My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #52: Almost There

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 07-25-2010 01:50 PM 5557 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 51: Quality is Better Than Quantity Part 52 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 53: "You Know, It Don't Come Easy" »

I slept in a bit on account that it is Sunday. I actually woke up at my usually time and rolled over and had ‘one more sleep’. It felt good because it seems that it has been a really long time since I have done that. I think that sometimes the mind set of slowing down helps actually makes us more productive. I don’t quite understand it or know how it works, but it seems that way anyway.

It feels like a bit of autumn this morning. I know people aren’t quite ready for that, but it is cool and just a bit overcast and slightly damp outside. I know I will be extremely happy. My all time favorite months are from September through November. I love everything from the colors to the cooking to the smells in the air. Living near the woods is also wonderful. I have a road about 500 feet from my front window and across the road is the river. The banks are lined with hardwood trees and in the autumn it is a riot of color. I will have to share some pictures when the time is right. It truly is beautiful.

I was able to cut and finish my Candy Cane Tray yesterday. It was a lot more cutting than I anticipated, as the design doesn’t look as intricate as some of the prior ones. It is on the line of the Strawberry Tray though, with some wispy little lines which define the stripes in the candy canes. I think there are eight in each cane and five in each candy and it really adds up. When I drilled, I counted approximately 170 holes, not counting the border. I guess that is why it is important for me to have a saw where I can release the blade quickly. It still only took under three hours to cut though, and that was just at a relaxed pace. I never cut for speed, just so you know. I think that accuracy is far more important for obvious reasons.

I think the most difficult part of designing this piece was deciding to do a random design or a structured one. I tried so many variations of placing the candy canes in a circle or symmetrical or other organized ways and I just wasn’t happy with any of them. I am not a good “random” person and when I do random it usually turns out somewhat like wallpaper or what I call “organized random” where a random pattern repeats. I guess that is just the silliness in my organized head. I didn’t even count the candy canes and just kind of shoved them in the frame I made so they looked kind of scattered and fit. I then added the round candy pieces to break up the design and bring some more interest into it and fill the obvious gaps.

I liked the way things turned out in the end. Although it is a bit more ‘cutesy’ than the others in the series, I think it is still nice and will be something that appeals to some. I used Oak for this one not only because this design was a bit more hearty than many of the previous ones, and the Oak would hold up nicely, but I did want more of a pronounced grain because the design itself was kind of basic. If I would have used a wood with less grain such as birch or maple I don’t think it would have looked as nice.

I did decide to color in the candy canes, although I was surprised at how much I liked them natural. I used the same method as I did on the previous candle trays, with the staining medium and acrylic paints. Although it wasn’t the best of the designs in my opinion, it was acceptable and nice and I liked it in the end. I did look a lot better when done than it did on paper, so that was a pleasant surprise.

Someone asked me about doing series lately. I find I like them and when selling patterns, it is the way to go. One of my earliest claims to fame if you will were a series of animals which were framed in various leaf shapes. They were called the ‘Forest Leaf Series’ and I had not only single leaves, but I also made triple leaves with three coordinating designs in each packet highlighting a single animal in three poses (i.e. three eagles, three wolves, etc.) I began doing these several years ago and started out with 16 individual patterns. The demand from them was so great that I then went to 25 and then 40 and finally after 60 or so (plus 16 of the triple ones) I had my fill of drawing them and called it quits. It occupied well over a year of my designing, and although it made me a great deal of money, finally the artistic side of me that wanted to move on to other things won out and I stopped.

Some people looked at it from only the business side and thought I may have been foolish to quit drawing them when they were still making money (they still sell to this day, almost ten years later!) but the creative well was really running dry and I didn’t want to do any more when it was such an effort to come up with new ones. Recently, my new work partner has somewhat rekindled the series highlighting endangered animals. I don’t mind at all because it is a new set of eyes and a new perspective and he has done a beautiful job with them. They are just kind of getting out there though, and I don’t know if people will want more, but it was good to test the waters anyway and gave my partner a sense of what the market may want.

The candle trays seem to be going over well for those who have seen them. I have been holding off though until next week or so when I can present them on my site. Besides everyone here, there are few others who I have even shown them to and I certainly haven’t marketed them. After presenting that original dresser tray I did a few months ago on my facebook and having the magazine snatch it up, I felt badly because one customer in particular really wanted to do it. Having to tell him that he would need to wait six months or more until the magazine came out felt pretty crummy, as I know he was disappointed. I made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t present stuff until it was on the site and ready to sell. That will probably do better for sales anyway. People don’t want to wait and the ones who want it NOW will sometimes forget if they can’t get it immediately. I guess I am learning every day.

I can see 20 or more candle trays such as these come very easily. There are just too many nice variations that I want to do. Designing in series this way is not only quite relaxing, but it can produce some really nice designs because the basic steps are pretty much the same and you really only have to think of the variations. The framework is there already. The other good thing is that since they are basically similar, I am able to charge less for the patterns and offer them in sets, which gives added value my customers. We all know that custom work costs more. Having to think of a brand new project from start to finish requires far more time than something like this. So I will be able to pass that on to my customers. Win/Win as my editor Robert always says.

So here is a picture of the final Candy Cane Candle Tray:

From Candy Cane Candle Tray

It is another great learning piece. But this time it is a great way to practice cutting those little slits. Many people have some trouble when they cut them in that they tend to push too hard and the blade goes beyond the point, leaving a trailing little line. The trick here is to back off pressure about 1/4” BEFORE you reach the end of the point and let the blade kind of relax on its own to a perpendicular position. This is true with all corners and once you train yourself to do this, it makes cutting any point much easier and far less frustrating.

Here is a close up of the cutting:

From Candy Cane Candle Tray

Of course it would be best to cut the inside slits before the outer perimeter of the candy canes, but it isn’t absolutely necessary because of the strength of the design.

So for today, I am drawing and perhaps cutting the final design for the catalog – a holly candle tray. This one is mapped very clearly in my mind and I know it will contain lots of fretwork and look very classic and elegant. I think it may be one of the better ones yet. I just hope it comes out that way! It is funny how I am having such a good feeling about it already and I haven’t even drawn a stroke yet. Somehow I feel it will be one of my best sellers. I hope I am not cursing myself by saying that. :)

It’s raining now and it looks like it will be a slow and relaxing day. I don’t plan to go anywhere and it will be fun for me to just sit and ‘play’ with this all day long. The atmosphere here is truly right for creating and hopefully I will have a great, productive day.

I hope you all do too.

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

11 comments so far

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3625 days

#1 posted 07-25-2010 03:26 PM

I love the candy cane one! It is very “cutsey” but I think that really works to its advantage. Also, I think that if somebody was too nervous about doing the outside edge designs, it could stand on its own without them.

Resting builds strength. It is a common theme in exercising. During race training, they warn you to not run every single day – you MUST take off a day at least once a week (preferably 2). Slowing down and letting yourself just be, builds strength and lets you tackle more when you go back out. I imagine creativity and productivity are the same way. :)

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 4514 days

#2 posted 07-25-2010 03:42 PM

I have been following your work with interest; my wife loves working on the scroll saw, while I use it only on occasion. Sometimes I see ”...stuff that is not there…” For example, the following, taken from the bottom edge of the tray, a phantasm appeared, and just had to share with you – its tilted head and wonderful smile greeted me thus:

I can just feel it laughing, eyes shut, eye brows tilted, and huge smile that sounds like a great belly laugh… :)


-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3559 days

#3 posted 07-25-2010 03:53 PM

@ Lis – Thanks so much! I like doing ‘cutsie’ stuff too! Although I sometimes have more of a struggle of it than the realism. Again, it is good to spread my wings and get out of my comfort zone. I have to stop worrying so much about every detail – especially in designs like this. There is a time and place for everything! :)

@ Al – I do see it! It is kind of like my seeing “The Scream” in my snowflake one. I am glad you are thinking happier subliminal thoughts than I did! LOL Thanks for bringing it to my attention and thanks for your encouragement. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 3934 days

