My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #66: The Same Thing Can Be Very Different

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 08-08-2010 02:43 PM 4276 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 65: New Musical Instrument Ornaments (With Pictures!!!!) Part 66 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 67: Which Direction to go Next? »

It’s funny how you can take the same thing and make it look so completely different. I guess that I why I like painting so much. Even though I do appreciate the beauty of the natural colors of wood, there are times when it just isn’t possible or practical to use natural and exotic wood.

My friend Cari and I used to have a lumber yard nearby when we lived in Oak Lawn, a suburb of Chicago. This was back when I had just started to scroll saw, as Cari and her father are the ones that introduced me to it. Our youngest kids were babies then and I remember my daughter Danielle scooting around in her walker while I scrolled away. (Dani is almost 20 now) In ways it seems like long ago, but in other ways it seems like yesterday (yes, I know that sounds corny, but it is true!)

I remember many times when Cari and I would be out on a shopping trip or errands and having the little ones strapped in their car seats in the back seat of the car (Cari has a son Steve who is the same age as Dani) and we would decide to pull into the lumber yard and see if they had any scraps or drop offs. We found out early that it is good to get to know your lumber yard guys.

At first they questioned why we would want their ‘garbage’, which consisted of loads of both pine and hard wood pieces of wood which ranged anywhere from several inches wide to 10 inches wide or so and sometimes the pieces were a couple of feet long. Since we also recently started doing decorative painting, we regarded their garbage as ‘treasure’ went back every couple of weeks to see what they had handy. Soon they came to know us pretty well and Cari even gave them her phone number so if they had a lot of stuff piling up, they would call us for first pick before they got rid of it for good.

We appreciated this so much, and I rarely remember ever having to purchase wood at that period in my life, unless it was for a special project. We use to bring them coffee cakes and donuts and on occasion we would bring back some of the pieces when we were finished with them and showed them how nice their ‘garbage’ could look. We even made some plaques and stuff for them if we knew they had something in particular they liked. I think we amazed them that we were able to put their trash that would otherwise be burned or sent to a land fill to such a creative use. It just shows what a little paint and creativity can do!

My ornaments that I made yesterday also took on a new and completely different life. As I stated in yesterday’s post, it is not only easier to stack cut something like this, but also you get twice (or three times) the bang for your buck time wise. Now instead of having one beautiful set of ornaments finished, you have two or more. I layered the cherry ornaments with 1/8” Baltic birch plywood. While the birch ply is nice because of its even grain and smoothness and added strength, it is really nothing special to look at on its own.

One of the best things about not being up against such demanding deadlines is that it gives me the time to think and “play.” I wanted to try to make this set as nice as the cherry ones, without much muss and fuss. I knew I wanted something that would have some ‘bling’ to it (we like ‘bling’ here on the pink cloud!) but I also wanted something that wouldn’t be gaudy and would be subtle enough to let the classic design shine through.

I have many types of specialty paints from DecoArt which allow me to do many wonderful and interesting finishes easily, but the problem I had was that these we so small and detailed that many of the effects would be too busy or the details of the cutting itself would be lost. I also had to consider again the delicacy if the ornaments and that applying paint would involve pushing a small brush into all those tiny cracks and crevices and hoping that I wouldn’t break anything. I also had to be careful because one of the drawbacks of using a small 2/0 blade is that the veining lines are very small and can easily get filled in with any paint you use. Even if you use water based paint and thin it, the additional water can cause the wood to swell and either break or warp.

So my choice for a base coat was a nice, bright metallic gold spray paint. I wasn’t sure if this would be too thick, but I figured that it was my best bet and I would give it a try. I sanded the second set using my 1/3 sheet orbital sander and everything went just fine. The ply was more than strong enough to hold up to the sanding. I found that as long as I use a finer grit paper (220 or so) and supported the piece on a flat surface, (I use the rubber shelf liner because it gives as it supports) it is very rare that I break even these detailed pieces. The other trick is to keep your sander flat so you don’t catch any of the pointy edges with the sander, which can also cause them to break.

After sanding and dusting everything off. I applied 2-3 LIGHT coats of metallic paint on the ornaments, spraying from all sides so that the edges are painted also. The results were amazing to me. As they dried (about 15-20 min) they actually looked like metal. Since I used thin coats, there was no filling in of the detail lines whatsoever. If they had a couple little fuzzies that were missed by sanding, it was easy to take a small piece of sandpaper or sanding stick and get rid of them without compromising the beautiful shiny finish. I was just thrilled with them.

