My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #95: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-06-2010 01:41 PM 5066 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 94: After the Storm - Good Things on the Horizon Part 95 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 96: New Observation About My DeWalt Saw - Something to Think About »

Finally. A Monday that people like. With the Labor Day holiday both here and in the United States, most everyone in these countries have the day off. However, with the Labor Day holiday comes the realization that summer is coming to a close and winter is not far off. I am certain that there will be plenty of grumblings about that on my facebook page. They already have started.

I am ready for fall and winter. The past week was enough summer for me. I guess I found something that I didn’t like about the lovely little place I am in. The air doesn’t seem to circulate and once it is warmed up in here, it is very difficult to get it cooled down again. Next spring I will be looking for a different fan. Probably a box one that fits well in the window. That way I can draw the cooler air in from the opposite side of the place and it should be more efficient than the small oscillating fan I have now. But that is a long way off and in the words of Scarlett O’Hara “I’ll think about that another day”.

I slept very well last night with the change in the weather. I hadn’t done so in the past several days. I don’t know if it was because it was so warm or all the ideas and things going around inside my head or a combination of both. I usually don’t lose a lot of sleep over work anymore though. I have adopted an attitude of what will be will be and I have come to recognize that there are some things that are just out of my control and it isn’t worth the time or effort to worry about them. Letting go of what we can’t change is one of those important life lessons that I may have learned a little later in my life, but nonetheless finally have learned it. It is quite refreshing to just be able to walk away from things you cannot change and move on and focus on to something more productive things. It may sound like a simple thing, but I believe that it is one of the most basic building blocks for inner peace. And that is huge to a creative person.

I finished my newest set of ornaments yesterday. I finally got to use some of the new wood I got to make them. It is funny how just seeing a piece of wood can make an idea pop into your head. I don’t know why, but when I saw this bright yellow Pau Amarillo (or as it was pointed out to me, it is also called Yellowheart) I just thought that it would make amazing star ornaments.

Now I liked the embellished snowflake ornaments I designed well enough, but if I were to make them again, I would probably use a lighter colored wood. The Walnut that I used for them was amazing, as it showed off the silver beads nicely, but I do realize that most trees are green and that the Walnut can sometimes get lost in them. I guess I allowed my desire to try something ‘different’ to win over my practicality in that matter and went ahead with designing the prototypes using the darker wood. I still want to make another set in Maple or something much lighter. Probably when I have some time, I will just to see.

But this bright yellow wood just seemed to beg me to make it into Christmas ornaments. It’s unique coloring seemed to shout out “Pick me! Pick me!” from the large pile of wood that we purchased. I could only imagine how brilliant and handsome it would look when it was all oiled and wearing its sparkling crystals. It seemed a natural choice.

As I was planing it and peeling off its out layer of skin, what was revealed to me was a shimmery and slightly varied grain that would compliment the embellishments beautifully and certainly be an outstanding addition to my tree. So the Pau Amarillo it was.

Working with it was a dream. Its tight and even grain scroll sawed beautifully. The ornaments I made were approximately 3/16” thick. I only cut them in one layer because I needed to drill the depressions for the crystal embellishments prior to cutting out the design. The slightly thicker depth gave me a bit more resistance and better control than if I used a piece which was 1/8” thick.

I was really happy when I discovered that my 3mm Swarovski crystals fit perfectly into a 1/8” drilled depression. (Yes, another thing I finally learned is that it IS worth the time to make test cuts on scraps to insure fit and other things like that!) I used a brad point drill bit so that I was able to perfectly center each hole by very gently touching the tip of the bit to the pattern and lining it up perfectly before really pressing. I often wonder why any one else would use anything but brad point bits. I just love them.

I set the drill press depth so that I would only drill ever so slightly into the wood and then proceeded to drill all of the depressions:

From SLD330 Sparkling Star Embellished Ornaments

I then continued on and drilled and cut the inner holes of the design with a 2/0 reverse tooth blade.

From SLD330 Sparkling Star Embellished Ornaments

When designing these stars, I really did try to make them a beginner type of project. I am finding this sometimes difficult to do without consciously thinking about making it so, but even then I sometimes feel as if I am ‘cheating’ because it feels as if I am drawing too simply. I find that from posting both here and my other forum though that many people think that my designs are quite detailed (not only non-scrollers, but scroll sawyers too) and I don’t want to gain a reputation of only putting out advanced level patterns. I want to have patterns for every level of sawing and some especially geared to those who may be trying for the first time. After all, I don’t want to play the game ‘stump the scroller’ because I do want my designs to appeal to a large number of people – both veteran scroll sawyers and the newbies. Yet I want the finished projects to be appealing.

These stars that I drew encompass many of the basic elements of learning to saw, yet they are simple enough that just about anyone can do them. I have incorporated several basic design elements, such as swirls, corners with both rounded and sharp points and teardrops into these ornaments. There is also the straight edges that are not too long and great to practice straight runs for shorter distances. I purposely made most of them on a larger scale than normal, and left plenty of room in between cuts for slight errors. The elements also repeat several times, so that one can practice the technique over and over. They are fun, attractive and hopefully not too frightening to someone that is new to scroll sawing.

After they were sanded and oiled and sprayed with Lacquer, I allowed them to dry completely. I then used a toothpick to apply some clear silicone to the depressions where the crystals go. I like clear silicone for this purpose because unlike clear drying white glue, it will not get cloudy if it oozes out of the depression a bit when applying the crystal and is wiped from it. The white glue I find makes the crystal beads hazy when drying and they lose their shine.

