Metal art master opens Falls shop

Designs By Dieter joins downtown Falls business district
by Jeff Pederson Sheboygan Falls News Editor


DIETER STIPE of Sheboygan Falls has opened Designs By Dieter at 108 Pine St. in downton Sheboygan Falls. Stipe’s shop includes a wide selection of his own unique metal art creations, as well as art, craft and gift items from other artists throughout the area. 
Falls NewsphotobyJeffPederson DIETER STIPE of Sheboygan Falls has opened Designs By Dieter at 108 Pine St. in downton Sheboygan Falls. Stipe’s shop includes a wide selection of his own unique metal art creations, as well as art, craft and gift items from other artists throughout the area. Falls NewsphotobyJeffPederson To those who have never witnessed the work of Sheboygan Falls native Dieter Stipe, the words metal and art may not necessarily go hand and hand.

However, those familiar with Stipe’s Designs by Dieter eye-popping collection of artistic creations know that metal art is typically inspiring, most often fun loving and always unique.

For the past 15 years, the Sheboygan Falls High School graduate has honed his metal art craft to the delight of countless customers in and around the Sheboygan County area and beyond.

“My dad owned a tool and die molding and fabricating business called Stipe Machine in Plymouth, so I grew up around tool making and metal fabricating,” Stipe said. “It got started for me when my mom and I did some projects together and as time went by, I made a few art projects for friends on a part-time basis, mainly just for fun.


DESIGNS BY DIETER in downtown Sheboygan Falls features metal art pieces depicting wildlife, garden and floral themes. The shop opened at 108 Pine St. in April. - Falls News photo by Jeff Pederson DESIGNS BY DIETER in downtown Sheboygan Falls features metal art pieces depicting wildlife, garden and floral themes. The shop opened at 108 Pine St. in April. - Falls News photo by Jeff Pederson “Around 2000, I started taking what I made to farmer’s and artisan markets in the area, like the one in Elkhart Lake,” he said. “It just kind of came to life from there. I found that people liked the metal art I was producing and I realized that it could become marketable.”

Stipe continued to produce his metal on a part-time basis for several more years, while working full-time at Oostburg Concrete.

“I had a full-time job pouring concrete foundations, but I knew that I didn’t want to do that forever,” Stipe said. “In 2003, I decided to take the leap and pursue metal art as a full-time business. I figured that people seemed to like it and I enjoyed doing it, so I went for it.”

Stipe worked out of his father’s Stipe Machine shop on County C just west of Sheboygan Falls for several years, as well as a shop near Haven, before moving to a new shop in Rhine Center, where he is currently located.

The time-consuming process of producing Stipe’s metal art projects can involve up to 17 different steps, depending on the project.

“I would describe it as a form of modern blacksmithing,” Stipe said. “There are multiple steps that are required to produce a finished piece and I do all of them myself by hand. I start by making a drawing by hand, which I then scan onto a computer. Some of the projects require additional stenciling.


DESIGNS BY DIETER in downtown Sheboygan Falls includes a wide array of metal art pieces such as these bottle holders. - Falls News photo by Jeff Pederson DESIGNS BY DIETER in downtown Sheboygan Falls includes a wide array of metal art pieces such as these bottle holders. - Falls News photo by Jeff Pederson “I make all of my own tools and jigs to get the specific shapes and forms that I need for each project,” he said. “Some of the projects require welding and the use of a hydraulic press and roller to get the proper shapes. I also use a plasma cutter to form the shapes and I also prime and paint the pieces as well. Depending on the project, it can take up to three to four hours to produce one piece of metal art.”

Stipe has a wide variety of metal art designs available for sale, many of which depict flowers, wildlife, nature and outdoor- related themes.

“I do a lot of pieces that could be put into gardens and yards,” Stipe said. “I probably have done 75 to 100 different designs over the years. I like to mix it up, because I get bored doing the same things all the time. I always like to add a unique twist to keep it interesting.

“My goal is to do more interior items like wall hangings, mirrors, tables and furniture,” he said.

After doing a number of customer requested pieces in his younger years Stipe likes to stick to creations of his own these days.

“I don’t do as much custom work as I used to,” Stipe said. “I like to create my own pieces and hopefully there will be people that like them. Doing it that way takes a lot of pressure off of me and I don’t have to worry as much if the customer is not completely satisfied. I can be free to explore new ideas and go with my own instincts.”

After thinking about the possibility of opening his own store locally to showcase his artwork, an opportunity came up this past spring which he couldn’t pass up.

The process of moving into a new store at 108 Pine St. developed through a conversation Stipe’s girlfriend Shelley Perronne had with the former occupant of the storefront, Lori of Paradise Acres Soap Works.

“Dieter had some items in Lori’s shop on consignment and one day she told me that she was going to be closing down her store,” Perronne said. “We got to talking about some of the details and she told me about the rental price and I got excited about the possibilities.

“I told Dieter and he really didn’t have much of a response at first, so I wasn’t sure if it was going to happened,” she said. “Then a little while later, he just said, ‘When are we going to move into that shop?’ and not to long after that, we did. It is really the perfect location. The store had an established clientele with Lori, the size of the store was just right for us and being right in the heart of downtown was just an added bonus. We also live just a few blocks away, so everything just fell into place. “

Designs by Dieter officially opened to the public on April 16, which was also the annual Sheboygan Falls Chamber-Main Street Date Nite event in downtown Sheboygan Falls.

“We had a nice opening and really the response so far has been great,” Stipe said. “Considering we haven’t really advertised much, the response has been fantastic. We have been really busy making new pieces and we are planning to do some additional advertising in the near future.”

In addition to Stipe’s metal art creations, the store also features Paradise Acres Soap Works goat milk soap, as well as handmade art from a number of local artists.

“It was important to keep the soap and maintain the handmade local art feel in the store,” Stipe said. “Along with the soap, we have pottery, crocheted items like mittens, cutting boards and just a lot of different handmade items.

“I think just having the soap from Paradise Acres Soap Works helps with the traffic in the store,” he said. “The metal art is not necessarily something people will buy on a continuous basis, but they do come in continually to buy the soap and some of the other more practical items that we have.”

Perronne says items featured the store rotate on a continual basis.

“There is a nice rotation of offerings in the store, so you aren’t going to see new things every time you come in,” Perronne said. “We don’t just sell metal art here, we are a gift shop as well. My goal is to keep a nice price point for gift items.”

Stipe’s metal art creations arecurrently featured at 11 other specialty shops in Wisconsin, from Minocqua to Menominee Falls to Madison and Algoma.

“My hope is to get into more stores in the future and not do as much traveling to art shows,” Stipe said. “Doing those shows has really helped to get my name out there and for people to see my work, but now I think it might be time to scale back on that part of if. I could go to shows every day of the week in the summer, but now I probably average one to two days a week in the summer.”

Perronne says the Sheboygan Falls community has been very receptive to Designs by Dieter’s entry into downtown business district.

“We would just like to thank the community of Sheboygan Falls for all of its support in our first few months here,” Perronne said. “We never really realized how much traffic downtown Sheboygan Falls gets on a regular basis. It has been pretty amazing so far.”

To reach Designs by Dieter, call 920-980-7255 or visit designsbydieter@yahoo.com


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