Wednesday, July 02, 2014

June Inspired By Reading Blog Hop...

Today is the blog hop reveal for the Inspired By Reading Book Club!  If you're not familiar with the group, you read a book from our book list and then create something afterwards inspired by what you read.  It can be anything!  For June we read, "The Drunken Botanist" by Amy Stewart.  This is the first non-fiction selection for this year's cycle.  CLICK HERE for the full list of books for the upcoming year.  Amy Stewart, the author of the New York Times Bestselling "Wicked Plants", explores the shelves of a liquor store with the eye of a botanist and historian.  She delves into how the plant world all around us has been transformed into alcoholic beverages throughout the ages, mixing recipes and factoids with a dash of humor like a fine cocktail.

Most of the participants agreed that it was a fascinating read and that they'd buy a copy (if they borrowed it or got an eReader version) for their personal reference libraries.  The book is beautifully laid out with engravings, helpful charts, and a sprinkling of mixologist-approved recipes.  As a former bartender and a current plant enthusiast, I enjoyed it immensely!  While reading the book, I felt like I had stumbled across an alchemist's grimoire, turning the everyday items like a grain of rice or a potato into an intoxicating potion.  Even for beverages that I thought I was already familiar with, I learned new things.  It was like I was discovering a different side about them – their secret lives and origin stories. I also came across new-to-me delights that piqued my curiosity, and throughout reading the book, I branched out my normal comfort zone and sampled lots of new concoctions.

Above (and to the left) is a picture of Laurel with a pitcher of Pink Martinis and Constance with a carafe of minty mojitos.  On the right, Alison flips through "The Drunken Botanist" while wearing her Green Fairy Necklace.  We had a lot of fun at the meet-up!  Originally we were going to have it outside in the backyard under a tent with twinkling lights and potted plant decorations, but the weather had other things in mind.  So we went to Plan B and held it indoors at the shop.  It was still a lot of fun!  Alison brought a huge selection of garden-inspired snacks, crackers and chips.  We sat around the table, munching on treats, chatting and... oh, yeah, sipping on beverages!

For one of Laurel's projects, she made a Pink Martini.  It wasn't in the book, but after she finished reading our June selection, she researched other botanical cocktails and found THIS RECIPE.  One of the components of this drink is peony jelly.  Luckily for Laurel (and the rest of the group), peonies just happened to be in season.  So she found THIS RECIPE.  I had never heard of or tried peony jelly before, but was pleasantly delighted by its subtle, floral flavor.  One would think that it would be lost in the Pink Martini, but it actually enhanced the flavors, giving it a hint of gummy bear and a rounded sweetness to balance the tartness of the pomegranate.  One of the nice things is that this cocktail can be made with or without the flavored vodka and it's still delicious!  Laurel served her cocktails in jelly jars (and I couldn't resist playing Pink Martini's music in the background).

Laurel also made a bracelet, which she asked to be photographed on top of her floral shoes.  We decided that the flowers on the shoes must be trilliums.

Here's the bracelet sans shoes.  She used brightly colored rubber rings from My Elements by Yvonne, faceted jade rounds, silver leather, and a big floral button.

Above is a picture of Alison's Green Fairy Necklace.  It was inspired by the section on wormwood and absinthe called, "Dancing with the Green Fairy".  The necklace is made up of Czech glass, vintage lucite, Swarovski crystals, and features a Green Girl Studios fine pewter fairy for the focal.

Here's a close-up of the focal of her necklace, with an embellished chain dripping from the wings.

This is the necklace that I made.  It's composed of Czech glass, gold-plated pewter floral spacers (Pewties!), glass pearls, and a ceramic bike links from Melanie Brooks of Earthenwood Studio.  Originally I had ordered a ceramic bike pendant to use in my project, but ended up using the accompanying bike spoke links instead.  I was inspired by the section on elderberry flowers and the story of how people on bicycles collect the elderberry flowers for St. Germain, a French elderberry flower liquor.

