My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #198: Making Some Headway

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 12-18-2010 01:48 PM 4412 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 197: Teaching Through Videos Part 198 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 199: Exchanges and Things »

One of the best things about this time of the year is that everyone is kicking it into high gear and I am seeing so many wonderfully creative projects that people are making to give as gifts. It is so much fun to read the posts and see the pictures of these things. They range from absolutely stunning to absurd. (One of the most clever items I saw here on LJ’s was the ‘Toilet Seat Guitar’. If that doesn’t make someone smile in Christmas morning, nothing will!)

I am also enjoying my facebook friends more than ever this year. I have had a facebook account for a couple of years now, but in the past year I have really reconnected with so many people and I have also met new friends and gotten to know fellow woodworkers a bit better just by watching their activities and seeing photos of their day up there.

I must admit that I haven’t posted as much lately as I have in the past, but that is more because of time constraints on my side rather than lack of interest. Whether or not I post though, I do read through things a couple of times a day and see what everyone is up to. I enjoy seeing pictures of children, pets, families and projects as well as seeing great information on woodworking and also painting stuff. It is a nice way to feel a bit closer to people that are far away and feel that you are part of their lives and they yours.

One of the groups that I have reconnected with on Facebook is what I will call my original woodworking group. When I was first introduced to the internet somewhere around 1997, I was amazed at the scope of information that I was able to access and also the ability to have ‘real time’ chats with others from all over the country. One of the popular woodworking magazines hosted a Tuesday and Thursday night chat in an AOL chatroom and through some friends, I was invited to participate. That was where I first obtained my nickname “scrollgirl” and it has stuck with me ever since.

It was a wonderful group that showed up every Tuesday and Thursday and we usually spent a couple of hours in lively conversation talking about woodworking and projects and soon it led to jokes and some friendly bantering. Some people may think it was lame, but through that room, I developed many friendships that I keep to this day.

Back then, there was a resurgence in scroll sawing and there began to pop up several scroll saw ‘picnics’. These were shows that were dedicated mainly to scroll sawing and over the next few years grew to be quite popular events. There were probably 3-4 major shows per year and people came from all over the country to attend them. They were located in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan and later on as they grew, there were even shows in Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin. They were great opportunities to actually meet the people face to face that met in that room, as well as other designers and representatives from the major tool companies. One year I was able to attend four shows, and each one was a three day event and like a family reunion. They are some of my fondest memories.

With the tough times that the economy is going through however, and the decline of scroll sawing and woodworking in general, these shows are quickly becoming a thing of the past. People are having a much harder time being able to attend due to the economy, job insecurity and fuel prices. More and more shows are being discontinued, as it is costly to host one and more difficult to entice people to attend. It seems that the future for events such as that is quite grim.

I am thinking ahead however at the show I will be attending in March. It has been years since I have been able to go to something of this nature, let alone teach and participate in it. It is by far going to be the largest show of this type that I have seen and I am getting very excited about it. One of the best parts about it is that there are several of my friends from that original woodworking group that are going to be there. It will be like ‘old home week’ and I will be able to see these friends fro the first time in years.

Things like this make me appreciate sites like this so much. When we are all here talking to each other on a daily basis through our comments and blogs and project posts, it is easy to forget that we are scattered not only all over the country, but all over the world. I think it is possible to have wonderful and meaningful friendships through the computer and I have seen evidence of it here so many times in the way we help each other and share our lives with each other. It is really a great thing and I just want to take a minute to say how much I appreciate all of you. I don’t know why, but I thought about it as I was scanning the projects this morning before I came here to write. When you think about it all, it is truly incredible.

As for my own project, I am progressing nicely on the sewing box. I spent some time working on it yesterday, although I had some other stuff that I had to accomplish that dealt with the business and life in general. I wish I could be moving a little quicker, but sometimes things just get in the way. I still have time though so I am not in a panic yet and I should be able to get it mostly finished by the weekend as I have most of today and all of tomorrow to work on it.

