My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #232: Cutting on New Trays Completed

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 01-21-2011 03:28 PM 5447 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 231: Two New Designs (and more to come) Part 232 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 233: An Unexpected Adventure »

I spent most of the day yesterday cutting out the two new candle trays. I can honestly say that it was quite a pleasure to do so. Many times people say that they wouldn’t want to do woodworking for a living because it will take the fun out of it. I can see their point, but for myself, it is an extra bonus to be able to get paid for doing something that you absolutely love to do. I suppose that is why I am here. :)

There are so many different aspects to the business of woodworking that I can honestly say that I never get tired of any one of them. It doesn’t seem that I get to spend enough time on any one task to do so. Even when I am doing the parts that I don’t enjoy quite as much (such as book work) I know that soon I will be able to move on to other things that are more enjoyable. Everything is not cut and dry either. So many of the tasks overlap each other that even if I am doing something that I don’t particularly like doing, there are usually breaks in between of talking to customers or answering questions or looking something up. All in all, it is far more desirable to me than working for someone else in a job that I am not fond of. It is a lot of hours (I never count) but at least I get to be creative.

During lunch yesterday we put on a few tutorial videos for Photoshop. The power of that program never ceases to amaze me. Although I only know a tiny portion of the adjustments and corrections that can be made with it, I always enjoy learning and I have been able to apply many of the techniques to my own photography to improve my pictures. I have done some photo restoration in the past (several years ago) and I also truly enjoyed working with the program. Since then, several upgrades have been released and now I am on version CS5 which is their newest and there are hundreds of tutorials available all over the internet and also from Adobe which highlight many of the most common features. I have already tried many of the adjustments and it is quite a bit of fun to see a mediocre or poor photograph come to life.

I stated before that my camera isn’t very expensive as far as cameras go (it was under $200) yet the quality of my pictures is very good. This isn’t because I am a great photographer, but because I have learned some very helpful basic adjustments which greatly improve the quality of the pictures I take. I leave the camera on its own automatic settings for the most part, and then do the changes in Photoshop when I am done. I do all the step-by-step photography for my magazine articles on my own and my editor has told me many times how much they have improved over the years. I know there is still more room for improvement however, and I like to continue learning and improving as I go along.

I feel like all these aspects of my work seem to overlap. Color, composition, layout, design all are a large part of everything I do. As is writing and teaching. It is all part of making a professional presentation that instructs the customer how to recreate the project themselves, and have fun and learn something in the process.

I see many other patterns available where the customer is only given line art and a few words on making the project. This is fine for someone who is skilled enough to already know what they are doing, but it is not helpful at all for the person who is new to the process and needs guidance and direction. There have been times that I have heard from people who have been frustrated with poorly written patterns. I think it is a shame because it turns them away from something that should have been an enjoyable experience for them. A couple of times I have been told that my instructions waste space because I tend to repeat the basic steps in every pattern. But I look at it as if the person why buys my patterns were newcomers to scroll sawing and I don’t assume that they know things. It really isn’t that I am writing down to them, but I feel that I should provide the information and they are welcome to take it or leave it. I would rather have too much there than not enough and err on the side of overkill.

So for today, I will be doing my sanding, staining, finishing and photography for these two new projects. I did take some snapshots this morning of the new candle trays, although nothing has even been sanded yet. I am very pleased with the designs and they both came together nicely.

The first shot is of the patriotic candle tray:

From SLD 341 Patriotic Candle Tray

This one was really fun and easy to do. I was debating with myself whether to make the stars rounded or pointed on this one and actually drew it up both ways. I choose to round them over because I thought that it would look good with the rounded edge of the banner around it. Also, doing the stars with sharp points will make it much more difficult for them to accomplish. I may decide to put both patterns in the packet though so the customer can choose which one they like best.

From SLD 341 Patriotic Candle Tray

I am going to show this piece in natural wood, but I am also going to use the gel stain medium and add some color to it. I think it will look nice.

The other project is the sunflower candle tray. I decided to do another overlay project for this. I like overlays because it gives me more flexibility in my designing.

From SLD342 Sunflower Candle Tray

The base of the tray is all leaves. I decided to use oak because the design isn’t what I would call intricate and I think it will hold up really well and give it an interesting look. I love oak but it doesn’t always do well with delicate fretwork because of the deep and open grain. But it is good for stuff like this:

From SLD342 Sunflower Candle Tray

For the sunflower overlays, I used maple. I wanted something light in color and a tight, even grain so it would tolerate the cutting of the individual petals. I decided to do something a little different on them though. I wanted them to be more dimensional, but I didn’t want to add a third layer (leaf base, sunflower petals, sunflower center) as it would begin to look too clunky. I thought about this some and came up with what I feel is a good answer.

I bevel cut the centers of the small sunflowers, just as I did the insides of the tray so that they would be slightly recessed. This would also raise the outer petals of the flowers off of the tray slightly and really give it some natural dimension without the appearance of it being heavy or bulky. I only needed to figure out the right angle to raise the thin 1/8” wood without the centers pushing all the way through, as I had only a little side surface to work with. After a couple of tries, I found that 15 degrees was sufficient to do the job. Below are the results:

From SLD342 Sunflower Candle Tray

I am really happy with how this works out. It was just the look that I was going for. Plus it opens up a whole new train of thought for me for future designs. I like when that happens.

So for today, I will be refining these two projects and getting them finished and ultimately photographed. It is a good way to end the week and I have two more immediate designs I want to get working at as soon as I am done with these. It will be a busy day, yet a fun one.

Have a great Friday!

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

5 comments so far

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 3028 days

#1 posted 01-21-2011 04:12 PM

Shelia – I, only a part time woodworker, love all aspects of it. I feel that IF I could do it full time it would only bring more pleasure and excitement, not less. Sure at that level you have a business side to run as well. However, to me, the joy of creating products and designs in wood far out way a littloe bit of paperwork.

Keep the posting going – love to read them.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3259 days

#2 posted 01-21-2011 05:01 PM

how funny
yesterday I said I looked forward to see the tray with the flowers
not that it isnĀ“t good but I think I like the patriotic tray more becourse
of its simple wave design :-)

have a safe day

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3447 days

#3 posted 01-21-2011 06:32 PM

i love them both… i was thinking the flowers one would look cool as a picture frame…yes working for yourself has its ups and downs…but…i once read from an author that once he started working for himself .and the thought of going to work for someone else…he would rather sell peanuts on the street corner then work for someone again…to me its truly the American dream…people didnt come over here from other countries with the dream of working for someone..they came for the opposite really glad your living your dream…i wish this country could recapture that…have a great weekend…cut away…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View stevebuk's profile


57 posts in 2828 days

#4 posted 01-21-2011 09:01 PM

like them both sheila, and i agree with grizzman the flower one would look nice as a photo frame too.

View TJ65's profile


1381 posts in 3193 days

#5 posted 01-22-2011 04:38 AM

I was just thinking that about the sunflower tray. Thinking how I would adapt a leafy frame that I had to add a dimensional layer to it. Nice design
The only problem with being your own boss is that you tend to be to hard on your self and also if you dont work you dont get paid!! Now thats a Bummer!!! But I suppose you cant have it all.

-- Theresa,

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