Leia grew up in a small suburb north of St. Louis, Missouri in a house backing up to a creek. With her two sisters, the creek and the woods along it were their constant play place to imagine, make and explore. In high school she was introduced to metalsmithing via the local community craft center and became infatuated. Metalsmithing was a perfect blend of play and making things by hand. She continued her studies in college and eventually achieved an MFA.