A new teaching assignment, a pink slip and an auction drove Jan McCune to steer her talent in painting and printmaking toward a retirement career handcrafting jewelry.
She was teaching traditional 3D classes plus painting, printmaking and visual communications at Marion (Ind.) High School, when the department head retired and Jan was assigned the jewelry classes.
With minimal experience in jewelry-making, she admits to often being only “one day ahead of my students” as she learned techniques. She also developed a deep affinity for the medium.
“I had expressed my lifelong love affair with nature in landscape paintings or prints, but now I could express it in stone and metal,” the Delaware County artisan says. “I collected rocks as a child and was fascinated that I could now turn them into beautiful cabochons.”
She lost the teaching job when the department downsized two years later, but she got the winning bid when the school auctioned off all of the jewelry-making equipment. This became the start of a metals studio in her home, and a new career.
Jan works with sheets of copper, brass, and sterling silver, often texturing them through different processes, to make a variety of pendant styles. She cuts, shapes, and polishes the bezel-set stones, or cabochons, herself.
The design is what makes her work unique. No two pieces are alike.
“My use of textured silver or etched copper, the sculptural layering of metal using rivets or soldering, and the contrast between simple modern shapes with complex surface design makes the work unique,” she says. “The stones, metals, surface textures and patterns are combined in myriad ways to produce one-of-a-kind pendants.”
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