An interview with myself: Stephanie Distler Studios

Stephanie Distler Studios
March 24, 2023 34 view(s)
An interview with myself: Stephanie Distler Studios

Editor's Note: Stephanie Distler, an artisan on our PA Wilds Marketplace, often interviews other makers within the PA Wilds, learns more about the artists and their work, and publishes those as blogs here on the PA Wilds Marketplace Inspiration Blog. For this blog, however, Stephanie is interviewing someone very special... herself!

Please enjoy getting to know more about Stephanie Distler, her artistic process, her motivations and her love of the PA Wilds. 

 

An Interview with Myself: Stephanie Distler Studios

"Every single experience or skill learned finds its way into my everyday life. Mending clothes in a fun way, making cards for special occasions (or not), stamping plant names on garden stakes, taking photos with new eyes, collecting special specific items while antiquing, the way I organize, decorating our home, traveling to the next festival, studio or gallery, etc. etc."

This is a deep dive into my maker timeline.  What a crazy trip through Flickr, Google albums and old pc photos to create this post!  On Flickr, if you are interested, I updated my studio move and how it progressed from start to finish.

Stephanie Distler, taken on an afternoon at her workbench

Tell us a little about yourself. i.e. location, inspiration, mediums, tools, etc.

Self taught artisan coming from PA Wilds Roots with Rural Organic style.  Located in a home studio I focus on ‘made by these hands’ designs.  It is very important for me to be the one making/touching each piece.  Fiber, clay, metal, vintage components, buttons, Czech beads and semi-precious stones are some of the materials that I use.  A collection of antique/new hand tools, rolling mills, torch, vibrating tumbler, hydraulic press, bench shear, anvil, metal letter & design stamps and a bench lathe are some of the tools used in the process of jewelry making.

I also love working as a fiber artisan. Working in fiber has been a big part of being creative for me since elementary school starting off with knitting and weaving potholders to later in life embroidery on art dolls, brooches and pendants.

When I started making ArtDolls, in the early 2000s, it was important for me to make as many of the doll’s components as possible in the studio including an original designed/made doll body and face cabochon.  Baked clay became an essential material when creating faces for the improvisational bead embroidery ArtDolls. A faux quartz face cab is my absolute favorite. Baked clay beads, buttons, components and focals came later and still continue.

Mixed media is also an art form that makes its way into my daily life.  Journaling, lettering, collaging, sketching, painting and stamping are a release for me.  I can create freely and not worry about making money from any part of the creations.

I recently found an online term for working in many mediums, omnicrafter.  This term fits the umbrella of Stephanie Distler Studios (SDS) beautifully allowing for all of my passions to bud and flower under the umbrella of SDS. An artisan who is drawn to many mediums/techniques, all at the same time, is an omnicrafter or why not an omniartisan. Stephanie Distler Studios, home of an omni-artisan, lol. Hoot, hoot!  Love it <3

Mixed media is also an art form that makes its way into my daily life.  Journaling, lettering, collaging, sketching, painting and stamping are a release for me.  I can create freely and not worry about making money from any part of the creations.

I recently found an online term for working in many mediums, omnicrafter.  This term fits the umbrella of Stephanie Distler Studios (SDS) beautifully allowing for all of my passions to bud and flower under the umbrella of SDS. An artisan who is drawn to many mediums/techniques, all at the same time, is an omnicrafter or why not an omniartisan. Stephanie Distler Studios, home of an omni-artisan, lol. Hoot, hoot!  Love it <3

Setting up a flatlay for Friday February 2023

What part of the process don't you ever get tired of?

I never get tired of watching sheet metal and wire transform from that simple state into a piece of jewelry, home decor or utilitarian piece.  

 

What type of movies, shows, music or podcasts inspires or keeps you motivated while creating?

You can find me watching YouTube videos on studio tours, artisan jewelry, fiber art, social media or history related videos all day while working.  Whatever I am obsessed with at the time will be playing even if it is just adding to the background. Podcasts are also played and in a lot of instances easier to concentrate on, staying focused while working, since they are auditory.

 Fulfilling a wholesale order on the bench 2021 for the PA Wilds Conservation Shops

Does your knowledge of working with metal, fiber, tools, lettering or sketching help you in other areas of your life?

Every single experience or skill learned finds its way into my everyday life. Mending clothes in a fun way, making cards for special occasions (or not), stamping plant names on garden stakes, taking photos with new eyes, collecting special specific items while antiquing, the way I organize, decorating our home, traveling to the next festival, studio or gallery, etc. etc. 

Journaling 2022

How has your style changed over the years?

I started simply in the early 90s stringing semi-precious and glass beads teaching myself design, use of color/texture and developing confidence.  Late 90s early 2000s bead embroidery on ArtDolls, brooches and pendants was my main focus filling in at fine art shows with strung necklaces/bracelets, simple wire work and wire wrapping.  
After opening the Flemish House Art Gallery, August 2006, in a historic building downtown, metal stamping, cold connections and fibula pins along with soft sculptures, pin cushions and doll forms were sold alongside featured artisans and artists.   

2005 during an interview for a local paper before opening the gallery in 2006.  I worked out of our kitchen.

