My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #51: Quality is Better Than Quantity

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 07-24-2010 01:16 PM 4139 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 50: Do You Hear What I Hear? Part 51 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 52: Almost There »

I really love the discussions and thoughts that you all send me on what I write about. It gets me thinking in so many different directions and it gives me a perspective on my work that it is impossible for me to have here on my own. I received so many great ideas in the past couple of days regarding striking a balance with work and the level of designs and not getting burned out.

It is as if we are all sitting here having a cup of coffee and discussing these things. There are so many types of designers in this forum that do things for so many different reasons and use different methods. There are also those who do others’ designs that have so much to offer. Together we all have quite a well-rounded sense of what is going on and what works for each of us individually.

I did slow things down a little bit. I had a couple of emails from the wholesaler yesterday and they were just checking and wanted to clarify a few things before everything went into print, and I also had an email from my assistant editor at the magazine who was doing the same. These weren’t all questions that were able to be answered in a snappy manor and many of the issues needed checking and clarification. I did so and talked on my phone with my assistant editor for a while and we had a nice discussion, not only tying up the next project and article, but also talking about the business in general and which direction the magazine wants to go and what my role in it would be.

There are some new and exciting things on the horizon for the magazine and subsequently for me. It was fun to talk about things and I felt she valued my input and really wanted me to be a part of things. We also had a good laugh because when I sent my last package to them, it contained the materials for three projects and three articles. There is a lot that goes with each, such as drawings, text, the actual project, etc. and it can get a bit confusing when sending several at a time. She said she had to ask me if I purposely color-coordinated my paper clips (I have colored ones) so that each specific article/project got a certain color and folder. I had to smile when she asked because I had forgotten until then that I did that, as I was in a particularly “organized mood” that day. I told her I was happy she noticed and she said that she and Robert (my editor) just shook their heads over it and thought it was great. (I am sure that wasn’t all they thought!)

I like order in my life. I am not great with surprises – no matter how nice they can be. I don’t get mad or anything, but I just like to know what is coming and plan things accordingly. I guess that is why I not only live on the deadlines put in place by others, but I also self-impose my own. As I said though, I don’t panic if I fail to meet every one. They are more or less goals that are something to strive for.

When talking to my assistant editor and also the wholesaler, as well as reading everyone’s replies, it did remind me that how much I am doing isn’t as important as how well I am doing it. Not that I ever really let the quality slip. But I saw that taking a breath and devoting the time that these certain details requires is a big part of the complete package. What good is it if I am presenting a good project if I fail to give good and complete instructions how to make it? My job isn’t a “look and see how great I can make this” kind of job. It is more of a “look and see how great YOU can make this”. That is the teaching part. Great teachers are the ones where everyone in their classes get a high grade. Not because the class is too easy, but because the students were taught well.

So with those thoughts in mind, I lowered the bar a little. Not the quality bar, mind you, but the quantity bar. I thought if I get one more piece done by Monday, so be it. There will be five great pieces in this series that I can be proud of. I even took a few hours off and went on a half-day drive, as it was a beautiful and sunny day.

When I returned, I felt good. I did feel replenished and ready to work. There was an email waiting here for me from my wholesaler saying that she loved these new designs so much and she was behind on her schedule a bit so she could extend my time frame for a couple of more days. It was great news. I am still only doing the one I am working on and one more additional design. I am not adding to the batch just because I have more time. Instead, I am going to take the time to do the job to the best of my ability and make these last two pieces every bit as special as the other four.

I was going to write about doing series like these, but again, I got to talking. I see it is getting long already here and I will talk about that aspect in tomorrow’s blog.

I am nearly finished with the drawing of the next project – a candy cane theme – and after several versions, I am finally getting to the point where I am happy with one. There are just a few final adjustments on it and I will be able to cut it. This one was more random in design, which is not easy for me to do. But it looks balanced and I am pleased with the outcome so far.

I hope you all have a great Saturday doing whatever you love to do. Be it woodworking or something else, relax and have fun. Thanks again for all your feedback. I love hearing about your experiences too!

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

7 comments so far

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3059 days

#1 posted 07-24-2010 01:40 PM

Sheila, getting the balance right is one of the most difficult things to do. When I was working, in computers, back in ‘94 I got it seriously wrong. I got into work on Monday morning and my brain shut down. I couldn’t do anything. I was off for a total of three months with stress, a breakdown as we used to call them. I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone and thats why its good to see you re-assessing your work/life balance. Its far better to catch things like this now than to have to rebuild your life because you just ‘carried on regardless’

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2942 days

#2 posted 07-24-2010 01:53 PM

Thanks so much, Martyn. I guess that what sometimes makes it difficult is it being my living. I was put in a very precarious position not too long ago and have had to fight tooth and nail to regain stability. But I am almost there. I can feel it. Like Lis said the other day, I am glad to be able to do this as my ‘job’.

I have made great strides though, and I think you are right in watching it and finding a balance before it gets out of hand. After all (I asked myself) will one more design make or break me for this catalog? Likely not. So why risk it? Life is too short.

It is nice to have friends to help you keep things in perspective. :)


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

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 2945 days

#3 posted 07-24-2010 02:14 PM

Your back and refreshed from yesterdays stress. Glad to hear that you have realized that there must be control in your mind about limitation and overload.
I can now conclude that both of you Martyn and Shiela are both work addicted.. quality counts .. and most common in both of you is YOU DO IT YOURSELF. Another solution in a manager’s view is DELEGATE. Those that you can let others do, give it to them. At any rate, it is still you who will decide whether the quality of others work is satisfying to you.

-- Bert

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3455 days

#4 posted 07-24-2010 02:32 PM

Great insight, Sheila.
We always tend to try to do too much… by the time we are finished, we never want to see it again!
That’s not the way life should be.
I love the intensity of woodworking but I find myself being able to look at the wood and understand that we are communicating rather than me doing something to the wood. It slows me down and makes me aware of the wood.
I think your comment on balance applies to life as well as woodworking.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3008 days

#5 posted 07-24-2010 04:00 PM

Sheila I had to laugh as I read this. Yesterday you mentioned how we could be sisters, today I thought the same thing. I have SUCH an aversion to surprises. I hate not knowing what’s around the corner or what will happen tomorrow. I’ve had a few people tell me I must be a control freak, but it’s not the case- I don’t mind so much if other people make decisions that direct what I do; I just wish to know them as far in advance as possible.

I think you have a good plan, there. I’m actually really looking forward to seeing the candy cane one!

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3041 days

#6 posted 07-24-2010 07:13 PM

Great read there Sheila!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3138 days

#7 posted 07-24-2010 11:55 PM

great blog Sheila
glad to hear you slow down a bit :-)

I don´t want you to experience such a breakdown I had a copple of years ago

I still have to struggle with it :-( and had a serius warning in the spring with hospital and everything
but I gess thats life when you can´t sit calm in a corner without doing anything :-(

have a great weekend Sheila

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