David Mason
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Foundation Programme 2019-2020: First Interviews (Part 1)

The Foundation Programme is our full-time course for school and college leavers living in London or the South East. The Programme is a gateway into the prestigious Goldsmiths’ Company Apprenticeship Scheme, job or further or higher education course, providing young people with the core skills to begin working in jewellery, silversmithing and the allied crafts.

We sat down with five of our 2019-2020 cohort to discuss their first months of training and find out what they hope to achieve from the Programme.

Armande

What led you to apply for the Foundation Programme?

I took a gap year after my GCSEs because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do but I knew I didn’t want to do A-levels. I fell in love with jewellery while I was in Italy, and did a three-month jewellery course in Florence. I was meant to go to Israel but, change of plan, I came back to the UK and did a six-month course at the London Jewellery School instead. My mum and I were looking for the next step for me and found the Foundation Programme online the day before applications were closing! So, I speed-typed an application together and sent on all of the work I had up on my Instagram.

What's been your favourite part of the Programme so far?

I love chasing, I also loved the piercing with Steve because it’s very intricate and I’ve already been sawing for nine months before this course, so I’m pretty used to it.

What are you hoping to gain from being on the Foundation Programme?

I’m just trying to get as much knowledge and experience as I can. With my first course in Florence I was a bit nervous to try making Jewellery because I wasn’t much of a jewellery wearer myself. But now I’m looking to get into an apprenticeship. At first when I was looking at joining the Foundation Programme I was thinking of starting my own business, but now I think I might want to be a chaser or an engraver. I’ve always loved engraving and I did a bit of chasing in school, but they taught me how to do it wrong, so now I know why the necklaces I made in school had so many holes in them! It’s nice that chasing makes sense now and I think it’s something I want to keep at.

Esther

What led you to apply for the Foundation Programme?

I’ve been interested in jewellery for a while, I work in a jeweller’s as a retail assistant helping customers. From that experience I had wanted to get into the jewellery industry and actually get making. I was looking for work experience and found the Foundation programme online.

What's been your favourite part of the Programme so far?

So far I’d probably say chasing. And silversmithing too. I think both of them surprised me the most as I thought I was going to enjoy jewellery the most. With the chasing we got to design our pieces, it wasn’t just following steps so I loved being able to make my piece more personal.

What are you hoping to gain from being on the Foundation Programme?

Experience and then hopefully an apprenticeship. I’m hoping that by the end I will have found one thing that I really like and want to commit to. There’s so much to do at the moment so I can’t narrow it down just yet.

Harvey

What led you to apply for the Foundation Programme?

Last year, I started watching a Youtuber called Pablo Cimadevila; he’s from Spain, paralyzed from the waist down and makes amazing Jewellery. I started looking at what he’d made and from there I was interested in different jewelers and the process they go through. It was fascinating to me how many people would work on a piece and I wanted to know more about what Jewellery-making was.

I had a contact who worked for a John Watling down in Wiltshire and so I did two weeks’ worth of work experience with him. John’s engraver is Sam James Engravers who are based here at the Centre, so I looked into who Sam was and then what the Goldsmiths’ Centre was and found the Foundation Programme. Seeing where people had gone from being on the Programme struck me as probably the best place I could go, so I applied, got very nervous about applying, and made it. 
 

What’s been your favourite part of the Programme so far?

I came here wanting to be a diamond mounter, so, to get some experience in diamond mounting, then an apprenticeship. But, now that I’ve tried silversmithing and chasing, I don’t really know. I’d say my favourite so far has been chasing, first of all because the instructor Rod Smart is just lovely and helps you when you get stuck and encourages you - he’s just a very supportive tutor. What we did with chasing was technically quite simple but resulted in a beautiful piece – it was great to learn that process.

 

What are you hoping to gain from being on the Foundation Programme?

I still love diamond mounting but I’ve been looking at some of the gold members around the Centre and the things that they do. I met Jessica Jue through seeing her in the workshops and she’s been making some really cool pieces, like her bowls and her tulip vases. It’s quite incredible to see the process of it. I went to the All Set selling event and it was just cool seeing someone come from here and have a full business and gallery of work. I haven’t really seen a lot of young people in that situation: when I went to the Goldsmiths’ Fair there were a lot of senior craftspeople and masters, and only the odd graduate or person in their 20s. It’s great to see someone my sort of age represented in a space like that.

I’d quite like to have a brand one day and have a style that incorporates the different things I’ve learnt here, but at this stage I’m not quite sure what it could be. That’s the end goal for the future. For now, I’m still looking into diamond mounting but also leaning towards design. I met Amy from last year’s Foundation Programme and she’s working with Alex Monroe now. I sat down with her and learnt that she does design work as well as mounting. Because Amy was able to use her ideas and her creativity but also those traditional mounting techniques, I’m leaning towards doing something similar to her. 
 

James

What led you to apply for the Foundation Programme?

Well, I’ve been into jewellery for quite a while. It sounds a bit silly but my interest in it started when I found a ring on the beach and I researched the engraving on the inside of it. I ended up meeting a representative for Harriet Kelsall and as we were talking she said to me that if I was going for an apprenticeship then I should go for the Foundation Programme.

What’s been your favourite part of the Programme so far?

Probably spoon-making. You can see from start to finish how the metal changes and it’s nice to be responsible for the whole process yourself.

What are you hoping to gain from being on the Foundation Programme?

I’m trying to get some more general experience, but I’d also like to get into the trade. I want to get an apprenticeship if I can, either in design or general goldsmithing.

Luke

What led you to apply for the Foundation Programme?

I was looking over the internet for career advice, trying to narrow down what I was interested in by answering questions and researching the suggestions I got. I figured out that I was after a foundation course or apprentice of some kind and, through more research, stumbled on the Programme. It was really intriguing, I liked the idea of working with my hands and found the application form was really simple. It was easy to sell my skills on it because the Programme appealed to all the things I already did.

What's been your favourite part of the Programme so far?

I mean I’m enjoying all of it, but I’d probably say silversmithing maybe. We’ve been making spoons and now we’re moving on to circular boxes and I think that’s what I’m enjoying the most.

What are you hoping to gain from being on the Foundation Programme?

Because I came into this with no knowledge about all of the different specialisms and no experience in them, I’m just trying to take every experience I can get. With all these little things we’re doing, hopefully further on in the course I’d be able to say “Right, I know I liked doing that” and actually whittle it down from there.

 

 

Interested in being part of the next Foundation Programme cohort?

Join us for our next Open Days on 18 February, 17 March and 7 April 2020. Click below for full details: