My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #382: Meet Fiona - The Halloween Witch (Pretty Scary!)

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 06-26-2011 12:47 PM 5178 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 381: Taking My Time and Enjoying the Creation Process Part 382 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 383: Decisions, Decisions »

I had such a good time yesterday finishing up my latest project. Each step and addition I made to it made it look a little better. Building stuff like this is so much fun and I really get a lot of satisfaction out of making these little replicas. The hardest thing for me to do was to be patient and let the glue dry for each step. I knew if I didn’t wait, I would have a mess on my hands. I forced myself to walk away after each piece or set of pieces was glued and try to get busy on other things. By the time everything was finished (just after dinner) I not only had the project done, but also the house was fairly picked up and I had done some housework too. All in all it made for a good day.

I decided to call the kittly “Fiona”. I don’t know why, but that name just came to me as a cool one. When I made mohair teddy bears, I had a baby name book at hand to help me with naming each bear I created. I tried to stay away of naming my toys with familiar names of people I know, as I didn’t want to show favorites. Besides – what if they were insulted or didn’t like the item?

So Fiona it is. I thought she came out pretty cool!

From SLD357 Fiona Cat Pull Toy Replica

Fiona herself is made from naturally colored roasted birch. Again, I am thrilled with the blackness of this wood. It cuts beautifully and is very stable. In shaping her, I did use a laminate trimmer and an 1/8” round over router bit to get me on my way. With all the black dust that this wood kicked up, I wasn’t looking forward to sitting there with a Dremel and rounding over all her body parts. The only parts that needed extra attention with the Dremel were her ears and the back of her neck. I purposely kept her curves gentle so that the router bit would be able to work well with her. Her whiskers are made from 22 gauge wire, but from the picture I can see the copper ends are showing. I will take a sharpie and get rid of that as soon as I am done here.

Her hat is of ash, and besides the stems of the pumpkins, it is the only wood on this piece that has been stained. I did have a piece of purple heart and was going to use that, but it was quite dark and I felt that there would not be enough contrast to look good. I used the Decoart Staining and Antiquing gel and Dioxazine Purple paint to achieve the beautiful purple wash and the ash proved to be a perfect vehicle to obtain the look I wanted to achieve. On her hat, I glued tiny star shaped yellow cat’s-eye glass beads. On the end of the hat, I hung a cool crystal star which I found in the embroidery section of the craft store. It looks really beautiful in person.

From SLD357 Fiona Cat Pull Toy Replica

The pumpkins are made from padauk. I shaped the pieces with the Dremel, which was really fun. I didn’t quite know how to do the stems, so I just used small dowel rods and drilled holes into them. I cut the rods on an angle on the scroll saw and used Forest Green paint and Decoart Staining and Antiquing Medium to stain them green. I then had some small gauge green craft wire (I don’t know the gauge) and drilled tiny holes into the pumpkins so I could stick the wire into them for tendrils. I used the small dowel to curl the wire around and make look funky. I really liked doing these pumpkins, but I am not thrilled with the stems. They look too clean and nice. Perhaps I should have just went outside and found a small twig to stick in each and it would have looked more natural. (Hindsight is 20/20!) Too late for mine, but I will suggest it for the pattern.

From SLD357 Fiona Cat Pull Toy Replica

The actual pull for the cart is a roasted birch bat. I thought he would look cool with Swarovski crystal eyes. I used jute twine for the cord, as I liked the rustic look. I love mixing different colors and textures to make things look interesting. In the background of this picture, you can see the star shaped wheels of the cart I was talking about earlier. The original set of wheels had regular star shapes. I thought it looked too clean and a bit patriotic – a look that I was not going for. This, however, looks more mystical to me with the stars skewed and swirled. I also decided to place a small Swarovski crystal hub cap on each wheel to dress it up.

From SLD357 Fiona Cat Pull Toy Replica

And finally, the cart itself. The base of the cart is made from 1/2” ash. The decorative scroll sawn skirt of the cart, as well as the wheels are made from yellow heart or pau amarillo. These are all in natural colors. The scroll work was fast and not difficult, yet I thought it was extremely effective. The total time to cut this project out was quite short in comparison to my usual projects. Building took up most of the time.

