Dragonfly Billabong is a representation of the centrality of water in Australia, a country where droughts feature often with a few “good” years thrown in between in order to make us forget.
I used Lacy’s Stiff Stuff as the foundation. I dyed the white foundation with permanent black dye powder mixed into water and let that dry off. I used Berkley Fireline 6lb strength for this design. I then started with the design on the central cabochon; a beautiful Brazilian agate slice. My design work always starts off with the placement of the largest pieces. Once the slice was adhered, the rough outline of the outer border was put into place with chalk.
I then made my carefully considered selection of beads for this piece as I wanted to keep the design full of form, texture and selected colour; much like I approach my pastel and acrylic paintings – same recipe, different medium. I do this by putting out different beads onto a towel I use underneath my embroidery projects. Little piles of different beads that I am easily able to pick up with a needle to see how each bead shape and colour sits next to another shape and colour.
The larger magnesite slabs were placed and glued and sewn down and then the huge agate slice was embellished with peyote stitch border. Smaller beads were placed here and there until each and every bead was in its “right” position before sewing down. The dragonfly charms were popped into position and these helped with the positioning of minor beads. Four necklace arm segments were made in a similar fashion.
All the pieces were cut away and adhered to Ultrasuede, that lovely soft synthetic leather. I purposely avoid dressed leather for my jewellery as some people are allergic to the dressing. Ultrasuede answers very well in this regard. All the components were then finished off with the brick stitch edging which I so adore. I then lay out the necklace onto my work table and placed the pieces together where they should lie. I measured the distance between the necklace arm segments and then started the beading in between, making sure the segments were situated correctly, measurement wise.
There are never any formal patterns to my work. I work with the beads to allow them to speak to me and the design. Dragonfly Billabong recently won first prize in an art show.