My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #128: Writing Instructions

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 10-09-2010 12:05 PM 3921 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 127: Scrollgirl's Day Off Part 128 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 129: Moving Right Along »

I spent much of yesterday trying to get on track again. My mid-week break (although much appreciated) seemed to take its toll more than I anticipated. It seems that I spent most of the day catching up on things that I hadn’t thought would fall behind so quickly. I caught up with my emails and that felt good. However, I still need to solve some issues regarding the business and haven’t quite finished.

I need to work on writing the instructions for several of the new projects that I have to offer. As much fun as I have creating the projects, each one comes with the task of writing the pattern packet for it. I must admit that I am not always fond of this part of the business. It sometimes can be quite tedious.

There are projects such as the candle trays that all follow somewhat the same process as far as creating them. I use what I will call a ‘template’ for these patterns, where the instructions vary only slightly, but I almost need to be even more attentive so that I don’t leave anything out or include things from previous versions.

Then there are other projects such as the new baskets my partner created that are a bit more involved. He writes his own text and does all his own line drawings, but I still have the job of integrating all the elements into a pattern packet. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but there is a bit more to it than meets the eye.

I use all Adobe products when creating my patterns. Although I use MS Word for the text, I also need Illustrator for the vector line work and Photoshop for the photography. All my patterns need these three elements which are all different file types. I use InDesign for the actual pattern file, as it is a program which is made to read and integrate these file types, as well as several others. In it I merge the elements together and create the pattern packets. When all is done to my satisfaction and I have a good InDesign file, I convert it to a PDF file with Acrobat Professional so that everyone can easily download it and read it on their computer.

As you may imagine, there is a lot involved in knowing and learning to use all of these programs. You can spend a life time alone just learning Illustrator, let alone the others. Although I only know the tip of the iceberg in any one of these programs, after ten plus years of working with them and teaching myself how to use them, I am quite proficient in them for my own purposes. The final product is a clean, well presented pattern that is able to be downloaded and read on any computer as a PDF file. It is a great thing when everything falls together.

A while ago, I had written in one of my blogs that my main wholesaler took over the printing of my patterns. There was a discussion as to how they wanted to remove the ‘Sheila Landry Designs’ logo from the packets and put their own, still giving me the credit as the designer. At first they wanted to strip off all of my contact information and I put my foot down, as I need to hear from customers with questions and/or problems they may have. We came to the compromise that they would take the logo off and leave my other information in tact.

The other day I mentioned that they accepted 21 new designs for distribution in their next catalog. That meant that they would be receiving 21 additional pattern packets that they needed to modify to suit their purposes. Their computer guy (I’ll call him “Ben” – not his real name) appears to have marginal computer skill at best from my past dealings with him. I have come to this conclusion not only from my own dealings with him, but also from my main contact with their company (who I will call Sue). Sue is and has been in charge of the catalogs as long as I have been working with the company. She compiles, lays out and writes all of the information contained in it, as well as oversees much of that side of the business.

I received an email from her the other day in which she asked me if I could send the pattern files to her in another file format rather than PDF. She said that Ben said it would be easier to edit the files if I were to send them in something like MS Word or a similar word program. I immediately knew that he didn’t know what he was doing because MS Word isn’t even able to read the file because of the included graphics. She then said he wanted me to send the files in the format I had them in before converting them to PDF and I explained to her about InDesign. She didn’t think he was familiar with that program.

She then told me that she spoke to him and he said to send them all in Illustrator format, as he was familiar with that program. I explained to her that although Illustrator was able to read both text and photos, it only had a very limited functionality in dealing with them. I also explained that in order to send everything in Illustrator format, I would need to send each file page by page, as Illustrator can only open one page of a PDF file at a time. That would mean the 21 pattern files would turn into a couple hundred separate files and things like text flow (where the text continues from one page to the next) and links to photos and graphics would all be broken. It would be a nightmare.

I further explained that if they chose to go this route that I would be happy to send them that way, but I would also absolve myself of any and all responsibility as to the outcome of the patterns and that Ben would have to own up to the final output.

I think I succeeded in terrorizing her.

I immediately received an email back from her saying “NO! NO! NO! Leave them in PDF!!” and I couldn’t help but smile a bit when I read it. Good. I don’t want them messing with my work. Sue is like me whereas she is a very detail-minded and conscientious person. We always work well together. She admits her limitations on the computer and was only telling me what Ben had asked her. I had reminded her of the few times when in the process of converting these files to PDF there were slight glitches that we needed to take care of and that over the many years I have worked with these programs, I know what to look for when doing so. This isn’t something you just walk into and start fooling with.

