My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #115: The Plan

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-26-2010 02:11 PM 4032 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 114: Looking Ahead Part 115 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 116: Finished Drawing - On To Cutting »

Yesterday I left you with me standing up in front of hoards of people and them looking to me to teach them about scroll sawing. The classes are to be about 45 minutes long (they are scheduled every hour) and each class can have about 40 students present. From what I understand, I will have a scroll saw there with me for quick demonstrations and I believe there will be some sort of screen so that everyone there will be able to see what I am doing. That will help a lot. Although I much prefer to teach by allowing the students to try things themselves, I do realize that in this atmosphere it isn’t really possible. I will have to do with what the situation presents me.

I think my biggest fear is running out of things to talk about. Now I know all of you who are regular readers are all chuckling to yourselves thinking about the unlikeliness of that, but it will be a different atmosphere entirely and writing is so much different than talking in front of a room of people.

When I get nervous, I tend to talk fast. I have noticed that lately when I meet new people or see people that I haven’t seen in a while. I notice it, but usually not until afterwords as I am walking away or driving home. I am sure that part of it is nerves, but one of my biggest fears is that I will spit everything that I know out in the first five minutes and then we would all have nothing to say.

I have never attended a class on scroll sawing. Or any type of woodworking for that matter. Everything I learned I pretty much learned from books or trial and error, or reading in forums like this. The only real class type setting I have been in later in life were the decorative painting classes that I went to when I belonged to the clubs. I even taught many of them, and some have up to 40 students. However, those were all classes where the students went along with the teacher and painted also. It wasn’t a lecture type of setting. This will be very new to me.

So I figure the best way to do things is to have good, solid notes that are well thought out and organized. I am pretty good at that. After all, I write step-by-step project instructions all the time. This will be like one big overview of a project in some ways. I can also give different ways to do several different things such as stack cut and attach the pattern and so forth. As with anything, there is no one right way to do things. There are often several effective methods and people can choose what works best for them. I can give them choices and let them decide which way to do things.

Several weeks ago I mentioned that I was thinking of writing a book on introducing people to the scroll saw. In talking with people – both on the forums that I am a part of and also through my customers, I can see a need for a modern and updated book of this type.

When I began scroll sawing in 1996, Pat Speilman was the go to man in the scroll saw world. He was what I would call a pioneer in scroll sawing and was one of the main reasons that scroll sawing popularity was so high during that time. Mr. Speilman was passionate about scroll sawing and wrote many how to books and pattern books and promoted scroll sawing. I had the pleasure of meeting him at several shows, and even took a trip up to Fish Creek, Wisconsin where he lived (in Door County) where I visited him at his store and also his shop and home. He had a great passion for scroll sawing and woodworking in general and was a retired teacher and had written many school text books as well. Mr. Spielman passed away several years ago, but you can still find the pattern books and others that he had written. He was a great inspiration to me.

Times have changed a bit since then. People are different. The economy is different. Our reasons for woodworking are different too. Even the styles of the types of patterns and scroll saws are much different then when Mr. Spielman wrote his books. I think that I would like to write my own book which would introduce others to the methods of scroll sawing, as well as some of the other aspects of the different types of work that can be done with it. I want the book to be something that will both excite a new comer and encourage people to begin using the scroll saw, and also inspire others that have had some woodworking experience to expand their comfort zones and incorporate scroll sawing into some of their own work.

My friend Jean, who got me involved in the show in the first place is also a wonderful turner. She has both taught and participated in many clubs and classes and loves every aspect of woodworking you could think of. She has recently spoken to me about collaborating on some designs that would be geared to wood turners, but would also be embellished by incorporating scroll sawing into parts of the designs. She and I both are very excited about this, and although I have little experience on the lathe, I am sure by the time I get back in March I will have learned a lot. I can’t wait to brainstorm with her in person and I am sure the trip will be a great learning experience for me also.

But Jean thinks a new book would be a goodidea. She thinks that if there were something for people out there that will get started on the scroll saw, they will jump at the chance.

So since I need to make an outline and lay everything out for the class anyway, I feel it is a good time to get going on this book and give it a go. I have already discussed it with my editor, and he seems to be quite on board with it. Although we are working out the particulars of things, he even mentioned the possibility of them giving it out when people subscribe or reinstate their subscriptions to the magazine. That would be really great if it comes to be.

In any case, I think that I will shoot in that direction. By writing well organized guide to working with the scroll saw, I will also be able to lay out a well organized and pleasing class for someone who is just getting started. Of course, I will have more information in the book than I will be able to cover in the time frame of the class, but it will give people an overview of things and hopefully light the fire inside so that they will want to continue to learn more.

Idealistically I will have things done by March. It doesn’t give me a lot of time and I am prepared for that. But as I said, I will be preparing for the class anyway so it makes sense for me to do this now. We will just have to see how things work out.

I feel better because I at least have a plan now. I realize that plans change all the time, but at least it is a basis to start on and get moving in a good direction. Just by coming up with it, it alleviates much of the anxiety that I was feeling regarding things. I do believe I have some good information to offer and this is a great opportunity to present it. So that is the plan.

