Friday, 19 July 2013

Time to do something with all that sea glass?

This is a batch of sea glass I found last time my sis and I were by the sea, must've been some weeks ago by now. Even picked up a piece of sea pottery.

The last two years or so I've taken up the habit of combing the beach for glass and pottery every time I've been down by the sea. Sometimes even forgetting to take photos, which is usually why I do by the sea. Sometimes I don't find much, sometimes I get a handful of shards, mostly white and some almost new, sharp and unfrosted -- while not as pretty, I pick up that too just to keep the beaches clean.

Add to that my collection of our own tumbled glass plus a few "sea glass" beads (= etched or tumbled glass beads sold as sea glass even though they're absolutely not). But of cause that's not as special as real sea glass/beach glass and sea pottery.

But now I have enough to more or less have to start thinking about what to do with it all. Most pieces aren't that special as they're plain frosted clear glass. But they're still sea glass and I don't want to "waste" it on mediocre projects. I love, love the pieces in this tutorial, but don't think there are enough big pieces of glass for me to use -- it might be better to tumble some broken glass for that. A few pieces are even smaller than a little finger nail (there's one piece I'm saving for a real metalsmith's bezel setting as the shape and size is so pretty).

Another idea along the line of the image transfers would be to add variegated metal leaf as I did with this cab or paint the back with some cool effect paint. But, again, it feels like ruining it and something that should be left to tumbled glass.

Beaded bezels would be too thick and I can't yet make metal bezels. Wirework isn't on the agenda right now. Drilling holes for stringing or chainmaille techniques doesn't really tempt me. WOrking them into embroideries might work, but I don't have any ideas yet to wow me into "sacrificing" a piece or more of the limited stash.

And still, while shooting down every idea I get, I would like to not just collect. Though sometimes I wonder if it's just that the maker part of me doesn't want the collector part to decide, maybe because collecting without a collector's goals and organized purpose is akin to hoarding and hoarding, we are told, is bad. Or at least not really good. Beaders can write about being hoarders and often it will continue with statements about daring to use a precious component or complaints or apologies for hoarding or saving something for "that special project". It's not something to brag about, not using components in the stash. But sometimes we should perhaps abandon that guilty feeling and just remember the joy of collecting these small treasures, just like we did as children. No one expected us then to use the little knick-knacks we gathered in a special box just for looking at, picking up and admiring. It's not wrong to buy supplies without the intent of using it. It can be beautiful just the way it is. It doesn't always need to be processed (förädlad) to get a value and justify the purchase [or in this case, the acquiring] of it.

It's not wrong to want to make something awesome with supplies, to be creative with something in order to enhance it. It's great! You make something that gives you a chance to showcase the special component, make it possible to carry it with you -- you deserve to feel good about doing it, about creating something really beautiful and/or meaningful from something you love. It's just that it's easy to make the opposite of right be wrong and define something as a supply makes it sound unfinished, incomplete, a part that can only become whole when put together with something else. It also makes it sound like you're a bad beader/crafter/artist for buying new things when you already have supply, as if supplies are interchangeable without specific characteristics and uses -- especially people that don't create themselves will let you know this! It's easy to feel guilty about spending money without using the things you buy (which, as said before, don't have value until you use them due to their definition). To feel stressed about a growing -- I'd say thriving! -- stash or about not having the urge to make those special components "complete".

But really, some things are beautiful as they are and shouldn't be seen as merely supplies, but objects to adore all in their own right. They are complete, they are wholes from the day we acquire them. And while a beader never has that bead she/he really needs and she/he sometimes even forget about some beads in the stash, just having a stash is more than just a practical thing. More that a cress physical resource for jewellery making and beadwork. It's not just about having the right supplies at hand for a project. Maybe you never used that bead you bought, but the colours have still inspired you -- many times over! Maybe you forgot a beautiful bead as you kept buying new ones, but one day you'll find it in the stash and it'll be just perfect for a project you're working on or it'll inspire a new design on a day when you feel like you've lost the mojo for good. Maybe just looking at the beads every now and then will make you happy -- for the beauty and feeling of the object itself, for memories of the person giving it to you, for your adoration of the bead maker. Maybe you one day will give it to someone who'll create something amazing with it and she wouldn't have been able to do that had you not gifted her with that particular bead or component at that particular time. Maybe you just need the rainbow of colours that's your bead stash to sort and touch in order to infuse yourself with creativity and inspiration or in order to relax and feel harmonious. Beads, ribbons, yarn, charms, design papers, effect paints -- all creative supplies have values far beyond merely its intended practical use. And you don't need to feel bad just because everyone and everything focuses on that particular, narrow value. You know better!


I should've stopped there, but just I just realised that a simple post showing some relatively so-so sea glass, a post mostly posted because I took a five minute break and wanted to write something to keep the blogging going, turned into something very different. How did that happen? Apparently it was an issue I had/have opinions on and feelings about...


UPDATE: Fun thing, today (the day after writing the text above)  I started finding reveal posts for the Bead Hoarders Blog Hop in my blog feed. Talk about interesting coincidences. Wonder if anyone participating in that hop read this -- before or after posting on their blogs -- and I wonder what it made them think... Should I note that it was a reaction to myself and my own feelings, not towards anything anyone else did, certainly not a reaction prompted by the blog hop? It's just a different perspective to alleviate guilt -- we all get fed guilt, especially females, in our society about what we do or don't do and how we look. I wanted to ease this particular little guilt a bit, remove a nagging, stressing feeling of "ought tos" from my mind. I wanted to free myself -- and I didn't know it until my fingers began writing this text!

