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Introducing: Caterina

Every now and then at Just Trade, we get to welcome an intern, show them the ropes and, hopefully, ensure they have an enjoyable experience while they get involved with whatever’s going on at the time.  This is due to the relationship we have with Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery, who invited us to collaborate with them on their work placement module.

On this occasion, Caterina turned up like an angel sent from heaven on the day when we most needed an extra pair of very capable hands. We have been delighted to have Caterina’s company at the Peckham studio for several days over the last few weeks. A second-year student on the ‘Jewellery and Objects’ course at Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery, she came highly recommended by her tutor and has more than lived up to expectations. Catching up with her in the studio today, it was great to hear that she is enjoying her time at Just Trade as much as we are enjoying having her and it was interesting to learn a bit more about her background.

Half Italian and half British, Caterina first became interested in jewellery making when her mum organised a jewellery party for her 8th birthday. This fast turned into an obsession and family members were showered with all manner of beaded gifts at Christmas and on birthdays for several years to come. This passion, however, was gradually eclipsed by her love for the clarinet and music and by secondary school, she had all but forgotten about her pliers and her stash of beads as she dreamt of becoming a jazz musician.

With undiagnosed ADHD, school was a bit of a struggle and Covid lockdowns during her A-level years made her realise that studying music rather than just playing it was not going to suit her. Out came the pliers and beads again and her rekindled love for jewellery making helped her get through those difficult times. A six-month, post A-level course at the British Academy for Jewellery further fuelled her fascination with making and she decided to apply to University. What she lacked in a portfolio, she made up for in ingenuity and the giant suncatcher she made with orange peel that she, her friends and family spent two days drying did the trick and landed her a place at the Birmingham School of Jewellery.  Then came the decision about which course to pursue. Her enjoyment of the whole suncatcher experience motivated her to go for the less bench-based course, which has been much more about design and has opened up her mind to all kinds of new possibilities.

Inspired by her now diagnosed ADHD, she spent most of last term creating a cutlery set to help neurotypical people understand what eating a meal can feel like for neurodivergent people. Picture a knife filled with different weights and with items dangling off it designed to clatter and scrape on the plate when used and you may be starting to get the idea. 

Here at Just Trade, Caterina spent the first couple of days helping to correct some jewellery items that had arrived with a few defects. She also accompanied Laura to a meeting at the Chelsea Physic Garden a couple of weeks to discuss a potential new bespoke collection. She is now practising her ‘Illustrator’ skills as she joins the team in thinking through the ideas generated at the meeting. This is helping her to take a step back and consider how to interpret ideas into something that is appropriate in a commercial context.

Now half-way through her commitment to Just Trade, she says about the experience: 

‘I didn’t know what to expect as the only jobs I have had I didn’t enjoy very much. I never really imagined work being fun, but this is a lovely environment to work in.. it’s colourful, creative and so interesting and the passion for what they are doing is tangible.  I have already learnt so much here and it has really opened my eyes to see that you can do more than work in a gallery when you train in jewellery.’

As for the future, Caterina is soon to embark on a project in Venice exploring the idea of identity and belonging. With dual nationality but sometimes feeling that she doesn’t completely fit in to either country, she is fascinated with the idea of belonging. She would also love to study a Master’s one day in another part of the world.

Well, the doors of Just Trade will always be open to Caterina as it has been so great having her here. We will be sad to say goodbye but wish her every success as she pursues her future and discovers where she belongs in the jewellery industry. 

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