Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bridge of Birds - Inspired by Reading Book Club

Even though the calendar says January 2014, this is the November 2013 installment of the Inspired by Reading Book Club.  With the way the holidays happened to fall, we shifted things around just a touch.  Life got too busy for me so I didn't get around to the December selection at all.

The November book was Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart.  True confession time:  I have actually owned this book since May of 1998 (I found the receipt in the book's pages!) and it has just been languishing on my book shelf.  I bought it when Eric and I lived in Chicago (or maybe even before I moved up there!) from the now defunct science fiction/fantasy bookstore called The Stars our Destination.  Eric and I (especially Eric!) were frequent customers and many of our "date" weekends in Chicago ended up with us browsing the shelves there.  Even though the store shuttered its doors after we moved to the Twin Cities, I still feel sadness that such a wonderful independent bookstore was forced to close.

Anyway, let me get back on track here.  Bridge of Birds was a book near and dear to Stars owner Alice Bentley's heart... so much so that she would scoop up a whole bunch of copies whenever it was going out of stock for a new edition.  She would hand sell this book to customers, just like she did with me, and actually had a guarantee of satisfaction for it.  (Ever heard of such a thing??  You wouldn't get that at a B&N, that's for sure!)

Alice loved this book so much that she decided to go into publishing to put out a hardcover edition of Bridge of Birds along with the other two Master Li books by Hughart that had long been out of print.  You can read a short article from Publisher's Weekly about that venture and her amazing devotion to this book HERE.

Sorry for such a long preamble, but I wanted to share my odd connection with this book and the bookstore where I bought it so long ago.  Since I've already gone on and one, I'm just going say that I'm glad that I finally read this one... it was a fun and enjoyable read for sure!  I think it was a great follow up to our last book since it has a sort of fairy tale quality about it.

Now for the creations the story inspired!  There were a few points in the story where the colors and imagery were intriguing or inspiring, but in the end I took a more literal approach based on the story of Jade Pearl.  Even though I finished reading the book very early, time has a way of getting away from you especially during the busy holiday season.

My first design ended up being some cute asymmetrical earrings.  I chose a bird charm for the bridge of birds itself for one side and a star charm to represent the Star Shepherd for the other.  To represent Jade Pearl herself, I added Palace Jade Swarovski crystals and pearl dangles to both sides.  I think that they turned out pretty cute but I had hoped to make something a little more elaborate since I finished the book so early.

Now that I had actually made something for the reveal (albeit a fairly small something) the pressure was off!  I found time to make a necklace to go with the earrings as a set.  I had originally hoped to use an embossed Vintaj brass bird on one side of the necklace, but it just refused to behave the way I wanted it to.  (I hate it when that happens!)  I switched things up a little from my original design by putting a large jump ring in place of the bird and changing sides for the hook clasp.  I used some shell pearls and a small flower carved piece of jadeite in this one along with some of the other componets from the earrings.  I liked that the decorative brass piece is called "Sparrow's Compass" and thought that was fitting.

I'm pretty excited that this set sold at my holiday open house in December.  Hopefully my friend is enjoying them!

This is a blog hop.  Please take some time to check out the amazing creations that everyone made for the last two books.


  1. Your story of how you first heard of and acquired Bridge of Birds is wonderful. I love book stores with character and memories. Your earrings are charming and so is the necklace. Love the long loops of chain--so simple and oh so very elegant!!

  2. Sarajo,
    I'm so glad you included the story of how you acquired Bridge of Birds. I'm happy to say that we still have an independent book store in my hometown. And, whenever we visit Key West, my daughter and I spend a chunk of time in the small book store there. They have an amazing combination of new and used books.
    I enjoy both of your designs. The earrings are a lot of fun. I love the use of the Vintaj brass and double chain in your necklace.

  3. Your "date nights" with Eric sound just like my cup of tea. Browsing through an indie bookstore is my idea of fun. You never know what you will find.

    Unfortunately I did not find to read this book, but after reading how you acquired the book, I am inspired to do so I did but the book and hopeful it will not languish on my bookshelf so long.

    Lovely pieces you made, especially like how the chain hangs.

  4. I loved reading your connection to the book. This book actually came into my possession from a friend named Melissa J. Lee… from Chicago! She told me that it was one of her favorite books and it too had sat on my to-read pile for a long time. (I literally have a to-read pile next to my bed!) Your story also struck a chord, because I share my space with an independent bookstore. She's one of the last ones standing in our area and I'm acutely aware of the struggles and challenges she's faced with to keep it going. I firmly believe that bookstores are such a treasure. I can remember peddling my bike for miles and miles to get to one and how it opened so many doors.

    The pieces that you created are just perfect! I think you've done a really wonderful job translating the imagery into your pieces. (I'm a smitten kitten with that Swarovski crystal color!) They're highly wearable and I think they fit your "style" beautifully! Nicely done! And thank you so much for participating! I always look forward to seeing what you'll make and I appreciate that you took time out of the busy holiday season to read and create something!

  5. I love the pieces you created for this challenge and the story of how you acquired the book. I think you might have inspired more than one person to read the book as well.