My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #121: Building a Bridge

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 10-02-2010 01:40 PM 4952 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 120: The Power of Attitude Part 121 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 122: Building a Bridge 2 »

It seems like I have been all over the board the past couple days regarding work. I don’t know. Sometimes it just happens. I have so many directions that I could go in and I need to commit myself to going in one. Or at least one at a time. Doing only one thing is almost impossible these days. There has been so much opportunity from many different places and I don’t want to let any of them go. I find that I do one task for a while and then get distracted and do another task and change gears to that. I am making progress, but it seems much slower that way and not quite as satisfying (at least at this stage of the game) then if I would just do one thing at a time to completion.

So it is time to reorganize again and list the tasks at hand and prioritize them. Usually writing them down on paper does help me to focus and get things in order. Then I can start moving ahead and ticking them off one by one and actually completing things.

I am pretty good with the magazine now, as they have several projects in their hands, as well as a couple of articles. That should give me a break from doing that. I need to start thinking about the next catalog deadline, which is only a couple of weeks away. This is usually when I do my rocket-burst of designing and crank out some things that will meet the deadline. I have a few designs in the works so I can see quickly finishing at least two to three in the next week or so. These are going to be for the late winter and early spring release so it seems quite out of place to be doing these at this time. Here it is just starting to turn into fall and I would like nothing better than to do some cool Halloween projects or autumn things or even Christmas. But in the publishing world they are all way past that so its time for Valentines and bunnies and spring things. It always seems strange. I have lots of ideas that are going to have to wait until next year (which means I will be doing them in the summer) that I didn’t get to this year.

I also have been beginning to outline my book and thinking about that. Starting is the hardest part I think. I have been trying to organize the chapters in my head and thinking about what to include, what to leave out, what will need photographs, etc. I am thinking the best way to get started is to do an outline. I would have never thought in grammar school that I would use so many of the basic skills that they taught us in English class. Perhaps they knew what they were talking about. (Ya think?)

I am also getting to the point on the skating pond where I want to really finish everything up and get it into a booklet format. The instructions are already done and at the magazine for all the pieces I have, and they have the original set there, but my own set is still in the works as many of you know. As I am recreating my own set, I am far more detailed on the instructions and rechecking to make sure that everything is as it needs to be. I am waiting to hear from someone as far as the laser cutting for the kits of figures as to what he would charge me per set so I can get moving with that. I am taking a few more photographs to be included in the pattern as I go along.

Yesterday I started making the little foot bridge for the scene. It is simple, yet cute and easy to do and it fits in well with the scene. I wanted something that could also be included in the kit and that someone with little building skill could easily accomplish. This was an easy task because my own building skills are what I would call ‘basic’. I did take pictures as I went along.

First I applied double sided tape to 1/8” birch plywood for the side rail pieces. This way I could cut both sides at once and save some cutting time:

From SLDP103 Skating Pond Figures

I applied the patterns to the pieces. As I said, I used 1/8” plywood for the side rails but I used 3/8” oak for the base of the bridge:

From SLDP103 Skating Pond Figures

I cut out the pieces on the scroll saw:

From SLDP103 Skating Pond Figures

I measured craft sticks (popsicle sticks) and cut 18 pieces into 2”lengths. I found that the craft sticks looked great and were easy to obtain and were the perfect thickness for the floor of the bridge:

From SLDP103 Skating Pond Figures

Everything is cut:

From SLDP103 Skating Pond Figures

After everything was sanded, I lined up the ends of the bridge and applied a generous coat of clear drying wood glue to the runners:

From SLDP103 Skating Pond Figures

I started in the center and worked my way to the ends, placing the floor boards into place. I needed to work quickly because the glue dried fast but it went very easy:

From SLDP103 Skating Pond Figures

After the glue dried, I sanded the sides of the bridge with my 1/3 sheet sander so everything was even:

From SLDP103 Skating Pond Figures

That is all I finished yesterday because I want to add some color to the bridge and let it dry overnight before putting on the rails. As it is now, you can also use it as a cute foot bridge in a garden of a doll house or small scene like that. I wanted this to be cute, and also simple to make for someone with little skill or experience in this type of thing. My main target for these kits and this pond scene is decorative painters and their main objective is to paint, and not build things. With this piece, the bridge will have decorative snow applied to it (as many of the pond pieces will have) and that will hide a multitude of errors. I hope this will also spark interest in some of the painters to want to do additional woodworking, as they are creative people to begin with and it will hopefully be a fun experience to make this little bridge.

I will be finishing the bridge today, along with mapping out my shoe for Jordan’s class. I have no band saw here, and the block is much too thick for my scroll saw, but I have a place to go where I can use their band saw and get the general shape cut out. The saw is older and used little, and my experience on the saw is next to nil, so I will probably let them give it a try for me, hoping it will be OK. If I see any problems, they also have a belt sander and I believe that I can use that to get my basic shape. I never thought of that when I started the project, but it isn’t enough to deter me from trying anyway. In seeing how these tutorials are presented, I think it is a wonderful opportunity for me to learn. I have so many carving ideas in my head right now for fun things and I really want to learn how someone of Jordan’s caliber does things. Between that and Martyn’s clip board I don’t know where to start, as I am thinking of so many things to do with the big box of veneer I have now too!

I guess I will never be bored!

