Words by Jennifer Wang
Susan Domelsmith is the designer and maker of a distinct collection of vintage inspired jewelry, appropriately called Dirty Librarian Chains. From delicate silver and gold chains to geometric beads from the 1950s to 1980s, Susan experiments with newfound vintage chains and components rescued from old, now-shuttered jewelry factories and warehouses across the country. Her designs are influenced by the juxtaposition of new and old - her necklaces, earrings and bracelets evoke a futuristic feel while drawing inspiration from a retro, art-deco aesthetic.
When asked about the origin of her line's name, Susan tells us that she was once referred to as the "Dirty Librarian" because of her cat eye glasses and vintage blouses, with her hair styled in a bun. These days, Susan continues the "Librarian" theme by supporting libraries and literacy through frequent charity work and fundraising efforts for libraries and Literacy for Incarcerated Teens. On a typical day, you'll find her crafting new pieces from vintage jewelry components in her shared Williamsburg studio, teaching jewelry making techniques, making music, or else touring the U.S. on her seasonal road trips to hunt for new materials. Her studio is inviting and warm, decorated with the kind of antique furniture and keepsakes you only acquire from years of thoughtful collecting.
Nearing it's ten year anniversary, DLC has remained true to its mission. The line is comprised of a mix of ornate statement pieces and simple everyday pieces, all while staying true to the model of using sustainability and up-cycled materials. Susan's line was founded on a zero waste design model, ensuring that her line is low-impact on the environment and constantly inspires others to consider the impact of their own fashion choices. It's no wonder that DLC has established a cult-following amongst the sustainable fashion crowd and beyond. Countless publications including British Vogue, Elle, NY Mag, Huffington Post, WWD and Teen Vogue have featured her jewelry. Her jewels have been worn by an impressive list of celebrity clientele including Jessica Alba, Anna Hathaway, Eve, Debbie Harry and Gwyneth Paltrow.
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Young & Able Emerging Designer Series: Dirty Librarian Chains from Young & Able on Vimeo.
Susan Domelsmith is the designer and maker of Dirty Librarian Chains, a line of sustainable jewelry made from repurposed vintage materials carefully selected by Susan herself. Originally from New Orleans, Susan lived in Austin, TX before making the move to NYC. As a musician and DJ herself, Susan was always involved in the music scene of Austin and New York, and initially started out designing one-of-a-kind statement pieces for musician and performer friends. Eventually, Susan felt ready to launch her own line and her pieces have since caught the eye of some major fashion publications including British Vogue and Elle.
We recently visited her Williamsburg studio to talk about the history of her brand (DLC is approaching it's ten year anniversary) and what inspires her to continue creating eco-conscious jewelry. In our behind-the-scenes video above, she shows us how she crafts some of her most adored pieces, the Media bracelet, Elements Earrings and Wood Earrings.
In the process, we learned that Susan is diverse in her creative interests and endeavors. She is still a dedicated musician (currently of the electronic duo Time Reveals), an educator, and a Feng-Shui consultant with a line of crystal suncatchers. Telling us the story behind her main gig, along with her many passions and projects, Susan radiates a calm and positive energy. We can't help but to smile when hearing about her memories of founding DLC and why sustainability is such an important part of her design practice.