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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!


  1. Rachel - I so enjoyed reading your post! Your beautiful necklace is beautiful and very interpretive and meaningful. I love your clasp - I thought it Was wood at first glance.

  2. How lovely and such a delightful necklace : )

  3. Love your piece! I'm amazed at all the little elements and details you added into your design... a fun and eclectic design for sure. Glad you are back with us!

  4. If you get the chance to see it I really recommend watching the film adaption also called into the wild. MacCandless is something of a hero of mine x x

  5. Very symbolic piece! Well done! The wrapped cage is a WOW. Wonderful insight on the book as well.

  6. I really love all the meaning in your piece and the care you put into constructing it. Plus, it's beautiful.

  7. Great necklace with wonderful textures and so well suited to convey the book. I enjoyed reading your post!!

  8. RIP Alexander Supertramp! Your piece and the emotion from you behind it are awesome!!!
    You totally nailed those images and I'm super impressed. Fantastic work

  9. The piece you've made is really clever! I love all the symbolism and how all the little pieces came together to create an eclectic, bohemian necklace. Nicely done! I also felt for his parents. I don't always get along with my parents and there have been times that I've clashed hard with my dad. I think there was a realization that came to me that helped. They're people too. They are people with flaws... people who have made mistakes and made bad choices. I have flaws. I have made mistakes. I have made bad choices. We all have. And seeing them in this light has allowed me to forgive a lot and most importantly, move on. I really wanted to like his abandonment of all his possessions and renouncing the comforts of modern living, but I couldn't get over his self-indulgence. His actions hurt his family and those that loved him and they didn't have a choice in it. He was selfish. And while I'm all about self-discovery and standing up for one's self and being independent, I don't like the idea of having someone make decisions for others that will cause them misery. Maybe it strikes too close to home. When my brother left, he thought his life was so bad and that it was the only thing he could do to escape his problems. He never really considered how it would effect our parents or us. We lived in the shadow of his absence. And it tainted everything. If you were smiling and laughing, later you'd feel guilty for having fun when he could be laying in a ditch dying. While we are all certainly happy that my brother didn't meet the same fate as Chris, it doesn't change the past and I'm still a little angry that my entire life was changed by someone else's selfish behavior. I want to say that I've forgiven him, and in theory, I have, but there is still a part of me that wonders what it would have been like if he had sent a single postcard... instead of waiting twenty years to make amends. Anyway... your piece is fantastic! Thank you for participating!