From SLD330 Sparkling Star Embellished Ornaments

I then apply the crystals using tweezers. This part is fun because you really see the design come to life.

From SLD330 Sparkling Star Embellished Ornaments

After seating the crystal into the depression by pressing down with either a popsicle stick or the tweezers, I use a cotton swab to remove any silicone that may have seeped up. This comes off quite easily, as the ornament is already sealed with the spray lacquer.

From SLD330 Sparkling Star Embellished Ornaments

The final results are sparkly beautiful little ornaments.

From SLD330 Sparkling Star Embellished Ornaments

I made 12 in the set. Although the crystals don’t show much in the picture, they really make these ornaments look beautiful as the light catches them. They also catch the lights of the tree too and almost look as if they are lit up themselves. I will be posting them in my gallery later on for you to see them all or again, you can click on the album name and it will take you to my Picasa album where there are pictures of all 12.

I also think that these would look great done up in Maple. I could use the gel staining medium and red and blue acrylic paint to stain some of them red and some blue for a nice patriotic look. They took me about 2-3 hours to cut and were relaxing and fun.

Today I will be working on my skating figures. I feel good now that I can justify working on them during the day when I should be doing ‘real work’. I want to get them done as quickly as possible, as well as the pattern booklet which goes with them so that they will be ready for people to make for this year.

I hope you all have a great day and enjoy these final days of summer. For those of you who are off – enjoy your holiday!

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

12 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


31105 posts in 2867 days

#1 posted 09-06-2010 01:55 PM

While working in the shop Saturday and Sunday, I enjoyed taking a break on the patio next to my shop because the weather is showing signs of fall and also the butterflies are beginning to appear and I like to watch those. You’re right about the fresh air on days like these because it’s the only way to go. I think that those star ornaments are real pretty. Thanks for the post.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2842 days

#2 posted 09-06-2010 03:13 PM

You are very considerate for thinking of the beginning scroller. I find that I only enjoy highly detailed patterns. However, because of that, I come to the realization some times that I have a hard time trying to talk potential scrollers into giving the hobby a try. After seeing my work, they sometimes feel intimidated by the detailed fretwork. I think sometimes if I would make some simpler projects to show them, maybe I would have more success with it.
I try to get other people locally to consider scrolling as a hobby. I have yet to meet anyone or even hear of anyone near me that scrolls. I have talked to others that own a scroll saw and occasionally cut something simple on it, but they see my work and think it is too hard to do. I would like to tell everyone out there, anyone can scroll, even the advanced patterns. With very little practice, you will find yourself using the scroll saw almost like it was second nature. Then, no matter how simple or how detailed the project, just cut one hole out at a time.
Sheila, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to do the simpler projects. It is consideration and talent like yours that keeps scrolling alive. I’m sure you hear this a lot, but you do have a great talent. It takes talent to create projects that are simple yet still look elegant when completed. I have seen other designers that create simple projects that look simple. I have never seen that in your work. It looks like you go to great lengths to design around these ideas of simplicity, while keeping the finished work looking so good. Yet, what really impresses me since following your blog, is how you make the act of doign so seem so easy.


View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2986 days

#3 posted 09-06-2010 03:22 PM

Love, love, LOVE the star designs! They are simple, but they are very detailed still. I bet they sparkle a lot in a tree :)

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3822 days

#4 posted 09-06-2010 05:28 PM

Sheila, these are simply gorgoeus pieces and I am sure it was a lot of fun to create them. I have not taken the initiative to put a scroll saw in my shop. But I may have to move one up on my list since it does look like it would be both fun and relaxing to be able to produce projects such as these.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View OttoH's profile


891 posts in 3010 days

#5 posted 09-06-2010 05:39 PM

Wow Sheila, those are great! I really enjoy reading about the thought process and the work that you put into them.

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 2881 days

#6 posted 09-06-2010 05:56 PM

She’s not just a scroll sawyer, she’s an artist!

I just clicked on your web page. Amazing inventory you got there. Thanks for sharing your talent and knowledge with the rest of us. You make it easy for a beginner to start learning the process.

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2920 days

#7 posted 09-06-2010 06:15 PM

Thank you all very much for your kind words. I think we are all artists – each in our own way. We each have something to offer and love to express ourselves through creating. Sometimes we just need a little encouragement to take that first step. I feel wonderful if I have encouraged anyone to try something new.

I am glad you enjoy the ornaments.


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

View MrsN's profile


986 posts in 3526 days

#8 posted 09-08-2010 03:33 AM

Do you use the crystals that have a flat back, or the ones that are round?

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4161 days

#9 posted 09-08-2010 12:21 PM

Thank you for taking the time to share this .. and for sharing. Love the crystals idea.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2920 days

#10 posted 09-08-2010 12:46 PM

Thank you all! I use the flat backed crystals, MrsN. I guess if you use the other ones, you should use a regular drill bit, as the brad point bit leaves a pretty flat indent (or you would need to drill deeper) But if you use a regular bit, it would be more difficult to center it.

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

View Handi75's profile


377 posts in 3474 days

#11 posted 11-17-2010 09:07 PM


These Ornaments are very nice. I haven’t seen all 12 of them yet, but I seen the ones on this blog and they look Great!


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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2920 days

#12 posted 11-17-2010 09:21 PM

If you click on the title under the picture, it takes you to my Picasa album and you can see them all. :)


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

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