Thursday, January 29, 2015

Into the Wild: Inspired by Reading Book Club

The January book selection for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.  The book attempts to piece together the journey of Christopher McCandless, AKA Alexander Supertramp, as he traveled across the country eventually hiking into the Alaskan wilderness where he perished.

Both my husband and I went to Emory University, where Christopher McCandless had been a student before us.  Christopher died the year we started college there and the book was originally published the year we both graduated.  Although I never knew him, there were murmurs about him about campus for sure so I guess I just had some morbid curiosity about his story.  Book club was a good reason to finally find out more!

Unfortunately, I really had to push myself to keep going with this one.  I think the problem I really had with the whole thing is I just wanted to take Chris by the shoulders and shake some sense into him most of the time.  In some ways he reminded me of some other guys I knew in my younger days who were smart (at least in the book sense), charismatic, and passionate but had not a lick of common sense half the time.  My biggest problem was that I just didn't find Chris/Alex likable or relatable.  I don't know if that's the fault of the author or his subject.  I found Krakauer's writing to be more than a bit dry, pretentious, and rambling.  I wanted to just page past many sections where I felt like he had veered pretty far off topic.

This is a bit of an aside, but I did find it odd that there were no photos at all in this book.  It's obvious that Krakauer had access to McCandless's journals and photos as well as a great deal of communication with and cooperation from the family.  I can only guess that they just simply didn't give him permission to use the photos (or maybe the paperback didn't include them) even though he was allowed to quote from Chris's journals and notes he left in the margins of his books.

Ok, enough of my ramblings about the book and onto what I was inspired to make!  After my complaint about Krakauer going a bit off topic (at least in my opinion), it might be hypocritical that I chose something from one of those sections as the jumping off point for my design.  I think it's because I'm a pretty visual person as far as design inspiration goes, and much of the book just didn't spark my imagination in that way.  What did get my attention was Krakauer's description of his own Alaskan adventure when a storm left him stumbling blindly through a maze like filed of crevasses.  He wrote "Time after time I'd think I'd found a way out, only to wind up in a deep-blue cul-de-sac..."  That made me think of the wonderful way that thick ice takes on all sorts of blue and aqua colors.  Yum!

Eric bought me a beautiful strand of lampwork beads from Debbie Sanders on Etsy in gorgeous aquas and teals.  Aren't they just lovely?

I ended up making two different pairs of earrings with some of the beads from this strand of lampwork... one in sterling and one in brass.  For the silver pair I used lampwork beads in palest blue  with silvery flecks in the otherwise clear glass.  I added in some aquamarine rounds, silver plated crystal rondelles, some wavy pewter discs (that I've been using WAY too much of lately, and Swarovski crystals.  I love the sparkly cool ice of these... although in retrospect they probably feel more Frozen than Into the Wild.  Oh well, I'll just have to let that go.  :)

I was still feeling the sparkle with the second pair and the rhinestone rondelles had more of a brass or dark gold tone to them so I decided to pair the dark teal beads with some Czech glass, and some brass plated bead caps.  I love the bumpy effect of the lighter glass on top of the dark teal (clearly, I need some help with my lampwork terminology!).  So, I've gone a little more rustic... but not too very far.

So... even though it was not my original intention to do so, I kept going and made on more pair of earrings.  When digging around for beads to go with the lampwork, I stumbled on some rough cut apatite nuggets I recently acquired.  Now those looked rough, rustic, and wild to me!  I wire wrapped the nuggets along with some faceted squares and added little dangles from some carved gemstones I just got from a friend.

You can check out what everyone else was inspired to create with the links over on Andrew Thornton's blog HERE.  Andrew (our fearless leader!) just posted the book list for the next year of the Inspired by Reading Book Club, see what we'll be up to HERE. Anyone can play along... see a book that interests you?  Join in... the more the merrier!

30 Words: Read a Book!

Open an book’s pages and 
entire worlds await you.  
Be transported back in time, 
into the future, 
or just into someone else’s life.  
Looking for adventure?  
Simply read a book!

The premise of 30 Word Thursday is simple... take a photo, write 30 words (no more, no less) and post it each Thursday.  This is a blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz over on her blog Treasures Found, pop on over there to see her post for this week as well as links to the 30 Words from everyone else.

I took this picture at the public library in Ligonier, PA when we visited for the Inspired by Reading Book Club last fall.  I was enchanted by this book castle and its felt residents and snapped a quick photo.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

New Earring Monday '15: Weeks 3 & 4

Welcome back to New Earring Monday!  I hope you all have been having an amazing start to 2015.  January has been busy with lots of fun things but I've still found plenty of time to create.  This week's New Earring Post is all about texture and turquoise for me!  

