Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Inspired By Reading ~ April~ interpreter of maladies

I enjoyed the April selection for the Inspired by Reading Book Club. For this month, our moderator, Andrew Thornton chose the Pulitzer Prize winner, interpreter of maladies, by jhumpa lahiri. It is an engrossing collection of short stories set in India and Boston. The stories opened my eyes to the customs and culture of the people of India in both settings.

I found inspiration in many of the stories and was able to complete two pieces. I actually combined inspirations from 2 stories for my first design. In, “A Temporary Matter”, the character consults a calendar of William Morris Wallpaper designs. And in the second story, “When Mr. Purzada Came to Dine”, Mr. Purzada's clothes always consisted of plums, olives and chocolate brown.

I searched the internet for William Morris Wallpaper in plums and olives and found “bird and pomegranate" at The Original Morris and Co. 

I made a bezel with 14g copper wire which I hammered and soldered. The oval bezel was soldered to a copper plate which I then textured with metal stamps. The metal was oxidized and tumbled.

Some of you may remember that last month I swore I would never again tumble chain. Well - I did.

Luckily there weren't too many knots.

I asked Andrew for his thoughts on sealing the picture in the bezel and I've decided to wait till I have time to practice on something I don't care about.
(btw - for those who have been following my progress - this piece represents my new skill this month!)

I recently traveled by car from Long Island, NY to Portland, OR with my husband. It was great to have small snippets to read along the way. I read "Mrs. Sen's" as we drove through Ohio. There were several references to the powdered vermilion she put in the center part of her hair - an Indian custom for married women. As I finished the story, I looked up - 
we were just about to cross the Vermilion River!!!
 I quickly jotted a note - I knew I had to find a way to represent that line of vermilion. 

Teepee Canyon Agate and
Rose Quartz from South Dakota
Before visiting Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, I insisted we stop at The Rock Shed in Keystone. My husband would have loved to bring home a large landscape speciman - the South Dakota rose quartz was gorgeous! Unfortunately that was impossible as we were flying home. After a while of wandering around the small shop and chatting with Gene, the lapidary, I chose some tumbled rose quartz and Teepee Canyon agate cabs. 

click this picture to see shape of cab

In Portland, I found matching seed beads at Let It Bead. What a great shop!

I kept the wire wrap simple and neat so the pendant could be reversible. I'm planning to let the copper oxidize naturally. I love that rustic brown.   

The necklace is about 22" long to offset the 2" cab.

Check out Andrew's Blog for links to all the other participants!
The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton

There is one more piece I want to make. In "This Blessed House", the main character wears a "pearl choker with a sapphire at the center". 
Yes, I found sapphires on my trip! Specifically, rough sapphires from the Missouri River at Opal Mountain Gems in Philipsburg, Montana. 
But first I have to tumble and polish them. A project (and learning experience) for another day!

*A little more trivia about the book 

  • it was featured as a question on Jeapordy
  • it has been used in high school English classes in Lansdale PA

I can't wait to see how our next book An Object of Beauty, by Steve Martin inspires me.
Won't you join us???


  1. Absolutely lovely agate necklace. Your wire wrapping is beautiful and the seed bead cord is perfect for it. I love William Morris and your pendant captures his work so well.

    1. Thank you Mary! There were several William Morris patterns that I loved. I was so happy the bird fit perfectly!

  2. The bezel you created showcases the snippet of wallpaper beautifully. I love that you found a sample that had the same colors as in the story.

    The cab you used as a focal is stunning. I like how you wrapped it and the overall design of the necklace. What fun it must have been to search of the stones at the rock shop.

    1. Thank you Mary!
      The rock shop really was great. We're planning to return to the Black Hills sometime in the future for an extended visit.

  3. LOVE LOVE LOVE these pieces! Both are stunning! I like that you also told us the journey you took to get them created, much like the journeys of the characters in the stories, don't you think...

    1. Thanks Rachel! I enjoyed retracing my journey as I wrote this post. It's funny that when I picked out the Teepee agate, I really wasn't thinking about the book. I enjoyed chatting with the lapidary and wanted local stones that had been cut and polished at the shop. It was later that I realized how perfect it was to represent Mrs. Sen.

  4. I love both of your pieces. That bezel is great! I can't wait to see what you do with the gorgeous sapphires!

    1. Aww - thanks Ann! I have to admit - I am in love with that bezel myself. It opens up so many possibilities.
      I'm nervous about tumbling the sapphires. Originally, I had planned to use them rough, but I think they'll be even more gorgeous cleaned up.

  5. Both of your pieces are lovely but that bezel is a stunner! I love how you connected your pieces to your own travels as well. Next time I get to Portland I'll have to check out the shop you mentioned.

    1. Thanks Sarajo! They were so nice and helpful at Let it Bead. My husband would let me check out any of the other shops.
      I was a little amazed when I sat down to write this post, how connected it really was to my trip. Maybe because I finished the book as I was travelling. I think it all would've taken a different direction if I was home.

  6. I love both of your pieces, your use of metal, your wirework and bezeling are absolutely fabulous. I wish I could start learning making something like that.

    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Karin!
      You definitely could learn - I'm still learning. I took a few soldering classes in Tucson in February and have been playing around ever since. I'm still having difficulty bezel setting a gemstone. It takes a lot of practice.

  7. Both projects are fantastic! I can't wait to see how the pendant in the first project looks after you coat it in resin. Sometimes it brings out the details and makes the colors pop. It's almost like a water-effect or magnifying glass. I love how elegant the second project is! It's got rich colors and I love how the stone has such a pretty pattern! Nicely done! Thank you for participating! (P.S. Can't wait to see what you make with your sapphires!)

  8. I love what you have done! and mad new skills, I must say!
    I might advise caution as to resin since the piece is already bezel set. If you resin the paper and did not seal it prior to setting it - the resin will absorb into the paper and become translucent/hazy/ghost like. Perhaps for this one - just a coat of Diamond glaze? Is the picture a color Xerox or a ink jet print? That makes a difference as well - water soluble ink jet inks can smear if you brush a water based product ( like Diamond glaze or Gloss medium) over...

    Sorry to ramble on. Sorry I was so late to the hop - feel free to message me if you want to chat resin, etc.

    And lovely - once again!