Yesterday turned out to be quite a productive day. I cleared up all my correspondence and got all my cutting done and the pictures to the wholesaler and I even had a little time to paint in the evening. I even started to do some writing of the final packets I have to assemble, but I thought I would be fresher for something like that in the morning and opted with the painting.
The ornaments were quite challenging but I was able to cut them without problems. They were stack-cut with one layer of 1/8” Maple and a layer of 1/8” Baltic Birch underneath. For those of you who don’t scroll saw much, ‘stack cutting’ is when you attach two or more layers of thin wood together and cut them at the same time. There are several methods for attaching them together, and it in essence allows you to do ‘double duty’ (or triple) and cut several of the same piece at once. This is particularly beneficial when you are doing intricate things like portrait-style cuttings and ornaments. Not only does it cut your production time in half or a third (no pun intended), but it does help to stabilize thin hard wood and also offers some resistance and additional control when cutting thin wood. Even if you use a small blade, cutting one layer of 1/8” wood can be like a hot knife through butter and difficult to control. It is far better to have a couple of layers and a bit of resistance so you have to work just a little to get the blade to move exactly where you want it to. Personally, I am far more comfortable with that way of cutting.
For those of you who are interested, I do have a free downloadable article on my site which explains stack cutting in detail. Just look on the Free Pattern, Catalog and Articles page if you are interested.
The eight ornaments that I cut yesterday were the ones designed by my partner Keith. The set consists of eight inspirational words along with a small motif. The lettering he chose is very fancy and had lots of flourishes and thin wispy lines. You really had to think when cutting them. I like this kind of cutting, as it keeps your mind going the entire time you are working. Scroll sawing involves continuous decision making. As with many things, like computers, there are more than one correct path to the final destination. Choosing which direction to go first and which way to cut can make or literally break a piece you are working on. I guess that is where experience comes in.
I was thinking that if I do make it to New York for a show next year and teach a class, this would be an ideal project to demonstrate with. I would absolutely classify it as an intermediate and possibly even this side of advanced technique. It was nice though. It is days like this and projects like this where I actually feel as if I know what I am doing :) Those moments come in spurts, you know. They don’t always happen and many times aren’t even expected but there is that sweet project where everything works like it is supposed to and a small feeling of triumph overcomes us. When it happens it is great.
I am only going to show one of the ornaments here, as I think Keith will be posting the set in his own gallery later. I just wanted you to see some of what I am talking about and his nice design.
|From New Ornaments|
The picture isn’t great because the light was not wonderful. It does give you an idea though. The biggest challenge was cutting the flourishes on the capitol letters and not losing any corners. I also did my best not to have any ‘spin holes’ where you can see where you turned the blade and I think I was pretty successful. Although simple in many ways, I think it is a great design and I think people will like them.
My other set of ornaments (the Nativity Set) needed to be finished and photographed also. I had dipped them in mineral oil and set them on a tray to absorb the oil overnight. In the morning, I set them on paper towels and let the excess oil absorb from them and they dried a bit. when they are fully dry, I plan to spray them with a light coat of shellac. I used cherry for them, but that is also be difficult to tell in the picture. Again, by the time I did the photograph, the sun was in a place where the lighting wasn’t what I wanted. I just wanted to get general pictures to the wholesaler so she can see what they are about.
The nativity set is what I would call a beginner to intermediate project. It is funny, but when I design easier projects such as this, I always feel as if I am kind of cheating. However, if people are to try to start scroll sawing and if we are to make our industry grow, I think it is important to offer nice, entry level projects that people can accomplish quickly and successfully so that they want to continue to try. Everything can’t be a masterpiece. As a matter of fact, I created this set of ornaments because I had made a similar set last year of the 12 Days of Christmas and they turned out to be a really good seller. Below is the Partridge in a Pear Tree from that set:
|From New Ornaments|
The new set, again isn’t photographed how I would like it to be. I am going to re-shoot them before I put them in my gallery later on today when the light is more favorable. But in any case, here is the entire set:
|From New Ornaments|
I call them beginner level but Keith my partner said they should be more intermediate. He believes that keeping the line width consistent could be a challenge to beginners. I don’t really think it will be a problem, as I left them thick enough to allow for errors and a little deviation from the actual lines shouldn’t impair the overall appearance. I think it is a good skill-building project and as I said before – ornaments are like little mini-projects so people are more likely to try them. If they mess one up, there is far less time and material wasted than if they were doing a larger project. Besides, learning isn’t wasting anyway, is it?
It is good to have someone newer around to point things out to me. I have been doing this so long that I tend to take certain things for granted and having another set of ‘new eyes’ here to see things from another perspective is certainly helpful when I am trying to create something for many people. I guess that is why I like teaching so much. The questions brought up by the students tend to point out things that I may otherwise take for granted and remind me that certain things need to be explained. That is a great help me and helps to make me a better designer.
So today, beside the photography, it is back to writing instructions. I have about five or six new patterns to make into packets and then I can put them on the site. I am hoping to update the site by the weekend with all the new patterns and also a free segmentation ornament for download. I also have a couple of new mini-articles I would like to post there. (Yes, even I can write a ‘mini-article’! Hard to believe, I bet! :)
I hope you enjoy the ornaments. As always, any thoughts are appreciated. I hope to get them in the gallery by later this afternoon. People are going to think I am nuts posting all this holiday stuff now. Oh well, we all know better, right? ;)
Have a great day!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"