31 May 2012

The Challenge of Literature

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

~ Dr. Seuss


Welcome to the Challenge of Literature!


In another lifetime I was an English and Literature teacher, so it should come as no surprise the impetus for this challenge. Obviously, the written word is important to me. I can't seem to  stop the flow of words from my fingertips most days. I used to love to write poetry, children's book authors and illustrators are super special to me, I believe that Shakespeare is the greatest writer of all time, and I am a collector of quotes and wise and witty sayings. I don't think that I have a novel in me (I will leave that to people like my friend Joann over at Laundry Hurts My Feelings who I KNOW will write that novel one day! I believe!) but I do love to craft a fine string of words. And although I don't have a lot of time on my hands, I do love to read.

So the Challenge is simple... select a piece of literature (literature is defined in this instance as anything you can read) and make an accessory of your choice from the inspiration. My hope is that after hopping around you might find some new authors to try and some new genres to experience.


At Gallery Q in Stevens Point we just hosted the opening party for the Verse & Vision II exhibit. This one of a kind exhibit has garnered a great deal of attention across our state and for good reason. We are celebrating art in all its forms within the state of Wisconsin, but in particular art inspired by poetry.

The idea behind Verse & Vision is this... make a piece of art inspired by a poem. But not just any poem. We solicit poems from Wisconsin writers, have an independent writer's panel jury them in and then we select. This year we had over 250 poems submitted that were juried down to 57. Back in November 2011, we had a poem picking party at one of our artist's homes. At the party we had all read the poems blind (without knowing who the poets were) and came ready to rally behind our favorites. We each voted for our favorite for the artists' choice award at the opening and then the fun began.

As they called off the poem titles we put our hands up. If only one person selected that poem, they got to choose it. What was really fun was seeing which poems got the most hands. At that point we had to roll these jumbo dice in the center of the room for the luck of the draw. It was really entertaining to see the artists vying for the poems they had their heart set on, and then negotiating and jockeying later for control. It was like watching the NFL draft, but with cocktails and snacks and big fuzzy dice. 

When all was said and done, I walked away with three poems this year. At that point I started sketching my ideas out. I know that thing will be successful when I have such a clear vision that I can sketch it. That is what happened with all three poems. 

I spent January contacting some art bead artists that I knew would be able to make the perfect components for me to use. I sent off the poem to them and described my vision and then waited for them to wow me with their wares. And wow they did! I had to have everything done by the end of February for their professional shots courtesy of our professional photographer John Hartman for the book chronicling all the art and the poetry.


Then on May 18th we had an opening event in conjunction with our local Arts Walk where downtown Stevens Point is taken over by art. There are strolling minstrels, belly dancers on the corners, all the store fronts host different local artists, the old Fox theater has haikus on the marquee, and there is what is known as a 'mass guitar incident' where dozens of amateur guitarists stop and play the same song, this year a Beatles tune on the Square. A big ol' art party! Our poetry reading brought in more than 200+ guests to the Gallery Q with fun and festivities into the evening. It was a marvelous night! 

I had the privilege of reading 6 poems for poets who couldn't be in attendance and I really enjoyed that. Here are the three poems that I was inspired by and the pictures of the pieces that I made. All the poems were reprinted with permission of the poets.


I had the pleasure of meeting Laura at the event. She is a sweet local high school student. She was just thrilled to be there and I loved her energy and her smile. I was delighted that she was one of my poets. 

I knew right away that I needed to have a heron and I knew that the detail that I wanted would be easily achieved by mother daughter duo Beth and Evie McCord of EBBeadandMetalworks. They made me a stunning hummingbird for the last bead soup I did. They never disappoint!

In the Heron's Wings
featuring a hand sawn enameled heron in flight from Beth & Evie McCord of EBBeadandMetalworks
dumertorite ovals
pyrite nuggets
gold vermeil chain and hook clasp


In the Heron's Wings

by Laura R. Wetzel

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

it is wonderful, the gold of this place

she thinks as she paddles

the gold of the sun glints on her hair

on the bronze of her arms, rippling with strength

bright and warm and alive

she counts her seventeen years in the heron's wings

someday, I will fly like that


it is wonderful to be young


it is wonderful, the peace of this place

she thinks as she rests in the bow

the peace of being still while her granddaughter paddles

watching the rippling water

and the dappled sunlight through the trees

she counts her seventy-eight years in the heron's wings

once, I flew like that


it's wonderful to be old




The second poem that I chose a lovely tale called "Old Love." The format reminded me of Shakespeare's sonnets. 

