10 Minutes with Emma Hedley | Living North

10 Minutes with Emma Hedley

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Emma Hedley
The Queen has just become the longest-reigning monarch in British history – what better excuse is there to invest in some royalty-inspired jewellery? We chat to jewellery maker Emma Hedley about her new collections

Where did your interest in jewellery making come from?
I went travelling around the world and I ran out of money when I got to New Zealand so I sat on the street and started making cocktail rings. I had some beads and wire with me because after I finished travelling I was going to start a course but I wanted to see what I could come up with before I was shown how it was done, so I made some pieces out of beads and tweezers and scissors – they sold like hot cakes!

What are you working on right now?
I am working towards my exhibition. I am launching two different collections as part of it – the Crown Collection and the Enchantment Collection. 

Can you describe the type of jewellery you make?
Everything is handmade, I’ve got a little studio in Newcastle city centre. I carve the crowns out of milliput, a two-part putty, then I get casts and moulds made, and cast them in silver.

How long does it take?
It depends on the piece really, it can range from an hour to three or four weeks, it all depends on how complex it is.

Where do you find inspiration?
I grew up in a retreat centre, it was a charity joined onto a Catholic church. My parents ran it for 20 years and anyone could come to escape from whatever it was they were going through in life. Seeing those different people struggling with things inspired me towards the whole positivity aspect and trying to create collections and things that give people a little boost because there are so many things in life that can drag you down.

Why did you choose to move to Newcastle?
I just absolutely love it. I have got lots of friends and family here and there’s such an amazing cultural side to the city – there’s always so much going on and it’s a lovely size as well, everything’s really close. It takes me 10 minutes to get from my house to the city centre, everything’s on your doorstep and I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the world that I could live and have all of that at my fingertips so easily.

Tell me about your exhibition at the Praxis gallery
It’s become a collaborative event; Helen McClafferty from Osseus Design did the illustrations to go alongside of each of my collections – rather than doing a photoshoot with models I thought it would be really nice to do something different and her illustrations are stunning. Alanna Lamb is a multimedia visual artist and she’s creating digital imagery with video clips of my jewellery overlaid with other positive, inspirational imagery. That’s going to be projected onto the walls of the gallery as well.

What’s the most difficult part of what you do?
It is challenging running a business with two little boys. I’m in my studio from 9.30am to 3.30pm making orders while they’re in school. Up until now I have mainly been working on commissions for people, but I wanted to come up with some collections I could supply to shops so I could have that ticking over in the background while I am making the bespoke orders as well.

What has been your most bizarre request?
Somebody wanted a diamond encrusted set of rosary beads – it was a footballer. I did the design work, it was quite bonkers!

What’s your favourite hidden gem in Newcastle?
Down by the quayside there’s a gorgeous little shop called Whosit and Whatsit, they’ve just opened a café as well. Artists and designers can stock their work there, so it’s full of amazing stuff, I absolutely love that shop!

Emma’s collection launches on 25th September at the Praxis Gallery in Newcastle, the official launch is an open invite event from 7–9pm. For more information head to www.emmahedley.com

Published in: September 2015

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