About the Designer and the Brand:
Clouds and Ladders jewelry is designed and made by hand by Kate Joseph in her studio in a redwood forest north of San Francisco. Kate has a background in painting and sculpture, but chose to pursue a career as an Occupational Therapist with jewelry design as a hobby. However, fate had a different plan - an employee of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art spotted her jewelry at a handcrafted goods market in San Francisco in 2018. Soon after the museum’s store started carrying her work, Kate began to concentrate on Clouds and Ladders full time. Since then she has hired a friend to assist with production so she can remain more focused on designing. Her designs are distinctive, versatile, and lightweight - and each is a tiny work of art you can wear. You're invited to follow along as Kate’s story unfolds on Instagram/cloudsandladders
What inspires the colors and designs of Clouds and Ladders?
Much of Kate's inspiration comes from places she’s lived, including the pink Sandia mountain sunsets in New Mexico and California coastal views. Another inspiration is illustrations from vintage craft and design publications:
“There's something about the rich but subdued colors in old reading materials that I find so alluring. I collect vintage books and magazines about art, crafts, and design. I feel a kinship with other artisans from various cultures and backgrounds, especially those who make traditionally so-called ‘women’s work.’ This connection is stronger than any particular American cultural tradition that I was raised within. As a result of my interest in those subjects, I have an enormous collection of vintage publications to inspire my jewelry designs.”
Kate and her husband in Santa Fe
Where did the name Clouds and Ladders come from?
Shortly after marrying, Kate and her husband moved to 4 different states in 5 years for his career. The 5th and final move was to Northern California. Kate was planning to begin working immediately as an Occupational Therapist, however the state licensing board lost her application, making her unable to work for 3 months. Feeling the stress of the moves, the loneliness of living in a new location, and not being able to work, Kate struggled with depression. Determined not to let these circumstances get her down, Kate decided to take the situation as an opportunity to rekindle a hobby from her past that she had always wanted to develop but didn't have time for, which was jewelry making. Needing a name to post to Instagram so she could share photos with friends and family, Kate chose two things that represented getting up and out of her depression as well as giving a nod to the ephemeral and the pragmatic: Clouds and Ladders.
Kate at work in her studio, 2019
Process photographs by NICOLA PARISI