My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #4: The best laid plans . . .

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 06-06-2010 01:57 PM 5798 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: To submit or not to submit Part 4 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 5: What's so bad about Monday, anyway? »

How come if I get up at 7am it feels like I am late? And on a Sunday to boot! I have a long list of things to accomplish today and it will be amazing if I make it to the end.

I used to kid around with my children when they were young and tell them “If you achieve your goals, you are setting them too low”. (Yes, I know. I was making them candidates for therapy!) They knew I was teasing them. Kinda/sorta. Unfortunately (or fortunately – depends on how you look at it) how they saw me behave and live my life kind of went with that. I am a very goal orientated person. I came from the type of family where if you accomplished ten things in a given day, they would always be asking what you were doing next. Reading back on that, I realize it looks harsh, but I honestly don’t feel resentment or anger about that. If you read my previous posts, you’ll remember that I look at things that happened to us in the past as building blocks to what we are today and I am comfortable with that, so it is OK.

As a parent of two, I realize that it is very difficult to teach kids the right way sometimes. After all, children aren’t puppies. They don’t mindlessly respond to the commends we bestow upon them with their reward being a treat or a pat on the head. They are complex, miniature human beings that question and challenge just about our every move. Ask any parent who has a teenager. I feel that children learn by example more than anything. They tend to emulate others around them. I think this goes back to the ‘fitting in’ philosophy of how as humans we have the need to fit in. If they don’t find someone to emulate at home, they search for them at school or through their friends.

Teaching by example is a tall order. If we were perfect, it sure would make it a heck of a lot easier, but we aren’t. We tend to lean on a ‘do as I say and not as I do’ policy. I notice this many times when watching woodworking videos. Lots of these guys (sorry – I haven’t seen any instructional videos by women yet. Hey! There’s an idea!) tell you to use safety glasses and ear protection. Then they go on to demonstrate the tools without it. Some justify their actions with saying something like “well, for demonstration purposes, we won’t use them” and I guess in their mind it absolves them of their responsibility. I recently saw this in a video of a high school teacher introducing the scroll saw to students. He then went on to cut without either the glasses or ear protection. It gave the kids a real mixed message I think.

Now I really don’t want to get into the discussion of safety right now. That alone will fill up a book. I am sure that I am eligible for woodworker’s prison myself for not wearing all my safety gear. I recently saw a video by I believe, Stevinmarin that was great on safety. Besides being really entertaining and funny, it made lots of good points and in conclusion said that safety was our own personal responsibility. I liked that a lot. We need to take more responsibility for ourselves.

In any case, I guess I get up early because I can’t wait to start my day. There is so much in front of me, I guess some would find it overwhelming, but I find it exhilarating. I have enjoyed these few days of writing this blog because it helps me to map out my day and also organize my thoughts. I have also met some new friends through these pages and had the opportunity to see your work and read about you. I have received many messages about this page and also my project, and I appreciate your helpful comments and suggestions and thank you for taking the time to both read it and message me. With working alone, it is wonderful to have feedback from fellow woodworkers whom I admire and respect. Although I haven’t written each of you in response, I want you to know I am grateful for your input.

Yesterday I started off with wanted to finish the things that have to go to my editor next week. I had a couple of projects to write instructions for and I need to get the pictures for them in order and hopefully mail the box out early in the week. Then I was thinking . . . I had sent him the picture of the dresser tray for his consideration on Friday and I was waiting to hear from him on that. If he took it, I should just include it in the box of things that are going to him anyway. So maybe I would do something else . . . .

I had recently made a series of patterns which I called “See Creatures”. See Creatures are wooden replicas of animal heads, sitting on a base, in which you use as an eyeglass holder. They are silly and fun and have been pretty popular. I made my samples of MDF because I also offered simple, yet colorful painting with the instruction. (My other passion is decorative painting and I have in the past couple of years, taken to doing my own original wildlife paintings – in my spare time). I taught some decorative painting for many years, which is what originally brought me to Nova Scotia, and one of the goals in my early days as a woodworking designer was to ‘teach woodworkers to paint’.

Now I can almost hear the groans from many of you as I sit here and write. Why would anyone want to paint over beautiful wood?? Yes, I know. Over the almost fifteen years I have been doing this, I came to the realization that the two things are separate for a reason. Woodworkers don’t want/like to paint as a general rule. So what the heck was I thinking when I made this See Creature design and put paint on it? I think I regressed to someone from ten years ago who was idealistic and had great dreams of woodworking and painting to unite in beautiful harmony. OK, OK. . . .we all make some mistakes.

So yesterday, I was sitting there and saw this current issue of Creative Woodworks on the table which had two of my darling See Creatures on the cover and I thought to myself “why don’t I make them in hardwood to show my customer that it can be done that way?”. Now, I don’t for a minute claim that to be my own original idea. To be honest, I had seen it done by someone who had the magazine and pattern and also it was suggested by a woodworking friend who hates to paint. But I never presented it in that way.

Did you ever hear the saying “You can’t see the trees through the forest”? Well, there I was, looking at the forest of painted trees and apparently I didn’t see one tree that wasn’t painted. And then all of a sudden, there it was! One little unpainted tree among the thousands of painted trees and the lights got brighter and the idea was born! Well, this was just amazing to me! I forgot all else I had to do and in what seemed not time at all, collected and cut out two new See Creatures ‘au natural’. It rained yesterday, but I did the routing in between storms because I have to do my routing outside. I still have to sand and finish these two and should be able to show them here soon, but even in their rough state, they are just as darling and funny and cute as the painted ones! For the moose, I used mahogany for the head and ears and walnut for the antlers. I also made a white tail deer out of oak and again used walnut for the antler. It was a great way to use up the small pieces of wood that I was saving for who knows what and the cutting was so simple and fast, I finished within a couple of hours. I need to sand them today and finish them off, but I felt great that I did something completely unexpected AND productive – and it was only 3:30 in the afternoon when I was done!

After that, I decided that the dresser tray needed a companion piece to make a nice pattern packet. I realize it was pretty nice on its own, but in selling a packet, I like to give as much as I can. So I played on the computer a few hours and came up with an oval frame to match. The frame can either be recessed like the dresser tray and I will have a pretty scroll design in the center – not too busy, just a butterfly or flower or something like that. I will decide today – or I will show how to route it so that you can place your own picture in it. It will make a wonderful set. I immediately laid out the wood and began cutting and finished cutting the frame at approximately 10:30 last night. Now I have the finishing and sanding to do on it, as I did on the tray, and I also need to cut the motif in the center. I am also thinking of making a kind of easel so that you can stand the frame on the dresser next to the tray. It will make a beautiful little vignette I think. I can’t wait to see the results.

So that’s whats on the agenda for me today. (besides the other stuff that I didn’t do yesterday for the magazine!) I guess I have a full plate! I also have to leave some time to look around here and read and answer posts on my other list and on Facebook so I can see what all my friends are up to. It is a good thing I can type fast anyway!

All in all it is going to be a good day.

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

1 comment so far

View jaygrey's profile


3 posts in 443 days

#1 posted 03-29-2017 07:17 AM

making agenda is really useful. By making to do list, you have all your things done one by one and you don’t miss anything. It is my personal statement concerning this matter.

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