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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #50: Do You Hear What I Hear?

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 1463 days ago 2348 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 49: Still On Track! Part 50 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 51: Quality is Better Than Quantity »

I really appreciate the nice things that everyone said about the Autumn Pumpkin Candle Tray. I was very happy with how it came out. On paper, it wasn’t too impressive but when I started getting it cut, I saw that it would be nice. It may be my favorite of the trays to date, even though I like the bat one so much. I really like it though. It is funny, but I keep going back and just looking at it sitting there on the table. I guess I am proud. I have a few painted pieces that are like that. I just like to look at them. I feel kind of silly being that way but I guess it just surprises me sometimes seeing how things come to reality from my imagination. I guess that is what makes it so much fun.

I am (slightly) worried now because it seems with each one of these trays, I am setting the bar a bit higher. It isn’t that I am not up for the task of doing a little better on each one, but it does get me wondering if I can. Those self-doubts always seem to creep in. I wonder if my other designer friends feel the same way when they complete one of their better projects? I see Martyn, Lis and Mary and so many others all make these incredible things and I wonder if they sit down after all the fanfare and look at the next blank page on the design board and say to themselves “now what?”

I realize that every project can’t be a home run. I think we would all crumble to pressure or burn out much too quickly if were continually hit everything out of the park. But it still doesn’t take away from wanting to do the best job I can on whatever is in front of me at the moment. I think that I work well under pressure. There are others who thrive on it more so than myself. And there are still others who don’t do well at all with it. I think I am closer to the thriving side of it. If people tell me to ‘take your time’ on something, it usually gets swept in to a little corner room in the back of my head and I don’t think about it hardly at all. Even though I am self-employed, I still have to answer to myself as if I were the task master. One phrase I live by which I am sure that I mentioned before is ‘we are our own destiny’. Whenever I get lazy I think of this. I don’t have to punch a clock or show up five days a week to a job, or answer to a crabby or unreasonable boss. But I will have to do that if I don’t stay in line and keep on the path I have chosen.

I am not saying that I can’t ever have a break. Let me be clear on that. I take time when I feel the need to. I go for ‘day trips’ and get out and sit by the ocean watching the tide come in or out. Some days I just goof off for the day and do other things that replenish and refresh myself. One day I will get back to serious painting. I have done some fun painting in the past year or so since my life has calmed down a bit, but I want to do a really good painting again and devote the emotional energy needed for that. It will come eventually. I can’t rush it. I will know when the time will be right for it and it will be better than ever for me.

Right now I feel like I am on a good, comfortable creative roll. I don’t want to stop that momentum because as a designer, I know that it isn’t always like this and I consider it a gift. (strike while the iron is hot and all of that!) What may look like a lot of work to outsiders is really a very fulfilling experience that is difficult to describe. It is something that is born in all creative people I believe and it is a driving force that keeps those ‘impossible’ projects coming – just because. I guess that the best thing to do is strike a good balance. Most days, I feel I do.

With that said, I had a pretty restless night last night. I started drawing my next tray yesterday evening and it just seemed again that I didn’t have a clear direction to follow. I have about five different ways I could go with this next design and I think the little voices in my head were up arguing all night as to which one I would go with. I was up several times and even got up in the middle of the night to have a cookie and look at my emails to try to replace those thoughts with something else. I still got up at my usual time (around six) and I have decided to once again “just draw” and see where it will take me. I don’t know why I fight with this process, because the results have not been that bad, but I guess it is my old school way of thinking where I want the comfort of seeing the finished piece in my head so I have a clear goal to shoot for. As of now, it is still in the fog.

I write this down because if it does come out alright in the end, I can remind myself not to fear the unknown, but embrace it with enthusiasm. If it is a really good outcome, it will tell me that I just have to let the voices duke it out and go with the flow. As I said before, that is an entirely new way for me to design. Perhaps it is the next step in my own learning process. After all, stepping outside of our comfort zones is what helps us grow, isn’t it? It is very possible that this happens to all designers and is a natural progression of learning. Maybe the voices know better. I hope so.

That would be very exciting! :)

-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"



9 comments so far

View BritBoxmaker's profile

BritBoxmaker

4337 posts in 1634 days


#1 posted 1463 days ago

These ramblings are not specifically aimed at you, Sheila but what you said here has got me thinking.

Creativity, like the tides, comes and goes. I am lucky I don’t have to rely on it for my income.

I don’t see this imaginary bar people keep saying I am setting. Each project is its own individual thing. It may be good it may be bad, it will certainly be different. We all have our own strengthes and weaknesses.

