My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #108: Crossing More Things Off My List

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-19-2010 01:35 PM 4018 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 107: Onword We Go! Part 108 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 109: Hitting the Ground Running »

Yesterday I accomplished a tremendous amount of important things. I don’t have any pictures to show you, but sometimes the days when you get the behind the scenes things done are the most fulfilling. Accomplishments are not always measured with tangibles, you know.

So what did I do which deserves all this fanfare and pomp and circumstance? I proofread and/or assembled instructions for no less than four projects which will be heading out for the magazine tomorrow! Yay for me!

I kind of tease about it because it is one of the least fun parts of the job I do for the magazine, but one of the most necessary. Although they have editors and proofreaders at the magazine which do help things a lot, I pride myself on giving them near press-ready material so all they really have to do for the most part is drop it in and print it. I have been told for many years by them that I am “an easy edit” and in the days when I was tremendously insecure about getting my work published, I kicked my writing and grammar skills into high gear with the hopes that they would choose more of my projects not only for the projects, but also because it made their job easier.

Did it work? I guess I will never really know. But I do know that it never hurt me. What started out as survival and trying to impress them has over these almost 15 years become habit with me and has made me a much better writer. I also have to give some credit to Microsoft Word because I have learned a few things regarding spelling and grammar from that program also. Now don’t get me wrong – I certainly don’t consider it the bible of the English language. But it does help you when you are writing on the fly and need a quick check.

I suppose that it all comes down to the fact that I do really like writing (no kidding!) I had a technical writing class in my second year of University at Southern Illinois and I remember that class as if it were yesterday. I don’t know why because I can’t remember even who my teacher was, but I remember many of the rules and points that he tried to drum into our heads so we knew how to explain things in written form. I also remember thinking at the time how I would never, ever in my life find this information to be useful to me in any way. It just goes to show you.

So yesterday was spent writing, modifying and correcting photographs and proofreading. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

Actually, it isn’t too bad and I do like doing it somewhat. Getting started is the most difficult part. Once I am on the right path, things just seem to roll and fall into place. Correcting the photography is really satisfying because you would be amazed at the capabilities of what Photoshop can do. I am not talking about tricks and such, I am just referring to the common adjustments to pictures which make them unbelievably better. That program fascinates me and I realize I only utilize a small fraction of its power but it almost makes me feel guilty because it can make my pictures look so much better. I could spend another lifetime learning that program!

I was thinking yesterday about when I first started out with the magazine and they were just beginning to ask for my own step-by-step photography. I would struggle so hard to get decent pictures. I couldn’t even get nice ones for the covers of my pattern packets without going through a great deal of trauma. I look back at my earliest patterns from 1998 and around there and I remember shooting picture after picture and waiting for the sun to be just right and then running to the one hour photo place and spending about $15 for the roll of film to be processed. That hour seemed so long to wait! More times than not, I would pick up the finished photographs only to find that most if not all of them were garbage. I had now knowledge of Photoshop or any photo adjusting software and it made it so tough to get a good shot.

Now it is so easy for me most of the time. I have a decent camera (Sony Cyber-shot with 7.2 megapixils) which cost me under $300 and I take anywhere from 30-70 or more pictures per project as I go along. Many times I take the same shot with several different settings by just flicking a switch, so it isn’t like I am stopping every two seconds to shoot. All this in an instant. I usually have about five or six choices that I give myself per step and depending on the project, I offer them anywhere from ten to twenty pictures per project. I never really count, but they seem to use about eight to ten of them per publication. I like to give them choices though. I give them more than they need so they can show what they feel is important and I would rather err on the side of offering too many rather then too few shots.

They have complimented me recently on my photography. But I attribute that to my increasing knowledge of Photoshop as well as getting to know my camera better. I have had it over two years now and even though I realize that it is eons behind in what technology offers today, it is still easy for me and I understand it and feel it does a fine job. I find I can spend too much time trying to keep up with technology and I like to give myself a break now and then and do other things and leave the things that work for me alone for just a bit. I will catch up later.

So things are ready to be packed off and sent tomorrow. That is a big thing to check off the list. Once again the magazine should be good for a couple of issues at least, as they still have two articles of mine and I just sent them a project the previous week. That makes four for Creative Woodworks along with the articles and the other was the Skating Pond written instructions for Christmas 365.

As I said yesterday, I am getting quite excited about the Skating Pond again. I did spend a bit of time in the evening painting more pieces, but I didn’t finish so I may have two new pieces for you all to see tomorrow. I plan to work on it a bit today, as I want to try to designate Sunday as my painting day again for the fall and holiday seasons. I like doing this and it bumps up Sunday to one of my favorite days of the week. When the weather changes and it is snowy and cold out, I sometimes like to declare what I call a “jammie day” where I stay in my favorite and most comfortable jammies all day and paint fun things and watch movies in the background. It is a wonderful way to spend a cold day and there is something wickedly defiant about not getting properly dressed that I love. I also find that jammie days lead to baking and making a nice Sunday roast and all of that other comforting stuff that I love so they are something that I regard as quite special.

But it is much too early in the season for that now. I only do that on certain occasions when the timing and atmosphere are just right. I don’t want to water down the specialness of it. It will be something to look forward to though and I will do so with great anticipation.

Today looks like it will be a winner again. I woke up today, as yesterday, to a thick and dense fog. I couldn’t even see across the street to the river practically. But it had lifted by mid-morning and turned out to be a beautiful and sunny day after all. I didn’t take advantage of it because of the tasks at hand, but I did manage to go with my partner and get some ice cream after supper. We went to a place that I had never been before. We took this road down toward the water and there were no houses on it and it just kind of ended. We had the top down on the car, realizing that the days of doing that are numbered. As we approached the end of the road, there was nothing to stop you and you could drive all the way into the water if you wished. The tide was so high that the waves were crashing only two car lengths away from us and it appeared as if we were sitting right on the water. It was quite beautiful and I wish I had brought my camera. We sat there for about 20 minutes to half an hour and watched the orange and fiery sun fall into the water. Again I was amazed – as I always am – at how quickly that happens. One minute the sun is there and the next it seems to have slipped into the water on the horizon, leaving the sky a beautiful orange and pink and purple glow. It certainly knows how to go out in style.

I am going to take advantage of today though. I think I am due for a long walk in the woods. The tops of the trees are beginning to turn ever so slightly golden. If I take the time to notice, I can see more and more of it each day. Although it is still quite subtle, you can see the occasional anxious tree or bush boasting reds and oranges among the golden leaves. There always seem to be a few ahead of the crowd, aren’t there?

It is time for me to make a few memories. I can remember and relive these thoughts of my walks when I am under several inches (or even feet) of snow this winter and relive the pleasures that will await me again. I don’t need a camera for that.

I hope you all have a good day on this beautiful Sunday and take the time to fill your memory banks with some happy, peaceful or calm events that you can pull on sometime mid-week when things are getting to you. You would be amazed at how wonderfully it will fuel your soul.

-- 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 Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3172 days

#1 posted 09-19-2010 03:23 PM

If no one ells will I will be the one who clap your shoulders and give you the kudo for
being upfront behind the scenes I know how tuff it is to have 150% focus there allso
but it is realy there 70% of ones business is making or breaking

have a great day

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3093 days

#2 posted 09-19-2010 06:16 PM

I find Microsoft Word’s grasp of grammar somewhat rudimentary and sometimes just plain wrong. Is that because, although it has a UK English option, American programmers only understand US English?

Apparently the company I work for has started receiving application forms filled in using ‘text speak’.
XLent M8. Whatever next?

Feels good to get the background tasks done though, doesn’t it.

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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2977 days

#3 posted 09-19-2010 07:54 PM

I agree, Martyn. I have the same thing here with the Canadian English vs. US English. I mainly benefit from the nasty little red squiggly line it puts under words that are misspelled/mistyped. I do most of my typing with cats on my lap or on the arm rest or sitting/sleeping on my mouse pad. It just helps me to take notice and look. As for the grammar – I gave up on using MS word for that a long time ago. I agree with you – most times it is just plain wrong!

I only tried the speaking programs once in 1997 or so. I am sure they must have come a long way since then, but I don’t see me ever wanting to use them. (I think the one I saw was ‘dragon’ or something like that) I enjoy reading and writing and there is much to be said for a well written story. It allows your imagination to flourish!


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

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2945 days

#4 posted 09-19-2010 08:29 PM

Hi Sheila.

A good command of the language is important to someone in your position, just like any other tool. Remember, although most folks here think you’re a scroll sawyer, you aren’t. You’re a teacher. Any decent craftsman can turn out a good project, but it;s a much rarer gift to be able to convey the information on how to do it to someone else, and adding the constraint of never being face to face with the student makes that task even harder. You are to be congratulated on combining both skills at the high level you do on a consistent basis.

As for not having your camera with you, might I suggest buying a second camera that you keep with you 24/7 for those candid shots? Something cheap enough that losing or breaking it won’t be too much of a catastrophe. There are tons of good used ones on the local buy/sell sites for the price of dinner for two at a fast food joint. Cameras that wre state of the art a couple of years back and cost hundreds of dollars new are now obsolete (read “more than a month old) and available for $20 or so now from the “I just have to have the latest and greatest” crowd.. Keep it in your purse if you carry one, or a pocket if you don’t. That way you won’t miss those vistas that crop up unexpectedly. You can even use it as a deduction come tax time as a research expense! (grin)

Making beautiful things is a joy known to most craftsmen. Being able to help someone else create beauty is twice the joy and is a joy known only to the teachers in life. You are so blessed.

Have a great today and a better tomorrow.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View OttoH's profile


891 posts in 3067 days

#5 posted 09-19-2010 11:34 PM

Sheila, that sounds like an absolutely fabulous day, I am envious. Your writing skill are top notch, I could hear the water and see the sun go down with the orange, pink, and purple glow. Glad you were able to get the behind the scenes tasks accomplished, I look forward to seeing your plans for the skating rink.

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

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3075 days

#6 posted 09-20-2010 06:12 AM

Sheila, I had a good day today, got lots of things done and started on a new project. Alas, no pretty sunset here today but thanks to your descriptions I had a lovely vision!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View helluvawreck's profile


31764 posts in 2924 days

#7 posted 09-20-2010 02:55 PM

As always, Sheila , I enjoy reading your post; you really write very well and I can tell that you really enjoy what you do and I am very glad for you. Have a really nice day.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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