Stiegler Metal Design
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Artist Statement

In 1973, I prayed for something that I could do that shows that God exists and helps in our lives. I plugged into iron and never looked back; it is what I am intended to do. I feel privileged to have been in on the ground floor of the rebirth and renaissance of the art of smithing in America.

My business has always had a specific structure: God is in charge of finding the clients and I am in charge of doing the work. God supplies the gift of forging and I tell those who ask that it is a gift and where I got it. Doors opened, things happened, and 35 years later I’m still doing it the same way as when I first started. I’m just more experienced now and the expectations are higher, but the work is ever-challenging. The most challenging part of this type of business arrangement is to get out of the way and let the work sell itself.

Over the past 35 years I have taught several hundred workshops and lectures. I forge steel or bronze.  Lately it has been bronze 655. In the last five years, we have run nearly 50,000 lbs. of bronze 655 through Stiegler Metal Design. We have one 5 gallon bucket of scrap left over after turning that tonnage into railings, doors, gates, lighting, sink bases, and hammered bar tops. We specialize in rivets, mortice, and tenon. It looks old and it feels old. I do high end forgings for those with discretionary income. Most of my work is in Pebble Beach and Palo Alto, CA.

It all started when my husband (now deceased) took a course in horse shoeing at the farrier school in our area of Washington State. I had arranged to take the next course. As I was getting ready to start, the instructor left and a new hot-shot took over. The new instructor (Barry Rice) saw the potential that I had for ironwork over horse shoeing. He pointed me in the direction of Frank Turley. In turn, Frank Turley pointed me to ABANA (less than two years old at the time!), Francis Whittaker, and Tom Bredlow. Many years have gone by, each with its own set of challenges and learning experiences.

From Turley's, I was asked to teach blacksmithing (imagine that!!!) at the college where I learned to shoe horses. I learned along with my students and this is probably why I love teaching today. I taught there for 20 years in the Continuing Education Department. I received an Honorary Teaching Certificate from that institution to teach Adult Education Classes. I have been invited to teach workshops and demonstrations all over the U.S. and abroad. They invite me to spend time in their shops and share their secrets with me while I share mine with them. I have learned along with all of them. We have gone to school together; one step at a time, one technique at a time.

I have been fortunate to watch and learn from many great smiths: Turley, Whitaker, Paley, Gunter, Ross, and more. The Bealer Award was a highlight of my life and having my daughter there to present it was priceless. The Laureate Award from the 1998 ABANA Conference is precious to me. Two Gold Trouser Button awards from AACHEN Teaching and Design, presented by the late Manfred Bredohl, are among my favorites.

Who could orchestrate such a career? Certainly not I. If I had known where I wanted to go and what I wanted to achieve, I would likely have screwed it up from the start. I have let God be the business manager because He knows everyone and I have tried to let it work out by itself. I had no idea all of "this" was out there. I have had a wonderful, interesting life because of it. I just give credit where it is due and give everything into the industry that I am asked. That's one of the reasons I love ABANA so much; it's my chance to give back on a daily basis.

The success that I find in this career is counted in the integrity that I place into every project that I do and into every aspect of my life. Touching the life of another along the way is the real measure of success to me. With smithing, I have been able to live a life of integrity, touch the lives of others, and show that God loves every one of us and helps us all. I love my life, but it has certainly been hard and filled with difficult hurdles along the way.  However, I have the assurance, based upon the philosophy that started everything, it will all work out in the end.  I need ask for nothing more. I step up to the anvil and hammer iron and bronze. If I am at all fortunate, I will die with my hammer in hand.
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