Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Inspired by Reading Book Club, August 2016

"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 Silver Witch by Paula Brackston description: 

"A year after her husband's sudden death, ceramic artist Tilda Fordwells finally moves into the secluded Welsh cottage that was to be their new home. She hopes that the tranquil surroundings will help ease her grief, and lessen her disturbing visions of Mat's death. Instead, the lake in the valley below her cottage seems to spark something dormant in her – a sensitivity, and a power of some sort. Animals are drawn to her, electricity shorts out when she's near, and strangest of all, she sees a new vision; a boatful of ancient people approaching her across the water.
On this same lake in Celtic times lived Seren, a witch and shaman. She was respected but feared, kept separate from the community for her strange looks. When a vision came to her of the Prince amid a nest of vipers she warned of betrayal from one of his own. Prince Brynach both loved and revered her, but could not believe someone close to him wished him harm, even as the danger grew.
In her own time, Tilda's grief begins to fade beside her newfound powers and a fresh love. When she explores the lake's ancient magic and her own she discovers Seren, the woman in her vision of the boat. Their two lives strangely mirror each other's, suggesting a strong connection between the women. As Tilda comes under threat from a dark power, one reminiscent of Seren's prophecy, she must rely on Seren and ancient magic if death and disaster are not to shatter her life once more. Paula Brackston does it once again with The Silver Witch crafting an enchanting tale as timeless as it is engrossing."

I enjoyed this fantasy /historical fiction /romance novel, as much for the beautiful setting as the story. I think the main character's gradual discovery and control of her paranormal abilities is well- developed, and the overall pacing of the novel is just right.  One of my favorite passages:

 "Brynach sits back on his heels, gazing at her. 'I know she is a child of the moonlight,' he says, the sadness catching in his voice. 'I understand she must live as you do, making friends of shadows and shade, happiest and safest in the soft hours of cool darkness. I know this.' He turns to me. 'But I live my life by day, Seren. And though she is in your image, she has my blood.' He nods at the golden necklace. 'Now I know she will forever have a drop of sunshine with her, however deep the night. Forever.'"  

How lovely.

So, for my project, I decided to represent Seren in her nighttime world. I made a necklace, using a Green Girl Studios pendant, showing a hare in the moonlight (it made me wonder if Cynthia had this book in mind when she created this piece -- so perfect!). I strung moonstone and prehnite briolettes and rondelles to represent the moonlight and the natural green and gold world inhabited by Seren, and finished it with an antique silver toggle clasp:

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

"Inspired by Reading" Book Club, May, June, and July 2016

"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. 

It's catch-up time!

 May's selection: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender description:
"On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice. To her horror, she finds that her cheerful mother tastes of despair. Soon, she's privy to the secret knowledge that most families keep hidden: her father's detachment, her mother's transgression, her brother's increasing retreat from the world. But there are some family secrets that even her cursed taste buds can't discern."

I found this story to be well-written and inventive, but almost too sad to read. Rose's loneliness cast a pall over my mood. I was relieved toward the end, when she made her peace with her gift by finding a use for it. Resolution at last! 
 As for inspiring imagery, I noticed that both at the very beginning, when Rose's mother bakes the first doomed cake, and at the end, when Rose is explaining to her mother that she no longer likes lemon cake, she mentions the pansies and daffodils in the flower boxes at the windows:
"Sometimes, she said, mostly to herself, I feel I do not know my children... She said it out the window. To the flower boxes, in front of us, full of pansies and daffodils, bowing in at dusk." (p. 280) It was an odd little detail that stuck with me: everyday beauty side-by-side with so much angst. So, I decided to work with that.  I also wanted to bring in wood, as Rose's mother becomes a woodworker. I found a copyright friendly ("OK personal/derivative use) photo of daffodils and pansies at I printed it and decoupaged it on a wooden canning tag, glazed it, and painted the sides and back black.  I then added a couple of gold jump rings, some large seed beads, and a tassel of gold chain, a Czech glass pansy, and Czech glass bell flowers; and hung it from a yellow-green silk ribbon. Voila -- a little brightness in the darkness.

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to see more creations, and check out the links below:

June's Selection: Drinking the Rain, by Alix Kates Shulman description:

"At fifty, Alix Kates Shulman, author of the celebrated feminist novel, Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, left a city life dense with political activism, family and literary community, and went to live alone on an island off the coast of Maine. On a windswept beach, in a cabin with no plumbing, power, or telephone, she found that she was learning to live all over again.
In this luminous, spirited book, she charts her subsequent path as she learned not simply the joys of meditative solitude, but to integrate her new awareness into a busy, committed, even hectic mainland life."
I enjoyed this memoir and appreciate the author's motto, "Amor fati" -- love what is. For all of her preoccupation with her fears, she seems extraordinarily strong and resourceful: living off the land in a remote area with no modern amenities -- whew! 
I found plenty of imagery to work with: the water, the sunsets, wild roses around the cabin, berries, shells, starfish, pearls, and the pink piano!  Here is my "beach cottage" bracelet, with freshwater pearls, sterling silver "wild rose" clasp and starfish bead, rose quartz, citrine, aquamarine (blue rondelles and green briolettes), quartz crystals, tiny ruby, and gold vermeil shell.

Go to the Inspired by Reading Book Club on Facebook
to see more creations, and check out the links below:
Laurel Ross
Sarajo Spurgeon Wentling
Jessica Beebe

July's Selection: The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green description:

"Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our stars is award-winning-author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love."
This is my third time reading this novel (I'm a high-school librarian) and I've been moved each time (I was also pleasantly surprised at the high quality of the film). One of my favorite chapters is that in which Hazel and Augustus are treated to dinner and champagne at a fine restaurant on a canal in Amsterdam, with the spring snow (elm seeds) dropping all around them. I found pictures of the elm seeds online, and thought they resembled keishi (cornflake) pearls, so I made a pair of earrings with peach keishi pearls for the elm seeds, and little quartz crystals, to represent the bubbles in the champagne that Hazel and Gus enjoy.

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