#4 posted 07-25-2010 03:55 PM

I also watch and read your blogs, I love your writing, and projects.
I was a bit jealous when you said, ”It feels like a bit of autumn this morning.
I woke up to a blast oven, the humidity has warped almost all the wood here in my shop.
Even the house is looking a bit warped! LOL

Keep up the great work,


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3559 days

#5 posted 07-25-2010 05:10 PM

I also wanted to add in that I want to thank Grizzman for the advice on the router bits. I have a set of Freud bits that I have used for years, but recently there has been a bit of burning when I used my small round over bit. The bearing was good and the bit looked OK, but this time I tried my partner’s bit from a set he had. The difference was amazing. It went so smooth and not a burn mark at all. I guess my bit either needs replacing or sharpening. It is a shame that it is so difficult to find someone to sharpen them. I am probably better off just getting another one. What a waste! :( I guess they don’t stay sharp forever though.


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3763 days

#6 posted 07-25-2010 07:40 PM

Autumn? Now that we live in Alberta, I hate to admit that I also recognize that feel already – a certain smell in the air – and just as it got nice.
What seasons do you have? Christmas and Halloween – I’ll bet you could do some wonderful flowers for spring. Don’t worry about summer – it never lasts long enough to make one, LOL!!!


View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3657 days

#7 posted 07-25-2010 07:40 PM

Sorry to say but cutting tools do not last forever but carbide tipped ones last much longer than just tool steel ones. Although they cost a lot more they are well worth the price over the long run. If you need a tool for just one project, tool steel is fine, but if you are going to use it for a long time over and over, carbide is best. You may know all this but many people reading might not so I thought I’d put my 2 cents in.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3559 days

#8 posted 07-25-2010 07:59 PM

Yes, Jordan – it is a weird kind of feeling. It wound up pouring rain for a while this morning, which wasn’t really a bad thing, and about an hour ago the sun came out and it really started to get hot. Now there are more cloud rolling in again and it is cool again. It can’t make up its mind.

I was in Alberta a couple of years ago and what I saw of it was very pretty. I was in the Edmonton area and never did get to go up into the mountains. Some day I will go back and see them though. I have a customer who lives in BC and has a guest house and has offered it up if I were to come visit her. It would be great to drive all the way across the country and see everything. I could do a loop and drive out west on the Canada side of the border and come back on the US side and see my kids and friends and all the sites there. What a great trip that would be! Now you have me dreaming . . . . . :)

I have heard Erwin that Carbide was the way to go with bits. This one has served me well and perhaps it has just lived out its life. In reading the boards on bits, the general consensus seems that as long as they are carbide, they don’t have to be a brand name and they will probably perform well. I will certainly get carbide when I get to the city and purchase one :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3754 days

#9 posted 07-25-2010 10:28 PM

sesons realy goes quick over there
last week it was autumn and now it´s Chrismas
Amasing are you sure you are on the same planet as the rest of us

I realy wonder if I shuold build that footdriven scrollsaw :-)
those candystick realy make my mouth drolling


View Handi75's profile


377 posts in 4113 days

#10 posted 10-30-2010 11:00 PM


Ok, here we go, I don’t know if I like the Design. I don’t mean it in a bad way. Maybe I was thinking and visualizing it a little different then you were. I like the thought of it and I’m sure others will like it.

This was maybe my Visual of what it would look like. 2 Candy Canes Crossed like Cross Bones around the whole inside of it. And after seeing the Smaller Mints. Maybe a Series of Crossed Canes with Mini Mints inbetween to kinda appear like Candy X’s and O’s if you will.

Sorry bout the Critique, I like all of your projects, I think like I said I was maybe expecting something a little different.


-- Jimmy "Handi" Warner,,, Twitter: @Handisworkshop, @HandisCreations

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3559 days

#11 posted 10-31-2010 12:23 AM

Don’t worry about it Handi – I don’t mind hearing your likes and dislikes. That is what makes the world go around! If we all liked exactly the same thing it wouldn’t be any fun, would it?

I like your crossed candy cane idea. I think it is cool. Perhaps by next year I will have another take on it and do something like that and a bit more delicate. I do appreciate your thoughts and suggestions and I try to take them into consideration when doing my next thimgs.


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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