Yesterday was a pretty good day. I did finish the drawings for the nativity candle tray, but it took me much more time than I anticipated. That’s OK though, because I am happy with the outcome. It just goes with the territory.
I had planned on drawing until about noon or so – give or take. But at that point although I had the design done, I still wasn’t quite happy with it. I wanted to keep it simple, but I didn’t want it too simple. Sometimes it is hard to figure out where to draw the line with that. (No pun intended)
I always try to do my best. Yesterday when I was looking at some of the older patterns that I had designed many years ago when I started out, I was thinking on how much my skill has improved over the years. What I look at as second nature now used to be beyond my skill level. Although I like designing “over the top” projects, I am seeing that they aren’t always my best sellers. They do sell OK, but it seems that sometimes when I bring it down a notch or two that the patterns have more appeal to people who are just starting out or at a more intermediate skill level.
But just how many holes are too many?
I had this dilemma yesterday when making the nativity candle holder. I can honestly tell you that sometimes making something less work is much more work in the long run. The first couple of drawings that I did of it were quite a bit more complicated and possibly not even something that would be able to be cut. Oh, if I tried really hard, I would be able to do it, but I doubt the average scroll sawyer would be successful at it.
It looked good on the screen, but when I printed it out, the reality hit me that it would be an absolute bear to cut and then it would be quite fragile even if one were to be successful. That, to me is not a good design. I am finding that many of my best designs and the most popular are the ones that look really attractive and difficult, but in reality are quite straight forward and work up quickly. Many of my customers like to sell their scroll saw cuttings or make them for gifts for others. While there is a small percentage of people who want that “2000 hole design” the vast majority want something much simpler that they can achieve in a relatively quick time frame.
I believe that is why the candle holder series is doing so well. They are a nice mix of looking pretty and yet you can make one easily on a weekend day. I realize that they also range in difficulty to some extent, but for the most part, they can be cut in a couple of hours. I believe the one that took me the longest was the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired tray, and that was just about six. The average time I would put on cutting one is about three hours. Certainly easy enough to complete on a Saturday afternoon or even in an evening or two after work.
I think that after many, many years of doing what I do, coming to this realization is in part why my business has been more successful of late. I am finding that it isn’t a game of ‘stump the scroller’ in which I make the most difficult pattern I can think of. I look at the skill level of scrollers like a pyramid. Most people are closer to the bottom level, with very few at the top (expert) level. If I gear all my patterns for the top, that will mean that they will appeal to fewer people and not as many will find success in making them.
I find that gearing my designs for the middle levels (and even toward the beginners) will impart a feeling of success within my customers and help scroll sawing grow instead of scaring people off. The trick is to make attractive designs without making them too difficult to accomplish.
So back to the nativity tray. It came out good. I needed to revise it several times, but each time I felt it improved the overall look and I still think it will be a great pattern that just about anyone can make. I believe that it will become one of my best sellers, and I can’t wait to cut it tomorrow.
I didn’t finish the final revisions on it until after 4pm so my day of painting kind of got rescheduled. I did however spend the after dinner hours in the evening finishing up a couple of ornaments that I started during the week. The pattern was not my own, it is by a designer named Jaime Mills-Price who makes darling and fun characters. I love penguins and when I saw this guy I knew I just had to paint him. My partner says I should be designing my own things to paint and I do see that in the future, but it is getting to be crunch time now with Christmas fast approaching and I think doing some other people’s designs is the way to go for now. Here is a picture of one of the little guys I painted:
|From My Painted Stuff|
If you click on the name, you can see some of the other stuff I painted – some which is my own and other stuff that I have done from patterns by other designers. Either way it is a fun way for me to do something else and still be creative.
Today I am off with some friends to do our shopping for the holidays. I am not getting much, but it is more for the company that I will be going. I also get ideas for stuff when I see cool things so I can kind of call it a ‘working day off’. Oh, and we should have a nice lunch too! :D
It will probably be my last trip up the valley until Spring, so I am going to thoroughly enjoy it. It feels good to go knowing that I have two more designs to cut out tomorrow. I am happy to have reached my drawing goals with them.
I hope you all have a wonderful Monday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"