Thursday, March 06, 2014

Inspired by Reading Book Club: The Enchantress of Florence and Difficult Loves

Andrew Thornton's Inspired By Reading Book Club  selection for January was The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie.  We  have doubled up for this month's blog hop and are also including the current selection for February Italo Calvino's Difficult Loves.  I found inspiration in both books but favored the charming slightly surreal stories of Italo Calvino in  Difficult Loves.  I had never read any of his stories, except the Fairy Tales, and was surprised and very pleased by their simplicity, charm and unusual imagery of bugs, sea creatures, and beautiful plants.

For today's blog hop I am sharing the necklace I made inspired by Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence.  I have found during this year of creating jewelry related to the books we have read, that what I choose to make often comes to me as an almost full blown vision when I come across a passage or idea in the story that "speaks to me."  I think these epiphanies are what make it so exciting to participate in this Book Club and undertake the reading of books I might never have chosen myself.  I was never sure it would happen in The Enchantress of Florence but persisted (due to my personal connections to Florence and Renaissance art), until I came across the following passage:

"According to legend the Medici family possessed a magic mirror whose purpose was to reveal to the reigning Duke the image of the most desirable woman  in the known world."
It seems that after some time the mirror no longer worked and "fell dark."  And then after the election of Pope Leo it began to work again. In order to find the beautiful woman revealed in the magic mirror, the famous painter Andrea Del Sarto was summoned by the reigning Duke to paint the likeness within the mirror, but it only reflected back  an image of the artist, as the mirror was not so easily tricked. 
The idea of Andrea Del Sarto's reflection in the mirror sparked the idea for me to make a  Florentine  Mirror with an image of one of Andrea Del Sarto's art works, since he is an actual painter from the Renaissance period.  When I looked him up, I was captivated by one of his chalk drawings of a young girl. I fitted a copy of the drawing into a shallow bezel cup that I had tinned to a piece of copper and made an ornate bail for, and then I poured resin into the bezel.
I used a simple Vintaj etched brass chain, added a couple of ornate copper beads from Fusion beads and a decorative oval toggle clasp that I made from copper clay to reflect the classic necklace style of the time and to focus attention on the marvelous image in the mirror.

                                                 The Mirror of Andrea Del Sarto Necklace        
                                                               The clasp

As I mentioned, Italo Calvino's short stories are charming and full of wonderful unexpected imagery and are often happy and pastoral in feeling.  I liked many of them but was captured by The Adventure of a Reader.  Funny and lighthearted, the story poses the question of what is more real and more desirable, the story or real life.  I have not yet finished my piece for this book but hope to at some point in the future.  

Thank you Andrew  for continuing the book club on into next year.  We have only 2 more selections for this year, March  is  An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor and April is The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Thank you for stopping by.  Since this is a blog hop I hope you will take a look at the wonderful creations of the other participants:


  1. I am completely enchanted with the pendant you created, Mary! It is gorgeous and is perfectly paired with your other components. I love that you got inspiration from that magic mirror and the real artist that was woven into Rushdie's story.

  2. Amazing! Your work speaks to me even more than the book did! The clasp could be a focal itself. I have yet to work with resin, but with your necklace makes me want to NOW! I can't wait to see your "Reader" piece, I just loved every story in Love and Loneliness. Thanks for playing.

  3. I always look forward to seeing your pieces! There's a lot of magic in them. This one is no different! I love how you were able to take a passage in the book and transform it into a realized piece. The focal is has that cherished, reliquary feeling and I think you've hit the nail on the head with this piece! Nicely done!

    I can't wait to see your Difficult Loves piece.

    And thank you so much for participating! It really does mean so much to me and I love hearing how things people might not have picked up themselves have sparked all kinds of creativity!

  4. What a gorgeous necklace! I love that the clasp also echoes the cover of the book. But that pendant is so great. I did not read the book, but the story you tell lets me know that your pendant is perfect for it. I love that drawing and how you set it. It looks like an old treasure, almost like it has gold leaf on it. It's so fun to see what everyone has made!

  5. This piece is amazing! All of the components can stand really nicely by themselves but when paired together-well simply magic! It is so great to see so many different interpretations of the same book! I cannot wait to see your Calvino piece too.

  6. It's great to see this piece all put together-- I love the concept and how the actual piece came out of your vision. It's modern and yet ornate-- my favorite kind of style, one that borrows the best elements and combines them. Such excellent work, as always, Mary!


Raku Bead Video Part III