I find the more I chase ideas the faster they run away. I cannot look at a blank piece of paper and design something. The ideas, for me, come from experiences I’ve had ( like triumph1 and his ‘ripple’ box), things I’ve seen, opinions I hold (you’ll see) and just noticing the way things are, were, will be or never are. My mind creates by churning away something, not nothing, like a blank piece of paper (screen). Even the ‘Snakes’ pattern came in the middle of doodling.

Sometimes, in the middle of a project, a great fear overwhelms me that it won’t be any good or not as good as I hoped. It is usually OK. If its not it will probably be next time. Mistakes are often a rich source of novelty in design. Pity the poor person who never makes a mistake. There is nothing to learn.

Stepping outside your ‘comfort zone’ is another good way of creating something new. Tools techniques and media, different or new, may make you feel clumsy and gauche but they present opportunities you would never have seen if you don’t ‘have a go’. Thats what I keep telling myself about the scroll saw. Yesterday I ‘played’ on it for ten minutes. In the end I made a lot of mees, some odd shapes(mostly failed) and a working miniature comb, about 3/4” long
just from playing and trying to sharpen up my skills. No I’m not trying to say ‘look at me, aren’t I clever’ but I am trying to say’ play, have a go, try new things. You’ll be amazed at what you can do’.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging. http://www.theartofboxes.com

View BertFlores58's profile

BertFlores58

1644 posts in 1520 days


#2 posted 1463 days ago

Shiela,
Martyn is indeed perfectly correct (British English ha?). I have worked for 8 hours a day in the office and during weekends I do my woodworks. Please note that Woodworks is my hobby… to take away my stress from weekdays work. I just let my mind occupied and my body busy. I think it is quite the reverse on you. You have made designing and woodworking as your way of living…. then.. what will be your outlet… still designing….
You said
Right now I feel like I am on a good, comfortable creative roll. I don’t want to stop that momentum because as a designer, I know that it isn’t always like this and I consider it a gift. (strike while the iron is hot and all of that!).

There is no stopping when your mind will overcome your body.. but your body needs recharge by resting. Therefore… think of your physical body and rest for a while … it is just like your body wants to rest and sleep but your brain disagree… it is called stress…

-- Bert

View tyskkvinna's profile

tyskkvinna

1308 posts in 1584 days


#3 posted 1462 days ago

It is positively bizarre when being creative is directly related to one’s income. I do several different things for income, and they are all extremely creative. There are definitely days when I look at everything I have to do and just sigh, because “the force” is just not there. Sometimes, on these days, I am too stubborn to realise it (or perhaps admit it) and try anyway – things never work well on those days, and I end up frustrated and usually have wasted my time and supplies.

As far as “setting the bar” – absolutely. Sometimes I’m afraid to even show people my bigger, more impressive works because I know that they are going to expect these constantly. In fact I recently did a series of simple, tiny wood hanging and… nobody was interested in them at all. Because they weren’t the grandiose things people have expected me to make. It’s awkward.

In a similar vein, when you get the inspiration to do something you’ve never done before—it sure takes a leap of faith on your end to do it! What if nobody likes it? What if it’s totally different from what you’ve ever done before? What if you just end up wasting a few days and materials and discover it was a terrible idea?

I know that by sharing my good pieces with everybody, it is easy to create the illusion that every single item I make is up to those standards. I wish it were true, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. I have thrown inlays into the burn pile before because they were fantastic failures and couldn’t be salvaged. It hurts, but you just try again. And you are so, so right – strike when the iron is hot. Take advantage of the creativity as it happens!

And then be very thankful that you get to be creative for a living :D

-- Lis - Michigan - http://www.missmooseart.com - https://www.etsy.com/people/lisbokt

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7473 posts in 1518 days


#4 posted 1462 days ago

Hi guys! I really appreciate both of your input. People write me all the time and say they like this blog because they get to see how the designing process works (at least for me.) Sometimes I feel like I am rambling on and just talking, but it does help to sort things out in my own mind and I don’t mind sharing. :) I love your insights too and I do take them to heart.

As a creative person, I also love to see how other designers create and hear how their designing works for them. Both of you, Martyn and Bert have helped me see that. I really enjoy seeing what inspires you and drives you to your creativity. I am happy that you have shared it with me and others.

This is characteristically probably the busiest time of the year for me. Although the sales are typically the slowest (summertime) we are preparing for the fall and winter in which people are more housebound and there are so many craft and holiday shows, as well as holiday gifts to be made. The autumn catalogs have historically been the best sellers, so it is quite important for my future to give a good showing there. (Remember the story “The Ant and the Grasshopper?”) If I work my butt off now, I will have a good winter.

