Inspired by reading… Paris to the Moon

(If you are looking for the Art Jewelry Elements CoM reveal – it is located here.)

Pour a coffee, pull up a chair… and welcome to the first month of the “Inspired by Reading” book/creative club. This wonderful idea is being masterminded by the tireless  & creative Andrew Thornton. Simply put – we participants, far flung though we may be – are reading a book a month. Then we are creating something – jewelry, a doodle, poem, collage… inspired by the book. Its very loose and flexible – which makes in very do-able, in my opinion. 

Our first offering: “Paris to the Moon” a collection of essays by Adam Gopnik that detail aspects of his life as a writer and father living in Paris. They were originally published seperately in The New Yorker magazine, and collected as a book published in 2000. 

Paris to the Moon

 I enjoyed the book overall, but found some of the essays not engaging to my interests. The topics of French economics and politics were not my favorites. The descriptions of life in the city, the challenges of an expatriot living abroad, and the frequent culture clashes between a former New York City resident and his now-fellow Parisians were charming and humorous. 

I was most inspired by his field trips with his son to Deyrolle Taxidermy. This Paris icon, preserving natural wonders since 1831, was their destination when rain kept them from their habitual turn in the Luxembourg Gardens. I usually find taxidermy a bit morbid, but this had me fascinated. Animals from the farm to the safari, many abandoned by their owners, bills unpaid. And insects, and coral, and butterflies, and all other diverse objects from the natural world – a cabinet of curiousities… 


Deyrolle cases

Cabinet of curiousities. WunderKammer. Literally translated as “Room of Wonders”… from as early as the 16th century these collections housed “objects included as belonging to natural history (sometimes faked), geology, ethnography, archaeology, religious or historical relics, works of art (including cabinet paintings) and antiquities.” The image below, “Ulisse Aldrovandi’s Cabinet” (engraving by G. Mitelli) shows the concept in all its chaotic glory. 



Pendants. Amulets. Housing treasures – both natural and relics… Hmm… 

Amulets WIP

From top left: boxes – showing folded corners and inserted wires. They are cut from metal sheet, one piece; with tabs that fold to overlap at corners. There are wires inserted as staples to hold tabs and provide loops for attachments/bails. Then the boxes are filled – with ivory polymer, 2 part epoxy putty, black polymer. 

Wunderkammer amulets

Stained. painted… The shell piece (top left) had a chance encounter with the floor, sadly… The bottom two are my favorites. I prefer the layers of transluscent color I can achieve on the ivory base. 

The set of four

These will be finished with dangles and mixed media necklaces. They are rather heavy – but had to be deep to accomodate the items. I think they are reminiscent of specimen trays, and would be worthy additions to a WunderKammer. They are artifacts, and natural items, and become amulets as well. I think a future series of these will be stamped on the back with a quote, a secret word of power or mantra to wear next to your skin. 

I hope to finish them this week for my first big Spring show – Spoutwood Farm’s May Day Fairy Festival. Its a wonderful, magical time… 

And I hope you follow me to “Hop” and see what others created – inspired by “Paris to the Moon”. The list and links are on Andrew’s blog. 

Thanks for stopping by – I would love to hear your thoughts on these new experimental amulets… 




14 thoughts on “Inspired by reading… Paris to the Moon

  1. mary harding says:

    Absolutely wonderful post Jenny. I love your amulet specimen boxes. They are so unique and old world. I like this challenge for the inspiration to make something we might not have thought of before or without it. You certainly rose the the occasion.


    • jenny says:

      Thank you Mary – I appreciate your kind words. It was a concept I had on the back burner until I read the book and it was thrust to the fore. Waiting for the final note of inspiration I assume. 


  2. Judy Campbell says:

    What a beautiful interpretation. I find it so fascinating how different people pull very different images from the same inspiration.


    • jenny says:

      If/when you do read the book – you have permission to skip! I did… And then some essays had me all afire on Google looking things up… the taxidermist was one of the latter. 


    • jenny says:

      I love hte sea theme also – thank you . I was surprised the starfish was so sturdy, and the shell crumbled. I will try more… And the copper dots? They are holes punched with my hole punch pliers. I save everything. 


  3. Christine Damm says:

    Jenny, these are so complex and richly imagined– truly amulets with a lot of juju! I love the various applications– polymer, epoxy– and of course the finish colorings add the special touch and elevate them to artifact status. I am so proud of what you are doing with your clay these days and so look forward to seeing you in class at ArtBliss in September. Great work.


    • jenny says:

      Thank you Christine! I love the direction my work is taking and I have you to thank for the polymer path. I SO look forward to seeing you and sharing, chatting, working at Art Bliss!


  4. Sarajo Wentling says:

    These are amazing, Jenny! I hope you’ll share what you do with them on the Facebook page… I look forward to seeing them incorporated into necklaces or whatever. I’m glad you shared what those copper dots started out as… what a great idea!


  5. Andrew Thornton says:

    I think you’ve done a wonderful job! The pieces that you created are a great example of how one can take a moment in the book and transform it into something that is all their own.

    The pieces that you created were really great! I’m fascinated with collections of objects and these curio-pendants are brilliant! I’m sure that they’ll do really well at Sproutwood!

    Thanks so much for participating and for doing so much for the group! You’ve been most excellent! Thank you! You’re a gem!


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