Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: Inspired by Reading Book Club

I feel like I haven't been posting too much lately, but life has just been flying by too darned fast!  I didn't manage to get project done for all the challenges I like to participate in, but I did get two pieces done for the Inspired by Reading Book Club!

This month's selection was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  I vaguely remember hearing about this book (Henrietta's story) when the book came out a few years ago, but never really delved into it until now.

Some of you may know that my husband is a pediatrician, so medical and scientific themes tend to be of some interest around here.  I feel like this book did a great job blending the science with the very human story of Henrietta Lacks and the family she left behind when she died of cancer... and it didn't get so "science-y" that I couldn't follow it.

I was truly fascinated to learn how tons of medical and scientific advancements came about because the medical staff at John's Hopkins took samples of Henrietta's cells when she was being treated for cervical cancer.  What is really crazy to me is that no consent was needed to take, grow, and run countless experiments on her cells.  More mind blowing to me is that, legally, consent probably wouldn't be needed today... think on that for a moment.

While the author gives as much background on Henrietta Lacks as possible, the story is really more about what happened to and with her cells after her death and the impact all of this had on her children... especially her daughter Deborah.  It is the story of gaining recognition for one woman's contribution to science and the struggle for her family to come to terms with what had happened and find a way to move forward.  I'm not going to give too much away (read the book!) but this was an interesting read for me even if I found parts of it really hard to read because of the emotional and mental toil this journey took on Deborah and her siblings.

So, now onto my creations!  I never thought I'd be writing these words, but for my creations this month I was inspired by blood and blood cells.  Yup, you heard me right.  Inspired by blood.  What can I say?

I was really struggling with an idea for this book, and I started reading a little later than I would have liked.  Luckily, when I was going through my art bead stash I came upon a enameled pendant that I bought from C-Koop years ago at the local bead show.  It caught my eye and I realized that it looked a little bit like blood cells to me.  (I realized that's not going to be a selling point, but I'm guessing most people won't actually see what I see!)

I knew I had some sari silk in a blue that would work perfectly with the background color of the pendant and I thought I could weave it in and out of some silver plated chain.  At first I intended to add some little dangles along the chain in red tones but I decided to keep it simple instead.  It wasn't even a time issue... I just took a step back and realized that sometimes less is more.  I completed the design with a key shaped toggle clasp from Nunn Design as a nod to the fact that Henrietta's cells were the key to unlock many medical questions leading to all sorts of advancements.

My second necklace is less about cells and more about the color of blood... deep, dark reds.  (Wow, I do sound like a weirdo this post don't I?)  Anyway, I was playing around with a cool new focal from Vintaj and paired it with Czech glass in several shades of red including one with a Picasso finish.

This is a blog hop.  Check out all the creations that my fellow book clubbers made this month!  Pop on over to Andrew Thornton's blog HERE to see the creations inspired by this month's book.


  1. I really like both of your creations this month. Both focals are fabulous. I also used a key in my design representing the knowledge her cells gave to science.

  2. These pieces are incredible! I love your interpretation of blood, as it is a predominant image throughout the book! I kept thinking of the words "bad blood"... even less of a selling point, but really strong visually and metaphorically. Anyway, I love the C-Koop pendant. It has such an abstract art vibe. You might be interested in the work of Ross Bleckner. He did a series of blood cell paintings a few years ago. Beautiful and haunting. I also love your last piece. It has such a vampiric vibe, with the blood droplets and filigree. Nicely done and thank you so much for participating!