Well, I’ve done it. I made it to the other side. Sitting here next to me on the table is the final pattern for the autumn catalog. The wood is prepped (a beautiful piece of 5/8” birch), the pattern is completed, and I all have to do is my favorite part of spending a couple of hours at the scroll saw and cutting it out and finishing it. That’s the easy part as any designer can tell you.
It’s funny, but at 8:13 last night when the printer was spitting out the final copy of the pattern and I looked at the clock, the first thought that went through my head was “Boy, I finished early tonight! I actually have a couple of hours before bed to do whatever I want!” I guess it was then that I realized just how hard I have been pushing things. I mean, I write here every day and talk about what gets done and what has to be done, but I don’t think the scope of things really even clicked until then.
It isn’t always the physical work that is exhausting. It is the constant thinking, figuring and planning that can wear you out. Whether I am sitting at the computer or on a beach somewhere or in the car taking in the scenery, it seems when a project is in the works, I am always thinking about it. It isn’t until it is safely turned into a reality that I then allow myself to begin to relax. For the most part, I know what will work and what won’t. But there are sometimes little surprises that pop up in the process – especially with new techniques – that may look good on paper and decide not to cooperate when implementing them.
This is not one of those projects, I believe. I can actually relax a bit and enjoy seeing it come to life.
It wasn’t this way from the start though. I spent the morning tying up loose ends for my wholesaler and checking and rechecking the items I needed to provide her. She needed the high resolution pictures of all the holders sent – that was 27 pictures (I gave her choices!) She needed measurements and had questions about some of the other projects she was going to offer. I found a tiny error on one pattern where the lines didn’t convert to PDF properly on the pattern page. It was a small error, but I didn’t know why it occurred and even though I fixed it easily, I felt the need to recheck everything else again to make sure it didn’t happen more than once. Just lots of details.
I didn’t really start drawing this design until after lunch. I did so however with a clear mind because I got the OK from my wholesaler (she works on Sundays too!) that we were cool. All she needed was this last design. I spent the next four hours or so drawing and redrawing. I actually have an almost complete drawing sitting in the file that was about 80 per cent done and I looked at it and hated it. It was wispy and not what I intended at all. I looked at the clock and thought that I was going to be up until midnight if need be to finish this.
I then got the idea in my head that maybe I would just call it a day. After all – five candle trays are enough for now, aren’t they? I thought about all the things that you guys had said to me and I really felt tired and crappy and though “Why am I killing myself?” I could walk away right now and still hold my head up high. Right?
And then something happened. I don’t know what or how to describe it but I thought of one last thing to try. I started drawing again (I had moved the ‘bad’ design over to the side of the artboard in Illustrator and I just started fresh.) I wanted this last design to be elegant and classy. So I began to draw some elements that would really define that mood. After a series of swirls and shapes, they began to come together. I felt a new hope and I forgot how tired I was. By dinner, I had the basic design mapped out and I knew that I was on the right track. I continued to adjust and add things and I can actually say that I am happy with the results. On paper it looks nice, and I can’t wait to see how it will look in reality.
I feel as if I had just run a marathon. I know I am not really complete yet, but as I said, cutting the design is the easy part for me. I don’t have to think much to do that. Now it is as if I am just following directions. It’s a whole different mindset.
This doesn’t mean that I am done designing this series by any means. It is funny, but in a few days I can see myself starting to draw more. This time though it will be without the deadlines and the major pressure that I felt the last couple of days. I have so many wonderful ideas for these holders that I can’t wait to make. I saw on the project page that someone did a spider web and said that my candy cane design inspired him to dust off his saw. That was really great to hear. I planned to do a spider web in this series too, and I have a long list of different themes and designs. The summer and spring ones will be fun. I was thinking pansies, fish, dolphins (I already bought a beautiful blue candle for that one), sea shells, etc, but I also want to do some cabin-type ones with moose and bears and mountains and trees and some kitchen ones, etc., etc. I even want to do some Native American designs, as I did a set of Arrowhead Ornaments which had Native American symbols and they were very popular. There are so many nice directions I can go in.
I think I will do several at a stretch, such as these and then take a break and do something different in between. I have several more sets of ornaments I want to do and lots of other ideas in my idea book and I think that mixing it up will keep me fresh. The magazine has six things of mine (3 articles and 3 projects) which may sound like a lot, but my editor tends to put more then one thing in an issue when he has extra stuff so I want to be sure he has a good supply of projects. There are also some new articles I want to do.
So I guess I am never really going to be “done”. But at least I can slow down the pace knowing that I will have a good representation in the holiday catalogs. That is the best I can do.
These past couple of weeks has been a good test for me. Would I want to live my life at this pace all the time? Absolutely not. I know I would burn out very quickly. There was a split-second yesterday when I felt that feeling of just not wanting to do it at all anymore. I thought of all those who told me that they wanted to do woodworking for relaxation and if they had to do it as a living, they wouldn’t like it. I almost felt like that. Just for a minute. But then I thought to myself “what would I do instead?” and I didn’t have a good answer. Nothing makes me happier.
So as soon as it is a decent hour, I am going to put on some good music and spend a couple of hours cutting this out. I am excited and can’t wait to see how it will work and look. I am sure that it will only take half the day. The sun is out and summer has returned and although it is warm, it isn’t what I would call hot or uncomfortable. When I finish, I am going to sit back and take a breath and maybe go for a drive or out to dinner to celebrate the milestone. I may even make a batch of cookies. Oh, and the bathroom floor needs cleaning. I think I will even enjoy doing that. :)
Have a happy, HAPPY Monday!
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"