Jewellery students make a difference

Partnership with charity website sees Cass students sell their work commercially

Date: 26 July 2013

Cass student Caroline Jackson with celebrated designer Shaun Leane

BA Jewellery and Silversmithing
students from London Metropolitan University are having their work sold commercially thanks to an innovative scheme to boost charitable giving. 

The Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design students took part in a competition with charity website Make A Difference (MAD) as part of their Creative Industry Practise module.

They were challenged with designing a jewellery range to be sold on the ‘Choose MAD’ website, which enables customers to select a charity to benefit from their purchase.  

The project was established when MAD approached The Cass to participate in the scheme – testament to the Faculty’s excellent reputation for jewellery making and silversmithing.

Second-year student Caroline Jackson was named the overall winner of the competition for her We All Need Time To Grow design, which features a silver pendant shaped as a flower pod into which gemstone ‘seeds’ can be placed.  

Caroline scooped £500 for winning as well as having her work developed for sale on the ChooseMAD website.

She said: “It was really good to be making more commercial designs, it was a complete contrast from the quirky pieces I usually make! The whole competition was really fun but very nerve racking as well, especially as I had to give a big presentation at the end - I'm not exactly a natural public speaker.”

Yet Caroline obviously made an impression with the judges. Her project stood out for them because if its “combination of high quality silversmithing, widespread aesthetic appeal, heart-warming concept and potential to generate sustainable income.”

Caroline, from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, is about to go into her third year of study at The Cass and says she has had a good experience at London Met so far.

“London Met was my first choice,” she said. “It's really well known for its jewellery course, which has been running for a really long time, and the facilities are far better than all the other places I’ve looked at.

“The workshop is really a lovely place to be and the staff, artists in residence and other students are all so wonderful.  There is always someone there to give you a little bit of help whenever you need it.”

Fellow BA Jewellery and Silversmithing student Sophie Todd also impressed during the project. Her range of colourful bracelets and necklaces, inspired by cotton friendship bracelets, saw Sophie made a ‘Featured Artist’ on the ChooseMAD website.

“It was really exciting to be featured on the website”, said Sophie. “I have never been involved in anything like that before so it was all a bit surreal!”

The talented jewellery maker is influenced by Asian culture, and sources her material ethically from India. For Sophie, one of the best aspects of studying in The Cass is the lecturers.

“All the tutors are great and are so knowledgeable. Most of them are professional jewellers themselves so they really know what they’re talking about. The facilities are just amazing too. It’s brilliant to have access to facilities like that.”

The excellence of these facilities and the teaching standard in The Cass is reflected in the quality of the students’ work. Shaun Leane, the designer famous for his work with Vivienne Westwood and Alistair McQueen, was one of the competition judges. He said the London Met students showed, “real maturity in not just their designs but [in] their execution and commercial planning.

“I think the idea of being able to buy jewellery online to support any charity you choose is a great concept – it reflects the very personal and emotional nature of jewellery and offers a really fresh, commercial perspective for the charity merchandising market", he added. 

For Marianne Forrest, Course Leader for BA Jewellery and Silversmithing, the partnership with Make A Difference really will ‘make a difference’ for the students.

“They have gained an enormous amount from the live project,” said Marianne. “With their analysis and brief writing, costing and presentation, they are much better prepared for the rigours of professional life as a designer and maker.

“They have learned that it is not just about what you make but the messages and stories associated with the work, alongside a keen awareness of the costs and production implications of making something for a professional context.

“They understand the rewards and the challenges of a real working environment in a way that cannot be done within the confines of the University alone, and all done with a charitable outcome. What could be better?”  

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