Thursday, October 27, 2016

Inspired by Reading: Vampires in the Lemon Grove

The October selection for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was the suitably creepy short story collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell.  I can't say that I was overly excited to see this title on the year's reading list.  Strike one: I previously tried to read the novel Swamplandia by the same author and just couldn't get into it.  Strike two: I'm not really a short story fan in general.  But being a good sport and general team player when it comes to this sort of thing, I gave this book an honest try.

I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed reading this collection... and even made it all the way through!  Many of the stories left me scratching my head a bit and wondering what actually happened, but that didn't bother me too much.  The tone in many of the stories was almost otherworldly and absolutely eerie... they all had a strangeness to them.

One of the beads that Eric and I picked up at Bead & Button was a wonderful bronze bat bead made by the talented Bob Burkett.  Inspired by the titular story, I thought this would be an appropriate time to make Eric a necklace with his bat!  The main character can no longer transform into a bat, but his wife Magreb can... and uses that ability to fly beyond Clyde's reach and spend her nights in the cliffs.  I used some steel wire and some crusty looking Tibetan agate beads that I just acquired and kept the rest simple with black chain.  I often get in trouble with my otherwise patient husband for not making him jewelry.  I'm hoping this little Magreb necklace gets me off the hook for a little bit!  And an added bonus... Eric now has a new bat necklace just in time to wear to the Twin Cities Horror Festival that starts this Thursday!

I also kept thinking about the second story, "Reeling for the Empire."  I really wanted to try my hand at needle felting some oblong, cocoon-like beads out of the colorful wool roving in my stash.  (I've actually been wanting to make some beads ever since I took Heather Powers' needle felting/bead embroidery class on the Bead Cruise a couple of years ago.)  I was originally thinking of making some earrings... and maybe I'll revisit that idea the next time I'm feeling stabby.  Since I waited until the last minute, I wasn't feeling up to trying to get two "cocoons" of the same size and decided on making a charm style necklace instead.  I used two different colors of wool roving to represent how each girl spun silk in a unique color.  The felt is so light that I needed to add some weight to the pendant so I used one of Andrew Thornton's funky porcelain beads (also picked up at B&B) and some Czech glass.

The felted "cocoons" seemed a little naked and boring on their own so I decided to try out my rudimentary bead embroidery skills to add a little more visual interest.  (The lesson learned here is that it's much trickier to do even simple bead embroidery on a 3D object than a flat one... especially when it's so small!)  The green cocoon might look a little more like an acorn now, but that may not be a terrible thing for selling this long necklace.  I think the market for cocoon jewelry is a fairly narrow one!  The embroidery took me WAY longer than I anticipated, but I think the results were worth it.  I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and tried something new... so I'm calling that a win!

1 comment:

  1. I love both your necklaces! I could not get into this book, but it is fun to see what you made. Lucky Eric - great bat necklace! I love your cocoons and am very impressed that you did both felting and bead embroidery. I think you have had great success. Lovely colors.