I was instantly taken with Jen Lorang’s line, Alchemilla. It’s everything I like about jewelry, original and modern, delicate, beautiful, and strong all at once. You could say she has “the touch”. And once I engaged in this interview with her, I found I liked her even more. I love Jen’s point of view– particularly her view on creating society. You might too.
please introduce yourself.
I am Jen Lorang. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where I spent my formative years. I currently am now living in an amazing live/work loft space in Oakland. Its hard to believe, but I have been in the bay for 3 years now.
what do you make or do?
I am the owner of Alchemilla (pronounced alchemy-la). Originally Alchemilla began as a way to sell my hand-bound books, botanical illustrations, prints, and moon calendars. My first show I made a couple of magical amulets with fur, lace, stones and other items. Those sold out immediately. A friend began teaching me beading and one thing led to another, and now Alchemilla is almost entirely jewelry. Like all of my things, my jewelry is made primarily out of dead-stock, repurposed and vintage/found materials. I have been teaching myself jewelry design as I go along. I think of it as miniature architecture, exploring form and function with color, shape and texture, in endless possibilities.
where can we find your creations?
My ambivalence towards the internet has led me to have a spotty online presence, but I do have a website! www.jenlorang.com showcases current and past jewelry lines, my artist portfolio, and an online shop. My etsy store is a great place to find my screen prints and patches as well. Primarily I sell in person, at shows as well as in several brick and mortar stores. Many of my pieces are limited run. I make 20 productions of one design and they sell out at a show before I can even take a photo or get them online, so the best place to find me is in person- my website always lists upcoming shows and all of the stores that carry my work
how long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
I have been creative my entire life. It has just always been what I want to do with my time. Before starting the business I always spent my time drawing posters, flyers, printing records and tapes for friends, making zines, teaching DIY screen printing and bookbinding workshops and running a letterpress shop. Over 8 years ago, I began making a moon calendar for me and my friends to chart our menstrual cycle. It took me a looong time to finally accept money for them, and by the 4th year, friends of friends were contacting me for my “We are Bleeding” calendar. They are now in their 9th year and I print 500 – – that was the real beginning of Alchemilla. Alchemilla is now my full time job. I have two employees and feel very privileged and lucky to do this as my living. Alchemilla is almost 2 years old and it has been a whirlwind! As a low-income entrepreneur in the Bay area, I had access to a wonderful organization called the Women Initiative. It is a 3 month business course which helps you write a business plan and get your vision off the ground. Without this program, the incredible support of my community and loved ones, and my relentless work-aholic drive I wouldn’t be here today.
what obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
I identify as an artist, a queer, a radical and a nerdy weirdo. I have never aspired to make money or be a part of regular society. For me this business is part of a bigger vision. It is about creating a society where artists, healers, social justice workers, teachers, gardeners etc are valued, celebrated and paid. Right now money is our currency, but I don’t believe the capitalist system is something to aspire to be a part of. I am excited about creating alternative systems, currencies and communities. For me the struggle is remembering this and to not be swayed by mainstream norms and aspirations.
who are the makers that inspire you?
I am always inspired by friends, artists and makers in my community. Trinity of Fieldday Wearables has been an amazing mentor for me. I love Pink Light Botanicals, Black Salt Collective, Lauren O’Connor of Jack in Your Box Press, Monica Canilao, The Dirt Palace, Natalja Kent, and Is Was + Will Be.
Jen Lorang, of Alchemilla