Thursday 10 May 2018

General update

Remember the spiral stringer bead from the last post? Well, here it is as part of its set. That vibrant acid yellow-green is new CiM 'Oobleck' and I will be writing more about it shortly, along with my thoughts on a few of the other new Creation is Messy colours.

I'm still getting back into the beadmaking after a couple of months away from it. I don't think I posted about it here, but I gave up my archaeology degree. Here's what I posted on my Facebook page about this:

"You know how you shouldn’t do something if it makes you unhappy? If you’re not happy in a relationship, or your job, or just in your general life situation, we’re advised to change it if we can, right? Because life’s too short and all that. Well, I’ve made a change and… I am no longer a student.

I started my archaeology degree because I wanted to learn more about the subject and I wanted to get myself a qualification that would allow me to get a good and interesting job if I wanted to at some point in the future. The course started off OK. I was loving it and I was doing well as far as grades go. However, in about November I began to hate it. I hated the workload, the pressure, the having to write in a totally unnatural, wanky academic fashion (if I’d done uni when I was supposed to, I’d probably have found academic writing as a 40 year old a lot easier), and I began to hate the subject. I began to hate it to the point where watching history and archaeology programmes made me feel sick. In fact, I couldn’t watch them because I felt like some kind of fraud. How could I watch Alice Roberts enthusing over some old coins or a fossilised Viking turd, when inside me I had this gnawing “I don’t want to be doing this degree” feeling?

I have a shelf full of utterly fascinating archaeology and history books that I haven’t had time to read properly because I was only using them to scan through and pick out relevant references and quotes. That’s a waste of books.

I said to myself I’d give the first few months of my second year a go and see how I felt. Well, I did that and I felt bad. There’s no fun in reading stuff that makes absolutely no sense to you, no matter how much you translate it and use the BBC Bitesize website to help you try and understand it. And when you have to regurgitate all that stuff your eyes have read but your brain didn’t understand, in the form of 8000 words written in the absolutely correct way, well… basically I was buggered. Yes, I could have struggled on. Yes, I could have just done the best I could for the next two years, but you know what? When I can’t sleep for worry, when I keep getting styes (my number one “You are run down, Laura” signal), when I want to vom every time someone asks me how the degree is going, when I feel that weight of dread in my stomach whenever I look at any of the books or papers, and when I simply feel so unhappy every day, it is not worth it.

I thought vocalising my “I want to quit” thoughts to my husband would make me feel like a failure. But I don’t. I know I’ve made the correct decision because of the feeling of utter relief and lightness I’ve experienced since quitting. I had a go at being a uni student. I thoroughly enjoyed some of it. My love for archaeology and history remains, but now I will learn about it in my own way, in my own time, and without having to cite every single ruddy thing I ever want to communicate. (Tits to you, Harvard referencing!)

TL;DR – I quit my archaeology degree because it was making me unhappy."

So there you go. Back to the beads I go. I have missed them and I even tidied up the shed last week!

My workbench, before and after the tidy-up

My shed is still the same undecorated and unfancy wooden box it's always been, but it's a lot more uncluttered than it was. Here are some of the beads I've made post-tidy:

'Fiery' Potpourri

'Sage' Luminobeads

'Purquoise' Spotties

In other news, I'm still running. I don't know what I'd have done without my running during the whole degree worry stuff. It kept me sane. I ran my first 10K race last month and in September I'm doing a half marathon. You can read all about my running over on my running blog if you like, and I've set up an Instagram account for all my red-sweaty-faced running pictures.

This week's shed listening has been The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling. I listened to the third book in the Cormoran Strike series, Career of Evil, after watching the BBC adaptations of the first two stories, so then I went back to listen to the actual books.

Gratuitous photo of Tom Burke as Cormoran Strike

The books are far more detailed than the television programmes and you learn way more about the characters. I'll be getting The Silkworm when my next Audible credit comes through. The Strike audiobooks are narrated by Robert Glenister and he does a marvellous job of it.

Right! Off to the shed for me. Its black and white today, I think, possibly with a splash of that Oobleck thrown into the mix.

Friday 4 May 2018

A glimpse into my crazy

Yesterday was a bit of a meh shed day. I just couldn't seem to get going. I had a colour combination all sorted and I knew what I wanted to make but my brain and hands were engaged in some kind of conflict, as described in this tweet:

Applying a trail of fine stringer in a spiral around a bead is a pretty straightforward technique and it's one that I've done thousands of times, but yesterday it just wasn't working. Well, it was, but as far as my brain was concerned, it wasn't working correctly.

I've written umpteen times about how picky I am with my work. Every time I do, people leave lovely comments and assure me that my work is fine and that the beads are handmade and they're not supposed to be 'perfect' and all that. I put the word 'perfect' in inverted commas then because I've personally never described my work as such. I'm a perfectionist, yes, but in the sense that I try to make a bead as best as I can possibly make it; I'm not actually striving for absolute perfection.

Yesterday, I tried and tried to make a 'correct' spiral bead and after the five failed attempts which ended up in the water jug – and that's not counting the attempts that didn't make it past the base bead or encasing stage, then through to the stringer application one – I eventually made the spiral bead I was after. I did put three not-quite-right attempts in the kiln, though, as I knew I wanted to write about this ridiculousness in order to give you a glimpse into my crazy.

Here is the 'correct' bead:

And here are the three beads that I rejected but didn't kill:

At first glance, these three probably look alright. Chris did his usual "WHAT? They're absolutely fine. Get them sold, missus!" about them. But no, they're not leaving the house. You might be able to see why I rejected them, but if not, I'll explain. From left to right...

The first bead was rejected because the spiral is not 'tight' enough; the gaps between the wraps are too wide apart for my liking.

The second bead is okay stringer-wise but the base bead has an irksome glitch in it where the grey glass did a striation thing.

The third bead was rejected as it just doesn't look balanced to my eye. I also wasn't happy with where I melted the stringer off; the tail end on the left hand side isn't close enough to the bead hole.

So what am I trying to illustrate with this post? Am I writing it to get an "Oh, Laura, you're such a perfectionist" reaction? Or am I in some way being superior, trying to say that I'm so pernickety – far more pernickety – than other beadmakers? No, absolutely not. I'm trying to show you that this is why I say no so much. It's why I say no to commissions and no to remakes. If I can spend so very long trying to make what is a very basic-looking bead, which I will sell for about three quid (you do the laughable maths there; minimum wage doesn't come anywhere near it) how can I possibly commit to commissions and remakes?

Am I complaining? No. Because this is just how my brain works. It's what makes my beads my beads. Is there a medical term for my prohibitive bead pickiness? Probably, yes. Is it tied up with all the other annoying things my brain puts me through like my constant anxiety and my awkwardness when doing general life things? Almost definitely. I accepted these annoying aspects of my me-ness  long ago; some days I struggle with them, but other days I embrace them. Just as these complicated brain quirks make my beads my beads, they also make me me, and I kind of like that.

Today I'm intending to finish the set that this spiral bead is part of. Will it happen? I'll keep you posted...