My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1783: Seeing Things Differently

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-30-2016 12:26 PM 1932 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1782: Emotional Real Estate Part 1783 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1784: Settling In »

I really love designing. Whether it is scroll saw projects, painting projects or even needlework, I like taking ideas that I have in my head and making them into reality. Sometimes people wonder how I began doing design work, but that is a difficult thing for me to answer. If the term "designing" means changing things up and 'not following the rules or instructions' for a particular project, then I suppose I have been designing most of my life. It seems I always had the ability to look at something and see it in a different way. For the most part, I have used patterns as a springboard for making something else. I adjust things to my own liking and taste and many times, the finished item doesn't resemble the original piece very much. I suppose when it got to the point that I was doing my own thing far more than following the directions given, I grew into being a 'designer'. That is as close as I could be to pinpointing things. 

There is a difference however between altering a design by someone else and coming up with a design you can claim as your own. In the grey area of copyrights, one needs to be extremely careful these days. While the internet offers many sources of 'inspiration' for new projects, there is sometimes a very fine line between being 'inspired' and actually copying. I know people can look things up and argue points such as "if it is XX% different, it is allowed" or some other silly statement like that. After all, in artwork how can you accurately place a 'percentage' on an amount of change that is done to a design?  I think it is pretty much impossible.  

To me, if something still resembles another design very closely, than there is probably no way the new 'designer' can claim it as their own. There is no scientific calculation or reasoning when it comes to this concept, and you can imagine that the opinions of what the term "resembles" defines will be as broad and varied as the number of people chiming in. But one needs to have developed a conscience and a sense of 'right' and 'wrong' and know in their hearts whether the great and wonderful new idea they have come up with is their own, or just a copy of someone else's. I believe it is defined by ones' own moral compass. 

But one thing I have noticed – those designers that claim their own designs when they are clearly creating 'knock-offs' of others' original pieces seem to come and go fairly quickly. They tap their sources and ride the waves of the temporary success they find in making something that clearly (to some) is not original, and then when that wave passes, they slide back into the ocean of others who have done the same, never to be heard of again. 

Does that sound harsh?  In rereading it, I think it may be. But it is a subject that as I designer I am passionate about and I have seen many of my talented friends scarred by the type of people that I just described. I, myself have also fell victim to copycats, but have neither the means of time to fight the culprit(s). I have learned that my best defense is to move on and do something else. While in some peoples' eyes that may appear that I am giving in, I have seen over and over again that these people are not only recognized by others for what they are, but also run out of steam fairly quickly and move on to something else. Patience is very much my friend in these situations. I will be very honest when I say that I do find satisfaction when they do eventually fall. 

That doesn't mean that we just roll over and allow people to take our designs at will. We do everything possible to protect ourselves, from watermarking our photos to posting lower resolution pictures on our site. I find, too that my reach here through my blog also does much towards adding claim to our designs. People see the posts and know our work and word gets out quickly when someone is trying to violate our copyrights. It is a wonderful part of being in the artistic communities – both painting and woodworking – and helps keep things on the level.

We are often asked by our customers if they can alter or change our designs for their own personal use or to sell at fairs and sales. I realize that some designers frown upon this, but both Keith and I are thrilled to see what others do with our designs. Many times when we see the alterations done by others, it serves as a springboard for new designs or ideas that we develop. Most of the time, those doing the alterations are just changing things up so that our designs are better suited to their needs. I do this myself much of the time with both woodworking and painting patterns that I have bought.

As an example, the Lynne Andrews ornament set that I am painting were originally done by Lynne on porcelain surfaces. While they were beautiful, for my own needs they weren't practical. Each porcelain ornament cost about $6 plus the shipping to Canada. Since I am creating six sets, that would be 72 that I would have to purchase and ship. Not to mention that each one that I gave to those in the USA would have to be shipped back to the recipients. It would not only be costly, but also the chances of them breaking or getting damaged would be high. I doubt that even one of the five recipients would wind up with a full set – or myself for that matter, as I am sometimes a bit clumsy. I thought that doing them on wood would be a far better choice for my purposes. And it has worked out well. But every time I post photos of them, I try to remember to watermark them with LYNNE'S information, not mine. While I did alter the pattern to my own needs, I in no way wanted people to think that I was claiming the design as my own. It is the right thing to do and I believe, the right way to do things. I also did this with the Peggy Harris Cinderalla Mouse project. And Kim Christmas's cute "Meow, Meow, Boo" project that I did last week. (Are you seeing a pattern here?)  I want to be a credible and honorable designer in my own rite. While I enjoy doing other artist's designs, I don't for a minute want others to think that they are my work or that I am claiming them as my own. If mistakes are made and people complement me on MY design when it is someone else's, I quickly correct them and make it known who the designer is. It is called "integrity".

