I'm Jenny, a.k.a. 'Decadent Dragonfly'. I hope you will enjoy accompanying me on a wild and enjoyable ride through my handmade jewellery adventures. I'll include projects I'm working on, things I like and maybe even a few tutorials along the way; I'll be keeping the main focus on jewellery and all things beady and shiny!
So, who am I and what do I know about jewellery-making? Well, I've loved jewellery since I was a young girl, not only wearing it (I think I get that from my mother!) but also taking it apart and reworking it. I was a child of the 80's and I adored taking my big plastic earrings apart and making new and exciting colour combinations with them to match different outfits (some large yellow circles and vivid blue palm trees spring immediately to mind) and stringing brightly coloured strings of plastic beads together in different ways. I also loved making things with broken bits of my nan's vintage jewellery (not that vintage was a 'thing' back then!). I still have some of those old beads, I can see them making a reappearance in a project at some point (and this is one in the eye for anyone who says you must throw things out if you haven't used them for a year - the rule does not apply if you're a crafter!!). Anyway, I never had any proper tools or even knew that different types of rings had different names, and, as is so common when 'growing up', I pursued a varied education and career in science, admin, Occupational Therapy and belly dance and forgot all about my childhood beady loveliness.
Then, in 2005 aged 32, I was pole-axed by a cancer diagnosis, a cancer that I was "not supposed to have" because of my age. I had surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, vaccinations, foreign travel, bereavements and other life stressors occurring all at the same time, and I soon became completely immobilised by what I later found out was M.E. (Myalgic Encepahalopathy), which is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome [CFS], Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome [PVFS], Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome [CFIDS] and Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease [SEID] as well as sometimes being mixed up with the related condition, Fibromyalgia [FM or FMS]. Years of cancer surgeries and treatments followed and the ME showed no signs of lifting. I also received no help from my GP, who kept telling me I wasn't ill... :/
Five years on I discovered a private practitioner who understood the condition and recommended certain medical and nutritional interventions to aid recovery. I've been following the programme since 2010, and I'm pleased to report that I have made slow but steady progress ever since. (One surprising but very welcome added bonus is that I've also been cancer-free since this time! :D ).
Like many people with M.E. and other chronic illness I turned to crafting as a hobby and form of therapy - when you can't get out of the house and are very limited it is a fabulous feeling to be able to create something, no matter how small. I tried knitting, crochet, salt dough, even a bit of painting and drawing, but never got very far with any of them, much as I enjoyed them. I found the numbers and counting hard in knitting and crochet, and the fact that you have to continue to a sensible point, remember where you were and can't really stop halfway through a row. Also, my cats often wanted to 'be involved' and almost trashed many a lovingly-made project! And although I loved mark-making, I was never particularly happy with the results and didn't have the energy to learn this skill properly. Then my hubby, Dan, who you may hear about from time to time, offered me his old jewellery tools from when he was at Uni (he did a degree in Silversmithing and Jewellery-Making) and I was like, "you can get proper TOOLS?!?". How exciting! So I got myself a few beads and bits of wire, and with his help and patient tuition started making very simple beaded earrings and the occasional bag charm. Beaded loops - now that's a technique I'll definitely show you! I put some pictures up on Facebook and people seemed to like them. I had a few orders and some commissions and thought, "maybe I could do something more with this". The best part was that not only did I thoroughly enjoy the process of making (and the buying of beads, let's be honest!), but it was a craft that I could easily put down halfway through if I needed to rest (a beaded headpin can't unravel!) and, so long as I kept them away from my table, the cats weren't particularly interested!
Then I found out about 'Make ME Crafts' (www.makemecrafts.com), an organisation of like-minded M.E. patients and crafters who raise funds for the M.E. research charity 'Invest In M.E.' (www.InvestInME.org) by selling their handcrafted items. I asked if I could join and everyone was very welcoming. You can find many talented crafters' items on their site, I am embarrassingly bad at keeping my stock levels up but occasionally you will find some of my things up there! Since then I've expanded to include not only my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/DecadentDragonfly) but also my shiny new Etsy shop (www.Etsy.com/shop/DecadentDragonfly), the occasional local craft fair, local shops and galleries (more links to them coming soon), Pinterest (find and follow me: Jenny Billings), a proper, grown-up website (www.DecadentDragonfly.co.uk) and now even this blog!!
Where will it all end?? Nowhere soon, I hope! ;)
I'm pleased to 'meet' you and I hope you'll enjoy accompanying me on my adventures. In this article are a few pictures of some of my jewellery that I've made over the years. You can see these and many more in the links I mention above. Enjoy!! :)