bigger and heavier and look more lustrous, while the more diamond-shaped ones are smaller and lighter, with sharper facets. I don’t really know why this is, at this point; I just know that it is, and that it affects what you can use them for (if precise calibration is an issue).

I suspect that Starman and Preciosa are the brands I’m comparing, though generally Starman seems to mark their strands with their logo (and most of these didn’t have Starman tags on them, so far as I can recall). To further confuse the issue, some online bead sellers will mix up the two different cuts in the same request, for the same color…they aren’t the same thing!

Then there is the unpredictable quality of metallic coatings on glass beads…which have been a perennial problem for me. This is the reason I try not to buy Capri Gold, “California Gold Rush”, or Sliperit glass bead finishes, even though they usually look very pretty. Their durability is just suspect.

Most recently, I got 100 beads with a “Flax” coating, which…rubs off. I’m probably never going to use these beads, because no one deserves metallic gold powder rubbing off on their fingertips, let alone whatever else is in there.

The thing is, I’ve ordered Flax-finished beads before, even Flax beads of the same size (2mm); and have not had this issue. I’m thinking that the difference has to do with the skill (and conscientiousness) of the people making these things. The lower-quality finish also coincided with lower surface quality (some of the beads appear pitted, almost etched), and inconsistent drilling, with the beads leaning to the left and right of the strand before I removed them.

To make things more complicated, this set of beads was sold by a vendor who also supplies quality beads — not only Toho and Miyuki, but also some really nice little 2mm fire-polished rounds. Majorly affecting this, I think, is the fact that 2mm fire-polished rounds are basically hard to come by from the start, so finding quality 2mm fire-polished rounds out of the limited pool of all 2mm fire-polished rounds, must be especially difficult.

In any case, this causes me to wonder if, say, the Capri Gold, California Gold Rush (CGR), and Sliperit beads I’ve had before just were not made conscientiously? Could it be possible to create durable beads using these finishes — and I just happened to be unlucky at the time, and get merchandise which should not have passed inspection (although I believe the specific beads I’m thinking of were CGR SuperDuos)? Twenty to thirty minutes of handling should not result in the coating being wiped off.

I don’t know. I’ve seen otherwise reputable bead retailers selling all three of these finishes, and I am not entirely certain who is buying these things, or if they’re actually usable. I pretty much try things out until I can tell if they’re durable or not (there are some finishes that look metallic, which are in my experience, durable — but I question if they are actually structurally closer to Iris colors and further from Galvanized), but that doesn’t mean, necessarily, that I won’t get a wonky bunch just by virtue of statistics.

That’s…not to even mention the colors which have an extra tube of coating coming out of the hole on one side — on all the beads. I thought I knew what I was going to make my in-law, until I realized…hey, I’m not giving these out. I’ve seen this before.

What’s annoying is that they cost way more than they should have.

Apologies for my lack of pictures. I’m just really low-energy, right now. It’s possible I could fortify this entry in the future with some photos, but right now…I need to get on studying for that last Final.

Pre-planning

This is going to be another off-topic post. Right now I have a week before classes end, but I need to check in with myself before going all-in with study. I just have not been keeping up with myself over the last couple of months. I have been keeping up with assignments, but that’s different.

There is a lot that has happened. Some of it is already logged here in previous posts, so I’ll try to avoid repeating it: although I do need to make a “Business Plan” or at least a “Site Plan” for SpectralBeads. I would have gone into it for my eCommerce class, but if I’m not planning on monetizing this in the short term, it doesn’t seem to really be a business (but rather a potential content-based portfolio).

I have a number of ideas for the site, though they might be best fleshed out using Pages instead of blog posts. That’s going to require some thought as regards site structure and topical organization, in turn. I’ve realized that I repeat myself a lot, and a good deal of that happens because I have a set number of experiences, and have not had time — at least over the last semester — to make a lot of new ones which are on-topic.

Of course, there is the fact that this entire semester had to do with money matters…and it kind of takes the wind out of a person’s sails to learn that living is so expensive that one won’t be able to have a good quality of life if one tries to survive solely off of one’s art. There’s also the fact that I’ve realized I am very much not a, “people person,” and that this severely limits my employment possibilities. At least so, if I want to be able to have a pleasant (for me) job. It seems that what is pleasant to me, must be isolating, to social people. I’m trying to get out of the sector of LIS which has to deal intensely with the public…because I don’t think it’s healthy for me to try to force myself to like people.

There’s more I could say on that, but let’s just say that I don’t like having my boundaries violated in a consistent pattern among many people I don’t know. If I knew them, I could amend the situation. But what are you supposed to do when it’s widespread, and you see each person, what, for two minutes a time at random intervals? (I have issues with the way people alter how they treat me because of assumptions they draw from my appearance. Because of these, I shouldn’t be working with the public, where all they know about me is my appearance.)

