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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #222: Variations on a Theme

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 01-11-2011 02:52 PM 4258 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 221: Busy as a Bee! Part 222 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 223: Presentation Makes a Difference »

It has been said that variety is the spice of life. I think that is the case with most everything. Although we all seem to enjoy our own comfort zones, many times we become bored and stagnant if we don’t expand our horizons a bit here and there.

The same is true with designing. It seems that when I design something that I really like, I not only want to do many variations on the original design, but also several different versions of other designs which will use the same technique and have the same application.

My candle trays are a fine example of this. I still have probably over fifty (yes, fifty) versions of trays that I can name off the top of my head that I want to create. Not to mention all the great suggestions that I receive from friends and customers. And then there are so many other things that I want to do and design besides candle trays. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Sometimes in our lives we are fortunate enough to come across another person who shares our vision of things. I have been one of those people. A couple of years ago, I met my business partner Keith. He is a very technical person and has a degree in electronics and is wonderful with computers. He also had a general interest in woodworking, and had built several speaker systems for car and home stereos. He was intrigued by my job and scrollsawing in general and I more or less introduced him to it.

Since then, he has become an important part of my business. Last summer, he began creating his own designs and working with me to improve Sheila Landry Designs. As my company was beginning to grow, I found that there was just too much for one person to handle. Between designing, marketing, maintaining the website and customer service, as well as filling orders and writing instructions, I just wasn’t able to do everything properly. There just weren’t enough hours in the day.

Taking on a partner was a big step for someone like myself. I had worked on my own for nearly fifteen years, and like anyone who is in that position, I was a bit set in my ways. I wasn’t certain if I would be able to work so closely with another individual and I certainly didn’t want to ruin a good friendship. But in order to continue to grow and make my business successful, I could see that I could no longer keep up and do everything on my own. It was time to allow someone else to take some of the pressure from me and help with the responsibility of the day to day business.

I can happily report that things are “so far so good’. I have seen a great deal of growth in my business since making that decision. Not only has my own production increased, but I now have the addition of Keith’s designs to add to our arsenal of patterns. I found that his designs are wonderful and add another facet to the type of designs we have to offer people. With a fresh approach and look, his designs appeal to customers that may not have liked my own style as much and add another dimension to the company. I think it is wonderful.

Keith is rather quiet about his contribution to the company. Although he likes the work very much, he is more comfortable behind the scenes. We like to kid around and say that he is the “I-T Guy” (internet technology) and I am the “P -R” (public relations) girl, as he is rather shy. It will be interesting in March when we go to New York for the show. It will be his first trade show ever of this sort and I am sure he will have a ball! I am sure my many friends in the woodworking world that I am going to see there will welcome him with open arms, as they are all a friendly and crazy bunch!

But back to designing . . . .

With the recent success of my candle trays, we came up with the idea for making smaller versions of them to accommodate both votive candles and also tealights. Since we have both been busy with the holidays and also we have both been working on new designs, we decided to both work on these variations. I wanted to show Keith’s new candle trays based on some of the original designs.

First of all, he made a couple of variations on the Sweetheart candle tray. The first picture is a tray which will hold two votive candles or tealights:

From SLD334 Sweetheart Candle Tray and Charms

And the second is for a single:

From SLD334 Sweetheart Candle Tray and Charms

I think they came out wonderful! I am really excited about the prospects of doing these. He also worked on the Autumn Leaf design and came up with the following:

From Leaf Candle Tray

And the single:

From Leaf Candle Tray

I really like how the edge is the natural shape of the leaves. It just goes to show how looking at something from a different point of view can be very exciting.

We are in the process of developing more of these patterns to compliment the original trays. Keith has his own designs that he is working on too, so now we are both in the same boat of trying to squeeze more hours out of every day. It is a fun place to be though and it is exciting to have someone to share it with.

In these days of difficulty, it is very nice to have some positive things to report. I know that if I can stick to it and keep working hard that things will work out for us. I think that allowing change and opening your mind to new things is the key. And having someone to share it with makes it all the better. :)

I hope your Tuesday is filled with excitement and creativity!

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



9 comments so far

View Cozmo35's profile

Cozmo35

2198 posts in 1687 days


#1 posted 01-11-2011 04:13 PM

Shelia, It is always hard to find a personality you can mesh well with in your work place. But it seems to have worked out well with you and Keith. Good luck at the NY show! Judging from your designs, I am sure all will go great. I really like the Sweetheart tray!

