She goes by the name of Dragon. She prefers to not disclose her true identity to anyone for her own personal reasons, but she’s been in the beading community for so long now that we wouldn’t know her by any name besides Dragon anyway.
Dragon began beading when she was pregnant with her son. He is now twenty-eight years old. Then a friend of hers, Susan Moore, came to visit. Susan was beading on leather. That hooked Dragon into beading for good.
Other than her friend Susan showing her a few things on that visit, no one has ever taught Dragon how to bead. She’s never taken a class or purchased a book, so essentially she’s been designing from day one.
Primarily she works in a “modified square stitch”. The difference between this and the regular square stitch is with the regular stitch you put the beads on one at a time. With Dragon’s version you put the beads on four at a time. Naturally this makes the work progress much faster.
I asked her why she did her square stitch like this. Her enthusiasm was positively infectious! “Being self taught, I didn’t have any rules to follow. I added the beads onto leather like I would do embroidery, at least that was always the picture in my mind. I wanted stitches that were about a quarter of an inch long, which is about 4 beads. I also love the way this stitch feels. I like to roll the beads in my fingers,” she said happily.
Dragon makes the traditional Victorian beaded Christmas ornaments, but she also makes something called “spool ornaments”. They involve beading a picture around a spool. Far from looking “country cute”, these ornaments look, in this author’s opinion, positively sophisticated what with the sparkling beadwork of Santa’s beard cascading down the spool. These beaded spool ornaments, like many of Dragon’s works, were just one of her inspirations from just seeing other interesting craft works. “We’ll walk into some fabric or craft store, and one of us will see something. “Ohhhhh, this would make a good whatever” The spools seemed like a great thing to bead around, they are really easy to make!, and they make really cute Christmas ornaments,’ she said.
The fringe necklaces are another item which this author hasn’t seen elsewhere. Dragon starts with a band and from that she has fringe coming from it. The part that makes her necklace special, however, is that there is a picture in the fringe, perhaps of a rose or a bird. Many people make fringe necklaces, but no one else puts these pictures in them.
However, what Dragon has become most famous for is her three dimensional pieces. The amount of work in these seemed overwhelming to me, but Dragon scoffed at the idea and declares any crafter can follow her instructions. “Beading 3D is my most favorite thing to do. It’s kind of like sculpting, which I always wanted to be good at. I could never do this in hard mediums, but have had great luck with beads. The 3D patterns are actually a lot easier than most people think. A little complicated if you have never done any crafts at all, but if you have any crafting in your blood and can thread a needle and tie a knot, then you can bead these patterns.”
Dragon does not sell finished pieces. She sells kits, patterns, and graphs. The difference is that with a kit you get the beads you need to complete the piece and all instructions, with the pattern you get all the instructions, and with a graph you get the chart only. A very experienced beader might be able to do a piece with only a graph, but a beginner shouldn’t try a piece with only a graph.
It should be noted that a three-D pattern has between 150 and 300 illustrations!
Dragon also gives patterns away on her website. She also gives helpful beading advice. I asked her why she did this and she said, “I want it to be easy for my customers to learn to bead. I don’t just want to sell something. I want to teach and share something. Something wonderful! Something that makes us feel good about ourselves. Something that give us a purpose! Something to help someone make something beautiful!”
Dragon gives a lot of credit to where she is today to her friend, Susan Moore. I’m sure Susan got her started beading. But it was the determination and the mind and eye of an artist that kept Dragon at it, the artist who is constantly seeking perfection. As Dragon said, “Perfection is not a reality, it’s only a desire in the mind of every beader! The true balance is for it to look perfect even when we know it’s not.”
Perhaps it is not perfect yet Dragon, but you are clearly on your way there.
Source: Interview with the bead artist, Dragon