Christine Chandler creates beautiful crystal jewellery from a farmhouse in Western Australia’s dusty wheatbelt.
Story By Di Darmody
Outside the farmhouse dust swirls around harvested paddocks, the sheep finding shelter under a lone tree. A big sky sweeps endlessly across the desert. But inside it’s another world. Glistening chandeliers cast shadows across rich red walls and dance light off stunning glass-cased crystal jewellery.
Here in Western Australia’s wheat belt, 220 kilometres east of Perth, Christine Chandler escapes the heat and flies within her sanctuary to produce highly sought-after crystal and couture fashion jewellery sold in stores across Australia and overseas. “Red, I knew it had to be red,” Christine says of the decor. “It’s like putting lipstick on the house. It’s like wearing high heels – doesn’t it change the way you feel?”
The opulent surroundings and glamorous farmer’s wife hostess often surprises first-time visitors. “When people hear Doodlakine and they know they’re going to a country farmhouse they think they’ll enter a kitchen with scone on tables, the kettle on the boil and a few string-beaded necklaces on the table,” Christine says. “When people come here their jaws drop – they are seeing something unexpected. It’s just an old farmhouse when you drive past but inside it’s my world, my universe and I create what’s inside me.”
Twenty-three years ago this self-taught, talented designer had no idea she’d end up here – in fact she once told her mother she’d never marry a farmer. But after meeting her now-husband at a convention in Adelaide and spending a year in Perth, she braved farm life and fell in love with it.
“There was an old farm kitchen, no air-conditioning and you had to go way up the backyard to the toilet, past the pet lamb,” Christine says. “I had such a romantic notion of the place. Until I married and moved out here I didn’t know the reality. The men continue their work and you fit around them. I thought I would just look after my husband – that was my job – but I found that while running a family with two little boys was wonderful it wasn’t enough and I was just miserable.”
This story excerpt is from Issue #70
Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2010