Thursday, December 3, 2015

"Inspired by Reading" Book Club, October & November 2015

“Inspired by Reading” is a book club established by artist 
Andrew Thornton. Members read the month’s selection, chosen by Andrew, then create something inspired by the book.

October's selection:  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs review:

"As a kid, Jacob formed a special bond with his grandfather over his bizarre tales and photos of levitating girls and invisible boys. Now at 16, he is reeling from the old man's unexpected death. Then Jacob is given a mysterious letter that propels him on a journey to the remote Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. There, he finds the children from the photographs--alive and well--despite the islanders’ assertion that all were killed decades ago. As Jacob begins to unravel more about his grandfather’s childhood, he suspects he is being trailed by a monster only he can see. A haunting and out-of-the-ordinary read, debut author Ransom Rigg’s first-person narration is convincing and absorbing, and every detail he draws our eye to is deftly woven into an unforgettable whole. Interspersed with photos throughout, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a truly atmospheric novel with plot twists, turns, and surprises that will delight readers of any age." 
This is such an original fantasy novel! I love the character of Miss Peregrine: strict, precise, loving, and protective. I am delighted by the author’s use of nearly archaic language, for example, “peculiar” to describe children with unusual powers. These aspects, combined with the misty island setting and the time-travel mystery, made this a very enjoyable read for me.
I drew my inspiration from the phrase “the bird… in the loop… on the other side of the old man’s grave”, and from the antique photos used in the book. I designed a necklace of gray beads (like the stone of the old man’s grave): pewter pearls, labradorite, and cloudy quartz, plus a Green Girl Studios bird button, a loop of button pearls, and a pewter locket by Nunn Designs, featuring a photo of my maternal grandmother on her wedding day—a personal touch.

I am the coach for my school’s Page Turners team (PageTurners is a literature-based competition for students in grades 3-12.) This book was on our Fall list. I told the kids about “Inspired by Reading” – they’re looking forward to seeing what the club members make!

November's selection: Serena by Ron Rash review: "The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains--but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning."
After reading the above description, I did not want to read the book (greed, murder, and deforestation -- whimper), but I decided to give it a chance; and was quickly absorbed by the setting and the story.  I loved the descriptions of the forested land, and am now interested to read more about the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The characters, on the other hand… the author’s device of the Greek Chorus as played by the logging crew was a welcome spot of humor, and worked pretty well, but sometimes contrived to make those characters laughable, rather than sympathetic.  I most enjoyed Rachel’s story, though the female characters all seemed like stereotypes: the murderous queen, the innocent madonna, the wise old crone, the malicious gossips.
For my inspiration, I went with the natural resources of the setting: dark green wooden beads, copper spacers and pine cone charm, glass beads in the colors of the forest, plus a bit of deep green sari silk, to represent Serena's dress.
Check out the links below to see more creations for both of these books!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

“Inspired by Reading” Book Club, September 2015

“Inspired by Reading” is a book club established by artist Andrew Thornton. Members read the month’s selection, chosen by Andrew, then create something inspired by the book.

September’s selection: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.
Publisher’s description:

A Winner of the Alex Award, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction, named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle

“The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything--instead, they "check out" large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele's behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore's secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.”

What I loved most about this book is that the author is clearly technologically astute, yet expresses wonder and deep appreciation for the beauty of the printed word and the brilliance of its inventors. My favorite quote:
“There is no immortality that is not built on friendship and work done with care.”

When I read a book for this club, I highlight words and passages that provide images.  For this book, my highlights are dominated by three words: “leather”, “font”, and “Google”. Hmm. I’d been admiring the leather strips and pewter findings in my local bead stores --a shout-out to Colleen at Bead Breakout for her great suggestions!  I decided to make a cuff using gray and black-with-silver leather strips, a magnetic pewter clasp engraved with a swirly design (“the cloud”), some crystals in Google logo colors, and a charm engraved with a serifed "M", for Manutius (or Marie ;-)). 
See Andrew's blog to view others' inspirations!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

"Inspired by Reading" Book Club, August 2015

"Inspired by Reading" is a book club established by artist Andrew Thornton. Members read the month's selection, chosen by Andrew, then create something inspired by the book.
August's Selection: The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

Publisher's description:

"The circus arrives without warning. No annoucements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rê
ves, and it is open only at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the loves of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance."

If Le Cirque des Rêves ever comes to Rochester, NY, I will be waiting at the gates at dusk, wearing my brightest crimson scarf (note my avatar). I especially love the idea of the Ice Garden, so that is my inspiration for this bracelet:

I used silver-tipped matte crystal cathedral beads, opal glass bell flowers, Swarovski Comet Argent bicones, and a floral toggle clasp from Green Girl Studios. The focal bead is a faux cinnabar bead, which I treated with embossing powders, glitter and lacquer.

I really enjoyed this charming story; I'll be reminded of it whenever I wear my bracelet!

Check out these links for other creations:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"Inspired by Reading" Book Club, July 2015

"Inspired by Reading" is a book club established by artist Andrew Thornton.  Members read the month's selection, chosen by Andrew, then create something inspired by the book. 

July's selection: Swamplandia, by Karen Russell
Publisher’s description:
"Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family's island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava's mother, the park's indomitable headliner, the family is plunged into chaos; her father withdraws, her sister falls in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, defects to a rival park called The World of Darkness. As Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all, we are drawn into a lush and bravely imagined debut that takes us to the shimmering edge of reality."

 I loved Swamplandia!.  Karen Russell's writing just glows.  The reader really sees the world through Ava's and Kiwi's eyes.  So many vivid images suggested jewelry to me:  Hilola's perfume bottle... a bracelet?  Trailing swamp orchids... a necklace?  Or a pendant based on this phrase:  "you could float the outcome of your battle into the air over the stadium, like a balloon."  My favorite line in the book, and the one that really encapsulated it for me, was near the end:  "Mothers burning inside the risen suns of their children." 

 Ultimately I decided to make a sort of abstract sun pendant, something that would suggest an intense flame, the sun's rays, and the colors of a vibrant dawn.  I used a gold ceramic donut, a wavy lampwork disk from Mermaid Glass, some Swarovski fire opal crystals, hammered bronze wire, a bit of hand-dyed silk ribbon, and Vintaj chain.

Check out these other inspired creations: