Artists Among Us – July, 2020 Issue
Dieter Stipe – Fusing metal and creativity to inspire

By Julia Jaegersberg

Joyful metal flower artistic creations have lived in my garden among my live flowers for many years forged by Sheboygan Falls metal artist Dieter Stipe. Recently, I purchased two more flower stakes, which gave me the idea to contact Dieter so I could share his unique artistic journey.

Parents inspired him in different ways

Growing up, Dieter’s father owned a metalworking shop called Stipe Machine, which introduced him to metalworking. “It was there that I became familiarized with tool making and metal fabricating,” explains Dieter. “I grew up around the shop working with my dad and my brother. And, my mother is both a Master Gardener and very crafty, so I began making metal items with my mother – and as it turned out – her friends really liked them!”

At the time, Dieter was getting tired of working in the concrete business, so he decided to make the jump to pursue art as a career. He began to talk with other artists to understand the business aspect better and attend shows selling his handmade metal art. Dieter enjoyed a lot of initial success at shows like Door County’s Harvest Fest, Cedarburg’s Strawberry Festival and the Warrens Cranberry Festival. He also headed north and attended shows in Rhinelander, Manitowish Waters, St. Germain and Boulder Junction. As pieces sold and word spread, it wasn’t long until he found himself taking orders for all sorts of designs, including custom pieces.

At the northern Wisconsin shows, I sell art pieces featuring birds, turtles and flowers, but I sell lots of fish art, which customers want to decorate their cabins,” says Dieter. “I create all the native fish species like perch, bass, crappie and musky, which are very popular.”

Making the shift to online sales

With this success, Dieter also realized that taking his metal on the road to sell was very exhausting. “Metal pieces are heavy!” he kids. “It also takes a lot of time to set up our booth, do the show and then take it down and travel to the next site for a show the next day.”

Now that art festivals are cancelled due to the coronavirus, he’s facing even more challenges. “I’m reinventing the wheel now switching gears to selling online on my website, on Facebook Marketplace and through Etsy, where I’m gaining some traction and people are showing interest,” notes Dieter. “I also realize now that there’s a bigger marketplace out there for my work.”

Dieter also loves transforming his imagination into reality through custom metal artwork. “Whether it’s a commercial project like business signage, a firepit crafted out of an old repurposed water heater or an ornate metal chest, I love pushing the limits of my craftwork and delivering uniquely customized artwork.”

Community projects

In addition to selling to individuals, Dieter also has designed and constructed metal for community projects like Sheboygan’s Bookworm Gardens and a public art piece in Menomonee Falls, along with countless business and private residential garden pieces.

To be able to make this art for a living is a privilege that even the most gracious of words can’t fully express,” says Dieter. “I want to share with the community as well by donating to charitable causes. Most recently, I contributed to the Sheboygan County Cancer Care Fund by donating $10 for every metal flower sold within the fundraising period to raise over $400 in donations.”

I like that people are inspired by the things that I create,” concludes Dieter. “And I enjoy all parts of being a metal artist, and interacting with people at shows is great because you receive immediate feedback to help to continue to produce art that people want for their homes and businesses.”

Dieter sells his works under the business name Designs By Dieter, a collection of handmade metal artwork that you can find by visiting designsbydieter on Etsy.