Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Inspired by Books Reading Club with Andrew Thornton

Today is the day we share our creations inspired by the book, Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik, as part of Andrew Thornton's Inspired by Books Reading Group.


Back in March Andrew Thornton came up with the idea of an Inspired by Books Reading Club.  He developed  a wonderful list of books and the plan that we would read them, discuss them and make "something" inspired by the book. Of course I had to join in.  I had just finished  6 mysteries by Fred Vargas and needed  some real reading inspiration.
Here is the list of books he chose for us to read:

April 2013 -  "Paris to the Moon", Adam Gopnik
May 2013 -  "A Rumor of Gems", Ellen Steiber
June 2013 -  "The Bucolic Plague", Josh Kilmer-Purcell
July 2013 -  "The Cookbook Collector", Allegra Goodman
August 2013 -  "The Infinities", John Banville
September 2013 -  "Dogeaters", Jessica Hagedorn
October 2013 -  "My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me", edited by Kate Bernheimer
November 2013 -  "Bridge of Birds", Barry Hughart
December 2013 -  "The Journey to the East", Hermann Hesse
January 2014-  "The Enchantress of Florence", Salman Rushdie
February 2014 -  "Difficult Loves", Italo Calvino
March 2014 -  "An Irish Country Doctor", Patrick Taylor
April 2014 -  "Interpreter of Maladies", Jhumpa Lahiri

Our first book to read has been Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik.  I was inspired to read the book because I love Paris' literary past and present but especially the time when Gertrude Stein lived there.  Malcom Crowley's book  Exiles Return, A Literary Odyssey of the 1920's was a formative book for me as a teenager.  So of course the parts of Paris to the Moon I liked best were about writers.  I was especially taken about his piece on the Two Cafes as Les Deux Magots was the cafe where Sartre, Camus and Simone de Beauvoir hung out.  So that was part of my inspiration.  The other was the ongoing theme of change in the French way of life and their resistance to it.  Entirely understandable.  So I decided to make some beads about these two themes.  I have called them Wrapped Up in the Past.  My inspiration for how to make the beads was an article in Belle Armoire Jewelry ( Autumn 2012 page 44) by my friend Sharon Borsavage of Live Wire Jewelry.  In this article she made some absolutely knock out gorgeous resin paper beads with some of her lovely ephemera.  She gave instructions how to make them and so that is how I got started.

I wanted to make beads about the past at  Les Deux Magot cafe.  So I got together some pictures of Sartre, Camus and deBeauvoir and made tall collages that I could tear into strips and coat with resin.

Here is how my table looked when I was making the beads.

                                           Here is a picture of the beads drying on the straws
The process of making these beads involves coating strips of paper with resin and then wrapping them around a straw.  Then let them dry for a couple of days.  To hold the wet resin strips around the straw you use rubber bands.  The directions call for small ones but I only had regular so they were hard to remove when dry but gave the beads some serendipitous color!!  Needless to say, Sharon Borsavages beads were so much more elegant than these.  But I grew to like mine as I added to them.  Like these cool bead caps,
the rounds of copper wire and finally beads at the bottom.

I also experimented with coating strips of linen with resin
 In order to keep the linen beads around the straw mandrel, I tied them with waxed linen instead of rubber bands.

 This one I wire wrapped with two black raku beads.  I like its rustic look.  I added all these beads together and used a piece of copper I cut out to hang them  from for the necklace I made.

This is a short necklace.  The toggle clasp was also fun to make.  I wanted to make a specific reference to  at least part of my inspiration so I stamped the three names of Sartre, Camus and deBeauvoir on the clasp.

                                   Toggle Clasp for my necklace entitled  Wrapped Up in the Past

I have had so much fun trying out new techniques and adapting them to a specific theme/idea.  Each step of the way was like an adventure and I am pleased with the result.  But truthfully, the best part for me was the excitement of discovery and doing something new and different..  Thank you Andrew for giving us such an open ended  challenge and a list of books to read to spark our creativity.  I am having a ball!!
Here is the list of other participants .  I hope you will check out their creations.HERE   I know I will!!


  1. Wow, Mary, what a necklace with character. I love the close-ups to see all of the interesting details, and reading/seeing the process. I especially like the pop of color of the beads at the ends of those paper/resin beads. The dark muted colors on the rest of the materials definitely feel like a moody Paris. Andrea

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by Andrea. Love your take on the dark muted colors creating the feel of a Moody Paris!! And that you enjoyed seeing the process that I used to make the beads. I truly enjoyed this adventure.

  2. Fantastic design, Mary! Your post takes me back to my college days when I read everything I could get my hands on by Sartre and Simone. I'm going to look for Sharon's article - I haven't seen her version of these beads yet, but I'm definitely in awe of yours - thanks so much for sharing your process!!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by Krin and giving me such a boost. I hope you do see Sharon's article. You will love what she made. Thanks for liking mine!!

  3. Your resin beads came out fantastic. I tried the technique and wasn't real happy with my results. So you have inspired me to try it again. Love the linen resin beads plus your clasp is so fitting. Love the overall design.

    1. Thanks so much Mary. I think the technique is tricky because resin is so messy. I forgot to wear gloves and that maybe would have helped. But I find resin so intriguing that I will keep on trying it. I think tissue paper might work better. I like the linen beads too and want to try more of them.

  4. I really like the toggle clasp that you made. Your necklace is very cool!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by. I am so pleased you like the toggle clasp, which was fun to make and the necklace as well.

  5. Oh - resin beads! I am intrigued. I have to find that back issue and reread the article! I love that you took a spark and fanned the flame until it caught. It was uniquely your vision, and the necklace turned out great. I adore the clasp.

    I think the idea I am most impressed with is the fact that the beads are collages. Artwork on their own, cut and altered. No one will see the images or text, but there is a hidden layer of meaning there that captivates me. Thats magic.

  6. Wow Jenny! Thanks so for stopping by and seeing all the ins and outs of my beads. I too like the idea that the pics are there all rolled up and clinging to the past. I do hope you find Sharon's article. You will see how beautiful her beads are and necklace she made.

  7. Such inspiration! This necklace is fabulous! it is simple, and complex and interesting and those beads are awesome! I love it!

  8. Wow Mary, your necklace could not have come out more gorgeous, and your beads are fantastic! I am thrilled you gave them a try and made something so beautiful and unique! Thanks for sharing , I appreciate it! Your necklace design and all it's components take center stage!

  9. Mary, those beads were fabulous and I like that you included the linen one to mix it up. Great decision! I especially like the combination of ornate and tribal in the elements-- wonderful work.

  10. Super cool technique, Mary! Thanks for sharing your process with us. I really like how those beads turned out and what you did with those amazing bead caps and bright little beads. A lovely mix of things!

  11. I love it!

    I've been messing around with resin lately and really like the process you used for these beads. Thank you for sharing it. I really dig the earthly rustic-ness of the linen beads.

    I think you've captured the essence of the resistance to change in the book. The capturing of the images in resin sort of symbolically represents that. Very cool.

    It's a really marvelous piece. Nice textures and usage of pops of color.

    Thank you so much for participating in the book club!

  12. Oh Mary, that is fantastic! And the beads - soooooo cool! And I can't wait to see what you will do with Hesse & Calvino. Btw Fred Vargas is amazing. Love her quirky style. If you are looking for another great series with a different kind of inspector give Jussi Adler Olsen a try. His books are amazing - it is a lot darker than Vargas but pretty cool. I think he is the biggest hit in Germany since Stieg Larsson. :-)

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