Dancing with Sea Dragons by Susie Williams

Second Place, Professional Mixed Media

Looking back, I realize now that Dancing with Sea Dragons was the most technically challenging piece I had ever done. It’s truly the result of years of gathering knowledge and honoring handwork skills in mediums I love. From the moment of my first sight of the weedy and leafy sea dragons at an aquarium in South Carolina, I wanted to recreate in textiles these delicate ethereal creatures that took my heart.

The sea dragons were made by first using wool to needlefelt their shape over a wire armature. Once this was done, the felted bodies were layered with strips of dyed interfacing. Each snout is made with sculpted polymer clay. They were then embellished with needlelace, tatting, and beading. Some of the seaweed leaves are crocheted while others are made of fabric with a flexible fine mesh screen sewn in between the fabric layers. Once all the underwater elements were made, I re-contoured a large wooden hoop to make the frame for the seascape. Lastly, I added the small school of fish, attaching them with stumps of toothpicks for added dimension.

While my sea dragons live on the wall in my home, (yes, I did take a little artistic license) the real weedy and leafy sea dragons are protected and allowed to leave their native Australia only to accredited public aquariums. I hope one day you will be able to see these marvelous creatures for yourself.