Walking into Greta Hartley’s stall, Munay Designs, is a bit like entering a mermaid’s treasure trove. The Sunshine Coast local has been creating jewellery for many moons now. Her handcrafted jewels are made with crystals, sterling silver, hill tribe silver, stones, shells, as well as with purpose and lashings of love. Greta draws her design inspiration from time spent in the sunny parts of the world, flitting between Australia and Thailand throughout the year. At Woodford Folk Festival 2018/19, Claire Meraki swung in for a chat with the talented Aussie artisan.
Claire Meraki: I’m here at possibly the most beautiful jewellery shop I’ve ever seen. So Greta, tell me about what you’re doing here at Woodford.
Greta Hartley: I’m letting people into my home. It’s like my little sanctuary of crystals and silver, and jewellery that I make. It’s full of things that I love to do. I’m just trying to get people comfortable with wearing crystals around their necks and just having fun with it and being playful and keeping it fresh and lively.
C: How long have you been working with crystals and silversmithing?
G: I’ve probably been doing it for about 10 or so years.
C: How many years have you been coming to Woodford now?
G: This is my third year as a stallholder.
C: And how does that go for you?
G: It’s really good. It’s so much fun. It’s a good space to be in; everyone’s in another world when they’re here. And yes, it’s a lovely environment.
C: So any particular favourite Woodford memories?
G: I don’t leave my store very often but I think the fun part is that I get to have the whole festival come to me and I see everyone’s experience, all their stories. And I think that’s the fun part; just having seen it through their eyes rather than my own, in a way.
C: Right. And obviously, this is what you do outside of the festival.
G: Yes, yes. This is my thing.
C: Wonderful. Do you have a shop front or do you go to markets?
G: I do markets. I’m I based in the Sunshine Coast, but I do markets in Brisbane on the weekends at West End. And I also just recently opened up a shop in Thailand with my partner, so I send all my handmade things over there as well.
C: I imagine working with crystals for a while, you would have a great degree of familiarity with the different properties – the different feel of them and what they might be able to help people with.
G: Relatively. I think we’ll always be trying to find more and know more and I just try and keep it really simple for everyone because everything else in life is super complicated and if a little crystal can help you take your mind off something then that’s good. Don’t go so deep about it. Keep it fresh and fun. Let it be what it is.
C: Do you have a favourite piece or a favourite crystal at the moment?
G: I’m a bit of a sucker for fluorite. I do like it. I find it’s really good to wear when you’re working, keeps you energized, takes away negativity, just makes you feel a little bit bouncy about things. So it’s probably my favourite one at the moment. Fluorite.
C: If someone was to choose a piece, how would you recommend that they go about doing that?
G: Usually I tell people to just have a play. They walk into my store and I just say, “Have a play, see how things go, see what you gravitate to.” And I always have a little tag on the necklace to tell them what stones they are and what their meanings are. So they go towards that stone, they look at the tag and something’s going to resonate with them.
C: Beautiful. Any particular stories, funny things that might’ve happened in the store?
G: There’s always something funny.
C: Quirky characters; one or two here.
G: Yeah, I get it all. I love that I can never tell who my customer is going to be. I can’t tell if they’re going to be wearing high heels and gold jewellery or whether they are going to be hairy armpits and dirty toenails. I just don’t know. And that’s what I love about it because I’m not categorizing anything. And they feel comfortable to be able to do what they want with the wares that I have. So everyone’s quirky in their own way.
C: Yeah. I saw a band last night, Formidable Vegetable Soundsystem, and they had a song that was something like everyone’s crazy. Everyone has their quirky, beautiful thing. And we’ve just got to learn how to work with it and enjoy it.
G: Just share it.
C: Before we wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share?
G: No, I think everyone’s just got to enjoy what they have and just let go of your inhibitions, especially when it comes to my work. If you like a crystal, then go for it. If you don’t, then that’s cool too. Just be yourself. See what happens. Nothing’s right. Nothing’s wrong.
C: And just in closing, we had a beautiful interview yesterday with a man who had been volunteering and – without sharing his whole story – literally in the last four days, his entire life has changed and he has come out of being really quite, I think wounded, would be fair to say, and really shut down and guarded. And he’s just opened up and his thing was that here you can be yourself.
G: Yeah, absolutely.
C: And he’s still in mystery with that. And it’s just so beautiful to see.
G: It’s like a festival that kind of cuddles you. You walk around and it cuddles you, and you can just let loose and see what happens. And especially people here for the whole week. It’s like their therapy for the year.
C: We’ve heard that many times.
G: It’s a grounding experience.
C: Beautiful. Thank you so much for your time.
G: Thank you so much.