Monday, April 27, 2009

Procrastination is not a dirty word...

So, I've been thinking about procrastination recently. I'm an expert procrastinator. I put things off until the last minute. I never arrive anywhere early — I'm not late, you understand — I just squeak in at the nick of time. Usually. (I think I just heard my editor sniff. ;)

I make lists compulsively. I even include on the lists things I've already done, just so I can cross them off and start off with a feeling of achievement.  Sad, I know.  

Anyway, my procrastination often takes a creative direction. It might be that I join Twitter and in the same breath start a blog. It might also be that I take up beading while I watch TV at night. I go through phases of doing little fiddly projects, and while my fingers are busy on one thing, my mind is working on another. In the past I've made cards, things for dolls houses, tiny clothes for tiny dolls -- at the time I was babysitting a friend's little daughter on a regular basis and the dolls house was an ongoing obsession project. And if  I'm not doing craft stuff I'll make soup — all that repetitive chopping of vegies sets the story spinning afresh as well.

The beading started when I attended a pearl knotting workshop, to learn to knot pearls correctly - research in mind, not procrastination. After I'd done the class projects I made this little bracelet from some leftover freshwater pearls and jet chips I had after I'd pulled apart a 3 strand necklace and made it into two longer strands. And as a result of the pearl knotting course, I also discovered wholesale bead and semi-precious stone suppliers, which are so much cheaper than ordinary bead shops. So then I really got hooked.
 I got a bit carried away in the wholesale suppliers, and I also dug out a lot of old beads, broken necklaces I'd bought in charity shops, and some of my mother's old beads, and I started making necklaces. Years ago I used to make earrings but hadn't done anything like that for ages, though I still had some of  my old bead supplies, so it was fun trying different combinations.

There's no real skill involved -- it's actually a bit kindergarten: threading beads-- but lots of fun. And some of the results are very pretty, I think.

This is the first necklace I made, with misshapen freshwater pearls and green glass beads. Green is one of my favorite colors and I liked the combo of the straight-edged glass beads and the knobbly freshwater pearls. Cultured freshwater pearls are amazingly cheap, and yet they're still real pearls. 
Do you know how to tell real pearls from fake? I'd read a squillion times in books that you rub them against your teeth and that real pearls felt rough, not smooth. But I'd tried it a squillion times and never felt the difference.

But all these years I'd been doing it wrong. You rub the pearls gently along the sharp, biting edge of your teeth, not against the front of them, as I'd always done. It feels distinctly different, and it's nothing to do with the actual surface texture of the pearl. Real pearls and fake both feel smooth to the fingers. But rub real pearls along the biting edge of your bottom front teeth and they feel ever so slightly gritty. It's to do with the composition of the nacre -- the substance a pearl is made from. Have you ever eaten a souvlaki (gyros) and accidentally bitten down on some foil? Feels weird. It's a chemical thing, not a texture thing, and my guess is that pearls are like that.
Anyway, enough of the pearl lesson. This necklace was made from the remnants of a broken shell necklace of my mother's. I remember her wearing it when I was a child and I loved the tiny pinky shells. With the shells I used misshapen freshwater pearls (I love the odd ones so much better than the perfect round ones) plus some antique drop shaped semi-opaque glass beads that I'd had for years and never found a good use for them, and some small cubed metal beads. I'l probably never wear this — I hardly ever wear pink, but I like how it looks.
I'd had these blue-green stone beads for ages, but wasn't sure what to team them with. In the end, I chose mauve and green quartz chips and aqua-colored fake pearls from an old broken necklace, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out. 

But even though all of this is a form of procrastination, I know, it's not necessarily a waste of time. I find when I occupy my hands with small, fiddly things, my mind roams free. Half way through a project I'll put it down and head for the computer or my notebook and write down an idea for the next or a future scene of my book. It's as if the fiddly manual nature of the activity has set free my imagination or subconscious to roam.

At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Do you have a hobby, a craft, or a favorite form of procrastination?


