Thursday, January 29, 2015

Into the Wild: Inspired by Reading Book Club

The January book selection for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.  The book attempts to piece together the journey of Christopher McCandless, AKA Alexander Supertramp, as he traveled across the country eventually hiking into the Alaskan wilderness where he perished.

Both my husband and I went to Emory University, where Christopher McCandless had been a student before us.  Christopher died the year we started college there and the book was originally published the year we both graduated.  Although I never knew him, there were murmurs about him about campus for sure so I guess I just had some morbid curiosity about his story.  Book club was a good reason to finally find out more!

Unfortunately, I really had to push myself to keep going with this one.  I think the problem I really had with the whole thing is I just wanted to take Chris by the shoulders and shake some sense into him most of the time.  In some ways he reminded me of some other guys I knew in my younger days who were smart (at least in the book sense), charismatic, and passionate but had not a lick of common sense half the time.  My biggest problem was that I just didn't find Chris/Alex likable or relatable.  I don't know if that's the fault of the author or his subject.  I found Krakauer's writing to be more than a bit dry, pretentious, and rambling.  I wanted to just page past many sections where I felt like he had veered pretty far off topic.

This is a bit of an aside, but I did find it odd that there were no photos at all in this book.  It's obvious that Krakauer had access to McCandless's journals and photos as well as a great deal of communication with and cooperation from the family.  I can only guess that they just simply didn't give him permission to use the photos (or maybe the paperback didn't include them) even though he was allowed to quote from Chris's journals and notes he left in the margins of his books.

Ok, enough of my ramblings about the book and onto what I was inspired to make!  After my complaint about Krakauer going a bit off topic (at least in my opinion), it might be hypocritical that I chose something from one of those sections as the jumping off point for my design.  I think it's because I'm a pretty visual person as far as design inspiration goes, and much of the book just didn't spark my imagination in that way.  What did get my attention was Krakauer's description of his own Alaskan adventure when a storm left him stumbling blindly through a maze like filed of crevasses.  He wrote "Time after time I'd think I'd found a way out, only to wind up in a deep-blue cul-de-sac..."  That made me think of the wonderful way that thick ice takes on all sorts of blue and aqua colors.  Yum!

Eric bought me a beautiful strand of lampwork beads from Debbie Sanders on Etsy in gorgeous aquas and teals.  Aren't they just lovely?

I ended up making two different pairs of earrings with some of the beads from this strand of lampwork... one in sterling and one in brass.  For the silver pair I used lampwork beads in palest blue  with silvery flecks in the otherwise clear glass.  I added in some aquamarine rounds, silver plated crystal rondelles, some wavy pewter discs (that I've been using WAY too much of lately, and Swarovski crystals.  I love the sparkly cool ice of these... although in retrospect they probably feel more Frozen than Into the Wild.  Oh well, I'll just have to let that go.  :)

I was still feeling the sparkle with the second pair and the rhinestone rondelles had more of a brass or dark gold tone to them so I decided to pair the dark teal beads with some Czech glass, and some brass plated bead caps.  I love the bumpy effect of the lighter glass on top of the dark teal (clearly, I need some help with my lampwork terminology!).  So, I've gone a little more rustic... but not too very far.

So... even though it was not my original intention to do so, I kept going and made on more pair of earrings.  When digging around for beads to go with the lampwork, I stumbled on some rough cut apatite nuggets I recently acquired.  Now those looked rough, rustic, and wild to me!  I wire wrapped the nuggets along with some faceted squares and added little dangles from some carved gemstones I just got from a friend.

You can check out what everyone else was inspired to create with the links over on Andrew Thornton's blog HERE.  Andrew (our fearless leader!) just posted the book list for the next year of the Inspired by Reading Book Club, see what we'll be up to HERE. Anyone can play along... see a book that interests you?  Join in... the more the merrier!


  1. I couldn't get into the book at all. Luckily it inspired you to make 3 pairs of beautiful earrings.

  2. Your earrings are fabulous! I think you really nailed it with the last pair-they are both wild and rough and beautiful all at the same time! After reading and reflecting on the book, I had a hard time feeling sorry for him. Like you, I thought he needed some sense shaken into his spoiled self! I can't wait to see what you create for next month's book! XO Rachel

  3. I'm glad you just let it go with the earrings. I love them all! Like you, I thought things got too dry and off track at times, like the chapter about some guy in the desert. So I just skipped that whole chapter! I didn't think my inspiration for a story about the wilds of Alaska would be found in the desert! Terri Greenawalt

  4. I love your " ice " earring theme. They are very lovely pieces. I like your insight about no pictures, it made me think and wonder once you said it.

  5. I really love all of your earrings. Holy wow, that strand of lampwork your husband bought - good on him! The rough cut apatite might be my favorite (might!) just because I love that cut.

  6. All the earrings are beautiful Sarajo!! I enjoyed reading your post and getting your take on the book. I was so interested to learn that you attended Emory and that when you were there McCandless was much in the conversation since he had recently died. I am glad you shared that with us. You always write such interesting posts!!

  7. How interesting that you both had that connection to Chris's story. My brother left around the time that Chris' remains were found and I can remember my mother being deeply upset, convinced that it was her son who was in that bus. Coincidentally, my brother also trekked to Alaska and also worked on a fishing boat (like the author). I had a similar reaction to you about wanting to shake Chris. I also thought the author rambled a lot and by trying to make it more personal by injecting his own story, veered way off and had the opposite effect on me. I felt like the people in the bar after he finished his trip to the top of the mountain, I didn't care. In any event, I really like the earrings that you've made! They are all very lovely and I think they're very wearable and will make someone very happy! I particularly like the last pair. The chunks of apatite look like pieces of glacier ice! Nicely done! And thank you so much for participating! I always enjoy your creations and your insights into what you've read!