My first pair is a play on something that I first tried for the December We're All Ears Challenge.  You can see that pair HERE if you missed them.  I loved the way that first pair turned out... especially the side with the open gear.  I wanted to take that idea and give it a different twist.  I textured the open gears, added some of the Verdigris Vintaj patina paint to them, and then sanded them with some fine sandpaper until I got them to the right level of distress.   I punched a hole at the top of each gear for the ear wire and then domed the pieces.  I added little turquoise beads dangling from sterling balled head pins for some fun movement.  Because of the effect of the domed gears, I call these "New Sheriff in Town."

Next up is a pair featuring brass blanks that I etched, painted, and domed.  I love playing with my BigKick machine!  I need to get back to it soon.  Anyway, once again, I used the Verdigris patina (my favorite of the colors) and then sanded the excess paint off bringing parts of the blanks to a high shine.  I usually use shorter ear wires, but got a bee in my bonnet to try something different for me.  I love the look of wire wrapped ear wires and decided to give it a try myself with some craft wire and small turquoise seed beads.

I'm pretty happy with how these turned out, but I wonder if it would have worked better with slightly smaller gauge wire (I used 22 gauge craft wire).  I think next time I will try 24 or 26 gauge and also continue the wraps a little higher on the ear wire.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Art Bead Scene Challenge: January 2015

Per my recent patterns, I'm once again fairly late to the party for the Art Bead Scene monthly challenge.  After last month's muted, almost monochromatic palette, this month is a welcome riot of bright colors!  This was one of three versions of a poster that Hundertwasser designed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the IUCN, The World Conservation Union in November of 1998.  You can read more about the artwork and the artist over on the ABS blog HERE.

Imagine Tomorrows World (orange version), 1998
By Friedensreich Hundertwasser

With all this glorious color to work with, the first artist that came to mind was Tera Belinsky-Yoder of Beadygirl Beads.  She is someone who is NOT afraid to use color!  Most of my little stash of her beads are actually on the more subdued side for her but still plenty bright.  I ended up choosing three similar beads in coordinating colors from the poster.  I added in smaller spacer beads in solid colors in between the larger beads.  To round out the length of the bracelet, I added in a couple of smaller spacer beads from the Spacer Bead Shop and then finished with some Arte Metal chain from Vintaj and a blackened metal clasp.

The finished product feels bright and modern to me.  Hopefully this little bit of arm candy will find a happy home once I bring it to Unearthed Arts.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

30 Words: Room With a View

A room with a view of 
this city I’ve come to embrace.  
Snapshot from a glorious weekend in the city, 
taking in a new perspective on things.  
Good morning, Minneapolis!

The premise of 30 Word Thursday is simple... take a photo, write 30 words (no more, no less) and post it each Thursday.  This is a blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz over on her blog Treasures Found, pop on over there to see her post for this week as well as links to the 30 Words from everyone else.

I took this photo using the panorama feature on my iphone from the window of my hotel room last weekend.  It was a novel experience staying in a hotel room downtown in a city I often traverse on the street level.  My friend Kathleen and I were blessed with glorious, sunny weather for this weekend on the town!

Friday, January 16, 2015

We're All Ears: January 2015

The inspiration for the first We're All Ears Challenge of the new year is Pantone's Spring Color Report.  I've got to be honest that I'm seriously underwhelmed by the color palette they've put forward.  The muted shades speak more to the bleakness of winter than the glories of spring and new growth to this Minnesota-dwelling designer!  

I'm not really one to design to trends or color reports anyway, so it doesn't really matter to me in the grand scheme of things.  I'm always interested to see what Pantone will choose, but I'm certainly not a slave to their color reports or their Color of the Year.  While these colors aren't super exciting to me, and not my first choice to design with, they aren't all terrible.  I'm always open to a good challenge... so here's what I came up with this month!

When I saw this inspiration the first thing I thought of was a pair of earrings I had just made with a pair of lampwork glass earrings from Mermaid Glass.  Unfortunately, I can't share them with you yet because they are under review for a magazine.  So, I decided the next best thing would be to make another, different pair of earrings using some of the other beads from that set.  I cheated a tiny bit by pulling in some of the "lavender herb" that's in the men's palette but not the women's.

In honor of Marsala as Color of the Year, I decided to make a second pair that focused on that color.  Sort of cheating since I've done this design before, but what the heck.  It means another pair of earrings ready to go to the Unearthed Arts gallery.

Check out what everyone else was inspired to make over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

30 Words: Prickly Pear

Sometimes I’m a prickly pear... 
all pointy spikes and sharp barbs. 
I don’t mean to be.  
It’s simply a way to cope.  
Approach at your own risk 
when I bristle.

The premise of 30 Word Thursday is simple... take a photo, write 30 words (no more, no less) and post it each Thursday.  This is a blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz over on her blog Treasures Found, pop on over there to see her post for this week as well as links to the 30 Words from everyone else.