With all of that said, I wanted to share with you something that was sent to me yesterday. A woodworking customer (and friend) of ours named Edward Orr sent me some photos of some wonderful alterations that he did to one of my designs. He started with my SLD531 Set of 8 Gothic Cross Ornaments pattern:

He then took the crosses and put his own spin on them and I think they came out beautiful. He cut them out in different sizes as the pattern showed:

Then he cut out just the out frames for an entirely new look:

I thought the result was fabulous! It gave a new look to the pattern that I never even would have thought of. I can think of so many wonderful ways to use these pieces – from framing to overlays to even making smaller jewelry pieces. It started an entirely different thought process in my mind and I am thinking not only about this process for additional crosses down the line, but other shapes as well. 

Most important, it was really nice to see someone who used and enjoyed our patterns so much. To me, that is what designing something is all about. I love to help supply the means for other people's creativity and pleasure. It makes me feel like I am contributing something positive to this sometimes chaotic world. 

I hope you enjoyed seeing this as much as I did. I also hope that it gave you some ideas as to how we designers feel. I know I am not alone in encouraging others to have fun with my designs. I realize that some designer have strict regulations as to what you can do with their patterns, and you do need to contact each one individually and respect their guidelines, but I do also think that for the most part, as long as you don't claim your alterations as your own design and give credit where credit is due (to the original designer) most designers are thrilled that you are enjoying their work in that way and are happy to be an inspiration to you. I am, anyway. 

It is a bright and sunny day here in Nova Scotia. On this last day of September, I noticed quite a bit of frost this morning. I spent part of yesterday planting my many mum plants into the ground and I am happy that I did. I believe they may survive a bit longer there. I will hopefully take a photo over the weekend, as the house looks nice with the splashes of bright blooms surrounding it. 

I wish you all a nice weekend ahead. I am going to do some drawing, some more house projects and some additional craft projects. Maybe I will cook as well. It will be a 'typical' weekend for me and I like that. I hope you enjoy your weekend as well. 

Happy Friday to you all! 

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

10 comments so far

View Celticscroller's profile


1286 posts in 2683 days

#1 posted 09-30-2016 07:59 PM

Hi Sheila, I totally agree with you when it comes to using another person’s designs. The original designer should be given credit for the work even when adding your own spin to the design. I admire your and Keith’s generosity in allowing your customers to change your designs for their own needs – a lot of designers don’t allow this which is their right. Designers, writer, artists of any genre and anyone who sells their designs to the public have to be so aware of copyright and protecting their work.
Have a great weekend. Beautiful and sunny here today too :)

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Druid's profile


2165 posts in 3405 days

#2 posted 10-01-2016 01:51 AM

Well stated Sheila, and I agree with your stand on “integrity”. A while ago, I came across a pattern of a dragon that was being sold for £40 per copy by a tattoo “artist” in England. His “design” was an exact copy from the front cover of a Great Book of Dragon Patterns published by a very well known carver. I guess that he thought that the far side of the Atlantic was a safe enough distance so that he would not be noticed.
I much prefer your honest, sharing approach.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3530 days

#3 posted 10-01-2016 12:21 PM

Good morning to you both. Yes, Anna – many designers don’t want any changes on their designs. But I don’t understand that way of thinking. I think that designing patterns is kind of like “teaching”. We are showing others how to do things that they may or may not know how to do. I really feel a great deal of happiness when someone learns from my designs. I especially like seeing how they put their own take on it. We are all individuals and to me, art means adding part of OURSELVES into our pieces. We aren’t all ‘cookie cutters’ of each other, so why should our art be?