I finally figured out a great way to make and attach the wheel assembly so that the wheels turn freely and it goes together very easily. There were some simple adjustments I made from the other animals that I have presented that streamline the process. The base is solid and holds the pieces nicely and it isn’t as fragile as previous versions of the animals. It is good to feel like I am getting a little better at something and progressing.

From SLD357 Fiona Cat Pull Toy Replica

Although on my piece, 90% of it is in natural wood tones, I am going to include staining colors for my customers so that the piece could also be made entirely of a light wood – say maple – and still have a similar look. I will even suggest that if they want to make the piece more rustic looking, they could use pine and stain the pieces first and just buff off the corners of them with sandpaper for that worn-edge rustic look that is so popular. That will make things go much more quickly and will make the piece quite easy to produce multiples of. It seems that the majority of the time was spent sanding and shaping.

One last thing on it – I finished all the pieces with mineral oil and then sprayed them with shellac. This is quickly becoming my favorite form of finishing scroll work and pieces like this. The natural color of the wood really comes to life and the shellac offers a nice satiny finish which is neither dull or too shiny. It gives the wood a warm glow that lets people know it is finished and keeps the dust out of the pores.

So there you have it. I am not sure whether to call this a “pull toy replica” or a “vignette” or just a “decoration”. It is one of those projects that I really loved creating though and I want to do many more similar ones. My head is spinning with all the different seasonal items that I will create. I hope that my customers like it too and will want to take the time to actually build one. It is quite different from the usual cutting of flat pieces on the scroll saw and then finishing and hanging them. I like the diversification that designs like this bring. It keeps things interesting and fun.

It may have taken a bit longer than I had originally anticipated, but I am very happy with the results. There aren’t many times I say that about my work, as I am always finding something to pick on with it. But this is one of those things that I just need to keep looking at for a while and enjoying. I hope you enjoy it too.

Now the question is . . . what to do next???

Have a great Sunday!

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

9 comments so far

View Roger's profile


21011 posts in 3316 days

#1 posted 06-26-2011 01:24 PM

I thought I saw a puddy-tat.. very nifty. I’d like to have a wagon like that, only full size :)

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3432 days

#2 posted 06-26-2011 01:27 PM

Thanks, Roger! But think how big the kitty would be!!!! ((YIKES!)) ;)


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

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 3280 days

#3 posted 06-26-2011 01:28 PM

That looks so cool. I really like the pumpkins and the hat. The bat for a handle is a cute idea. Could you attach the string from the bottom rather than the top? I realize it would be more difficult to drill the hole in the point. Although if the hole was drilled before the bat was cut out it wouldn’t be. It just seems to me that the bat would be upside down as it is. The change to the other end would make it a flying bat pulling the wagon.

Another great project!

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3432 days

#4 posted 06-26-2011 01:33 PM

Sure it can be done easily, Dan. You could even have the hole going all the way through the bat, like a bead (I accidentally did that on the first one I made! I looked at it like a ceiling fan pull, I guess, with the string coming from the top, but what you say makes sense too – after all, bats hang upside down, don’t they?? I suppose that both ways could be right, depending how “batty” your bat wants to be! I do drill the piece before I scroll it because it is square then and easy to line up on the press. So either way is possible.

I am glad you like it! :)


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

View huntter2022's profile


275 posts in 3128 days

#5 posted 06-26-2011 02:14 PM

Nice job ! Who would think anything but ?

On the pumpkins I also think a twig would look better or cutting some popular in like a hook design and roughly rounding it. Love the way you did the ears on the cat .
adding green cat eyes would look sharp also


-- David ; "BE SAFE BE HAPPY" Brockport , NY

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3432 days

#6 posted 06-26-2011 02:29 PM

I actually bought some green Swarovski crystals that are kind elongated that I could have embedded for the eyes, but something made me leave it “as is”. It is certainly a good option though. :)



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

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 3348 days

#7 posted 06-26-2011 03:23 PM

That is really cute…I mean frightening.

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3354 days

#8 posted 06-27-2011 03:28 AM

That is nice.
What to do next? I’m sure you’ll think of something
I know you have a busy schedule, but what about entering the bird house contest? You could design and build a birdhouse to enter and offer the plans for it to sell.


View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3432 days

#9 posted 06-27-2011 03:31 AM

Now that could be a really cool idea, William. I spent the day today thinking about what I am going to do next. Now you got me thinking right before I go to sleep! :)


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

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