Outback jeweller 2 Outback jeweller 1

Like most life-changing experiences, jeweller Jill Dyer’s introduction to the creative world was totally unexpected and utterly all-consuming. The young admin assistant had left school with little notion of what she wanted from life except a break from formal study. She hit the road and for a dyed-in-the-wool city slicker who couldn’t imagine living more than a few hundred metres from the nearest cafés, boutiques and restaurants, surprised herself by taking a job in the north-western Queensland town of Cloncurry.

Outback jeweller 4 Outback jeweller 3

The “bolt from the blue” came when she and a group of girlfriends signed up for a weekend silversmithing course for a bit of a lark. “We went along laden with chocolate slice, sandwiches and a few bottles of wine,” Jill recalls. “The attitude was pretty much ‘who cares if we don’t make anything, we’ll have fun’. But for me, it was like a light going on. I just ‘got it’. I can still remember banging away at my first bangle well after knock-off time, while the tutor and my friends chatted away, wine in hand. I still wear that bangle and regard it as a tribute to that first tutor, Jill Taylor, herself a wonderful silversmith, who had travelled all the way from Blackall to present that workshop.”

Outback jeweller 8 Outback jeweller 5

While most of Jill’s fellow workshoppers went home and never picked up tools again, Jill scoured the papers and managed to buy a secondhand box of tools and a couple of beginner’s handbooks. She set up a little space in a shed at the back of her home and spent whatever hours her work and social life allowed exploring the craft, refining her technique and learning from countless mistakes. Along the way, she met and married her husband, property valuer and bush lad Chris, and the couple moved to Emerald in central western Queensland. It was about this time that Jill took the huge step of leaving full-time employment to devote herself to her craft and fulfilling the increasing number of commissions that were coming her way.

Outback jeweller 10 Outback jeweller 7

“I was scared that the orders would stop, so I threw  myself into attending shows and fairs, women’s forums, committees … whatever would get my name and my jewellery out there and in the public eye,” she says. “Then Chris asked if I would move to one of his family’s properties 70 kilometres east of Aramac. I knew I could work anywhere, so in 1998 I found myself living in a new district where I didn’t know a soul, where my closest neighbour was 32km away and even our mailbox was 24km from the house. We didn’t even have mains power and the house had basically been a shelter for the local wildlife and we had to shoo the ’roos out before we could move in.”

Outback jeweller 6 Outback jeweller 9

This story was originally published in Australian Country issue 15.2. Subscribe to the magazine here.

For more creative corner, click here.

Words Kirsty McKenzie
Photography Ken Brass

More Like This

Creative Central: Writing and making music are the keys to fulfilment according to author Siobhan O'Brien

Creative Central: Writing and making music are the keys to fulfilment according to author Siobhan O’Brien

While most people would have found home schooling three teenagers enough of a challenge during the COVID lockdowns, journalist and author […]

A Pleasing Prospect: Gayle and Dennis Scott have created a showpiece garden in Victoria

A Pleasing Prospect: Gayle and Dennis Scott have created a showpiece garden in Victoria

Appearances can be deceptive, so you’d never know from the lush oasis Gayle and Dennis Scott have built around their home […]

Victoria's Great Ocean Road Delivers Dramatic Landscapes and History

Coasting Along: Victoria’s Great Ocean Road Delivers Dramatic Landscapes and History

Stand close to almost any cliff on the Great Ocean Road, and you appreciate the perils of the shipwreck coast, serrated […]

Coming up Roses: Flowers, Fragrance and Flavours

Coming up Roses: Flowers, Fragrance and Flavours

As a child growing up on farm in northern Tasmania, restaurateur Hayley Self was notorious for stealing her mother’s Chanel perfume […]

Embrace Winter Comfort: Introducing OZ Design's 24 Collection

Embrace Winter Comfort: Introducing OZ Design’s 24 Collection

OZ Design’s Winter 24 collection has arrived, bringing with it a sense of comfort and relaxation that is sure to enhance […]

Bonnie Porter Greene

The Artistic Evolution of Bonnie Porter Greene: A Journey in Colour

Shoalhaven artist Bonnie Porter Greene encourages her audience not only to touch her work, but also to make their own marks on it.

Danelle Bergstrom

The Inspirational Journey of Artist Danelle Bergstrom: From Hill End to Baltic Shores

Danelle Bergstrom divides her time between Hill End in NSW and the islands of Åland in the middle of the Baltic Sea.

Brian Tunks Ceramics

The Colourful Journey of Brian Tunks Ceramics and Glassware Collection

A childhood fascination with antiquity and an artful odyssey through Europe, sparked the fabulous Brian Tunks ceramics and glassware range.

Follow Us on Instagram