I met with a career counselor who is guiding me toward work in Information Organization…which appears relatively “natural” if I look at what I’ve been spending time doing, other than classes. (In reality, it’s likely not natural, but trained.) I am supposed to be looking at job descriptions to see what appeals and doesn’t, regardless of where those jobs are located. I also have a couple of new work-related contacts whom I might message, though there’s always the question of what to say.

I’m also drawn to think about who I am outside of a beading information resource (although I haven’t really offered my skills as such, other than in the backposts of this blog, and in the site pages I already have developed). Though I do look at that, and see, “information resource,” which at one point I intended to do as a career, while, “beading,” as a topic, modifies it. My career counselor has pointed me in this direction, as I’m likely one of the few people in the beading world with LIS skills. For me, that means I’m skilled at research and at writing…and that I also have the benefit of a paying job path.

After classes are over, I’ve got to get together my notes as to what I can do to help the beading and crafting communities, which don’t involve directly selling jewelry. I have a lot of notes…it’s just, they’re scattered. Some of them are in this semester’s course materials; some are in my career counseling files, some are in my work journal, and some are in my creativity journal.

Anyhow. I’ve got four Finals to deal with, and one assignment, due in less than a week’s time. I’m organized enough so that I know what needs to be knocked out, first…and tomorrow seems like a good time to start. Right now, I should rest.

Celebrations

Well hello there! After writing last night, I didn’t expect to have a change of heart! I’m pretty sure the rest of the world doesn’t celebrate this, but today was Thanksgiving in the US. Essentially…we saw a couple of people today whom we haven’t seen in person for two years, and got together over food. It was really…really good.

I gave a bracelet to one person, who was very happy with it. It was interesting: I know I was thinking of her when I made it…I also went and reserved the colors to make a new one. What I realized when I gave it to her is that it actually was of salable quality, and beautiful…and that even if I could not make a full living off of my beadwork, I could (and probably should) be making some return off of it. I mean, it’s a skill, and something I know a lot about, am interested in, and like to do. If I’m not looking at being compensated for my time (which one could say I’m otherwise wasting anyway, outside of school), but rather just trying to make up what I lost in purchases, as well…there is a heavy argument for selling!

It’s also granted that I got full marks for the Business Plan I turned in, in which I was trying to puzzle out just what I would have to do if I wanted to make a living off of this, in this area. It’s amazingly obvious that if I bead, I will not be able to make a living off of my work…unless I charge more than I have been thinking about charging, or hire extra help. I do not think that I could make a full living even if I worked as hard as I could for as long as I could: I still would have to run the business, which takes time. Even so, I’m missing out on a lot by not selling, just because I know I have to also gain another form of income.

I don’t want to have to hire people for piecework labor (people skills are not my forte, and I can see workers becoming bored), and raising prices may price out the people I want to be able to afford my work. If I raised my prices, I would also need to sweeten my value proposition: charge more, for more; or, as was suggested tonight, accept donations, or (this is my possibly not so great idea) use a sliding scale.

In order to make a living without having to either raise prices or hire labor, I will have to split my time between the beadwork and another job…the latter of which, I have yet to acquire. But I can work on this, now: what says I have to get a paying job first, when I could be self-employed, first?

Wow. OK. That’s a revolution…

The major issue I am trying to envision right now, is how much of my time (in hours per day or per week) I devote to beadwork…and how much time to the job search (and then, to the job itself). We have decided over here that the situation with COVID is as good as it’s going to get, which is why we invited over chosen family today. Which reminds me that I should probably seriously get some rest, soon. I know I stayed up until 3 AM this morning, but I should at least try to keep my immunity up.

So I’ve worked out what I would need to do to make this a sustainable full-time business, and I know what’s demanded of me if I keep the hobby but don’t charge anyone anything for gaining from my skills (which I’m beginning to see as a tactic used when you’re otherwise gainfully employed). There is a lot of middle ground here, though. Aside from time division, the primary issue I can see is the question of how much more than nothing, I will be able to commit to earning (or attempting to earn). The two questions are related. D says it’s different if I do it because I love it, and make some extra money on the side, than it is if I use it as part of my survival income.

There’s also the possibility of just getting a job that I love (or at least, don’t hate), as versus trying to find a job within a certain field. M says that I would do well as a file clerk, if I don’t want to deal with people…

So, I’m looking at selling, again: but as a hobbyist, not a businessperson, and not yet through my own website. So far as I can tell, it seems that they pretty much follow the same routes, except that hobbyists cannot deduct business losses on Federal income tax — but I’m not sure, and maybe should consult an attorney. The full cost and risk of going into business outside of an online marketplace, IRL selling, or B2B trade, is not something I want to take on at the moment. However, there are easier options. Even if I get kicked off of one of these sites, there are other sites; and there is also the realistic possibility of selling in-person, or of partnering with a seller.

I seem to keep realizing that my beading could draw a return, towards the end of the year — when it’s too late to build up stock for the holiday buying rush. M says not to worry about this.

It just makes me happy to make people happy. And with that, I should probably brush my teeth and get some rest. It’s been…a grounding two days. Later today (it’s now after midnight here), I should probably get back to my schoolwork…

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…