Thursday, August 6, 2015

Swamplandia – another edition of the Inspired By Reading Book Club

I was disappointed to miss last month. I was traveling once again ~ busy on Long Island attending retirement parties, family events and participating in the Sag Harbor Arts and Crafts Fair. In case you’re wondering (and even if you’re not), in spite of the pouring rain, I had a good show, with follow up opportunities.

I enjoyed Swamplandia, by Karen Russell. The story follows a family of alligator wrestlers who run an ailing tourist attraction in the Florida Everglades. Chief Big Tree and his children struggle to keep Swamplandia open after their mother, the main attraction, succumbs to cancer. They also have to contend with competition from “The World of Darkness”, the new high tech amusement park on the mainland.

It wouldn’t be a book club selection if there wasn’t a bit of the supernatural or weirdness involved in the story.  Sixteen year old Ossie considers herself to be a spiritualist and believes that she has relationships with ghosts. After finding a ghost ship (really a dredge from the 1930’s), Ossie imagines herself in love with a young man who perished in an explosion and decides to run off and marry him.

The obvious inspiration for this book would be alligators. So, as I read, I checked my stash and a few suppliers – no alligators. Then Ossie and Ava stumble upon the decrepit ship with a swarm of buzzards overhead. There was my inspiration! Somehow, someway, I was determined to create a buzzard. Luckily, Kevin Potter has a great bird pancake die and it was on sale when I wanted it. I headed out to the hydraulic press with some 20 gauge sheet copper. The next challenge was how to make it look like a buzzard…

After an internet search for buzzard images, a trip to Ornamentea in Raleigh for Thomson enamels, and four torch firings of different layers and colors, I’m pretty excited with the result.

I don't always counter-enamel, but felt this piece needed it  

I've added a bail and chain, maybe I'll add some beads, but haven’t decided if I prefer copper or silver chain. 
What do you think?

Please visit book club leader, Andrew Thornton's blog here to learn more about our group

and visit other participants listed below...


  1. Nice job, Well done! I would like to see it with copper, I think. I loved the imagery of the buzzards when the kids were on the ship.

    1. Thanks, Allison!
      I' m still debating the chain metal. I really like the contrast of the silver with the dark enamel. But feel copper might be more in keeping with the tone of the book

  2. Wow, I love what you made! That buzzard scene was especially evocative. Great job! I would normally say copper but looking at the picture, I like the contrast of the pretty, delicate silver with the buzzard.

  3. What a great necklace! I love the graphic design of the piece! And you're so lucky to be so close to Ornamentea! I am smitten with that store! They have such a unique selection of beads and jewelry-making ingredients. I remember hearing about this book a few years ago, but didn't pick it up then. One of the members suggested this book and it fits right in. Honestly, it reminded me a lot of Geek Love. There was a hard-times carnival vibe with a character with supernatural powers. I have to admit that I liked it as it got weirder. But then when it snaps back into reality... not so much! Oh well. I enjoyed it too, I just wish they had a happier ending. Thanks so much for participating!

  4. I love your description of how you came to make the bird necklace. He is wonderful. I would use copper for the chain since copper seems less like city life than silver. He has a wonderful feel of mystery and adventure. So happy you found the book inspiring!!

  5. Love your buzzard. He is sp appropriate for this book.

  6. Marie D'OnofrioAugust 8, 2015 at 12:41 AM

    Beautiful enameling—the lighter color gives the impression of the vulture’s “fingered” wingtip appearance.

  7. I've really enjoyed seeing what you've been doing with the pancake dies and enamels lately and this is no exception. Very cool coloring on your buzzard!