I awoke this morning to another blanket of snow. Last night when we went for our walk, it was nearly all melted and the pavement was actually clear. We were just saying how warm it was outside. It is truly beautiful outside, with about two to three fresh inches on snow on the ground. It looks so clean and pretty.
Lately we have been taking our walks at night. I don’t know exactly why, but we started this a few weeks ago and have stuck to it ever since. We don’t go behind our place into the woods for these walks, as it is too dense back there and probably not wise to venture through them at night. There are plenty of back roads and trails that are somewhat clear and easy to follow – even at night. It is like an entirely new adventure each time we set out.
The other night after it was snowing all day, the sky was clear and the moon was out and the snow literally sparkled as if someone scattered diamonds on its surface. We found a quiet road with a few houses that were spread out and far back from the road we were on. We didn’t need a light because the moon was so bright. At one point I looked up and back from the road was a stone house with smoke curling out of the chimney. It was quiet and peaceful and could have been a scene from a Currier & Ives post card. Truly beautiful. We walked for a while and then circled back through the woods on the trail left from the railroad tracks that no longer existed. I couldn’t help but think how fortunate I was to be here in the place that I am right now.
I probably go on a lot about things that perhaps one wouldn’t feel is pertinent to woodworking. Although the weather and my living environment may not be directly related to the actual building of my projects, I feel that these things are essential to the creative side of my job and productivity. As a designer, there is always a need for fresh ideas. It isn’t as if I have an instructional book to follow every day. Many of you here on LJ’s are designers in your own right, and I am sure that you understand what I am talking about. Our surroundings greatly influence our work. There are, of course, days when I am able to do things that do not require a great deal of creativity (such as when I do book work or even when I am actually building the projects that have already been put to paper) and I like the fact that everything is mixed and I have a variety of options. But overall, I think a peaceful and happy existence contributes greatly to my own productivity and creativity. Living here I never really run out of ideas. And that is a great feeling.
Yesterday, I was able to complete two drawings of new candle trays. I am not sure why I worked so efficiently, but I am happy things went so well.
The first design that I did was a patriotic candle tray design. I have a lot of ideas for doing designs using a stars and stripes theme, and I almost bogged myself down trying to decide which direction to go. It seems that sometimes I do that. I just over think things and spend lots of time trying to decide what to do. I am happy that I have finally become aware of this trait in myself because now when I feel myself getting into that mode, I just go ahead and start drawing, knowing full well that I can change anything that I want along the way. I knew in my head what I wanted to achieve with this pattern, but wasn’t quite sure how to get there. After a couple of hours of playing around, I think I am kind of close to what I originally envisioned. Here is a small bit of the design:
|From SLD 341 Patriotic Candle Tray|
Since I have more ideas as to what I can use on this theme, I plan on designing several others and perhaps I can sell them as a set. After all, there is not a limit as to how many that I can make. I far prefer this problem to the problem of not having any ideas at all. I have my little notebook filled with options for other patriotic trays so on the days when I am not feeling particularly creative I can go through it and have something else to draw.
The second design was a little trickier and took a little longer. I was looking to do something floral and summer-like, as people are already sick of winter and will be looking for summer themed projects soon. The bee and honeycomb tray was scooped up by the magazine (good news that I didn’t think I mentioned here on the blog) which means that I will not be able to use it or sell it for several months. I always have mixed feelings when a design is picked up by them. I am very happy that they will show it, but also I feel bad that I don’t get to present it for so long. I have already had many inquiries from customers who were looking to buy the pattern. I now have to tell them that it will not be available for several months at best.
The next best thing I could do is make another tray with a summer theme that would be just as cute. I decided to make a tray with sunflowers and perhaps a ladybug or two that would be nice for the warmer weather. I liked the overlay process that I used with the bee tray and I decided to do something like that again. For the second tray, I drew the entire base of the tray using only the leaves of the sunflowers. The flowers themselves will be done in 1/8” overlay pieces. To add further interest and depth to the design, I also decided to make the middle of the flowers separate pieces altogether and angle the saw as I do with the inner piece of the tray so that the centers of the flowers are recessed slightly. This will cause the petals of the flowers themselves to raise up very slightly from the leaf portion of the tray and I think the effect will be very nice. It looks nice on paper, and I am interested to see how it will look finished. Here is a small example of the design:
|From SLD342 Sunflower Candle Tray|
Both of these designs can be left natural but I also want to try to stain them with some color as I have done on many of the other trays. I find that there are people who like each of these techniques and I think that showing both options is the best way to go.
So today I will be cutting for most of the day. The funny thing is that I have several other designs living in my head that I can’t wait to draw up. I almost opted to take the day to continue drawing, but I didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself and have to cut for two or three days straight. I think that for myself, breaking things up and switching back and forth will be much better and keep me fresher. Besides, the other ideas still have a bit of fog cloaking over them and when I am cutting I will have a chance to thoroughly think them through before I attempt to put them down on paper.
I don’t know how much of my creativity that I can attribute to the environment in which I live. I do know that when I am happy and I have a peaceful mind, it seems like I never run out of ideas and enthusiasm. I know that some designers and artists create their best work when they are in turmoil, but I find for myself that I do far better when things are settled and I take some time out for myself and am aware of my surroundings. Every day is quite busy and if I don’t take time to take a breath and get away from things – even if it is only for an hour or so to take a walk in the woods – I find myself feeling quite overwhelmed.
I believe that taking care of one’s peace of mind is as important as taking care of your physical health. Doing so is essential to one’s happiness and well-being. Whether it be a walk in the woods or taking a long hot bath or reading a chapter in your favorite book, I hope you all take some time to take care of yourselves each and every day. You will be amazed at how much it can stir your creativity.
May you all have a great day!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"