My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1571: Catching Up

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 06-12-2015 11:59 AM 1484 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1570: Playing "Hookie" Part 1571 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1572: Some Very Cool Effects! »

I suppose that I will never be accused of 'rushing through' things.

Even when I seem to get something done quickly, many times I wind up going back and making changes in order to improve on it. I think this can be a good thing, but sometimes I wonder if it is counter productive or not.

It is something that I can't really help. Often times, I will make something that is really good, and then either while I am writing the  pattern for it or making additional pieces, I realize that there were somehow better and easier ways to do things. Once that thought is in my head, I can't in good consciousness NOT change things and do them the 'better way.'  

Sometimes it is as simple as changing something on the instructions. Other times it involves re-building the project, as it is something that can be seen and new photographs are necessary to properly display the item. After all, people need to see what they are actually making or buying – that is part of the process. 

This happened with my cute sheep bowl that I made over the weekend. Initially, I used a spiral, angled cut to make the center of the bowl drop down and lock into place. I actually cut THREE of these bowls before figuring out the proper angle. The first one was a total bust, with the central spiral pushing right through to the bottom. The angle wasn't sharp enough with the blade I used and the thickness of the wood to catch and hold the sides together. It went into the garbage. 

For the second attempt, I added more of an angle. This time I added TOO MUCH and the drop on the bowl was so slight, it still almost sat flat. While I may keep that piece for myself, as it is about 3/4" deep and can hold smaller things, it certainly wasn't my vision of what the project could be. 

Back to the saw . . . 

On the third try, I was much happier. The bowl dropped down to a decent depth and I had the angle figured well. However, this time when I oiled the bowl to finish it, the angled sides were so smooth, it would sometimes collapse and it was difficult for me to keep it in position. That problem was solved when I added a couple of coats of spray shellac for finishing. The shellac gave the pieces a bit of 'tooth' and just enough grab to hold them into place. I was happy and posted the projects to my Etsy store to sell. I liked making the pieces and was happy with the great reception they received. 

I immediately had orders for a couple of sets of sheep cards – including the bowls. But as I was making them, I still was a little concerned that the bowls would stay in place and not collapse after time. While it would be easy enough for the customers to pop them back into place, I worried that over time the wood would wear out or perhaps they would get broken. I decided on a "plan B" where instead of a continuous spiral ring that would lock into place, I would change the design to be five interlocking angled rings that would be glued together permanently. It would not only be more stable, but I fell would look better as well. 

So back to the saw again. . . 

But this time I was happy with the outcome. 

The bowl on the left is the NEW version and the bowl on the right is the spiral. Not only does it look nicer, but it is more stable and gives more height and functionality to the piece as well. What added an extra day to the design process made what I feel is a vast improvement in the overall pattern/product. NOW I felt really GOOD about it. 

Then I realized that I needed to photograph the bowl with the new design. I felt the difference was large enough to be noticed, and I also thought the finished product looked much better. 

I took out my photo tent and not only did I re-take the photos on a white background, but I also decided to try it on black. I like the black much better, as I feel it really brings out the beautiful colors and makes a much more dynamic presentation. I hope you agree:

Yes – this took time. The entire process took another day at least. But the difference is that now I feel really good about both the pattern and the finished products going out the door. It is part of my makeup and it is what people have come to expect from me. 

Yesterday Keith and I were looking at another scroll saw pattern site, and there was a design that posted that just made me shake my head. The design itself had many questionable areas (it was a 'portrait style' scroll saw design – one where you make a picture from a photo). From the photo alone, we could see how frustrating it would be to cut. There were so many areas of it that were just hanging on by a thread. I could only imagine the frustration for a sawyer who would attempt something like that. 

On top of that, there was a disclaimer in the description that because it was an intermediate pattern, there were no written instructions included. I thought how (for lack of a better term) lazy the designer was not to even include basic instructions. To top it off, the pattern was about $8.00 USD.  I just shake my head. 

Oh, well – to each his own . . . 

I may be slow, and I may be a bit too detailed in my instructions, but my goal has always been to explain things – no matter how simple or basic – so that ALL levels of craftspeople can understand, learn and accomplish. It some feel that I am being redundant – so be it. I would rather err on the side of offering too much information (that one can just skip if they feel the need to do so) than coming up short. But that is just me. 

So for today, I am back on track. I am (once again) going to attempt to create the pattern packets for both these and the cool rusty cogs and gears that I showed  you all earlier this week. While I may not be the fastest designer in the industry, I hope that you consider me one of the best. Remember – good things are worth waiting for. I hope in the long run that this will set me apart from the others. ;)

I am going to try to get that video done over the weekend as well. I think you will all be amazed as I was at the simplicity of making those gears look rusty. As I said before, both woodworkers and painters will appreciate this great process. I can see you using in on loads of projects. 

I wish you all a wonderful weekend. Father's day is coming, and I hope you decide to MAKE something for your dad for the day. I am sure it will be greatly appreciated. How about Kieth's 'Dad' plaque? 

I bet that would be something he will love. 

Happy Friday to you all! If I don't write – have a great weekend! :) 

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

5 comments so far

View Celticscroller's profile


1286 posts in 2876 days

#1 posted 06-12-2015 05:08 PM

Your spiral basket looked great however, looking at both side by side, I agree the newer ones looks better. This is why you are a great designer and teacher! You aim for the best and show your customers how to get there.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3839 days

#2 posted 06-13-2015 03:42 PM

Looking really good, Sheila. Some times simpler is better.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3723 days

#3 posted 06-13-2015 03:54 PM

Thank you, both! I am sorry I didn’t answer right away but yesterday was so busy and today Keith was installing a new drive in my computer. I am transferring files now but hopefully will be done soon and get back to ‘normal’.

I really like the revisions better too. Sometimes I feel like I am going so slow. But when I see the end result, I know it is for a good reason.

I wish you both a great weekend. I will catch up with you both soon. :)


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

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3607 days

#4 posted 06-20-2015 03:13 PM

These are cute. My sis is a stitcher, but, I think she’d need one of these to be the size of a table top….lol…. she has a billion threads

-- 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 3723 days

#5 posted 06-20-2015 03:52 PM

Me too, Roger but I am using mine for my “current” project threads. I never use more than about 20 threads on one project (usually a bit less than that) and it is a cool way to keep them out and have them handy. :)

Loved the wedding box you posted! It is awesome! :)


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

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