I am sure the pace will not stay at what it has been for me. It physically can’t. You are right Bert when you say my body needs recharging time. I feel a bit tired, but I am still exhilarated and running on the adrenalin of the excitement of these ideas. I will probably be very relieved when Monday rolls around, because I will know that I am at my finish line for the catalogs.

I am planning a short trip in August to the city where I will get away and pamper myself and relax and rejuvenate. It certainly won’t be fancy, but it will sooth my soul. A good meal or two, some fresh air, some shopping . . . .who knows? Maybe I will sleep past 7am! It will be a nice reward for staying focused the past couple of months and accomplishing.

Over the winter I hope to pick up the paint brushes again and do at least one serious painting. That will be when I am at my most relaxed and it will be to please no one but myself. I really look forward to that time and I am sure it will become a reality.

Thanks again for your input. I really love hearing from you. :)

-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7473 posts in 1518 days


#5 posted 1462 days ago

It seems I am writing a secondary blog here today, but I just saw Lis’ comments after I posted.

You and I could be sisters! I love talking with you because you confirm so many things that I am thinking and going through.

When I started writing here, I thought maybe a couple of times a week. It got to be a habit with me every morning (I am a creature of habit) and even though on some days when things didn’t go just right I didn’t feel like writing, I did. I didn’t just want to share my successes here, but also my failures. This isn’t because I wanted to whine to someone, but it is more to show others that every day isn’t sunshine and roses but if you keep on a certain path, things will come out well in the end. It always looks easy from the outside. People see the finished product and loo in awe. I like the story behind the finished projects. The good AND the bad. I like to see how others work and how they cope when things don’t always go just right. Not only do we learn from our own mistakes, but if we are in tune enough, we can also learn from others. That is what this whole forum is all about. (20,000 heads are better than one – don’t you think?)

-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"

View tyskkvinna's profile

tyskkvinna

1308 posts in 1584 days


#6 posted 1462 days ago

Yeah! I agree. :)

Perhaps, the next time I encounter them, I will take photos of my failures.

-- Lis - Michigan - http://www.missmooseart.com - https://www.etsy.com/people/lisbokt

View Jordan's profile

Jordan

1358 posts in 1723 days


#7 posted 1462 days ago

Sheila, it never fails. About 3/4 through a project, i start saying “boy, when this is finished, I’m going to take some time off.” But after 1/2 day, I’ve got another brilliant idea and a few hours off seems to be enough. I’m not good at taking holidays as I always wish to be back in the workshop.
I will say though that while I was teaching dance, I always thought I had to come up with brand new choreography for every dance. Then one of my fellow teachers from another dance school says she keeps all of her choreography throughout the years and just mixes it up…audiences rarely know or pay that much attention. Just as they rarely pay less $ if I put less beads on a pair of moccasins; they give it a general look and if they like what they see, they don’t notice if I’ve put a little more or less work into the project.
I am wondering if you have to come up with new designs every time. (if that is what you do.) Why try to top your good ones? There are so many people who would appreciate the very same design – after all, look at all of those people who spend $1000’s of dollars on bronzes that are exactly the same as 20 more.
Sometimes I become obsessed with perfecting a certain design, like my guns and holsters. Once they are looking how I’d like them to be, I generally keep that design for reproduction but because I do each one individually, they are all original.
I hope I’ve written along the lines of what you were pondering.

-- http://www.jordanstraker.com

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7473 posts in 1518 days


#8 posted 1462 days ago

Yes, Jordan – I am a lot like that too. If I do get discouraged or really tired, a couple of hours away does make a difference. Soon I am wishing I were back working again. I do take what I call little ‘day trips’ and they help me a lot. We drive through the back roads and just explore and it is a nice time away from home and the business. But usually when I get back I am raring to go again.

I fully understand what you are saying when you talk about using less beads or putting just a bit less of time into something. I do that with painting often. I can keep going and picking on a painting forever and there comes a point when I have to say ‘stop’ and finish up. I can clearly see you doing that with your beautiful creations. You are right, it doesn’t mean you are cheating others out of anything, it is just a judgment call as to what is enough.

I am going to talk about doing several variations on my one design in my blog today. So that will be clarified there. As a designer and not someone who does production work, it does have some importance to change it up pretty much for the next design. After all, they are looking for new and fresh ideas. But I do also think there is a compromise without compromising the quality of the patterns I produce. ;)

Thanks so much for your thoughts, you really got me thinking about things from another angle.

Sheila

-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"

View Jordan's profile

Jordan

1358 posts in 1723 days


#9 posted 1461 days ago

Ah yes, I just read the sentence (scroll saw ‘pattern’ designer) duh, I was thinking that it was just your personal tastes. In that case, I don’t know what to say, but I feel for you, LOL!

-- http://www.jordanstraker.com

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