What my booth looked like back in 2005.  -photo by Bobbi Shaffer Ingram

Copper wire and semi-precious stones along with artisan beads on formed Goddess pendants 2006

Commissioned opera length wrap necklace w/encased baked clay cabochons 

Bead embroidered ArtDolls 2004

Flemish House Art Gallery 2008

October 2008 doll forms, pincushions, beading supplies and kits 
at the Flemish House Art Gallery

Closing up the gallery in 2012 was a way to begin concentrating on my work. 
Branding my small business as Stephanie Distler Artisan Jewelry (SDAJ) was a good way to start.  Working full time out of an 11’x11’ garden studio, then moving into a larger space that allowed for heavier equipment in mid 2016 off of our home.  This was the same year SDAJ started wholesaling to The PA Wilds Conservation Shops and also started merchandising the PA Wilds brand on artisan products. 

Gallery 2011 with a friend and Mom at the display counter

End of 2021 was the beginning of when I saw a definite shift in how the creative process was intertwining with my practiced artisanal knowledge. My first love is working with metal but I need to bring in everything else too.  Stephanie Distler Studios made more sense as a brand with SDAJ falling under that umbrella giving me so much more freedom while designing. 

May 2016 starting to develop a line of PA Wilds branded artisan jewelry

Foldformed copper oxidized hammer textured feather focal on leather and silk

In 2022 the major shift then happened with re-branding, opening up more of my home studio, taking out the seating area, which then gave me double the space to work and have classes. Purchased tools to help with wholesale orders and recycling precious metal through the PA Council on the Arts and their Creative Entrepreneur Accelerator Program. 

For 2023 I plan on picking up another couple wholesale accounts with like minded small business entrepreneurs and to continue making #madebythesehands design.

Toshiko in the studio loving the sun

When is your favorite time of day to create?

The morning or early afternoon is when my energy level is up and I can focus on creating. If the sun is shining and the air is warm I open up both doors and let the cross breeze drift through my bright beautiful space.


What is the biggest challenge of being an artist?

Working from a home studio for me is very difficult because it is hard to keep a daily schedule and focus on the work. 

 

Can you give us a look into your daily life schedule?

Up around 7:00, check the weather/medication/social media/email, fight with the dog, water plants, throw on my studio apron, set-up a project or two on the bench, coffee, feed the dog/pill her, send husband off to work, add or take away from my list of to-dos which includes duties as president to a heritage focused 501c3, set up something for social media from the studio, breakfast, work on orders/projects for a few hours, dog pills, start supper, greet the husband, more in the studio, snuggle in on the couch, movie, dog pills, wait an hour to let the dog out one last time and get ready for bed. A few meetings during the week, errands, visits, etc. can be in this daily mix also.

Wholesale order for Straub Brewery Gift Shop and Taproom 

What are you looking forward to currently? Perhaps you are looking forward to an online or in person class, a show, completing a piece, a new teaching opportunity, travel, vacation or remodel?

Currently I am looking forward to making clay birds, leaves and mushroom beads for nature based designs, spring wholesale orders, warmer weather, spending time with family/friends, planting the garden, setting up our porch to spend time on, swinging in the hammock, hiking, grilling, camping and so much more.

Creating this post!

How do you promote your business?  i.e. newsletters, business cards, shows, video, classes, memberships, online groups, etc.

Business cards are a big part of how I reach people along with an occasional newsletter (the goal is to publish more often), art shows/pop-ups or online groups.
I feel that reels, stories, and videos, on social media platforms, are a way for potential customers to walk through my virtual front door and experience Stephanie Distler Studios since there is no brick and mortar location.  Creatives can swing open that great big beautiful front door in so many ways through welcoming online visuals. #whatisinyourtoolbox  

Hand stamped custom copper Mandalas

Favorite social media or new experiments in social media?

Lately I have been experimenting with reels and stories on Instagram.  I want to really dive into Pinterest on all fours.  I don’t feel like it is a platform that my mind is wrapped around as of yet. Making newsletters a bi-weekly endeavor would make me very happy too.

 

Do you set boundaries for yourself as an artist/artisan during the day or week?

I keep trying to set boundaries and work certain hours consistently or on certain days but it is difficult to follow through.  Working from home is always interesting.

 

IG story from last week's Friday Flatlay

What do you have coming up i.e. shows, publications, travel, rebranding?

Two daughters graduating college, birthdays, wholesale orders, JCT build out of Heritage Education Center, etc. 

 

What wouldn’t you do without?

I could not survive without my family, friends, my studio or urge to create.

Pop-up 2022 at the Johnsonburg Farmers' & Artisans' Market

What other family members have an art related business?

Our oldest daughter Larissa has Ellipsis Arts Crafts and my father and his wife under Little Mill Creek- Stump's Remnants and Oma's Quilting

 

Do your other interests influence your art?

The other interests that influence my art are tending to my crazy collection of houseplants, love of the natural world, interest in history/heritage, learning new skills everyday, journaling and drawing what I see.  

My father in his woodworking studio

Tell me about your techniques for overcoming creative blocks

Doodling, lettering, organizing a creative space, making specific kits for upcoming projects, experiments with studio equipment, truly listening to folks that cross my path and hearing about what my daughters/granddaughters are interested in at the moment usually jump start that creative flow. 

Ficus elastica 'Variegata' in our living room

Inktober 2022, prompt 'trip'

--I hope you take away something helpful from my journey.  I have been interviewing creatives and thought that it would be fun to interview myself, lol. February 2005 is when the From the Workbench blog was started and also my birthday month.  Over the years I have celebrated with posting each day the month of February!  

enjoy, take care-

Stephanie

About the Author, Stephanie Distler

Stephanie Distler is a self taught jewelry artist. Using nature for inspiration, she designs and creates artisan jewelry together with hand tools using precious metals in wire or sheet form.

This piece was originally posted on Stephanie Distler's blog.

Shop Stephanie Distler Studios on the PA Wilds Marketplace!