As for today, I am finishing the drawings on a new candle tray. It has been too long since I made one and people have been asking for more (and the ones I have available already have been selling!) I don’t want to miss that opportunity and I want to get as many designs out there as possible before someone else starts making their own designs. Hopefully, I will be cutting some beautiful Padauk tomorrow and bringing this one to reality.

I also plan to spend the rest of the day painting on the Skating Pond. Even though all the needed materials are at the magazine for publication, I want to have my own set ready and also the pattern ready as soon as it is released. As I repaint each piece, I get more excited about that series and being able to offer it myself.

I hope you all have a great day today and get some shop time or time to be creative. Enjoy your day everyone!

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

8 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3326 days

#1 posted 09-26-2010 02:24 PM

good morning sheila…good blog this morning…you’ve got the brain a rollin with plenty of ideas and going through some thoughts that will help you when the time comes….take some time ans just practice talking into a pretend crowd…use your partner and have him ask you questions…and then you answer him…the more you actually say the words and go through the thought process of answering them…the more you will be prepared…take with you many of your projects that you have done…you can use it all in your presentation…you have literally years of work now to have as reference…its just organizing it all into a structured time frame…...your going to do well next spring…and once you have that under your belt…your confidence will grow…and you will become the featured speaker at other shows…and i wll be able to say…I KNEW HER WHEN….your going to do great…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 2945 days

#2 posted 09-27-2010 12:00 AM

You are on the right direction! Your expertise will be the best tool for the teaching job. When you are in front of these learners, you stand as the authority on the subject. Though, careful about those intimidating students who when they start to ask questions, it leads to disorganization of the plan. All you need is control to be adherent to the guidelines you made. I am really confident in you that you have all the means and qualities of being a good teacher.

Good luck and God bless.

-- Bert

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2911 days

#3 posted 09-27-2010 12:29 AM

Hi Sheila.

For your book, one idea for a chapter would be to discuss blade selection. To us non scrollers, selecting the proper blade for a particular job is up there with alchemy and black magic. Things like skip tooth, tpi, spiral blades, etc, sound like swahili to most of us.

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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2943 days

#4 posted 09-27-2010 12:48 AM

That is a great suggestion, Tiny. That is the kind of stuff I will be looking to you all for. I want to know what questions you would like answered and make the most comprehensive yet easy to follow book that I can. Thank you for the suggestion.

Thank you also Bob and Bert for your continued support. You guys can be my cheerleaders! :) I wish it were all of you that were at the class. Although I am sure there will be lots of nice people there. I will look at it as an opportunity to meet more wonderful people who love woodworking. Thanks for being such great friends!


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

View rkevins's profile


78 posts in 2953 days

#5 posted 09-27-2010 01:48 AM

Sheila The only book on scrolling I have is “Scroll Saw Workbook” by John A. Nelson, I have learned what little I know from this and working on your and other patterns form “Creative Woodworks and Crafts” I wish I could attend a class and learn more so I hope your students appreciate the knowledge they can gain form a class with you, but we both know using the saw and making sawdust and trial and error is also good. Bob Ross the painter always said ” We don’t make mistakes only have happy accidents” well I make a lot of firewood. Good luck and keep us posted on the book Kevin

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3041 days

#6 posted 09-27-2010 05:47 AM

Sheila, If you are afraid of talkingtoofast, try talking the way they do in T e x a s s p e a k w i t h a d r a w l and you should be ok.??? Also when people ask questions, firmly say that you will gladly answer questions at the end of the presentation! Ask your friends nearby to stand in as the audience and practice with them to get the feel of it. Or go to a high school nearby and talk with the principal and see if he/she would be willing to let you practice with interested students and faculty? Just a thought! I’m rooting for you!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Steven Davis's profile

Steven Davis

118 posts in 2938 days

#7 posted 09-27-2010 06:56 PM

You may want to consider a video series instead of a book. There is a huge amount of time getting the text right, plus, for a book like this, you’ll need tons of excellent photography. Video will probably be faster to produce (though more equipment to get/rent), but the prices are comparable and you may wind up with more money in your pocket.

If you do want to do a book, look at self-publishing. i had a book professionally published last year and based on the modest sales to date, I would have been much better off publishing it myself… I also would not have ceded creative control for several years until my book stops selling.

KEEP YOUR COPYRIGHT! Read any publishing contract very carefully.

Most importantly, do it if you really love it, not for monetary reasons.

-- Steven Davis - see me at

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2943 days

#8 posted 10-01-2010 12:11 AM

Hi, Steven:
I am going to keep all rights to the book that I am publishing. I haven’t gone over the particulars with other yet, but I also have made the mistake of selling my rights to some of my things, only to be left behind. This will not happen again. If necessary and things don’t work out, I can self-publish from here and will still be OK.

I am not quite ready for videos yet – maybe next year. I am trying to be careful not to bite off more than I can chew, and have a lot on my plate right now. I would rather do one or two things properly than several things poorly. I am kind of stretched to my limit now, but seeing some good results from the choices I made. I think as I mature in this field, I am learning that patience is a key to success. There is no thing as overnight success as far as I am concerned. Things that will sustain my business over the long-haul are the things that are well thought out and not rushed into.

Sometimes I have to fight the urge to jump! :)


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

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