My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #24: Finished 3 Frames, Wrote Some Instructions, and Made Some Pizza :P

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 06-27-2010 01:14 PM 8647 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 23: "And Now For Something Completely Different . . . ." Part 24 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 25: Rainy Days and Mondays, but I'm Not Down! »

Yesterday turned out to be one of those days where the clock must have been spinning double-time. It seemed I got an early enough start, but before long the sun was setting and it was over. It is amazing how some days do that. It just seems that time is not always my friend.

Besides the normal Saturday ‘chores’ of cleaning the cat box, kitchen and bathroom and doing some food shopping, I had the most intense craving for Chicago-style pizza. Now Nova Scotia has some of the best seafood around. I have never had haddock until I came here and it is a beautiful, mild fish that has a flakiness and sweetness that is really outstanding. Especially when I can get it right off the boat and it is incredibly fresh. Last week, I had some salmon fillets that were also wonderful. Not being a big salmon fan myself, I was apprehensive when presented with the fresh fillets. But a little butter and olive oil and seasoning later, I experienced an exceptional meal. I was quite pleasantly surprised.

Pizza is another story. Now it probably would be much better for me if I hadn’t grown up in Chicago. Like New York, it is one of the few places I know where you can get just about any type of ‘authentic’ ethnic food you could dream of. I guess it spoils you. Although there are a few acceptable pizza places here, they just aren’t the same. Fortunately, I do like to cook and when I can find the proper ingredients, I am able to recreate some of my ethnic favorites. Over the years, I have gotten pretty good at recreating meals I enjoyed at this place and that. And with the internet and thousands of recipes available to help, it isn’t too difficult to do. I don’t cook anywhere near as much as I used to, as I don’t have the kids and a ‘family’ to worry about. When I belonged to my painting group in Bear River, I used to make some special dishes and bring them to share with the girls. Some were adventurous and some were not, but it was fun to introduce them to different tastes and ideas. But now, it is usually just myself who partakes so if I make something big, I either have to freeze some of it or I donate it to my eager neighbor, Lee. Lee is single and loves different foods and he is a great fan of my cooking. It is fun to be able to share it with someone who really appreciates it.

As for the pizza – that will probably never get shared! I have the style I like pretty much down to a science and even though when I make one I am eating it for the next few days, I never mind. Sometimes you just have to make sacrifices. :) The good thing is that I have several meals set and that allows me more time to create. So even though the time is invested on a particular day, I reap the benefits for several more.

I did spend a majority of my working time on the pansy pattern instructions for the class. I hadn’t written a painting pattern in several years and it is a bit of a different approach. There seem to be so many more variables that need to be addressed. With woodworking it is pretty much an exact science. You cut this line, you drill that hole. etc, etc. With painting, it is much more complex and there are many more ways for the student to wander off the given path. It is difficult to assume that at this class the students will even have a degree of knowledge beyond basics. Many of them want to try to paint for the first time and the way you teach them can make or break their experience. If not stated clearly, the student can get frustrated and it would turn them off from it for good. I write these instructions with the assumption that the students have little knowledge of painting and I am even considering adding and extra sheet or two which will explain the basic brush strokes and techniques in detail so that the beginners can feel comfortable with them.

I have several articles on my site that are free downloads that explain some of the basic aspect of scroll sawing. Many people who are just getting started find these extremely helpful, even if they are short and simple, because it gives them some basic stepping stones of knowledge and expands their comfort zone. I began adding to these a couple of months ago and I have several more in the works, but I feel that if I am going to have some painting instructions, I need to do the same for the painting side. I wish there were more time to do everything!

I did finish finishing the three frames that I cut last week. After several coats of oil, again I used the spray shellac on them. I really like this finish because it gives a nice warm satiny glow to them. After talking to several people, I feel that the frames will not be handled all that much and the shellac will do fine. If, however, the scroller chooses to make them into dresser trays such as the other I presented, I will recommend a more durable final finish on them. Here are the pictures of the finished frames:

The round one:

From Fretwork Frames

The square one:

From Fretwork Frames

And the rectangle:

From Fretwork Frames

They are all done in cherry, which had a lighter side and a darker side. I really liked how the two tones looked on each piece and I feel it added to the character. It will be interesting to see if and how the color will darken over time.

I must admit that I made an error when drawing up these patterns. I should have had a larger inside edge so that I can easily install turn buttons to hold the backing and photos into place. The inside lip is only about a quarter of an inch, and even though I was able to successfully rabbit it (because I did that before cutting the frets), there is little room left to attach it onto. Fortunately, I can work on it in Photoshop for the pattern picture and it is easy enough to redraw the inner line in Illustrator. If the customer chooses to make these dresser trays by angle cutting and dropping the centerpiece, which is an option I will describe in the instructions, it will not pose a problem. I think I was thinking in that mentality when I drew them up in the first place. Sometimes the transmission in my mind doesn’t shift gears fully. :/ But all in all they are nice looking and I think salvageable at least for my own purposes.

That is why I like to cut my own things out. I have had many kind offers from friends who said they would cut my prototypes for me so that I could spend more time drawing but I have so far for the most part declined. I need to see what is what because experience is the best teacher in my book. I also love cutting – that is how I got into this in the first place – and I really like that time at the saw. You all can probably relate to the great sense of accomplishment when you look at something you created yourself. I don’t have to elaborate on that. Not here, anyway. :)

So I am doing the butterfly pattern today (that should be much easier) and also may do the frame instructions. I have started some new Christmas stuff, as I said and also working on ‘something else’. If I get time tonight, I want to paint. That should fill up my day! :) We’ll see what else comes along . . . . .

