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Jennifer Hanscom: A long road to a creative destination

Shea Stanfield~ 11/5/2014

SCOTTSDALE – “The long and winding road…. leads me back to you,” a lyric by McCartney and Lennon, perfectly describes local artist Jennifer Hanscom’s creative life journey.

Growing up in central Massachusetts as the youngest of eight children, Jennifer’s early life focused on organization and practical things.  Regardless of the prevailing attitude in the family that being an artist does not equal being responsible, young Jennifer stepped on her creative path quite early. 

The value programming of any culture is a tough thing to beat for the young emerging creative spirit. So, Jennifer started with her art in a practical form.  Her mother, a seamstress, made beautiful clothes and exquisitely tailored wool coats to help with the household expenditures.  Jennifer’s father, a mechanical engineer by trade, was a do-it-yourselfer by necessity. A formative foundation for Jennifer’s creative path was set in place project by project early on. She made clothing for her dolls from her mom’s scrap fabrics and helped her dad build cedar Adirondack chairs and decks.

Upon high school graduation, Jennifer was introduced to creativity in food preparation and the fast-paced excitement of owning a business; she went to work for an older brother, who was a chef, in his own restaurant.  The theme continued to be creativity in practicality. It wasn’t long before Jennifer began her higher education in a school for architecture at the Boston Architectural Center. Here she became fascinated by structural design aspects and discovered she had a high aptitude for 3-dimensional designing. 

The opportunity arose for Jennifer to learn the design and digitize format of commercial embroidery. She grabbed the chance, knowing the path of architecture would need to be walked for many years before she would actually arrive at the opportunity to design.  This new venture appeared to be an opportunity to put her design talent to work. Jennifer describes this as a great fit until “some very clever computer programmers automated the process.” She then started her own business designing and making custom window treatments.

The long and winding road would make another turn in Jennifer’s life when she and her husband decided they were tired of the long, dark, and snowy New England winters. Their destination would be Arizona.  Leaving all her commercial sewing equipment behind, Jennifer brought a basket of colored wires to occupy her time during the trip west.  She discovered a process of bending metal wire to create wearable designs.

Soon after arriving in Scottsdale, she signed up for a metal-smithing class through the City of Scottsdale and met a group of women artists who were working in jewelry. Group member Kathleen Doherty opened a jewelry making and glass-fusing school in Carefree called Creative U, inviting Jennifer to teach. She found that teaching adults was a natural extension of the hospitality skills she had developed in the restaurant world and her analytical skills allowed her to achieve the results she wanted in creating with metals.

Jennifer found a new talent in teaching while at Creative U. The purpose of Creative U was to encourage adults to “play” and explore their creative pursuits. This was a turning point for Jennifer as she realized the true value of art in an individual’s life.

Jennifer observed, “The positive energy of an environment that supported, nurtured, and guided the process of creativity that became the catalyst for joy in the participant’s life was the greatest satisfaction.” During this time, Jennifer created her new collections that were elegantly crafted talisman for positive intentions that could be shared with others.
            Flourish – Encouragement for your inner beauty or higher self to flourish.
            Balance – Celebration of the juxtaposition that creates balance.
            Paths of Life – A visual of the various paths on the journey of life.
            Wings and Waves – Inspiration or celebration of having the wings to create         your own waves in life.

Creative U closed at the end of 2012. Since then, Jennifer has developed a series of project-based classes that she teaches out of Patricia Shepherd’s private home studio in Cave Creek. Today, Jennifer works on her jewelry creations full-time. She is taking her intrigue with innovative craftsmanship and her practical sensibilities into simply elegant wearable art.  Jennifer hopes that “the overall composition attracts your attention, the construction intrigues you, and the intention captures your heart.”

Jennifer Hanscom was a finalist in the silver category of the Saul Bell awards in 2010, an international jewelry competition. Her work is published in books and magazines and is owned by collectors across the country.  Jennifer’s new lines will preview this fall in the Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour and Sale. She will be at Desert Jewel Studio #18 on the tour, 10-5, Nov. 21-23 and 28-30 (www.hiddeninthehills.org).  If you just can’t wait to see more of Jennifer’s wearable creations, visit her Web site at www.jenniferhanscom.com.  For class information, visit www.jewelryclasseswithjen.com.

Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield at flowingquill@yahoo.com.