  1. Anne, your jewelry is GORGEOUS!!! What a fine artisan you are. I am deeply impressed. You have a nice eye for color and aesthetic appeal.

    I've long been a jewelry dabbler--I frequently modify earrings (my passion, along with bracelets). I now have a huge collection of earrings, but find that I always wear the same 4-5 all the time. Guess I should dismantle all the others and make something new out of them!

    Right now, my big hobby is making cards. I have hundreds and hundreds of rubber stamps and find it very rewarding and relaxing to spend a day stamping. Here's a link (I hope it works!) to some of my cards: (click on any thumbnail to see a bigger version).

    I think these little hobbies of ours fill a need and help replenish the well when our creative juices run dry.

  2. I think my hobby is going to be reading your blog!

    And you really are procrastinating, no matter how wonderful the beading is -- and it is. But then, so am I, with no jewelry to show for it. (But I do have 930 pictures of Demetrios).

  3. Procrastination is my favourite word, but all I have to show for it are the huge number of bookmarked pages on my laptop.

  4. Sherrie, your rubber stamps are really beautiful. Each one is a work of art. I can't imagine sending them -- I'd want to frame them.

    Anne McA — and this from a woman who has 948 pictures (and counting) of Raoul Bova and calls it "research?" Repeat after me, "Not procrastinating, but refilling the well."

    Liz, lovely to have you drop in. I'd say a large number bookmarked pages is a sign of well organized research-in-waiting.

  5. I'd been a lot happier with all those beautiful necklaces, Anne!

  6. Those necklaces are gorgeous, Anne, but I love your books, too.
    Was that a gentle hint? Not really. There's something about jewellery, isn't there? On the weekend, I gave my nine year old granddaughter a cameo locket that my great aunt had given to me when I was nine. It was wonderful to see how much she loved it.

  7. So glad you've started a blog Anne! Those beads are fantastic. I use any excuse to procrastinate. I don't have to have a hobby - deciding that I need a new washing machine will take me off onto the net for hours!

  8. Gorgeous necklaces Anne. I agree with you procrastination isn't a dirty word. I watch TV series on DVD and I find that helps the creativity flow. As well as reading. I used to do ceramics, but it reached its used by date. I would love to learn more about digital photos, digital art, and doing a craft like beading, but I'm finding what I DO do hard enough to get to. Well one day..... :)

  9. Lovely blog, Anne! Isn't it amazing how many ways we can find to procrastinate? Mine usually revolve around food. I might go out and buy several crates of tomatoes which must be dealt with quite quickly. Then I find I don't have enough jars and bottles and have to trot off to buy some, and then there are the labels to design, etc. etc.
    Lovely jewelry and blog.

  10. Kezia, I hear you about the endless investigation on line -- it sure can eat up time. I'm not much of an on-line shopper, but research can hook me in, and I get caught up in stuff that's not at all related to the current wip.... And then there's looking at craft and writing blogs... I've got to the stage where I use a kitchen timer or a CD to time me. When the CD finishes, that's it! Of course, occasionally I won't notice the music has stopped. LOL.

    Eleni, I tell myself that beading is NOT what I do -- it's when I'm not doing anything (except maybe watching TV) that I'm beading. I tell you, it's ruined SBS for me! LOL. (For those not sure, SBS is a foreign language TV station where most things are in subtitles)

    Louise I love preserving food. Have just finished the last of last year's tomato relish -- my godmother's recipe, and I'm kicking myself now for not making any this year. And yes, I can waste a lot of time designing pretty labels, too -- made some Limoncello this year and made the most gorgeous labels.

  11. Barb, I love your family tradition of the locket. I'm sure your grandaughter would be proud to receive the cameo. I love cameos.
    It would be lovely to see that little scene in a book, hint hint. ;)

  12. LOL - yes SBS would be really hard to follow while your eyes aren't on the screen. Well at least that way you have some background noise as you work on your beading - and work (subconsciously) on your next book.