By John Gusty
The next time you see one of today’s mega-stars performing with one of those fancy “blinged-out” microphones, guitars or headphones… chances are pretty good that functional piece of musical art might’ve been designed and created right here in Cheatham County.
Kingston Springs resident Lesley Mortimer-Wallace is the talented creative force behind Precious Metal Design, a premium world-class design company that customizes musical gear for some of the biggest names in the music industry.
Her work has been seen at Super Bowl Halftime performances, countless award shows, television appearances and world tours by such artists as Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Def Leppard, Kelly Clarkson, LeAnn Rimes, Guns N’ Roses and The Jonas Brothers just to name a few.
Lesley is no stranger to the entertainment industry. Her father has been Def Leppard’s tour manager since the bands early days. She has basically grown-up “on the road.”
“My passion for travel started the day I was born. My father toured for my entire childhood, making me officially a gypsy. Travelling all around the world with my Mother and Sister in order to visit my Dad. I always had a passion for creativity. Arts and crafts filled most of spare time.”
In 2006 Lesley assumed responsibility of managing Hospitality and Wardrobe for the Def Leppard touring organization. On one occasion, Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell asked Lesley if she could decorate one of his Gibson Les Paul Custom guitars using the high-end designer crystals he’d seen Lesley using on some art pieces she’d been doing in her spare time.
“I was super excited about my hobby taking the lime light. The first day he used it on stage was so exciting!”
From that moment onward it was just a whirlwind. Word of mouth was spreading fast and Lesley soon found herself averaging several pieces a year among her regular touring duties.
“I’ve been fortunate to have done microphones for Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne and LeAnn Rimes. Guitars and bass guitars for Cheap Trick, Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses. And several accessories for Taylor Swift, Poison, The Jonas Brothers, Demi Lavato and of course… Def Leppard.”
What truly sets her work apart from the others is the quality of the application process and the materials she prefers to work with. The Swarovski crystals Lesley uses won’t be found at your local Michael’s Arts & Crafts. And the sheer amount of time put into even the smaller pieces can’t be understated.
“The design element is more involved than I ever imagined. I have to take into consideration the clients style, personality, audience, new album and even hair color. There’s hours of sketching and brainstorming before the first crystal is placed. The Instrument becomes my very own blank canvas.”
Lesley’s well-rounded understanding of the industry from an artist, as well as a production perspective, serves her well.
“Because these pieces that I do are components of large-scale productions, they not only have to look spectacular… they have to be durable and functional. That’s priority #1. So I have to make sure my work enhances their performance and isn’t a distraction to the artist.”
And by the looks of her clientele list… the only distraction Lesley is causing is to her own personal schedule!
“I am truly a very lucky lady to be able to turn what was essentially a hobby, born out of my love of art and creativity, into a viable business. When I deliver the finished piece to the artist, their excitement and appreciation is really the most rewarding feeling for me. The fun part is seeing my work on the biggest, most brilliant stages throughout the world. Reaching audiences I never thought possible, even in my dreams.”
A gallery of Lesley’s collective work is on display at her website www.PreciousMetalDesign.com