Ashley Steller’s transition from bartender at Tommy Bahama to renowned epoxy artist happened within one night. She was inspired by beautiful images of epoxy art by @themermaidtrash, which her husband Tim had shared with her. For her first project, Ashley tried her hand at creating epoxy resin waves on a lazy susan. When it sold within 20 minutes of posting it online, she left her bartending job that night to focus on epoxy art and see where it went.
Above: Ashley Steller (inset) with epoxy serving trays | Article by Leah Kossak, TotalBoat Social Media Coordinator
When her fellow artist/husband introduced her to the epoxy art world, Ashley was no stranger to mixing chemicals. Before discovering epoxy, she was actually on the path to becoming a nurse. Two classes shy of starting her nursing rounds in 2018, family life became the main priority as she had one baby and another on the way. She switched from nursing school to bartending, which was the most flexible solution at the time. Looking back, she says it was a “blessing in disguise.” Not only was she able to spend more time with her kids, but her first year of nursing would’ve been in 2020, during the COVID pandemic.
The inspiration for her epoxy art comes from growing up and living on many of the coastlines of the US. From being raised on a peninsula outside of Seattle, to graduating high school in Cape Cod, to settling in Florida for nursing school, coastal towns have always been the backdrop of her life. Her current hometown of Sarasota, Florida, offers plenty of opportunities to create art for ocean lovers. After leaving her bartending job, she incorporated shark teeth into her resin waves during the infamous Shark Week. Selling them all out within the week made her believe she could do epoxy art full time.
Following the example of her epoxy idol, Lauren MacLeod of @themermaidtrash, Steller turned to TotalBoat Table Top Epoxy. “The thick texture really allows the waves to form well. I can’t get that type of lacing or longevity with any of the other brands I’ve tried.”
After going full-time, Ashley and Tim started working booths at their local art shows and farmers markets, selling smaller pieces like her charcuterie boards, tabletops, and coasters, along with Tim’s work.
The local shows and markets continue to be the best way for them to talk to customers and get commissions for large-scale projects. Ashley really enjoys working on big countertops, “I love that I’m going to be a part of their house for a long time, it makes me feel good that they trust me to do such a centerpiece in their homes.”
Her first countertop was for the daughter of a friend who admired Ashley’s technique with the resin waves and wanted them in her seaside home. At the client’s request, Steller used a different brand of epoxy, but didn’t like how the waves turned out. She decided to stick with TotalBoat for all future projects. On a larger scale, she’s received commissions to redo bar tops across the Florida coast, including those found inside Margaritaville bars.
What’s Ashley’s trick for maintaining an epoxy countertop? “Treat epoxy countertops like fine artwork! Nothing too harsh and no heat. Coasters and placemats are essential to protecting this showstopper in your home, and I make sure all my clients know that.”
While Ashley has her epoxy specialty, Tim works with reclaimed wood and uses a jigsaw to hand-cut every piece he makes. The duo often find themselves working together, Ashley adding her art with epoxy inlays into Tim’s carvings. Tim is well known for his back-lit wood plank carvings of beach and nature scenes, with Ashley’s resin inlays making them pop against the lights!
Recently, their favorite projects have been dog bowls stands, and Ashley says, “Tim believes we can retire on just these!” The stands sell well in their dog-loving community, as Sarasota has a higher population of domesticated dogs than people. It’s also a project they have the most fun collaborating on, with Tim using the jigsaw for the bowl holes and attaching hairpin legs, and Ashley making her beautiful epoxy resin waves on top. “Thankfully, dog spill and slobber is nothing to worry about with TotalBoat Epoxy! If it can handle being on boats, it’s more than capable of holding up to dogs.”
For now, Ashley says, “I want to continue working with clients on bigger projects, I just enjoy the process of individualizing each countertop to their home.” Ashley works hard to maintain the clients’ vision, while enhancing the already existing style of the house, not clashing with it.
In addition to the many countertop commissions she has in the pipeline, Ashley dreams of one day opening up a little store and workshop in their backyard to make their art more accessible.
To see more of the unique pieces Ashley and Tim create, check out their Instagram pages, @stellerimpressions and @tim_steller. You can also see what’s for sale and contact them on their website, stellerartworks.com!