Originally, I was going to use a pearl white and kind of white wash them so they looked like something out of the era when Mozart lived, but I liked the metal look so much that I decided that they looked like brass instruments and should be left as such. I then went into my arsenal of Metallic DecoArt paints and picked some beautiful muted colors for the holly and bow accents. Instead of a metallic red, I chose a beautiful copper which would blend with the gold wonderfully. I did have a metallic pine or forest (dark) green, but I chose to go with a color called Dark Patina which looked like oxidized copper. I felt the effect was much more subtle and while it accented the holly leaves, it still allowed the gold metallic center stage.

Below is the results of the other set:

From SLD325 Musical Instrument Ornaments

And the rest:

From SLD325 Musical Instrument Ornaments

Once again, the pictures are not quite the best. It was overcast here this morning and I will try again when I get better light, but you can get the idea anyway.

In applying the colors, I did so with a small flat brush and since the metallic gold base was quite shiny and slippery, I kind of patted the paint in a very sheer coat for the first layer. This did not look great at first, but I knew with patience it would look better. There was a need to bond the first coat to the shiny base and by allowing this to dry thoroughly, subsequent coats covered quite well. The key word here is PATIENCE. If you were to apply thick coats, trying to cover all at once, you would have a streaky mess and fill in all the veining lines and ruin them. Several sheer coats did the job beautifully.

Finally, I sprayed the ornaments with a GLOSS poly spray. I rarely use gloss, but anything else would kill the metallic shine and by spraying with a final coat, it sealed everything in so the Krylon base and acrylic accents would live happily ever after. The trick with using both oils and water base paints on the same piece is to be sure that they are completely dry before moving from one to the next. Once it is cured, it really works.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how you can take the same design and change the look completely. I love offering this type of pattern to my customers because everyone has different tastes and means and skills and it gives them options to please a greater amount of people with a minimal change in the creation process. Both methods are easy and fun and each is appealing in its own way.

I still haven’t decided what is on the agenda for today. I may take the day and paint, since I am in the painting mode. I hope you all have a great Sunday.

-- 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 tdv's profile


1188 posts in 3127 days

#1 posted 08-08-2010 07:46 PM

These are really great I have a selection of blades, twisted / fine / coarse but I don’t really know what’s best to use for which job ( apartfrom obvious applications) & I don’t know what the numbers represent is there a good “free” source of info on blades Sheila?

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2977 days

#2 posted 08-08-2010 07:50 PM

Thank you very much, Trevor. I have a blade chart from Olson blades that can be helpful with choosing the right blade for the job. If you PM me you email I will send you one. There is also a blade article on my web site on the Free Articles page that you can download and has some information that will help you.

I really appreciate your encouragement and hope you take out your scroll saw too.

:) Sheila

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

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3093 days

#3 posted 08-08-2010 09:03 PM

Good blog and very nice work, Sheila. Really though we are going to have to stop posting side by side. People may talk, lol.

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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2977 days

#4 posted 08-08-2010 09:05 PM

I think we are both people who love our work, Martyn and really like to share with others. I miss when we don’t hear from you for a couple of days, but I know that it probably means you are creating something spectacular! I usually am right, too :)

Thanks so much. It is a great place to support each others creativity!


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

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3075 days

#5 posted 08-09-2010 07:35 AM

Hi Sheila, I just got back from being out of town for a few days and found that I really miss not getting my daily “fix” on LJ and was surprised that there were 10 pages of new projects posted while I was gone. I did miss reading your blogs as well, good to be back although I enjoyed my(our) outing to the Gulf of Mexico on the Fla west coast to visit with friends who live there. That part of Fla has not had any of the oil spill reach there so that was a blessing. Now I have to get caught up on all the new postings. Good job on your new designs, I love them.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Handi75's profile


377 posts in 3531 days

#6 posted 10-31-2010 05:16 PM


Not too Shabby. I may have to go buy some of that Gold Spray Paint or get my Airbrush out and do some of my Christmas Ornaments like that. Most of my Ornaments are just Natural Wood without Finish.

This is mainly because I offer them more as a Craft for a Family, so they can purchase my Ornaments and Finish them their selves, I think it is more of a Savings for the Customer, if I glitter, Finish or Paint You have to raise the Price some to accomidate for what you spend in extra Materials!


-- Jimmy "Handi" Warner,,, Twitter: @Handisworkshop, @HandisCreations

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