Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Inspired by Reading April Blog Hop...

Today is the Reveal for the April selection of the Inspired by Reading Book Club!  It also marks the completion of the first 13 month cycle!  A big thank you goes out to everyone who has participated in the past and made this a really awesome project!  THANK YOU!  CLICK HERE for the full list of books for the next cycle.

For April, we read, "Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri.  All of the participants agreed that it was excellent collection of stories that were well-written.  I think everyone also agreed that most of the stories had an underlying melancholy and morose tone that punctuated the snippets of life.  The words were emotionally charged, powerful, and often times heart wrenching.  The stories take place all over the world, from the suburbs of New England to the slums of India.  Each shows a different facet of Southeast Asian culture, from those grappling with meshing Westernized American traditions with Indian religious practices and societal norms, to those fully immersed in the tapestry of India.

This was the first book club in our new location.  I have to thank Terri, Laurel and Alison for spending most of the day helping me get the front room in order.  We only just moved in over the weekend and there were many boxes and displaced furniture to tackle.  THANK YOU SO MUCH!

The in-person meet-up was so much fun!  We had a good time talking about the book and catching up.  I love that the in-person meet-ups are turning into a costume party of sorts.  Alison dressed up like Mrs. Das, one of the characters from the short story that shares the title of the book.

Here's a picture of some of the Indian treats that Alison picked up.  It also has one of Laurel's pieces draped over them.  It was fun sampling the different snacks, some of which appeared in the book, like the rice crackers.

This wreath was created by Alison.  It was inspired by the story, "The Blessed House".  It is created from sari silk yarn that was finger-knitted over a form.  It represents a blending of traditions, mixing the Christian wreath with the Indian sari fibers.

This necklace in jewel-toned fuchsias, citrusy oranges, and burnt bronze, was created by Alison.  She was inspired by Mrs. Sen's colorful sari collection.  The necklace features organza ribbon, Swarovski crystals, Japanese seed beads, and mother of pearl.

This necklace and earring set were made by Laurel.  She said that pieces she created were inspired by the overall theme of the book.  To make the pieces, she repurposed an old belt, vintage jewelry, and a piece of filigree.  To make all the pieces fit together, she spray painted them in a warm silver color.

Laurel also made this eclectic necklace.  This necklace was inspired by the short story, "The Blessed House". The story is about a newly married Indian couple who move into a house that was previously owned by a Christian family who decorated it with religious paraphernalia.  The wife becomes obsessed with the Christian objects, even though the couple is Hindu.  The necklace Laurel features several repurposed and salvaged Catholic medals, rosary components, and even a plastic Jesus!

Here's the piece that Terri created.  Here's what she had to say about it:

It's difficult to believe that this book of short stories is a debut publication.  The stories are so poignant and finely crafted.  Each one left me wanting to know more about what happened to the characters.  And the word to describe every story is melancholy, so much so, that blue, the definition of melancholy, was the hue I selected for my project.  Clever me, I ordered a blue focal  and blue beads that I thought had a Hindu kind of flavor from Diana Ptazynski of Suburban Girl, thinking I had the supplies to make a necklace to sum up the feeling of the stories, but then I misplaced them.  No worry, I would use the silver-toned little flowers and leaves that reminded me of henna designs that I might have mixed with the ceramic beads threaded onto 1mm blue cotton cording to create a bracelet I would call Blue Henna, but the holes in the beads were too small!  Thwarted again, I thought about my favorites stories, Mrs. Sen's, and I realized I had the perfect materials in my stash to create something from that story!  No, not the silver metal fish beads, that is too obvious!  The battered and worn blue china shards!  They are just the ticket!

So... What did I think of the stories?  They highlighted some very distinct differences between American and India culture, most obviously the idea of the isolation born of the cultural differences and the idea of arranged marriages.

I thought about what a strain the loss of a child is on any marriage, as in A Temporary Matter.  Add to that the strain of bing isolated by culture from the people around you, and you can understand how not only the pregnancy, but also the marriage, became a temporary matter.

I thought about the loneliness and isolation felt by Lilia, her family, and Mr. Prizada in When Mr. Prizada Came to Dine.  All of them caught up in homesickness for India, the struggle to integrate American traditions and customs into their new lives, while all the time, Mr. Prizada was their guest by default.  Lilia's family wouldn't have had anything to do with Mr. Prizada or his family if they were all in India.

I thought about how lonely and isolated Mr. Kapasi felt in Interpreter of Maladies.  Not close to his wife, because it was an arranged marriage?  Not thought of romantically by Mrs. Das, because she saw him as too old to be her lover?

I thought about Boori Ma, a poor old lady who could not possibly be a genuine durwan, given her refugee status.  An old woman, not even good enough to be a live in doorman in a rundown apartment building.  Women, especially old refugee woman, need to  remember their place!

I thought about Miranda, in Sexy, ironically the American "other woman" in a story about Indians and "other women."  Arranged marriages no doubt had a lot to do with the infidelity in that tale!

But I most closely identified with Mrs. Sen.  No doubt she was a partner in an arranged marriage.  No doubt she was in a marriage where a woman should know and stay in her "place."  Far away from home and lonely, thrown into a culture for which it was much easier for an Indian man to adjust.  Mrs. Sen reminded me of how isolated I felt as a young wife who moved only across the state of Ohio to be with her husband.  The community was rural German American, not a far stretch from growing up in a rural English American community.  No real language or cultural barriers, but I was homesick, just like Mrs. Sen.  I could drive, but it was still unfamiliar territory.  It was before the age of cell phones, though, and we certainly couldn't afford a lot of long distance calls home.

