Learn about the woman and inspiration behind her one-of-a-kind jewelry creations. Five questions for artisan Jan Dempsey.
1. How long have you been making jewelry? How did you get your start?
I began making jewelry in my early twenties, during the "Summer of Love" in San Francisco. I have always enjoyed making a "silk purse out of a sow's ear" as my mom would say. Our family was good at this mostly out of necessity, but now, for me it is a challenge that I love. Finding "treasures" and making them into something unique and artful is just so much fun! And when someone loves it and buys it, that's an added little bit of joy.
2. Describe your creative process. Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration from the trinkets, beads and little bits that I find. I might see a design in a magazine that inspires me, but what I create never ends up looking like the inspiration photo at all. That's ok because that's what makes my jewelry unique and one-of-a-kind.
3. All of your creations are one-of-a-kind. Why is that important to you?
In the beginning my jewelry was one-of-a-kind because I had a limited inventory of bits and pieces to work with. Even though now I can buy multiples of beads and findings, I still prefer to make one-of-a-kind pieces which please me as well as my clients who love to wear a piece of art that is theirs and theirs alone.
I prefer "statement" pieces because that's what I like to wear! My customers like them too because they get so many compliments from friends and strangers who admire them.
I have several "styles" that I create - makes it more interesting for me and gives me a broader audience of clients. My "repurposed" designs are closest to my beginnings, where I have taken something that perhaps was not even a jewelry piece and made it into jewelry.
One great example of that is this one that I created from a vintage computer circuit board (from the 70's).
Another style is my "gemstone" designs. I just love gemstones beads and enjoy the challenge of combining the different shapes, colors and patina to make an interesting piece. This one with various gemstone beads and a vintage carved bone turtle is one of my favorites.
During the holidays, I enjoy making sparkling, dressy designs with crystals, rhinestones, and mother of pearl like this one.
Click here to shop Jan’s collection and check back often for new creations.