We present the optical design and realization of a low-resolution liquid-crystal (LC) Fourier-transform spectrometer (FTS). This FTS is based on a polarization interferometer that has a Wollaston prism made of a LC material as a key component. It has a compact design, a good acceptance angle, and low temperature dependence and can be fabricated with cost-effective LC technology. Because the LC is polymerised, it is robust, and the temperature dependence is drastically reduced. The performance of a compact handheld version of the spectrometer and the characteristics (angular dependence, resolution, stray light, and temperature dependence) will be discussed. © 2004 Optical Society of America.