Mrs. Sen tried hard to please her husband, as I did.  She worked hard at cooking him food he liked, and keeping his house the way he liked it.  So did I.  Mr. Sen didn't seem to show much appreciation, but my new husband did, trying to take me back home for the weekend as often as possible.  Mrs. Sen had a lot of frustration to overcome, and she tried by taking the bus to the fish market, and when that didn't work out, she attempted to drive herself there, when she was afraid of driving.  Her minor accident left her shattered, just like the shattered china in my necklace, strung together with melancholy blue cording.  The blue and white china shards were buffeted and worn down by the sea, just as Mrs. Sen was buffeted by life.  I wonder what finally happened to Mrs. Sen.

Here's a bracelet that I made.  It was inspired by the "Interpreter of Maladies" short story.  It is made up of recycled sari silk ribbons that have been knotted together with kumihimo.  I selected the colors of the fibers from a description of Mrs. Das's outfit.  I used porcelain end caps from Marsha Hedrick of Amazing Porcelain.  For the focal, I carved a monkey with a stick out of polymer clay.

I also made this big necklace (which sold to a customer who walked in before book club started)!  It was also inspired by the Interpreter of Maladies short story.  One of the places that they visit is the Konark Sun Temple.  The temple is decorated with 24 huge stone wheels.

Here's a close-up of the polymer clay beads I made.  I carved the stylized design based on the original carvings and pressed out all the beads.  Once they were cured, I touched them up with Gilder's Paste to bring out the details and add a little gold.  In between the beads, I used antique wooden rosary beads.

But wait!  That's not all!  Make sure to check out what the other participants of the Inspired by Reading Book Club made:

Jenny Davies-Reazor
Sarajo Wentling
Jeanne Steck
Mary Harding
Karin Grange
Ann Schroeder
Mary K McGraw
Rachel Stewart
Christine Damm
Andrew Thornton, Laurel Ross, Alison Herrington, Terri Greenawalt, and Karen Hiatt

Last month, we read "An Irish Country Doctor" by Patrick Taylor.  Here's a piece that was created by Karen Hiatt that wasn't included in the blog hop, but definitely deserves recognition.

This is what she had to say about it:

I really enjoyed the Irish MD story.  It was a quick, interesting read.  These green faceted, graduated stones have brown earthy veins in them.  I wanted something that made me think of the ocean and I chose flat bronzy green, freshwater pearls with one baroque pearl.  I incorporated seed bead attachments and the clasp.  The carved focal bead was handmade by an artist in Maui.  I love the two dolphins, going in opposite directions, like the two doctors benefiting the village people with two perspectives on medicine.

The next selection is, "An Object of Beauty" by Steve Martin.  This is the first book in the new cycle of selections.  CLICK HERE for the full list for the upcoming year.  CLICK HERE to view last year's selections.  If you're interested in keeping up with what we're doing, CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook group page.  CLICK HERE to view our Pinterest Page with supplemental inspiration.  It's fascination to see what elements from the books we read will resonate with participants and inspire them to create!


Mary Harding said...

I am so moved by all the pieces you all created this month inspired by Interpreter of Maladies. Just beautiful and so meaningful each one of them. I loved reading this long post and savoring each piece of jewelry created. Thanks so much for sharing your care for this wonderful book.

Stories They Tell said...

An amazing collection of fine work and displaying so much sensitivity for the themes in the book. Great interpretations by everyone!

Carole said...

Thanks to Terri for sharing her thoughts about the stories. I think I would have liked this book! I also enjoy how you all have interpreted the books in your jewelry. I hope to be able to join in one of these months.

Mary K. McGraw said...

Everyone created such beautiful pieces this month. I enjoyed reading the description of each one.

Really love those end caps on your bracelet.

Bluefinch said...

What a collection of beautiful pieces and I think each one represents the book so well! And I am so excited more artists are participating this month too!

Bluefinch said...

Wow! What fabulous pieces everyone created! I think they represent the book so well! I am also excited that so many people participated this month and I cannot wait to hop around to see the other pieces of art!

Ann Schroeder said...

As I scrolled down this post, I said of each piece, Oh, I love THIS one! What a great collection of creations! I love the creativity in this book group. The pieces are always so different and lovely. In addition to being inspired by reading, I'm inspired by all of your creations!

Jeanne @ Gems By Jeanne Marie said...

I love everyone's very different interpretations and inspirations! The creations brought me back to the stories, often to parts I had forgotten.

Sarajo Wentling said...

What a great post, Andrew! Congratulations on the move into your new space and a wonderful year of Book Club! It's so fun to see what each person made... especially with short stories it's so intersting to see what speaks to us all. Also, I love Alison's Mrs. Das costume. Hilarious!

Karin G said...

This is such a wonderful collection of pieces. Each interprets the stories in its own way, they are all fabulous and unique. I love to see how reading a book can lead to such beautiful creations.

Cherie Burbach said...

Love this! What a cool idea and a nice way to celebrate the book.

Eileen The Artful Crafter said...

I love your rpolymer clay beads, Andrew, but all the pieces are wonderful!

Jenny said...

I apologize to one and all for not hopping until now. I think each of you has created unique pieces, and I am proud to be amongst you!