My friend Beth Hemilla of Hint Jewelry makes the most lovely charms. They have a beautiful story behind them and a wonderful craftsmanship. I can't get enough of them. One of her charms is the heart milagro. I just knew that would be the special bead in this piece. However, since this is a showpiece and meant to stand with large works of art, I had to enhance this tiny charm. so I made a bezel for it to trap it between two pieces of hammered copper and then secured with tube rivets. You can't see it but the back has a line from the poem stamped on it "come into the home of my wise heart." 

Old Love
Sterling silver heart milagro charm from Beth Hemilla of Hint Jewelry trapped in a copper bezel
drilled river stones from StonesStudioToo and Allybeans
keishi pearls, faceted hematite
mystic blue labradorite briolettes from norah62
swarovski crystals and resined bits of mulberry paper on steel wire


Old Love

by Joan Wiese Johannes

Port Edwards, Wisconsin


We called it love in lust during summer nights

when young, wild heartbeats mimicked feelings true.

We lit like sparklers, danced like flecks of light,

then flashed and burned as firecrackers do

In daylight we were blackened ash, cold wire,

and paper bits like shreds of Valentine.

The air was toxic, fueled by hot desire;

canaries died when lowered in our mine


But now, beside the river under trees

just saplings during that summer long ago,

we're sunset, crickets, loons, a gentle breeze;

and over the smooth stones fresh water flows.

So, come into the home of my wise heart

so grateful for long decades spent apart.




The final poem is really the first one that caught my eye. I had the most complete vision for this right down to who would make me the beads and the exact placement. 


Remember that I said that we chose the poems without knowing the poets? Last year after the first Verse & Vision I started corresponding with a poet named Cristina Norcross. We never met at the event and I hadn't chosen her poem the previous year, but somehow she found me and sought me out. We started sharing bits about ourselves, Cristina bought some custom simple truths jewelry for herself and best friend, and her family pays very good attention to her wish list because I sold a necklace she had her eye on to her family as a Christmas present (I kept that one hush!). I was really hoping that I would get a chance to meet Miss Cristina in person. But then I found out that she would not be able to attend. So a week before the event, I asked her if I could read her poem and what it was called. Imagine my surprise to find out that it was the very poem that I had been so attracted to! Such a synchronicity of connection! I think that Cristina is a marvelous writer and we obviously have a deep connection. I hope that we will be able to collaborate again in the future (maybe an art exhibit, Miss Cristina.... hmmm?). I was honored to read her poem at the event and to share it with you now.

Winter into Springceramic birdie from LeAnn Weih of Summers Studio
polymer clay speckled egg bead from Heather Powers of Humblebeads
green kyanite daggers, black lava rock beads, hematite peanut beads
quartz faceted nuggest and shards
pewter branch, steel wire cage bead and handmade clasp
fold formed and patina-ed leaves from Mary Jane Dodd of mairedodd


For Those Who Endure Midwest Winters

by Cristina M. R. Norcross

Oconomowoc, Wisconsin 

Drink it in - 

sloping shadows of the sun

skim the placid surface of the lake,

like the long-legged, blue heron.

Embrace the warm blowing winds

that throw dust into somersaults

before the big storm arrives - 

humid air caressing skin with warmth.

Allow the scent of green

to wake you up to the day - 

freshly cut blades of dew-kissed grass

and that sharp, honest sting of earth.

Listen closely to the music of the trees.

Each branch offers a different, feathered soloist.

While filling your head with love - 

the air fills with waves of song.

After pulling off the cloak of winter,

you deserve this

Drink it in.



Thank you for joining me on this literary journey. Have I piqued your interest? Then please go and check out the following participants who have worked hard to bring their literary inspirations to life.

(Note: We had a few participants have to drop out for various reasons: Kristina Johansson, Kashmira Patel and Linda Landig. But they are all equally great and I hope you might visit them anyway. And we had one last minute addition, Miss Kristen Stevens!)

Happy hopping!

(Pardon the silly state of my blog... I can't get rid of all this space and the fonts are all wonky.
If you wish to leave a comment keep scrolling....
Maybe this is just doodle space... if only you could doodle on your screen! Argh!
I am too tired to figure out why Blogger is messing with me!!!)





Patti Vanderbloemen said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your hop this morning with my AM coffee! But then, it is a ritual I have enjoyed for some time now. Your creative interpretive skills are amazing..the necklaces are lovely! I particularly enjoyed seeing Beth and Evie's piece...they are truly a dynamic duo! Beautiful job!

Unknown said...

Beautiful pieces! Hope you enjoy my blog, even if it's not what you expected.

Anonymous said...

Oh my heavens, what gorgeous words to go along with gorgeous pieces of art! A winning combo in my book! Thank you for hosting a wonderful blog hop!

