About the Designer and the Brand:
Clouds and Ladders jewelry is designed and made by hand by Kate Joseph in her solar-powered 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. 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
Q: Can you tell us about how your work is made?
A: The making process involves soldering the brass frames, filling them with high quality polymer clay, and then a multiple step sanding/finishing process to create the smooth, matte finish that makes C+L jewelry so unique.
Jewelry designer Kate Joseph at work in her studio
Process and studio photographs by Nicola Parisi
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: My inspiration comes from the world around me: landscapes, the moon, plants, and even the work of artists whom I admire. Using my love of modern art & design history, I transform these ideas into wearable interpretations meant to activate your imagination.
Another source of inspiration is that I collect vintage books and magazines about crafts. 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.
Q: What makes you passionate about making jewelry?
A: I grew up hearing the stories behind the jewelry worn by my mother and grandmother. The jewelry was usually given to them by loved ones or collected as mementos of places they had been. Each item was a small but meaningful reminder that they could take with them to empower, comfort, and anchor them to a deeper principle. My hope is that C+L jewelry can accomplish that in some way for each person who wears it.
Q: Where did the name Clouds and Ladders come from?
A: Shortly after marrying, Kate and her husband moved to 5 different states in 5 years for his career. The most recent 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, she 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 chimerical and the pragmatic: Clouds and Ladders.