Q&A: Emma Hedley | Livingnorth.com

Q&A: Emma Hedley

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Musician
Emma Hedley is a jeweller for The Guitarwrist, a not-for-profit organisation fashioning guitar strings from some of the most high-profile musicians into one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable jewellery, all while raising money for charity
‘I’m able to support so many charities that are doing incredible work around the world all through my part in The Guitarwrist’

How did jewellery making begin for you?
I started making jewellery while on a round-the-world trip in 2003. I ran out of money in Queenstown, New Zealand so sat on the street and began making rings using beads and wire, they sold like hotcakes and actually allowed me to fund the rest of my trip. That kick started my passion for jewellery design and I’ve been making jewellery ever since. I’m now a goldsmith and jewellery designer specialising in bespoke wedding and engagement rings, transforming sentimental treasures into heirlooms of the future using Fairtrade gold and ethically sourced diamonds and gemstones. I also design and manufacture the Dreams to Reality jewellery collection for Tanya Bardsley from ITV’s the Real Housewives of Cheshire.   

Tell us about Guitarwrist
It’s a not-for-profit organisation, collecting the used guitar strings from the guitars of famous musicians. We then create designs and transform them into jewellery, selling them mostly to their fans, but the money goes on to a charity chosen by the artist. We go to festivals, and often work live backstage, whilst we’re there we collect the used strings and turn them into jewellery to sell at the festivals. Not only is it preventing the string from going to landfill, but it also gives fans an amazing connection to their favourite artist, while raising money for charity too –  it’s just good vibes all round.
 
Where did the idea come from?
Ian Rendall is the founder, and the brains behind the idea, and it’s one he had for many years. He owns a company that supplies guitar strings to many artists, so it wasn’t too difficult to put The Guitarwrist into practice. I ended up involved purely by chance after Ian met my sister who was working with one of the bands. Just over a year ago he asked to come in and see us, I assumed he wanted a ring resizing or something like that, I didn’t realise what I was getting myself into or how high profile it was going to be.

What is your typical day?
There’s no such thing. Every day varies a lot, we could be doing something exciting like out at a festival, or meeting bands after a gig. Or sorting out bundles of strings, before making the jewellery, and we’re constantly working on new designs. There’s a lot of variety but we love it.

Who have you been working with?
We work with all kind of amazing artists, KT Tunstall opened our Carnaby pop-up shop last year. We’ve got strings from Guns ’n’ Roses, Johnny Depp, Paul Weller, Stereophonics, Ash, Cradle of Filth, Iron Maiden, The Darkness, Enter Shikari, Steve Hackett and Pendulum. There are so many, and artists are donating more all the time. 

What is the process of making the items?
We’ve developed a variety of techniques but discovering ones that worked, was mainly down to trial and error. We had to source components that would accommodate all of the different gauges of strings which was difficult. Guitar strings are not easy to work with, so it was a massive challenge.

How do you contact artists to work with?
Ian Rendall has been in the music industry for years so has a lot of amazing contacts, but we also meet bands at gigs and festivals and show them what we’re doing. The response has been incredible and they always want to be involved. 

What’s the best part of your work?
The best bit for me is being face to face with customers when we’re at festivals, I just love how enthusiastic the fans are when they realise what the jewellery is made from. People really love it so I feel incredibly honored to be part of such a great project.

What opportunities has it given you?
I’m able to support so many charities that are doing incredible work around the world all through my part in The Guitarwrist, but being able to go backstage and meet so many amazing artists is incredible too. I met Sharon Osborne at Download Festival which was a crazy experience. 

What’s your favourite part of the North East?
I love the art, culture and music, and of course the coast. I Iive out here and I absolutely love it.

What do you do to relax?
I love doing yoga, and reading, in the summer I like to lie and read in the sunshine and when it’s colder curl up somewhere cosy.

What do you do to have fun?
Crazy dancing, watching comedy, I love surfing (though I’m mainly falling off!), sea kayaking and trying as many new things as possible. I’m always up for anything.

Describe your perfect Sunday.
Playing with my two little fellas in the park and running wild with our dog Eddie, then tucking into a gorgeous Sunday dinner before snuggling up in front of a movie.

What music and film do you enjoy?
I basically love all kinds of music. Up beat and feel good beats are the best to dance to, but an eclectic mix of jazz, 60’s, ambient and acoustic is the perfect playlist to make jewellery to. When it comes to television, I love inspirational and creative shows like Escape to the Chateau and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, and empowering films like Tony Robbins I Am Not Your Guru, and Hidden Figures too. 

Published in: October 2018

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