I spent much of yesterday working on some custom type design work that I had promised a couple of people. I always say that I don’t want to get involved in production work, but somehow there is always a project or two that straggles into my life. The only way I accept these type of projects is on a “I will do it when I can” basis, but those of you who have been following me through this blog probably figured out that there is seldom a day when I sit here and scratch my head wondering what to do.
In any case, I once again have found myself committed to doing two totally separate projects and I wanted to get these odd jobs off the books, so to speak and I decided that now was a good time.
The first job is pretty straight forward and I don’t really mind doing it at all. It is a crest for a customer who does scroll sawing. I have done work for him in the past and he asked me if I would make a couple more designs up for him. He first approached me at a time when I was really struggling and I needed every penny I could and I was very grateful for the work. He treated me well, paid me promptly and the job involved drawing up plans in Illustrator, something that I love to do anyway. The pictures of what he requested were clear and easy to understand and it made the job easy and fun.
When he approached me just before Christmas with another request, I agreed to do it. Although I realize that I had set somewhat of a precedence for charging little for my time, I had appreciated his support in the past and decided that I will keep my rate the same. It would be very difficult for me to all of a sudden request a large jump in pay, and since his requests are few and far between, it wouldn’t hurt, I felt. I suppose that is one of the perks of being the boss – you get to set the rates you charge others.
I worked on the pattern for him and it only took me a couple of hours to complete. I only have to do the final layout on it today and it will be ready to go. Below is a picture of one of the other crests that he made from a previous pattern that I did for him. He does beautiful work. :)
The other job, I am sorry to say, isn’t going as smoothly.
I had another painting designer contact me regarding drawing up and cutting some surfaces for her to use in her design work. I have loved her work for several years, as she frequently has her designs published in one of the sister magazines from the company I work for. She loved my snowflake candle tray and asked me if I could modify it to make the inner diameter 8” wide and simplify the snowflake border so she could use it for one of her painting projects that she would be submitting for publication. I would not get paid for this work and provide her with one or two surfaces, but I would be mentioned in her published article and pattern to be the source for the wood.
Since I had admired her work for years, I was somewhat star struck and flattered that she even asked me to do it, and I agreed.
What the heck was I thinking???
Don’t I listen to myself? Don’t I read my own blogs? Haven’t I said over and over (and over) again that I don’t want to get into production work?
It is as if the ‘old Sheila’ (the one that is destine to be poor and work for nothing) took over me. I already have so much on my plate (including my OWN painting projects that I want to work on) and here I am doing something for someone else and I know in my heart I will never make a dime off of this venture. But commitment was commitment and I had agreed and she has a deadline so onward we must forge. (Maybe I”M the one that should be committed!)
The drawing and revisions went fine. They only took an hour or so and after a couple of back and forth emails, the design is what she wants. Good. Now comes the part of making a couple of them up to send to her.
It needs to be done on 1/4” MDF or plywood – neither which I stock. I live in a small town, remember and my pickin’s are slim. There is one place here, but it is traditionally overpriced. However, she needs this in her hands by next week so I have no choice.
I went over there yesterday and they had no MDF that I could use. It needed to be that thin because it is a puzzle and has both a base and over layer and they need to be glued together. Anything thicker would be too bulky. Also, it is about 15” in diameter so it will be quite large and heavy if I go to thick.
Long story short, the only choice they had was plywood with knotty pine on one side and birch on the other. Anything else they had was a cheap quality and you could see voids in the sides, which would be very unacceptable for this type of scroll work. I picked a sheet and had it cut into thirds so I could transport it home and store it (I had to buy the entire sheet). As my partner was loading it up in the car, I went in to pay.
The clerk ran up the order and my bill came to a whopping $60! OUCH! Now you all KNOW that I don’t mind spending $40 and more for a nice little piece of ebony or rosewood or something equally beautiful, but sixty bucks for a crummy piece of plywood seemed INSANE to me! But what could I do?? The sheet was already cut and I now owned it.
So today I will be cutting out these two snowflakes (which – by the way – I have to pay to ship to her too!) and licking my wounds. I am going to keep the remaining wood in storage so that if ever someone were to order one of her pieces, I will have it, but after figuring the cost of the wood and the time it takes to cut and assemble the piece, I am going to price it accordingly and I seriously doubt that there will be any ‘takers’. At least I hope not.
It is funny that I see this as such a bad decision on my part. In the past, I wouldn’t even have recognized it is such. So I am hoping that there is hope for me after all. Now the trick for me next time someone asks me is to remember this BEFORE I make the commitment. Then I will know that I am on my way!
I will button this up today and get it off the books. I will also look at it as a lesson learned. Hopefully, I will get a few orders from my site to balance the books out for me today. I am not going to beat myself up over this poor decision because I know better now and it won’t happen again. I’ll put some good music on while I am cutting and enjoy myself while doing it, knowing that I am learning a valuable lesson. I have read many stories from others here at LJ’s that have found themselves in similar situations, so I don’t feel that badly. At least I am in good company!
And it will be a great day! :D
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"