Introducing the Tutors of the Foundation Programme
The Foundation Programme at the Goldsmiths’ Centre is a one year free course for young students who are interested in pursuing a career in Jewellery design and making, silversmithing and goldsmithing. Responding to the declining tendency of courses available for young people, this programme was created to support anyone who would like to enter the jewellery industry and develop their skills as apprentices. The programme was recognised 4 years in a row as the best foundation programme in the industry and has been awarded the College Trophy since 2012. Our tutors who are among the best craftspeople in the UK, play a pivotal role in reaching and maintaining high quality teaching standards. Here are some of the tutors that teach our students and apprentices.
Kevin Wilson is the course leader and was one of the key members of the team that designed and structured the Foundation Programme in 2012 when it launched. Kevin is an experienced jewellery maker & designer and brings to the Centre a wealth of experience. Prior to working at the Centre he worked for over 14 years giving technical advice to students at the University for Creative Arts in Rochester. Before that he spent 14 years as a jeweller and pattern maker, making master patterns for casting and one-off commission pieces for the trade and private customers including royalty.
Being responsible for the Foundation Programme, he not only teaches students how to create fine jewellery, but also provides guidance on finding an apprenticeship, other professional progression or practical experience.
Can you describe the educational approach for the Foundation Programme? What makes the Goldsmiths' Centre unique?
At the Goldsmiths’ Centre we focus on providing education of the highest quality to our students. Since the Foundation Programme was launched in 2012 we have invited some of the best tutors and award-winning jewellers, silversmiths and goldsmiths to share their experience with our students and teach them practical skills. The knowledge that these craftspeople bring in cannot be underestimated and is invaluable to the students all round education.
Where are the students going after they complete the Foundation Programme? What are their career opportunities?
The Foundation Programme is the preferred route into an indentured apprenticeship with the Goldsmiths’ Company. Our goal is to introduce students to different specialties such as engraving, jewellery design, silversmithing, diamond setting and others to help them become well-rounded professionals and choose which path they’d like to pursue. Towards the completion of the Foundation Programme we will guide and support each student to find their best career path. Often we will help to find a workshop where they can continue developing their skills as apprentices, but some may want to follow other paths within the industry and we will do all we can to assist.
How does the programme help students develop their personality apart from their skills and prepare for their career?
All our students are part of the Goldsmiths’ Centre community and they learn alongside some of the best UK jewellers, silversmiths and goldsmiths. Just being at the Centre allows the students to meet members of the industry who they might not otherwise have encountered. We only have 10 students every year so we can tailor our teaching approach to each one of them individually. The tutors are here to help them acquire knowledge and skills but they also help the students to develop their confidence and work ethics. We also include visits and work experience in the course which brings with it additional learning opportunities and the chance to see things in true to life situations.
Ray Walton is a multi-award winning silversmith with over 35 years of experience. Ray specialises in hand raising, chasing, repoussé, antique restoration and conservation and gilding. He has designed contemporary decorative pieces from boxes to hollowware and works on his own designs as well as commissions. His extensive knowledge has led him to the Goldsmiths’ Centre where he teaches our Foundation Programme students a variety of silversmithing techniques such as: forging, soldering, scoring for boxwork, raising and hammering. Ray also teaches chasing to apprentices who come into the Goldsmiths' Centre for day-release.
Can you share your most memorable experience as a tutor at the Goldsmiths’ Centre?
Although there have been many memorable experiences over the past three years, the most recent is that I have enjoyed working with apprentices who are coming in for day-release sessions, many of whom are previous students from the Foundation Programme. They are all thoroughly enjoying their chosen professions, such as silversmiths, mounters, polishers, engravers and setters. They are all so eager to gather more skills. This emphasises all the good work done on the Foundation Programme.
How do the state of the art workshops and equipment at the Goldsmiths’ Centre, help you and the students improve?
The Goldsmiths’ Centre has all the facilities and equipment needed to teach hand skills that are necessary for silversmiths, goldsmiths and jewellers. As a tutor at the Centre I feel the students really benefit from the full range of specialist modern equipment combined with the tremendous selection of hand tools donated by retiring renowned craftsmen. The workshops provide an excellent working environment.
If you could give one advice to a student what would that be?
To all the students I would say to make the most of their time during this very special opportunity given to them as students of the Foundation Programme at the Goldsmiths’ Centre.
Jennifer Bloy FRSA FIPG is a freelance multi-award winning designer of jewellery and object d’art specialising in hand painted presentation designs and technical drawings. She has created pieces for Royalty and rock stars and is as happy designing an engagement ring as designing gold binoculars. Her work ranges from pieces of fashion jewellery made for a few pounds to exclusive gifts retailing for many thousands. Jennifer is a Fellow of the Institute of Professional Goldsmiths and is on the Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council. She is currently lecturing in design on the Foundation Programme at the Goldsmiths’ Centre.
Why did you choose to work as a tutor at the Goldsmiths’ Centre?
It was an honour and a privilege to be asked to teach at the start of the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s journey in forming the minds and helping in a small way to further the craft skills of the Foundation Programme students who will form the future of the British jewellery industry.
How does the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s Foundation Programme differentiate compared to other programmes?
The Goldsmiths' Centre offers a unique opportunity to young people keen to be in the British jewellery and silversmithing industries. It offers unparalleled access to experts within the trade and a networking base that will continue throughout the career of successful students. On entering the course the student becomes part of the family of the Centre.
How do the modules help students learn both the traditional techniques as well as modern technologies?
Each unit gives the student a sound base of knowledge in each particular subject allowing the student to finely tune their abilities at a later date. Some of the subjects are so specialised that they are taught nowhere else in the country, for example spinning and chasing. All subjects are taught by experts in their field.
Find out more about the Foundation Programme at the Goldsmiths' Centre and apply here: http://goldsmiths-centre.org/professional-training/foundation-programme/