Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Enchantress of Florence / Difficult Loves- Inspired by Reading Book Club

It's time once again for one of my favorite monthly design challenges... the Inspired by Reading Book Club!  This group was founded and organized by Andrew Thornton and you can read more about the group and see the rest of the 2013/2014 booklist HERE.  He recently announced the lineup for 2014/2015 and you check that out HERE.  Anyone can join... just read the month's book and create something, anything to share on the reveal date (usually the last Wednesday of the month although we sometimes switch things around like this month with two reveals together).

The January selection for the book club was The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie.  I was intrigued from the start by the idea of the Enchantress but, boy, does she take a long time to show up!

I will be the first to admit that this title ended up being a little bit outside my comfort zone.  While I agree with some of the conversation over on our group's Facebook page that there is a lot of rich imagery here, I just couldn't get the plot to really gel for me.  There were so many threads to the story and so many names that I just found myself glossing over things in many places.  By the end of the book I appreciated how all the threads came together, but this isn't a book that I'll be rushing to recommend to folks.

I was really struck by the idea of Argalia the Turk, the mighty warrior with his secret, more feminine side.  I loved the idea of this tough man who insisted that all his underthings be embroidered with tulips and had tattooed tulips all over his body.  I had an idea for doing something with the either the Vintaj Flourish petal or bead cap (maybe even both) since they look so much like tulip petals to me.  Unfortunately, I ran out of time to mess around with that idea but maybe I'll revisit it a a later date when I have more time to fiddle with it.

So, onto plan B.  Luckily, I had an embossed Vintaj copper blank that featured part of the design from the India Archway die sitting around from my last big round of playing with my BigKick.  I had used a mix of fuchsia and orange paints that fit with my idea of the colors of India.  Once I wrapped a piece of filigree around my painted square I had my pendant and my starting place for my design.  

Per my usual process, I pulled out a ton of possible bead choices that fit with the colors of the pendant.  Once I whittled things down, I had some fun and bright dyed howlite rondelles, some fushcia cyrstal rounds, and some bright orange Czech glass.  To keep things from being over the top bright and to bring out the copper tones from the pendant, I added in several sparkly goldstone rounds.  (FYI both the goldstone and the crystal came from some of Andrew's destash events.)

I didn't want to totally abandon the idea of flowers... I used a couple of different flower beads as well as a variety of bead caps that had a flowery feel to them.  Wire wrapping a little orange glass flower to the jump ring above the pendant gives it a little something different than what I've done before and I hope that the lucite flower dangle that I added to the clasp helps balance out the design.

February's selection is collection of short stories, Difficult Loves by Italio Calvino.  The stories were written in the 1940's and 50's and are translated from the Italian.  I don't know if this makes sense or not, but they felt translated to me... that there was something in the prose that just felt foreign to my American ears.

The cover of my copy was NOT this attractive.

I didn't even try to read them all (I'm never going to be a huge short story fan) but the ones that resonated the most with me all came from the "Riviera Stories" section of the book.  Many of them were tinged with just a touch of magical realism that hooked my imagination.

I chose to make something in response to "The Enchanted Garden."  In this story, two children sneak into a garden through a hole they find in the hedge.  Once inside the garden they pick flowers, swim in a pool, and eat tea and cake before sneaking back out.  Before they leave they also spy a pale boy inside the house in a beautiful room filled with collections of butterflies on the walls.  The children are unable to really enjoy the experience because of the shadows cast by their fear of being caught.

I ended up making two necklaces that are variations on a design that I call my "Secret Garden" necklaces.  For both of them I drew on the colors of the swimming pool and added flowers and in one case a leaf for the garden itself.  One of them features a butterfly charm for the pale (sickly?) boys collections and the other has a bird in flight for the sparrows that the children spook on their way into the garden.

I think it was the act of crawling through the hedge into the enchanted garden that really caught my attention.  As a child my friends and I had a whole world carved out in the space that ran between our backyards and the yards on the street behind us (We called it the T section, don't ask me why).  The neighbors directly behind my house had a thick boxwood hedge that did have a hole in it where we would crawl inside and could see their gardens and pool.  There was no hole in that fence for us to crawl through, but the idea just felt so familiar to me.

This is a blog hop.  Please take some time to see what everyone else created over the last two months!

Sarajo Wentling  (that's me!)


  1. Love your post. And all that you created. I am always so happy to read your posts about books and see the book through your eyes. I had a similar response to both books and also found inspiration in both. I love the way these books have ideas and imagery that just pop into our imaginations with almost fully formed ideas of what to make. I am posting later today. Not quite ready with my Calvino piece but I have one for the Enchantress. Your necklace with the fuschia pendant is so gorgeous. Love the wee tiny flowers you added. The Leaf flowers in the Calvino Necklace are just stunning--a touch of his surreal realism inspired and beautifully made!!

    1. Thank you so much Mary! I really look forward to our book club challenges and to seeing what everyone else took away from reading the same stories. It makes both my librarian heart and my jewelry making heart happy!

  2. Hello! I joined the book club late so I didn't have time to read the Rushdie selection, but you have made it sound like something I will read! I love the pendant-the colors and the filigree are perfect. The piece has a really nice balance to it and I love that you have to look at it multiple times to really appreciate all the details. I will agree that the Calvino piece seemed like it was missing something in translation. I also enjoyed the Riviera stories and like you, the Secret Garden reminded me of playing with my neighbors as a child. The two pieces you created for this story are beautiful! I love how they, like the story, have an air of mystery and enchantment to them. What is going to come out of those pods once they open up? The colors are perfect too! I do see the swimming pool in them!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog too. The film links you asked about are made from placing two links of Tim Holtz's Film Strip Ribbon together and then putting eyelets through them. The tiny camera links and camera clasp are made from wood veneer die cut pieces that I stained with alcohol inks. Thanks for the compliments!

    1. Welcome to the book club, Rachel! Glad that you could join our merry little band! Thanks so much for your kind words about my pieces. Isn't it amazing how our brains can transport us back to different points in time through reading, or music, or whatever? Thanks for the info on your film links too... such a neat idea!

  3. I love your Secret Garden necklaces. So pretty. I also enjoyed "The Enchanted Garden" and love how you have two versions based on two different things in the story. I did not read the Rushdie book, but I love the colors of that necklace. Somehow, the pendant design looks like the book title sounds. At least in my mind. :)

    1. Thanks so much, Ann! And welcome to the book club!

  4. Great post! I surprisingly had a difficult time with The Enchantress of Florence. It was very "pretty" to read, but I often got confused and had to go back several times to make sure that what I had read was what I read. Like at one part I was like, "Did that dude really just pull his junk out? Yep!" Plus, my history lessons in school didn't include much Mughal history, so I felt like I had to brush up, because I didn't know what the heck they were talking about or even where they were talking about. Thankfully there's Google!

    With that said, I was really inspired by some of the details. One of the prompts for a magazine happens to correspond nicely with this title and I've made some really cool things. I'll revisit some of these ideas soon and hope the magazines like the things I've made inspired by this epic, exotic journey.

    Your piece is delightful! I love the bright colors and how you've mixed the Indian themes with the floral ones. It also looks very "you". Even though the topics and themes of our books are vastly different, you always manage to inject your style and that's super cool! Nicely done!

    I also was inspired by The Enchanted Garden. Even though we were inspired by the same story, our pieces look totally different. I love how you've used the bead cap in a different way, making it a focal and then dangle the different story elements. It has a bell like feel. Both are really stunning! Good job!

    And thank you for participating! It really means a lot to me!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words about my creations... it means a lot to me since I still feel relatively new at this and am trying to find my own voice. Thanks also for making me laugh out loud! (I had the same reaction to the "junk" exposure!)

      I submitted my Enchantress piece to the same magazine (I'm assuming) when I saw how well it fit with the theme and palette, but it wasn't one they asked to see in person. That's ok, since I could share it with the group... and they did ask me to send one of my other pieces. Fingers crossed.

  5. What wonderfully 'enchanting' necklaces, just as the inspiration stories were!
    Your necklace is very 'flowery' without being 'flowery'. :) Its perfect, especially the flower POPping out of the link just above the focal... i can just see the tattoo flowers POPing out on his skin! Thanks for playing!