Kalaya Steede, Jeweler and Metalsmith, 21 years in the making
What do you make?
Sculptural Art Jewelry. All of my pieces are one-of-a-kind, made in my private studio in New Orleans. Processes include forging, fabricating, and making my own stamping tools. I use a variety of metals, mostly silver and bronze, but also look for other materials to play with or add conceptual weight, such as wood, plastic, and artifacts found here in New Orleans or during my travels.
Tell us about your biggest maker failure. How did that failure make you a better maker?
Wow! I have a lot of failures. [I tried] to make some enamel earrings look like those red and white mint candies but instead they turned out looking like blood splatter. Maybe a Dexter fan would have liked those.
Name someone who inspires you in your maker pursuits and tell us why.
There are a lot of people who inspire me. I guess my partner in crime, my husband. When I want to quit, he reminds me of why I do what I do and inspires me to keep on making. Gotta keep on making everyday. That’s how you get better.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve made?
Bronze earrings capturing snake vertebrae.
Do you have any advice for aspiring makers or makers who are just starting out?
I have to remind myself that I am not going to make something great all the time. So I gave up on that. Even when I start a project and it’s not coming out the way I want, I [still] finish it. Some of my best pieces [started] that way. My advice is to keep on making. Make, make make! Oh, and get involved with organizations, clubs, or other makers with the same interest. Also, share your knowledge, mistakes and discoveries, so others can learn from you. That’s the best!
Kalaya’s piece, ‘Spirit,’ 2014. Riveted, carved bone, Louisiana Opal, silver, bronze, wood, and silver.