Kate Maller came by her life’s work in metalsmithing while pursuing a career in architecture, a livelihood that already fed her sense of design and interest in sustainability. Now she’s hung out a shingle in Highland, adding "entrepreneur" to her résumé and selling her edgy handmade pieces as a proud member of Ethical Metalsmiths, a group fostering ethical jewelry made from repurposed metals and fair-trade gems.
What does it mean to be a metalsmith in the 21st century? Find out from Kate Maller as she answers the Colorado Creatives questionnaire.
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
Kate Maller: Landscapes have always been one of my biggest sources of inspiration. My entire life I have felt incredibly connected to the outdoors. Both urban and more rural settings inspire me alike. Traveling fuels that inspiration by exposing me to new places and allowing me to get out to explore varied landscapes.
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Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
The architect Peter Zumthor, because he's a huge inspiration to me. His thoughtfulness and the way in which he engages with the world would make him an ideal party guest. Lots of great conversations to be had!
Monet. I've painted in an impressionistic style with oils for about twenty years and have been a longtime fan of Monet's work. After seeing his exhibit at the Denver Art Museum last fall, I fell in love with his work even more. His insightfulness and passion for landscapes would make him a must-have at our next party.
Bonnie Raitt, because she's always been a favorite musician of mine. She's soulful, genuine and a total badass, and who knows — maybe she'd even play some music!
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst? How about globally?
The commitment to craftsmanship among Colorado jewelers is something that is very exciting, and I love to watch that evolve year after year. The lack of diversity in the jewelry community both locally and globally is disappointing. I look forward to watching the inclusivity and diversity of people grow both here in Colorado and all over.
What interested you in metalsmithing in the first place?
Working with my hands and the creative liberation I felt from being so connected to the form of making is what drew me into metalsmithing. I was in my final year, pursuing dual master's degrees in architecture and landscape architecture, and discovered the art of metalsmithing somewhat serendipitously. I fell in love the moment I sat down at my first jeweler's bench. The realization that I could practice this art form for a lifetime and still continue to learn is what really captivated me.
What’s your dream project?
I honestly work on so much cool stuff these days, it all feels like a dream come true. Our brand-new Legacy Collection had been a dream of mine for years, and it has been surreal to see it come to life over the past six weeks. Currently I am dreaming of developing some new skill sets, such as designing some pieces with hinges and creating larger-scale objects like vessels and silverware.
Denver (or Colorado), love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
Love it. I have lived in Colorado for thirteen years this past May, and I am more grateful than ever that this is the place I call home. The landscapes. The people. The weather. The mountains. I love it all.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
What a loaded question! There are so many! I have been a big fan of Kim Harrell for quite some time, though.
What's on your agenda now and in the coming year?
We've just finished our latest line: The Legacy Collection. It is a contemporary bridal line and has been in the works for a long time. Having just wrapped a video shoot as well as two photo shoots for it, we are looking forward to debuting it in a few weeks and sharing it with the world this year.
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Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
Marsha Robinson of Strange Dirt.
Visit Kate Maller Jewelry at 3450 West 32nd Avenue in Highland. Current store hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Learn more about Kate Maller, her boutique and her work online.