Thursday, March 6, 2014

Inspired By Reading Book Club ~ January/February

Welcome to the latest installment of the Inspired by Reading Book Club hosted by Andrew Thornton.  Once again, we combined two months for our reveal. And even with the extra time, I'm late.

To be honest, I had some difficulty get,ting inspired. Maybe I was preoccupied with my first trip to Tucson, maybe moving my workspace sapped my energy. Whatever it was I wasn't feeling it.

I read as far as page 50 in The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie when my very insightful seatmate on the plane to Tucson told me it was ok not to finish a book. There was so much imagery that I found myself rereading many passages, but I just wasn't holding the meaning. Plus I already had a page of notes of possible design ideas -

*a stone gate with 2 elephants facing each other
*a tiger penis in a golden bowl
*bells on the ankles of dancers

While the tiger penis was tempting, I went with some cloisonne elephants from my stash of charms. I found matching pearls in Tucson (Ironically from a NY supplier - Pearl Conceps)
I used gold filled wire to connect the components and craft earwires. 

Next up on the reading list was Difficult Loves by Italo Calvino. This book is a collection of short stories translated from the original Italian. At times I felt the translation fell flat. I was intrigued by The story titled "The Enchanted Garden", in which two children sneak through bramble into a garden where they picked flowers, swam, played ping pong and had a snack. Unfortunately, they were unable to enjoy themselves because they felt they might get caught. Before leaving they spied a boy inside the villa who appeared to be equally uncomfortable. What caught my attention were the collections of framed butterflies on the wall. I wanted to create something with brambles and/or butterflies, but my muse was hiding.

I was resigned to the fact that I would just skip this book and head off to the Jewels By JAR exhibit at the Metropolitan  Museum of Art in NYC. And wouldn't you know it, Joel A Rosenthal had a designed wall of butterflies and dragonflies.

These are actually jewel encrusted brooches. Finally I was inspired.

I decided to try a new technique at the last minute.
I took and etching class in Tucson. The instructor Amber of String Bead was wonderful. 

So bright and early this morning, I shaped and prepped the copper. 

I drew a sketch, then drew on the copper with a Sharpie. And placed my earrings into the the etching solution.

I am sure I heard Amber say she often left her pieces in solution over night.

I learned a great lesson today - copper pieces cannot stay in ferric chloride for 5 hours. 

Never fear - I will try again!

For now enjoy these pieces I etched in class. They kind of remind me of brambles. What do you think?

Don't forget to check out the other participants.

PS - I've started the new book - An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor and am enjoying it.  
Why not join us next time?!
Check Andrew's blog for details.


  1. I had a tricky time with The Enchantress of Florence as well. I think there was a lot of backstory and flowery descriptive passages, but not enough action to carry it. On the same page, I would sometimes get lost and think, "Are they still talking about the same character or did they just do a tangent on a tangent?" Usually it was a tangent of a tangent. I think your earrings turned out great though! And I'm glad that you were able to meet the Pearl Concepts crew! They have a great selection of pearls and Helena is great! I think the earrings look very regal and very fitting for the book!

    And your etching pieces are pretty cool. I'm sure you could do something mixed media with them, if you wanted. And you can leave things in ferric chloride overnight, but it has to be a weak batch that has been used a lot. If it's a fresh batch, usually I check back in an hour and that's plenty deep. The ones you made in Tucson are pretty cool and I love the pattern!

    I liked the stories from Calvino. Admittedly, I'm not much of a short story person, but I found that even though it was reworked through translation and they weren't very long, he managed to pack a lot of punch. I bet they sound like music read in their native Italian though.

    Thanks again for participating and I'm glad that you like the March book! I've heard a lot of positive reviews so far!

    1. I liked the way the stories and characters were intertwined in each section of Calvino's book. I think I just wasn't focused on the books. There was so much going on in my life.
      I'm definitely going to figure out something to do with the butterfly pieces. I had planned to take them out sooner. But a client stopped over to pick something up and one thing led to another. It's all a learning experience.

  2. Your elephant earrings are so charming! I generally give up now after 50 pages if I can't get into a book, but it took me years to figure out it was ok not to finish! I'm so excited my all the new techniques people try out in this group! It's very inspiring. I do think the earrings you made look like brambles. They are great.

  3. Lol, Jeanne... I never thought I'd hear the words "while the tiger penis was tempting" strung together! Now I'm super curious about what your design may have been if you explored that idea further!

    I completely agree with your seat mate that it's ok to not finish a book. In my day job as a librarian I think I horrify lots of parents when I tell there kids that... hey if you don't have to read a specific book and you hate it, why waste time when you could read something you like more?

    Onto your designs. I really like both pairs of earrings you shared with us...what cute elephant charms, and the pearls go nicely with them. So sorry about your etching mishap! I haven't ever tried that technique myself but I'd like to learn someday. I agree with Andrew that you can probably still do something cool with them. The pair you made in your class are adorable!

  4. Such an interesting post Jeanne. I liked your telling of how you found inspiration especially. I think it is so cool that inspiration just seems to jump out of nowhere sometimes. Your so called over etched butterflies are very nice I think. And the ones you made in class so lovely. I also have started the March book and see that it is very readable and charming. I read the first chapter on Kindle ipad and then realized my paperback copy was another one of the series so I am reading it for now until the right one comes in the mail.

  5. I love your elephant earrings AND your list of possible design ideas! LOL! The etched earrings you did in class are very nice! I've been working with etching too and it is definitely a trial and error process, but don't you just love it when it comes out perfect! Can't wait to see more of your work.