Alice said...

How fun to read your chosen poems and the stories behind each of them. Your Gallery Q collaboration sounds fabulous!

I love all the pieces you made, and my favorite is the Old Love necklace--something about the sturdiness of it, yet I still see a bit of fragileness to it--just like old love.

I've enjoyed playing along with this challenge. Thanks so much for hosting!

Amy S. said...

Beautiful Erin - I just love all these pieces - each one evokes the feeling of your poems. I'm a huge bird fan and your heron piece really tugged at me!!!! Thanks for hosting this challenge!

Off the Beadin' Path said...

Erin,you already know that I love these pieces and the poetry that inspired them because I was privileged to see them, and you, in PeRSoN at the Gallery Q! A very successful evening for all of the artists! It's a bonus to see it all again on your blog and I'm amazed all over again at the perfect connection between the words and the jewelry designs! You're "Gifted and Talented", it's a fact! Thanks for doing the challenge, it was very exciting!

Karyn B said...

Beautiful, all of them! But, oh, Winter into spring... *drool*

Shai Williams said...

I don't usually read poetry however I loved all of the ones that you choose. I especially loved the first one and am amazed that it was written by a 17 year old. What insight for someone so young. And that necklace is my favorite also. Just incredible.

Lilik Kristiani said...

You're success to move the heart of the story into every creation of yours *really amazing*

Lilik Kristiani said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
koko said...

I've not commented on your blog before, but this post just touched me so much! From the beautiful poetry you've truly created beautiful art. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself! You've really made my day today!


Kim Stevens said...

Oh, Oh Erin . . . you have completely out done yourself this time my friend!! Just. Simply. Gorgeous!! And I love each one, but that heron, wow, that calls my name. But I do love the earthiness of that second one and the twisted wires and rocks, AND I feel like I'm in the garden with that last one...no can't pick a favorite! ; ) XO Kim

Lesley said...

Wow Erin - how I envy you your artistic/literary collaborations! All the poems and designs are beautiful but I am particular drawn to "Old Love' and your wonderful soft, soulful and organic interpretation of it - just gorgeous!

Therese's Treasures said...

Hi Erin,
First of all thank you for puting this amazing challenge together I always enjoy viewing and or particitating in your challenges.
I love your pieces they are all equally gorgeous and the poems that the piece were inspired from are beautiful. My favorite is the first piece with the Heron pendant and the poem was very touching I could just picture the young girl on the lake and then seeing her as an old wise woman on the same lake. It was hard to believe this was written by a young school girl.

B'sue said...

Erin, this is a lovely idea and I can't wait to come back later and see what everyone has done. I wonder if anyone has done my favorite, Maya Angelou's "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings"....one of my faves. A book would be The Color Purple by Alice Walker....always loved the quote, "the color purple just cries out to be loved!" I wish I could have participated in this one, it would have been dear to my heart, too.

Amy F said...

Those pieces are fantastic! thanks for hosting such a fun hop!

AntiquityTravelers said...

This is an amazing idea for a hop! I would love to have joined this one! I don't think I could pick a favorite from either the poems or the necklaces - each is just lovely. But I do really LOVE the heron - that is fantastic

SoulsFireDesigns said...

Erin, you never fail to inspire. Thank you so much for this challenge, it was such a pleasure. I love all three of the poems you chose and the pieces you created. In your hands the poetry springs to life visually. Just so touching, so perfect!

Beth Hikes said...

Erin, oh my gosh! Each of these pieces is an incredible work of art. I keep coming back to the one Winter into Spring. Not only did the poet capture the essence of the midwest spirit in her words you created such an amazing connection through symbols. Mary Jane's leaves, LeAnn's bird, and Heather's egg all seamlessly intertwined in ice and fresh spring. I just LOVE it! Also, the heron is incredible and the Old Love poem made me tear up again. That piece has so many elements and surprises. Thank you for inspiring me today with words and beauty!! xoxo Beth

Bobbie said...

Fabulous. Just, fabulous! I thought the first necklace was my favorite, but then I scrolled down to the second, and the way it fit the inspiration took my breath away. Then I saw the third necklace and read its poem...as one who endured a few Wisconsin winters, this one touched my heart. Thank you for sharing your inspiration and the glorious results of your imagination.

Brandi Hussey said...

Erin, these are gorgeous! I just love when you share Verse and Vision pieces. Even though it's for a show, I hope that you'll continue to do them going forward.

The Crazy Creative Corner said...