This is a close-up of the front and back of the pendant that I made for the necklace.  I took a razor and pried the inset top off the bottle cap. I then pried out the metal washer in the top and drilled a hole in the side.  I used a headpin to create a wire-wrapped bail and then I reinserted the metal washer (which gives it a nice weight) and smoothed out two-part epoxy clay over the back to keep the washer in place and to make it nice and even.  The beautiful St. Germain bottle has stickers that have an underside with this gorgeous minty, aqua color and gold floral motif.  I steamed the stickers off, cut out a circle and glued it on the back. I then covered it in resin to protect it and to keep it from sticking to everything.

I tromped out in a ditch to collect elderberry flowers for the cordial recipe included in the book, but sadly they weren't ready yet.  They might be now though!

This is a piece that Karen Hiatt created.  She's not a local and doesn't have a blog, but still wanted to participate.  So she sent this picture in of her creation.  It features a shibuichi Forever Beautiful mermaid from my family at Green Girl Studios and an assortment of beaded links that embellish the chain.

Check out what some of the others in the group made:

Jeanne Steck
Mary K McGraw
Sarajo Wentling
Eric Wentling
Mary Harding
Andrew Thornton, Laurel Ross, Alison Herrington, Constance Vale, and Karen Hiatt

The next book is "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot.  CLICK HERE for the list of books for this year's selections.  CLICK HERE to take a look at last year's books.  If you're interested in keeping up with us and what we're doing, CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook group.  CLICK HERE to check out our Pinterest page for supplemental inspiration.  The meet-up for July is scheduled for Wednesday, July 30th and the Reveal is scheduled for Thursday, July 31st.


Sarajo Wentling said...

As always, it looks like the meet up was great fun. I wish I could have tasted the liquid creations from Laurel and Constance! This may sound weird, but Laurel's bracelet seems like a combination of the two drinks in all it's tropical fruity color.

While I have no intention of "dancing with the green fairy" again myself (let's just say that has ended badly in the past), Alison's green fairy necklace is enchanting.

I'm in love with your necklace, Andrew! I don't know that I've ever really looked at a St. Germain bottle (although I did have half a carafe of Elderflower spritzer made with it while in Vegas last week!). What you did with the bottle cap and stickers for the pendant is just beautiful and the beads you chose to go with it are luminous. Yummy all around!

I also really appreciate that you are willing to share photos for folks who don't blog. My first design challenge was one of your kits the first time you offered them and I didn't blog at that time. So, anyway, thanks for sharing Karen's necklace too! Love how some of those beads look like honeycomb.

Great job, all!

Drtanglebones said...

Thanks for hosting this Andrew! I enjoyed playing along. Love the effort you put into the pendant for your necklace!

Ann Schroeder said...

The meet ups always look like such fun! I love the colorful drinks and the idea of peony jelly! All of the creations are beautiful. I love the bright greens; I've always been a little fascinated by the green of absinthe. I'm absolutely IN LOVE with the pendant you made. Lots of work went into it, and it paid off because it is gorgeous. It's so fun to see what everyone makes. All so different but all wonderful!

Jeanne @ Gems By Jeanne Marie said...

As always, I'm sorry I couldn't trek to PA for the meet-up. You folks are so much fun!
Laurel's necklace reminds me of a caterpillar! I love it!
I love all of the pieces featured and would wear Amy one if them on a heart beat.
Andrew, I so enjoy reading your descriptions. Thanks so much for "hosting"!

Eileen The Artful Crafter said...

What fun people and inspired creations. Peony jelly sounds yummy.

Mary K. McGraw said...

Sounds like you all had a great time at the meet up and the drinks look delicious.

I am always amazed at the range of creativity that evolves from us all reading the same book. Love your necklace, that pendant is really special.

I am partial to fairies, so really to a liking to Alison's Green Fairy Necklace. Laurel's bracelet is fun and fanciful. And Karen's necklace is so earthy in its colors.

Thanks so much for hosting this book club.