Friday, March 13, 2015

Inspired by Reading Book Club: Geek Love

This month's selection was Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, and boy was it a great read!


I only post this cover because there are several ones out there, and let me say, it does make a difference as to orientation. Let me explain. Normally when I start a book I usually don't read the back covers or synopsis so as not to be biased. But girl, let me tell you, I DO judge a cover! And there will be no apologies here for that!  So when I picked this one up, I was thinking that this was going to be some hot and steamy, 50 shades of Geek Squad, (as in Best Buy techie help) trash novel. Yeah...NOT! I had to literally read the first page five times because I was soooo confused! Finally, I had to break my own rule and read the back cover just so it made sense! Did you know that a Geek is not someone who routinely helps computer illiterate 40 somethings (and I'm referring to personal experience here) with their (so simple that a five year old could operate it) gadgets, but is actually the title given to someone who bites the heads off of live chickens?  LIVE CHICKENS! And let me tell you, this is only the beginning of this crazy, wonderful read! At times I found myself saying "Oh no they aren't.." only to be followed by "OMG they did"! It has been a long time since I have read something this imaginative with such great character development. And yet at the same time, if you grew up in the evangelical South like I did, it is still very believable. During the summer months growing up I can remember seeing the revival tents springing up and thinking that the circus was in town! Same type of big tents, same time of year, same large crowds, and usually the smell of BBQ at both places. See how confusing this might be to a child? Hell, it's still confusing as an adult! Although I can say now that it's usually the age of the crowd that helps you decide which is which. And have you ever been too polite to say no and had to make good on your promise to attend your boss's/coworker/rotary club member/spouse's boss/friend's church service on the first Sunday of the month? Well, let me tell you, that in itself is a circus midway game! Step right up ladies! Roll the dice! Say "no thanks" to that invitation and you will either be a social pariah or treated to a wonderfully exciting snake handling service! Now which will it be? Make sure you blow on the dice for good luck before you roll!  And have you ever attended said rural church service only to be lulled into thinking it was going to be just your average "go out into the world and do good" service by the nice welcoming congregation? Only to be fooled once the doors shut for the service to begin, by a whole other congregation leaping into action? Then you look over to your spouse, who is also trying to fake smile their way out of terror, to see if they have counted the pews to the nearest exit. And then you turn to your "friend" that invited you there in the first place, and look her right in the eye and give her that "thank you for inviting me" polite smile, and at the same time you think REALLY LOUDLY "if there are going to be snakes involved and you knew that, and if you failed to tell me such snakes would be involved because you knew I'd politely decline your invitation, well, there are going to be problems between us right after this service!" But then three hours into said service, you are like "bring out the snakes!" because at this point you are just waiting to see if anybody gets bitten and how the congregation will react. You want to see a SHOW! You want to see a test of faith in ACTION! You want a ticket to that CIRCUS!
Well go read Geek Love, because it is all that and a few more layers too.

I started to make a charm bracelet with some beads and polymer clay severed hands, but when I started my design all the red, white and blue beads, together with the hands, spoke more of Americana applause then the more sinister effect I was going for, so I stopped and just took a picture instead.


The next piece I created was in homage to Arturo and is a polymer clay torso that is painted with acrylics and inked as well. I chose the green and black colors to symbolize the gangrene that had to have been present in some followers! I added the yellow sari ribbon because it reminded me of the bandages of those patients. Can you image the smell of that midway?  The hand tattoo was added to symbolize the stages of faith-starting with the digits and ending with just a torso. And just to follow up on the symbolism, I put the piece on an actual cutting board to shoot it. 


And then I decided to create a resin pendant to showcase the whole book. The back image is a ticket to a circus, complete with a freak show advertisement! 


 I hope you will join this incredible group! You can find all the other participants HERE!


Until Next Time....be the star in your circus!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Inspired by Reading: Into the Wild

It's been a few months since I have posted anything on my blog and more than that since I have participated in this wonderful book club. It is good to be back to both! This month's selection was Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer. This engrossing narrative is the epic story of one charismatic Christopher Johnson McCandless. He was well educated. He was well read. He was engaging, and made friends wherever he went. He was adventurous. He had a deep stubborn streak. He was a romantic. He was spoiled.  And yet despite all of this, he was lost in soooo many ways.
The hardest part of the book to read for me was the epilogue.  I'm glad there was nobody in the customer waiting area of the car dealership that day I was reading and trying really hard not to break into an all out sob! There are no words to describe the pain his parents must have felt to see his things still sitting in that bus just as he had left them. To know that their child starved to death. To know that he felt like he couldn't or didn't want them in his life. To know he needed help and nobody was there for him. To know that they had failed him.
 I feel for the Alexander Supertramps that are trekking through our great country even as we speak. I'm sure you won't have to go far to find one either, as there are millions of children out there seeking a safe place to sleep and something to eat on any given night.
I decided to create a piece that would reflect the many stages of his struggle and also incorporate the different textural elements that seem so prevalent in the book.


I created the clasp and center piece out of polymer clay. The toggle clasp is textured and painted to resemble fire wood. The stones at the top are actually amber nuggets which for me conjure up both sap and evergreens for some reason! I really wanted to use some leather in this piece because I was so fascinated by the story of Chris' belt. I actually went to some thrift stores looking for an engraved belt to use in place of this suede/ faux leather, but was unsuccessful in my quest. The main polymer piece represents the snow and ice and the rough terrain, and I knew I wanted it to be both deeply textured and asymmetrical.  
Next, I wanted to represent the physical life of both Chris, and the animals he had to kill to survive. I   crafted a cage out of wire and wrapped a thin piece of transparent polymer clay around it and then inked it to give it a worn look. You can see the cage through the clay, almost like skin stretched over the ribs of a starving human or a decaying carcass. Coming out of the cage are a number of symbolic items. The resin paper represents the graffiti and journals Chris kept. The .22 caliber bullet casing represents his having to resort to hunting game and his emotional struggle in doing so.  The yellow enameled bead reminded me of his trusty Datsun. The river rock is worn smooth by the raging waters as I am sure were the rocks of the rivers he had to cross. The coyote tooth-well they are the same everywhere I suppose. And the silky blue sari ribbon I imagine has very much the same texture as everyone's favorite childhood adventure sleeping bag....


Please check out the other participants' blogs! They can be found HERE.  You can also join us in this fabulous book club too! The books are great, the creations are beautiful and the tribe is welcoming! 

Until Next Time....Call Your Parents!