I really don’t like Ben anyway. I probably shouldn’t say that but I am human too. I am quite patient with people, but even I have my limits as to what I put up with from others. He seems to have a ‘know it all’ and very condescending attitude. In addition, about 2 months ago just before the last catalog went to print, I received an email from Sue asking me if I had sent Ben the PDF patterns for that issue for him to work on. I had done so almost four weeks prior and told her so. I told her I still had the email if she wanted to see (I keep everything). She asked me to send it over because she said that Ben told her that I had only sent the patterns to him two hours prior to their conversation and he didn’t do his work on them yet and they needed to be at the printer.

I sent her the email which was time stamped and she was angry and I was angry. What a slime ball! Here he was trying to pin his own laziness on me! I was happy that I could come up with the proof so quickly. It is wonderful to be organized. However, I don’t think she would have believed him anyway. I don’t think she has much faith in him either. He appeared in the company sometime this past spring and I am wondering if he is a cousin of the owner or some other type of relative. I can’t imagine in these difficult times that anyone like that would be able to keep his job unless he has connections. He certainly seems to be a pain in Sue’s side also. But he doesn’t know who he is dealing with. Between Sue and myself he doesn’t have a chance! We are on to him and his BS.

So today’s agenda consists mostly of writing patterns. I am going to try to finish the charms for the new candle tray too and take the photos for it so I can include that in the patterns. If I have time I want to progress on my shoe too.

I was up extra early today and it is still dark now, but I wanted to get writing while it was quiet here. I don’t even have music on this morning, as I am just enjoying the peace prior to a busy day. Perhaps I will put some nice classical music on today, as I don’t like music with any lyrics when I am writing. I can’t think and sing at the same time! :)

I hope you all have a wonderful and fun day today!

-- 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 BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2889 days

#1 posted 10-09-2010 04:38 PM

Hi Sheila.

Might I suggest something by Wagner? Very stirring music that will keep you awake at the saw. Steer clear of Brahms though, or you’ll be snoring in no time. (grin)

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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3115 days

#2 posted 10-09-2010 05:08 PM

with such an A…...... in the other end I wuold realy hope someone tell the owner of the company
what he is doing to destroy the company

now I realy want to go down and sit in my best chair and listen to Tchaikovsky´s 1812 overtúre
recorded with real canon´s , and I want to play it laud :-) one of the best way for me to imaging
the fool getting what he deserve on the other end where the bullets land and explode

have a great weekend Sheila


View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2920 days

#3 posted 10-09-2010 06:30 PM

I saw a concert in Chicago at the Symphony Hall with my brother when he had just turned 18. He had purchased tickets for us as my Christmas present and we heard Rachmoninoff’s Piano Concerto #2 which is my favorite concerto of all time and also they played some various Wagner pieces, that I liked too. Our seats were in the second row on the right side of the stage near the violin section. It was incredible. I have only been to one other concert like that in my life and the other one I was in the second balcony (that one I heard Beethovan’s Emperor Piano Concerto). They were both amazing experiences.

I usually listen to something quite soft in the mornings, such as piano solos and save the more lively stuff like the Wagner for when I am up and doing things. It is odd, but I enjoy classical music as much as Pink Floyd and rap and most other kinds of music. It just depends what mood I am in.

As far as “Ben” goes, Dennis – I would imagine the owner knows. “Sue” is not one to put up with crap and she has been with the company as long as I can remember. If it came to him or her, she would probably win out. I can’t see him lasting long if he doesn’t shape up!


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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3115 days

#4 posted 10-09-2010 07:20 PM

the problem with alot of theese fools is that they often can get aound with those things untill its too late
and nearly impossiple to recover from the damage they had done


View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3037 days

#5 posted 10-09-2010 09:22 PM

CYA. As you quite rightly do. There are plenty of lazy a**holes out there who will try to pin their incompetence on you. Been there. Save everything myself too. You can never be too careful. Oh and the other thing is there is nothing on Earth that can stand up to righteous indignation, backed up with proof.

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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2920 days

#6 posted 10-09-2010 11:39 PM

I’m right with you Martyn. I save everything and there have been many times that I was really happy I did. Just a habit, I guess. :)

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

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18271 posts in 3676 days

#7 posted 10-10-2010 09:50 AM

Too bad, but we all run into incompetent back stabbers occasionally. Nice to be able to put them in their place :-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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