Okay, so, I know you've got an idea(s) for whatever the next Challenge is, but I'll tell ya' now, I've got both "Music Of The Night," "All I Ask Of You" & "Phantom of the Opera" running thru my head so if you wanted to do music..... (~heee~)
I had fun with this, Erin, and enjoyed looking at what everyone did. Brava!

The Crazy Creative Corner said...

....or, y'know, make the WHOLE challenge about Phantom Of The Opera! THAT should be interesting! 0_o*

Tracy said...

Awesome pieces and I enjoyed readig your literary inspirations.

Shannon Chomanczuk said...

you are my first stop on the hop as I just got home from work. I enjoyed reading each poem and then seeing the jewelry and why you chose each piece.
Thanks for hosting this hop it was so great to re-read a book I loved so much.

Jenny said...

But of course our leader would create a wealth of lovelies for the challenge! Erin - Wow. The last necklace is my favorite visually, but the first echoes the poem so wonderfully - weigh a simple direct grace.

Thank you for yet another invigorating, inspiring challenge!.

Rose said...

Thank you, Erin, for hosting this blog hop. I love seeing people draw inspiration from different sources and literature can definitely be full of inspiration.

Your necklace inspire by "For Those Who Endure Midwest Winters" is my favorite of the trio. The whites with the green and those leaves from Mary Jane Dodd... gorgeous.

I'm not a big poetry girl. I like Shakespeare's sonnets and some Sufi poets and that's pretty much it (though, I write some pretty funny haikus sometimes...) but these poems you chose are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them! <3

Kokopelli said...

Beautiful pieces! I especially love the heron necklace. Beth's and Evie's work is gorgeous.

JeannieK said...

Scrolling, Scrolling, Scrolling Rawhide. Oh, there we go.

Ok, Erin where to begin. The Verse and Vision exhibit-"art inspired by poetry." What could be better than that and all forms of art to boot.

STUNNING WORKS OF ART! You are like a jewelry engineer choosing parts in one well crafted piece that all work together. Including art bead artists just makes these pieces so special.

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

As I scrolled down the page, starting with the first necklace, my responses were "that is a beautiful piece, to "holy moly" then "wow"! Each one has it's own unique style, reflecting the literature you chose beautifully! My favorite is the necklace for the poem "For Those Who Endure Midwest Winters". I love the different elements of this design, especially the twigs, egg and nest. Beautiful work Erin!

Cyndi J said...

These are truly works of art. Incredibly beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Erin for hosting this wonderful hop. I really enjoyed participating. All of the pieces you created are so beautiful - I especially love the one with the pretty heron! I also really enjoyed the poem about the Midwestern Summers after a long winter - I have lived all my life in Michigan, and I really do try to savor every minute of warmth.

A Polymer Penchant said...

Wow Erin! I left reading your post until last (I had to scroll down to the list really fast a few times to make sure I didn't ruin my own plan). I just figured like any good party you make your way back the the host and thank them for the bash and all the fine friends you got to meet. Laura's poem touched me the most, and your interpretation is equally beautiful. But I couldn't pick a favourite of your pieces, each is beautiful in their own right.

What a privilege to get to join in the fun and tour these many blogs I haven't had the chance to come across otherwise. For all you put out there Erin, with all the busy-busy-busyness I hope it comes back to you tenfold. Thank YOU!

Anonymous said...

Erin, your three pieces are so individual and so unique. And they go with their poems beautifully! I really enjoyed making my piece and now I'm off to look at everyone else's (I'm a couple of days late with that, been too busy this week!). Thank you for hosting such an inspiring challenge!

EB Bead and Metal Works, LLC said...

As usual the blog hope was amazing! Thanks again for hosting these wonderful artists!
Love all the pieces you created - you captured the words in your artwork perfectly! Thank you for the spectacular design you came up with for the heron, the colors complement each other so well. You made the heron come to life!
Stunning creations!

Kim said...

Wow. I have really enjoyed this blog hop, and am very happy I participated. I LOVE that heron it is stunning. All of the poems were wonderful, and I think you captured the words with your pieces perfectly.

Sparkle Queen said...

Erin, what a great hop! I've just started hopping around looking at all the participants and there's such a huge amount of creativity it's amazing!

Hope your time at B&B is fabulous!

SueBeads said...

Oh my goodness, I was excited to see what you did and posted and wow am I impressed! I figured you did something fantastic but I just love all of them! I love how you can literally take a piece of literature and capture it in a piece of jewelry! I really truly wish I could find some of that in me! I used to write, all the time - I thought I was pretty good too. Then something made me stop. I don't think I can find it again but I will just keep following you!

Unknown said...

this is me bowing you your continuous over achievement, utterly phenomenal inspiration and the beauty you fill our world with.


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