I hope you enjoyed seeing how I made the bridge. I am beginning to run out of characters to paint for the pond scene. There are several trees and lamp posts and such, but I can see the end over the horizon and I am more excited than ever to work on it and get it done. I will have pictures of the finished bridge tomorrow.

I hope you have a great day!

-- 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 BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3090 days

#1 posted 10-02-2010 02:32 PM

Good blog, Sheila. I especially like the bridge construction piece. The bridge is coming along splendidly.

Regarding priorities and doing one thing at a time. I guess it helps being a man (we seem to be hardwired for this) but a list and a narrow focus will get you through most blizzards of confusion and conflicting tasks.

With the veneers, just try doodling your ideas in a spare moment for now. It can wait. That way you have a picture of where your thoughts left off for when you actually go for it. In one of the blog entries I’ve mentioned a good Veneering book you might like to get hold of. Not essential though.

As for the shoe challenge. I’ve got to fit a new blade to the bandsaw and I don’t trust my accuracy with it anyway. You are not alone there.

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

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3357 days

#2 posted 10-02-2010 04:16 PM

I also like the bridge.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3072 days

#3 posted 10-02-2010 07:09 PM

London Bridge it ain’t but it’s COOL!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2974 days

#4 posted 10-02-2010 07:22 PM

Thanks, guys! I do like it too. It will look better tomorrow with the side rails on it. It is nice and simple. Sometimes simple is best.

Martyn, I saw that about the book on veneering and I am going to look for it. I love the clamp you have too. I have tried weighing things down with some heavy books and they just aren’t enough. I could probably fashion a clamp like yours when I am ready. I may look to you for some guidance then. We are making plans to have a real shop area probably by mid next year so until then I have to utilize what I have here regarding both tools and space. It is fun to plan though and have that to look forward to. I have cut veneer on the scroll saw and been quite successful with making some pretty detailed pieces. There is a world of possibilities to be artistic and creative.

Isn’t woodworking fun??

-- 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 2942 days

#5 posted 10-02-2010 10:36 PM

Hi Sheila.

Great little bridge. Can’t wait to see it completed.

I have a suggestion for another figure for the pond scene, Two actually. The local mayor, complete with his chain of office, getting his top hat knocked off by a snowball thrown by the local scamp, who is the other character, names to be decided by the artist.

Hope I’m not treading on your toes by making suggestions for your pet project, but it just sort of popped into my head and I had to share.

Have a great one!

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

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2896 days

#6 posted 10-03-2010 12:05 AM

I like your bridge. I have got to recommend that idea to a friend. He has this elaborate town he has built around his train set. There is a gel like substance running through the middle representing a stream. There is a flat piece across the park area for a bridge on a walking trail. Your type bridge here would look much nicer. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before.
Also, while I’m commenting here on your post, l want to let you know. I follow your blog closely. If I miss an installment, I go back and search for it as soon as I get time on the computer. I try to comment regularly just so you know I’m keeping up. I’ve been so busy lately though that I have only added my own blog entries in a hurry as I get a chance.
I will keep reading regularly and always look forward to what scrolled creations you come up with next. This time of year is always busy for me though. The weather is getting to be just like I like it. I’m finally able to get in the shop during the daylight hours instead of living at night like a vampire. Band season at the school is getting wound up good and my wife leaves a lot with that (regular chaperone) and leaves me alone spending time with my four youngest boys. I love doing that but it does add something extra to my plate. Also, money has been tight so I’m making most of our kid’s Christmas presents this year. I’ll have to squeeze that in there too.
Keep up the good work though. The main reason I try to follow you so closely is the fact I’ve seen several scroll saw pattern makers simply disappear lately. I am thrilled that you seem to be thriving along just nicely though. I know this to be true everyday when I see your blog. I’ve had so many people tell me when I get to scrolling that the scroll saw is going the way of the dinosaur. I know they are wrong though when I’m watching your career. Thanks for all that you do.


View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3169 days

#7 posted 10-03-2010 12:38 AM

niice little bridge Sheila
that is pretty much the same way I have build queit a few over the years
both in real size but allso for freinds that needed them for there different diorama´s going
from modeltrains over dolhouse to warscenes

I look forward to see that one finish and coloured

have a great sunday

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2974 days

#8 posted 10-03-2010 03:18 PM

Thanks for all the nice comments and suggestions. I do appreciate them a lot. I am planning on adding more pieces to the set each year and adding different story lines, if not to the entire set, at least to my own.

I hope scroll sawing isn’t going to be a dinosaur! I see many applications where it would work so much better than a band saw or other type saw for detail work in larger projects, as well as the stand-along projects that are the kind that I make.

You are right though, William. There have been many designers that haven’t been able to hold on. I have had my difficult times too, and some days I feel that I am holding on for dear life. We aren’t out of the woods yet and although I hope that I won’t have to give it up to get a ‘real job’ only time will tell. I know that I won’t go down without a fight though. Even if I do fail and am not able to make a living at it, I will know that I have given things my all and tried my best. I am just now seeing some positive results of over a year of ground work that I have laid. If I can keep going in this direction and working hard and expanding into other areas of woodworking, I have a chance of being successful. The next year will be critical in my business development, as well as seeing where the economy is heading. My editor tells me that people re-subscribing to the magazine are at a healthy rate so hopefully I am safe at least for now. :)

Thanks again! Sheila

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

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