And John – sometimes I feel that “integrity” is a lost art. I have spoken before that I get discouraged with woodworking designing especially because there are so many that are just copying the line work from my patterns (Some off of screen shots of other customers who post pictures of their finished projects) and make their own patterns from that. They brag about it as well. They are proud of what they do which is in essence – stealing. Then, to make it worse, they call themselves “designers” or boast, “Look what I designed!” It is insulting to me, the original designer, but there is little I can do about it besides calling them out. People do need to look within themselves and figure out if it is ‘wrong’ or ‘right’. If they don’t know by now, I can’t teach that to them. That is part of why I have migrated to painting patterns more and more these days. At least there is more involved with painting something than linework and most aren’t able to copy it without written instructions. Of course, there are exceptions, but as with the woodworking, I can’t police everyone. People are going to do what they do.

There was even one ‘gentleman’ that made a video showing how to do “Keith Fenton style” word-in-word plaques. We had considered him a ‘friend’ before and while anyone is certainly welcome to share their knowledge, it was as if they clearly wanted to derail Keith’s success with his style of word plaques. They copied it down to the curved corners that he typically used for accents. They didn’t even have the imagination or creativity to change that up on their own. It was disheartening and upsetting and it showed the person’s true colors. But that is life, I suppose.

Your Dragon guy seems the same way. It makes you wonder about their thought process when being so blatant. But as I said, they soon are seen for the frauds they are and they quickly run out of ideas. I do believe in “karma” and that eventually they will feel the repercussions of their actions. It keeps me being positive. ;)

Thank you both for stating your thoughts. I appreciate both of your friendships and support over these years. It means a great deal to me to know I do make a difference in some people’s lives. :)

Happy Weekend to you!

-- 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 3414 days

#4 posted 10-01-2016 02:52 PM

Glad to see you’re all settled in and movin on to speak. Keep on pumpin out yours and Keiths scrolling works. You both are outstanding artisans.

-- 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 3530 days

#5 posted 10-01-2016 02:55 PM

Thanks, Roger! Here is a picture of what I got done the other day. I planted some nice mums to brighten things up. We sure do love out beautiful little place here. It has been a tremendous amount of work but well worth it.

Hope you are getting some cooler weather in KY. :) Happy October!

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

View Scherzo53's profile


2 posts in 1664 days

#6 posted 10-02-2016 02:01 AM

I too have been thankful that you encourage us to expand on your designs. I have enjoyed making the candle trays as gifts and have use over a dozen of your patterns. This year I’ve made several based on the “Pocket Full of Posies.” However, I like the design from the “Float Like a Butterfly” design since it is more like a vine with leaves. So I’ve starting using that pattern along with the posies and use a couple of the butterflies as charms. The other variation is that I use scraps of various woods to make the posies so I get variations of natural colors. A friend gave me some branches from a bush called Leatherleaf Mahonia which has wood that is bright yellow. The pieces aren’t very thick in diameter so it has limited use, but was perfect for making posies and one piece was big enough to do a butterfly. I’ve included pictures of a few of my recent trays. When I made the recent Sunflower tray I decided to use inlay technique with walnut and mulberry to get the natural colors for the flowers. Not really a change in design but rather using your patterns to the fullest.

Earlier this year I made an attempt on doing my own word art. I wanted to do the entire verse from Isaiah 40:31. Since the verse mentions eagle I wanted to use one of the eagles from the “LL1001 Eagles Pattern Packet” at the bottom as an overlay. The project didn’t work out. I used too small a font size since I was trying to pack so many words without going big enough. I haven’t had time to make adjustments but maybe after the holidays.

I always look forward to seeing what you and Keith will come up with next.

Stephen – Catonsville MD

-- Stephen, Catonsville MD

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3530 days

#7 posted 10-03-2016 12:20 PM

Absolutely lovely, Stephen! People such as yourself are the reason that I do what I do! It warms my heart to see you enjoying my designs! Thank you so much for showing me. They are awesome! :)


-- 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 3414 days

#8 posted 10-03-2016 07:15 PM

Luv the porch. Did a lot of porch sitting with my favorite Uncle as a kid. Actually the same Uncle that got me into woodworking.

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

View bushmaster's profile


3773 posts in 2892 days

#9 posted 10-05-2016 03:27 PM

Enjoyed seeing your new house, picture perfect. When I was at my Daughter’s place in Abbotsfort B.C. I me to redo her front flower bed completely, rock walls, soil and plants, did some panseys and asters I think and others. I have a number of big flower beds at home so will include a picture.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3530 days

#10 posted 10-05-2016 06:34 PM

Absolutely lovely! :) I do “quick gardening” that takes little time and effort. :)

Very pretty though!


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

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