Being one of those who are so bad at starting (see this post on start buttons and sparks),  I sure need challenges (from myself or someone else) and encouragements to get going. To rev up and set the ball rolling. The Bead Hoeaders Blog Hop could've been useful for me -- unless my creative drain and inert resistance would stall me and made me feel guilty about that too -- and I firmly believe that we need to challenge ourselves and push ourselves to pick something up and start doing instead of just thinking. I just wanted these two things, letting go of ideas about what one should do and "forcing" yourself to use something up, to be equally morally good and acceptable. Not for the latter to feel productive while the former is lazy and unproductive, passive/negative when taking the bull by the horn is active/positive. Both strategies alleviate the "guilt" of having unused supplies and all those energy-draining "I shoulds" as I see it. Sometimes we need to be active, sometimes we need to let go in order to feel good. It's all about where we are and what we're doing and feeling at the time. And for the "I shoulds" to not always be there as a constant reminder, a nagging gulit-tripping mom to make use feel bad for not doing something. That adds such unnecessary stress, albeit just a tiny one, a restless, negative undercurrent that can make you head into a negative spiral if you're at a point where you feel like you've lost your creativity and can't find the joy and positive energy in creating.

About the text, I added a few sentences and adjusted a couple of others as I wrote from the heart yesterday -- with a tired head. This is just a spontaneous text, not some well thought through manifesto or anything, but I still wanted to clarify and add important words that I didn't think of yesterday when I hadn't slept on it.


  1. I saw your comment at Lori's blog and it made me very curious to come and read your post. I like your way of thinking, that the supplies of colorful beads in my stash help me to be more creative. My daughter-in-law calls my stash a "critical mass" of beads, meaning it is the right amount to be able to create almost anything! However, I always find a need to go shopping for something special to create a certain piece.
    I used this blog hop/reveal to nudge myself to do something I had wanted to do and planned to do... but had not yet done: create a necklace using a pendant that I had owned for the past 12 years. With a lot of stopping and starting again, I finally came up with a plan but ran out of time to complete the project. (I posted a picture showing how much I managed to finish).

    Your sea glass is beautiful just as it is! Perhaps you will want to display it in a little dish?

    1. Thanks for your comment! Like the idea of the critical mass. And as you say, there's always that one thing you have to buy to be able to start a project, no matter the size of the stash. :)

      Yeah, sometimes one needs that motivation or push from outside to finally do something like that. Creative people like to procrastinate so it's a good way to rekindle old ideas (must've been some reason for buying a certain component) and get a deadline to work towards.

      Nice idea about the sea glass display. Probably need to find either something with a glass lid or something to put over it like a cloche to finish it off: with 11 cats I just know how it'd end up otherwise... :D Especially Jinja just loves to poke little loose things and push them over an edge of some sort (stairs, window sills, desks). Put it somewhere the cats can't reach, but where humans can still see it, you say? Oh, but cats find a way. If there's something they can push over an edge to play around with they'll find a way...

  2. I think you have a great perspective. I have several printer's drawers (those cabinet drawers with lots of little tiny spaces for bits and pieces of this and that?) and Zack and I fill them with things and call them Treasure Boxes. In fact, I read a book called "Wonderstruck" that talked about how these sorts of collections were the first museums.

    Zack and I live on a peninsula, so we're constantly looking for sea glass, sea brick, bits of things -- acorns, rocks, whatever happens to attract us at that moment. No reason, just have to have it, and when I look through these Treasure Boxes, the memories are amazing. If I had to make something out of the sea glass, I don't think I could, because of the memories involved. I would have to be just lightning-struck with the perfect idea, so I have no problem letting them stand alone.

    As far as hoarding beads, I have a bunch of beads that I absolutely KNOW I will never use. I have some sitting on shelves, some in bowls, but I don't feel guilty about that, either. They're pretty no matter if they're done up into jewelry or standing on their own.

    I really do love this post and think it's terrific.

    1. Thanks for your comment! I'm glad to hear you like it. I had no idea I had those thoughts inside me, at least not all of it, but it feels good to have put them down in writing and be able to see it -- and share it.

      It's great living near the sea, isn't it? Sure, there are lots of treasures to be found in forests and other nature types too, but it's something special with beach finds. Pretty, often very durable, always a surprise as the weather and winds will determine what you might find. (Just wish there were more sea glass here, but not living right by the old trade routes or having any old factories nearby, I probably should be glad the littering isn't so bad we get tonnes of sea glass.)

  3. Interesting post. I guess I'm hoarding too. I prefer calling my stash my treasure... I think that procrastination is a part of my creative process. Unfortunately it always makes me feel a bit guilty. Milka

    1. Thanks! As a couple of beaders I know put it, it's easy to become a skadrak (skata/magpie + drake/dragon) and just keep gathering pretty and shiny things.

      Procrastination seems to be so common in creative people. Me too, very much so. There's that fine line between whether to see it from the perspective above and let go of all the pressure to use things from the stash/treasure or whether to identify it as resistance that you have to work through. Sometimes the first one is the best strategy, just enjoying things as they are and let everything grow in its own pace, and sometimes you really must "force" yourself to start a project and defeat that resistance or block the brain is creating. (The latter being something many creative people have written about, some referring to e.g. Steven Pressfield's book The War of Art etc. Funny how it can be so hard to start creating when loving the process and the work of the hands and mind so much...)


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