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7646 posts in 1571 days


#2 posted 01-11-2011 04:18 PM

Thanks Cozmo! I am really getting excited (and nervous) about the show. It will be great to see everyone, old friends and new ones and I am sure that it will be a great time. It will be like a “Live Lumberjocks” with everyone having a common love – woodworking! I am sure I will be overwhelmed and I have a laptop computer so that I can get lots of pictures and videos and report back to everyone here. I can’t wait to meet new people too and I will learn so much!!!

I am glad you like the little trays. You are right, it is hard to find someone with similar visions. It is fun every day to have someone to share this all with. :)

Sheila

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

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6648 posts in 2630 days


#3 posted 01-11-2011 04:30 PM

Hi Sheila;

These are really nice designs. Not bad fior an IT guy. LOL

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7646 posts in 1571 days


#4 posted 01-11-2011 04:36 PM

:D

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

View William's profile

William

9016 posts in 1493 days


#5 posted 01-12-2011 06:01 AM

It’s great that you find someone you can work along side. Myself, I’m always happy to help people any way I can. I have done this a lot in the past through email or phone. I have done it a few times by showing someone how to do something in my shop. However, that’s as far as it goes, is me hleping them in little ways the best I can. When I actually start working on a project, any project, I can’t stand for anyone to be in the shop around me. As a matter of fact, if I’m working on something and someone stops by for a visit, progress on a project comes to a screeching halt. I just can’t work around anyone else. So I am happy for you that you can do that. I hope you realize how fortunate you are. Even my wife, who is my best friend and soulmate, stops me from working when she comes to the shop. Oh, I try to work when she’s there, but very little actually gets done.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14742 posts in 2327 days


#6 posted 01-12-2011 10:16 AM

That sweetheart tray looks great! I see what you mean, I already have an awesome variatoin floating around:-) You’ll be great at the NY Show, no need to be nervous.

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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7646 posts in 1571 days


#7 posted 01-12-2011 01:36 PM

It did get a bit of getting used to working with someone else around. I know just what you mean William. I don’t know why, but it made me feel a bit nervous for quite a while there. There were other aspects of my business that I didn’t feel comfortable sharing also. I can’t put my finger on it, but I supposed I was so used to doing everything myself, it was difficult for me to let go and share the responsibility.

Little by little though, things have changed into a comfortable rhythm. There are things that I do that he doesn’t care to do and vice-versa. I find the overall benefits of having a partner far outweigh the concerns I had. I am fortunate to find someone who is just as detail-minded as I am.

We don’t agree on everything, but when there is a conflict, we do talk it out and come to a decision that both of us can live with. Lately we have been going on our walks at night. Almost every night we walk at least 2km to get some exercise. It seems those have turned into “mobile business meetings” and we discuss the day’s current issues and make business plans. What a great way to multi-task! There are no distractions and it makes the walks fun with planning and solving problems.

As far as the show, I am feeling more and more comfortable with the thought of it. It is going to be a great time with really nice people and the prospect of meeting new people and learning and seeing everything there really is exciting.

I can’t wait!

Sheila

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

View William's profile

William

9016 posts in 1493 days


#8 posted 01-12-2011 05:37 PM

My “working alone” problems go well beyond that I’m afraid. Although I have not been officially diagnosed or anything, I know I have OCD. I have weird habits, even when it comes to my shop. Because of this, if things aren’t left exactly where they go or things done in and exact way or order, I get very anxious. I’m talking anxious to the point of having anxiety attics that even effect my breathing. Sometimes, the way I do things, or the places I put things, would not make sense to the normal minded person. This creates a problem with working with others.
Other “little” things would drive me crazy too. For example, my wife had a key to my shop for a long time. She finally gave it back to me just to keep me from worrying so much. You see, it doesn’t matter who locks the door, me or someone else, the lock still have to be double checked, three times, before I can sleep at night. If I’m not sure it was check the proper amount of times, I’ll lay awake at night until I get back up (it takes me about fifteen minutes to get my brace fastened and all before I can walk safely) and go check it myself.
I’m sorry if my exposing something so personal bothers anyone. I thought you (Sheila) might like to know this though in order for you to see that when I say you’re lucky, you are lucky. Some of us may not be capable of trusting someone enough to allow them any freedom at all, much less enough to truly consider them a business partner. I wish I could do that, especially with my wife.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14742 posts in 2327 days


#9 posted 01-12-2011 08:41 PM

William, You have my sympathies. I had anxiety and paranoia when I was OD’d on Topamax. I’m not sure if I had a worse time with it or whether my wife did? Probably my wife! ;-(

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

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