Yesterday, I did some additional work on the first bear. I needed to adjust the highlights and shading and did so by glazing and re-highlighting some of the areas so that the light source was more defined. I also reinforced the shading in the shadows and gave it a bit more depth. Here is a picture of the result:

From Diana's Sewing Box

I think it is ‘almost there’ and I found that perhaps I was picking at it too much as I often do when painting so I forced myself to move on. I wanted the second bear to be darker, and I did the basecoating on it with a dark wash of color.

From Diana's Sewing Box

I liked how it looked so much, I almost left him bald and stopped right there. However, I thought a little fur may be in order so I did put some on him using several colors of darker brown. I did want him to be somewhat fuzzy like the first bear, although I wanted his coat to be much more worn looking and somewhat shorter.

From Diana's Sewing Box

I am sure I will pick on him some more before the day is done, but for now I feel that it is time to move on. It has been so long since I have painted fur like this that it takes me a while to get back into the swing of things. I need to find the time to practice a bit more and get a definitive game plan if I am going to be able to teach a piece like this. Eventually I would like to make some painting packets of some of these bears, but I need to be more organized in creating them so that people can follow along. I think that is why certain things I can make to teach and other things I just can’t.

I am going to spend the day working on this and also getting ready for a birthday dinner I am attending tonight. I am making a lasagna to bring, and it should be a great time. It will be nice to take a break from things for a while and get out for a bit, although I have been really good with keeping up my walks. Lately I have liked the night walking almost as much as the morning walks. It is an entire new adventure in the dark and also a nice way to refresh after a busy day. I am reading so much about people feeling burned out and I want to take the proper precautions so that I can keep a balance with my work and not feel that way.

I hope you all remember too that even though you are busy to take some “me time” an do something you like to do – just for fun. It will pay off tremendously in the long run and help keep you focused and interested and make your work much more enjoyable.

Have a wonderful Saturday!

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

9 comments so far

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3061 days

#1 posted 12-18-2010 04:47 PM

Hi Sheila

I’ve been using email since 1986 (over a quarter of a century!) and started with the computer company I worked for, Tandem. When I left them in 1996 I was amazed how few of my friends in the wider world had yet to catch up. Nowadays I find myself wondering how we got by ( but we did) before the internet became the tool it now is? Still there are some old stones out there I’d rather be left un-turned. They know who they are, no-one here gladly.

The sewing box is coming along nicely.

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

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2913 days

#2 posted 12-19-2010 12:14 AM

Hi Sheila.

My own e-mail experience goes way back to the Coleco Adam computer, 300 baud modems and the FidoNet. Sometimes took two days to get an e-mail to someone and the same for the reply. The “good old days”? I like today better!

I think you left one of your sentences incomplete. The one that goes “certain things I can make to teach and others I just can’t.” You left off the final word, ”yet!”.

That sewing box looks lovely. It reminds me of a local summer time tradition here in Winnipeg, the Teddy Bear Picnic in Assiniboine Park. One of the events is the “B-A-S-H” or Bear Army Surgical Hospital, where kids can bring in their teddy bears that need repair and get them fixed by nursing volunteers with needles and thread at the ready. It’s a huge event aimed at kids and their families and is a fundraiser for a local kid’s charity.

My missus collects stuffed animals and the first one in her collection is a five foot tall teddy named Theodore that I gave her way back in ‘82. Second was a life sized saint Bernard named Rover that still sits at the foot of our bed. She even took him on holiday with her to British Columbia for a friend’s wedding. She’s a silly little thing, that’s one of the reasons I married her. It’s probably the main reason she married me! (grin)


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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2945 days

#3 posted 12-19-2010 05:48 AM

Yes, Martyn:
I remember my first home computer that we got. It was in 1996. I had worked on data entry type computers when I worked at one of the big banks in Chicago before I was married, but never would I have dreamed of having such a machine right at my home! And then when I began to see the capabilities of the internet and “chat” and so forth – I was fascinated.

Just recently in the past several months it seems a group from my grammar school days ‘found’ each other on facebook as I said. I haven’t really heard from most of those people since I graduated 8th grade when I was 13 years old. As with most things of that nature, some people are friendlier than others. Some are more active and some I hardly hear from. One or two of us however have become quite friendly again and it is wonderful to see pictures and hear about their busy lives. I really like that. As you said though, some old stones are left unturned. Sometimes I quickly remember why we drifted apart in the first place.

I don’t know if I would like living where I do without my computer. I like my little ‘nest’ here and having the option to socialize or not through the computer. If it isn’t with people, it can be with reading and research. I used to live by a large library and I did spend lots of time there. One of the things I wanted to be when I grew up was a librarian. (You can laugh!) I loved the atmosphere and quite and adventure of a library. Who would have known what the future had in store for us in terms of knowledge and communication.

And to Paul:

I was a member of Brookfield Zoo in Chicago for over 20 years. They had many wonderful events and one of them was “Teddy Bear’s Picnic”. It was filled with parades, games and also a Teddy Bear hospital to repair sick bears. In one of my other lifetimes, I used to design and make teddy bears. That is part of what got me into scroll sawing – wanting to make unusual props for the bears. My friend Cari introduced me to the saw when I was looking to make some snowshoes for a mohair rabbit I designed. Thus was the start of my woodworking career. :) I think that sometimes things are just meant to be.

Thank you both for the nice comments on the box. I didn’t get much done today (Saturday) but plan on spending the day Sunday on it and hopefully getting close to the finish. I hope you have a good evening.

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

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2863 days

#4 posted 12-19-2010 12:09 PM

Where is the show you will be attending in March? Also, thought I shudder to tell you I tried to do some cooking baking yesterday. Well, I got powered sugar all over my urethane and paint/stain cans and the resulting “cookie” experience clearly illustrated to me that I am a better woodworker than I am a cookie baker. I am a terrific cook… just have never been a good baker. So today- no cookies. LOL I have to make some kind of wooden shield for my cousin’s child for Christmas. She just called me yesterday- and I will give it a whirl. I have never tried to make a shield- so of course the family discount of 100 percent applies.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2945 days

#5 posted 12-19-2010 01:53 PM

I smile Kelly because although I am a good cook, I couldn’t make pie crust if someone had a gun to my head. After many years of trying and either having a plate of crumbs or a crust so heavy you could anchor a ship with it, I gave up. If I make anything of the pie variety, I get the pre-made crusts and they do fine. My grandmother (and that entire side of the family) were from Czechoslovakia and she showed me how to make Kolocky, a pastry type cookie. they are similar to pie crust (the cookie part) and I do use the dough to make a great coffee cake. The dough itself is only three ingredients and I do alright with it.

As far as the show, I am going to be teaching at the Northwestern Woodworker's 2011 Showcase. It is a huge show and they are expecting over 5000 attendees (YIKES!) It should be fun though and I was very honoured that they invited me to do so. It is in Saratoga Springs at the end of March. This link has a short video about last years show. (Be sure to click on the link on the bottom of the page to see the Demonstrators! ) :D You should try to come!

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

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2863 days

#6 posted 12-19-2010 10:35 PM

My sister used to live in Sarasota Springs! Too bad she’s not still there. :) I just looked at the link to the show, and I have to tell you, in terms of the winning entries in each of the categories we have here on L/J many, many craftsman who do work of a much higher caliber than the winners (including your scrollsaw creations) at last years show. I guess I never fully realized just how talented the folks here on L/J are. I guess because I had never seen the results/winning project photos of a show like this? And last year the asian person won in three or more categories- with minatures? Bah humbug. LOL

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Handi75's profile


377 posts in 3499 days

#7 posted 12-22-2010 11:39 PM


The Bears on the Sewing Box are looking Great!


-- Jimmy "Handi" Warner,,, Twitter: @Handisworkshop, @HandisCreations

View woodcraftertom's profile


38 posts in 2878 days

#8 posted 12-23-2010 12:11 AM

Sheila, I agree that the scroll saw picnics were a wonderful opportunity to meet old friends and make some new ones. The things one learned and saw at the picnics are “Pricless” I don’t think that I would have stayed with scroll sawing if it had not been for the experiences at the picnics. I helped with four of them in Pennsylvania and was sorry to see them stop. Maybe someday we can get them going again. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2945 days

#9 posted 12-23-2010 11:17 PM

The picnics were where I met many of my scroll sawing and woodworking “family” in person. I am really getting excited about the show in March because I will be able to meet so many people in person that I talk to here and through my site. :)

(Thank you too, Handi!)


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

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