Alumna Steels the Show


3:00 p.m. on a recent Sunday. Alumna Kelly Rae Potter welds one of her metal pieces. Photo provided by Kelly Rae Potter

As a Hockaday student, she imagined a future in architecture. Today, she does not design buildings; rather, she works on the metal pieces that make the structures accessible and attractive.

Kelly Rae Potter ‘07 is a professional blacksmith.

After Hockaday, Potter studied at the University of Colorado and pursued a degree in architecture. She became interested in making jewelry while living in Boulder and after moving back to the Dallas area, she decided to take a jewelry design class at Brookhaven Community College. Eventually, a professor came by to promote his blacksmith class at the college. Potter followed her creative nature, jumped at the opportunity to try something new and enrolled in the course. She left her jewels behind in pursuit of crafting metal.

She met several experienced blacksmiths in the course and decided to continue perfecting the craft.

“I learned by going and finding people in the area [who knew about blacksmithing],” Potter says.

Potter currently works at Smith Designs in Gunter, Texas where she does architectural metal fitting. Using bronze, steel, aluminum and brass, Potter designs and crafts custom doors, stairs and other items. Smith Designs employs over twenty designers who specialize in different areas of their crafts. The company’s work has been featured in Architectural Digest and Houston Home and Garden for their metal fitting work. They have designed work for the homes of many notable celebrities including Mark Cuban and Eva Longoria.

Potter is generally surrounded by male co-workers on construction sites while designing beautiful metalwork for spaces. She mentions often being viewed by the other workers on the sites as more of a visitor or misplaced individual than an employee. According to American Welder and the American Welding Society, five to six percent of welders are female.

“Someone [might] say, that’s cute using this tool, but no I am actually using this tool,” Potter says.

Despite, rude comments at times from male co-workers, Potter has risen to an elite level in her field. She recently participated in a national silversmithing competition. This competition allowed Potter to explore another creative outlet and focus on the crafting of weapons like knives and swords.

Potter feels that Upper School ceramics teacher Kevin Brady allowed her to push herself to new creative limits in a ceramics class.

“Everybody is creative: some have to learn that they are, some are born more creative than others,” Brady said. “In Kelly’s case, she was über-creative.”

Brady is not surprised by Potter’s ability to excel in a male-dominated field.

“She was a young lady who would take no grief from anybody,” he said. “She was her own person.”

This strong personality has allowed Potter to be resourceful and bold as a female blacksmith.

Check in the spring for more information regarding the release of results from Potter’s silversmithing competition.