Work by more than 100 Artisans inside new Carmel more

Jewelry -Pendants
Gordy Fine Art and Framing, Muncie; the Fort Wayne Museum of Art Store; the Fine Artisans Shoppe at the Brown County Art Guild, Nashville, Ind.
Jan McCune

“Creating a pendant engages not only my hands but my mind as I problem solve design and construction issues. I love everything about creating pendants: from the initial design work, through the multitude of production steps, to the final polishing of the metal.”

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 that has left a mark on the field. Her pendants stand out as “a Jan McCune” piece.

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.

She had minimal experience with jewelry-making and admits that often she was “one day ahead of my students” as she learned techniques. She also developed a deep affinity for the medium.

“It synthesized distinct strands of my life in a way that neither painting nor printmaking had,” the Delaware County artisan said. “I had expressed my lifelong love affair with nature in landscape paintings or prints, but now I could express it in stone and metal. I collected rocks as a child and was fascinated that I could now turn them into beautiful cabochons. As a printmaker, I loved the look of ink in the grooves of an etched plate. Now, I could incorporate etched surfaces into jewelry and replicate the ink with a patina.”

She taught for two more years, until the department was downsized, she was left without a job and the jewelry classes were taken out of the curriculum. When the school auctioned the jewelry-making equipment, Jan’s winning bids became the start of a metals studio in her home, and her new career was built.

She has no regrets about the turns her life has taken. “I truly look upon my retirement from teaching as a blessing and the opportunity to be first and foremost an artist, a luxury that was impossible when I taught.” she said.

Jan credits generations of women and men in her family for her work ethic, artist’s flair and deep love for quality.

“I come from a long line of proud craftsmen and farmers who emigrated from Germany in the mid-1800s and settled in the Midwest,” she said. “The strongly independent women of the family quilted and sewed clothing, canned, and passed these skills onto their daughters. My father was an inventor and aeronautical engineer who, in his spare time, crafted fine furniture. I am proud to continue in the artisanal tradition typified by these men and women.”

Jan works with sheets of copper, brass, and sterling silver, often texturing them through two 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 said. “The stone/s, metals, surface textures and patterns are combined in myriad ways to produce one-of-a-kind pendants.”

Jan was “absolutely thrilled” to have her pendants become part of the Indiana Artisan brand. “I am humbled to be in the company of the wonderful Hoosier artists represented by Indiana Artisan. It was particularly an honor because I know how competitive the jurying process is and how select the group that is chosen.”