Have a great Sunday! I hope you all have time to make some saw dust!

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

6 comments so far

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3010 days

#1 posted 06-27-2010 04:38 PM

Okay Sheila… you can’t mention proper Chicago pizza and then not say what you put on it :D

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3042 days

#2 posted 06-27-2010 06:03 PM

Sheila, I’m just letting you know that I enjoy reading your postings as I find them enjoyable to read and I like the way you write as well. Count me in as one of your fans.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View SawTooth1953's profile


327 posts in 3330 days

#3 posted 06-27-2010 07:28 PM

Sheila, I was born and raised in Chicago… didn’t know that you grew up here til this blog. I was always North Side… near the north border, in fact, a few blocks from Evanston. I now live in Skokie. Where did you grow up? My favorite Chicago pizza is Lou Malnati’s… usually with mushrooms and black olives on a butter crust… it is a thick-crust pizza, but not too thick. Other faves include Uno, Due, Geno’s East and Gulliver’s. I’ve known of you as a scroll saw pattern designer but just discovered your blog here at LumberJocks… I’m looking forward to reading what you’re writing… apparently I have to go back a ways…

-- Spence in Skokie, IL

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2944 days

#4 posted 06-27-2010 09:33 PM

OK Lis! Here you go . . . .

The dough has a bit of cornmeal added and a little more olive oil than my normal recipe. It tend to be a little bread-like with the cornmeal giving it some texture. I use my spring form pan, but you can use a cake pan (or deep dish pizza pan if you want) I roll the crust out to about 1/4” and let it go about an inch or two up the sides. I pre-bake it just a bit so it doesn’t get soggy. Then the fun starts.

A drizzle of olive oil on the bottom keeps it from getting soggy too. Then a layer of cheese (Yes, on the bottom!) Then I load it with thin very thin sliced onions and lots of mushrooms. You can saute the mushrooms first again to get rid of some of the water in them, but sometimes I don’t.

You then take raw Italian sausage and dot it all over the top. (Yes, uncooked) Make sure it is good quality so there isn’t a lot of grease. Then the tomato sauce is next. I use fresh tomatoes or if I used canned ones, diced. I drain them and saute a little fresh garlic in some olive oil and add the tomatoes. Otherwise the garlic is a bit strong. You may need a little bit of sugar if the tomatoes are sour, but you don’t want to cook this too long, as the pieces add to the ambiance. There is something about overcooking that kills the taste, too. You can add some basil or oregano in this if you wish. Then you put the sauce on top of the toppings.

Finally you sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. I like grated but can’t always get it so canned is OK too.

You need to cook it for a bit so that the sausage cooks. It makes a wonderful pie-like pizza. The most problem I had was because of the fresh vegetables and tomatoes, it can get watery. I sometimes add some tomato paste in the tomato mixture to help this, but not too much, as it kills the taste that I like. I made this for friends here and the whole thing was gone. They said it was the best pizza they ever had. :)

While writing this reply, I got the messages from sawtooth and Bearpie. It was funny because I was going to compare the pizza to Lou Malnati’s and Geno’s East but I figured that wouldn’t help others who have never experienced it! :) I went to LM’s in Naperville with my son the last time I visited. He is a big fan! It was definitely awesome.

I lived right across from the ‘leaning tower’ Spence until I was about five, in one of the 2-flat apartments (the one on the corner). Then the Gage park area (south side) until 13 and then off the the ‘burbs in Oak Lawn and Tinley Park. When I was about 3 they used to have a candy store on the first level up at the Leaning Tower and it cost you a dime to go up to the top. I drove by there a couple of years ago, but I think it is owned by a car dealership now. (On Touhy Ave.). Oh, the memories!

I am glad you guys like my ramblings. Every time I think I am talking about stuff no one wants to hear, I get nice positive comments. You know you all are encouraging me to ramble on! Well, I said in the beginning it wouldn’t be all shop talk. I feel I have made some really nice friends through here. I just have allot myself only so much time a day – I was warned it was ‘addicting’! I could easily socialize here all day long and read and look at videos and projects!

Back to work for me! Break time over! Thanks again, everyone! :)

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

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3010 days

#5 posted 06-27-2010 11:33 PM

That sounds delicious!! I am familiar with Geno’s East.. I know the comparison. YUM.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View SawTooth1953's profile


327 posts in 3330 days

#6 posted 06-28-2010 05:22 AM

Sheila, The “Leaning Tower” is still there and as far as I know it is still a landmark of Niles and not part of the nearby car dealership. There is still a Leaning Tower YMCA behind it. Because of the Leaning Tower replica on Touhy, Niles, IL is a ‘sister city’ with Pisa, Italy. ( We were talking food before, so I’ll tell you there is now an Al’s Beef on Touhy, just east of the Leaning Tower. Al’s Beef is delicious Italian Beef and they have the best fresh cut french fries and a unique hot giardiniera. I was just on Taylor St. tonight, right across from the original Al’s Beef. We went to have Mario’s Italian Ice… there is nothing like it in the world! We drive from the north side all the way over there because it is sooooo good, especially on a summer night. Italian Beef and Italian Ice (in the style of Mario’s) are two food items that are not readily available outside of Chicago.

-- Spence in Skokie, IL

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