My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #286: Another Piece of the Puzzle In Place

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 03-16-2011 01:24 PM 4002 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 285: Planning for the Future Part 286 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 287: Five More Days of Prep »

Another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place – but not without effort. One of the last things that I needed to think about was to obtain paint brushes for both the painting class and the scrolling class.

Back in the days, my favorite brush company was very supportive about providing brushes when I taught larger shows. Of course they didn’t send new brushes for every show I taught at, but every couple of years, if I were doing a larger show I could request paint brushes and they would set me up nicely.

This would help tremendously because I would typically need at least four to five different sizes of brushes when teaching a class. Multiply that by the 20 to 25 students in each class and you can see that needing 100 brushes or so is not out of the question. Prices on these brushes range typically from $4 to up to $15 on some of the larger ‘wash’ brushes used for varnishing and finishing (now the same brushes that were provided previously are nearly $28!) and you can see how quickly this can be a major expense.

For years I worked with a wonderful representative at “company A” because I truly loved their products and they were willing to support teachers in classes such as this, as they realized that new students who tried their products would likely become good customers. My liaison at the company said she used to love to provide me with brushes because I introduced them to an entirely new demographic – woodworkers.

I never took advantage of this generosity. I only requested what was necessary to complete the given project. The brushes, once donated, were mine to do with as I pleased and I typically kept them for further teaching assignments or if I saw a particularly enthusiastic student, I would give them a couple to take home and help them out. I loved to see someone who was interested continue with their hobby and I am sure that it helped the industry grow.

When I taught regularly at Hobby Lobby, I brought these ‘teaching brushes’ along so that students could use them if they needed to and frequently they would go out the the store right after class and purchase their own brush because they liked it so much. I feel that the investment that the company made paid off several times over in the long run and brought them many new and long term customers.

But times have changed and things are much harder now. My liaison is no longer with the company and the entire company in fact has been taken over by another company. They still say that they support designers. In fact they encourage designers to mention their products by name and promise a small compensation for doing so when being published, but things are definitely not as they were a couple of years ago. Since I have used their products for years, I don’t mind doing so, but I do find that the communication with the company is very difficult, if non-existent.

Long story short(er), I put in a request for some brushes for my upcoming class almost two months ago. As of last week, I still hadn’t heard back from them. After a follow up letter last week, I was told that my request is being considered and I would hear from them soon. With a week left before I left for the show, I needed to know. I didn’t want to be left at the last minute scrambling for supplies.

In the mean time, I did find another source for good, quality paint brushes. They were offered from a company that has also been around for years and I have dealt with on a consumer level and have been very pleased with both their products and their prompt, courteous customer service. ( I will refer to them as company “B”) They typically sell patterns and some painting surfaces (they are considering selling my skating pond patterns for me in the upcoming months) and since I liked the way they did business and was getting nowhere with Company A, I thought I would try their brushes.

I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised. I received my order about two weeks ago and I was very surprised at how much I loved these brushes. My expectations were not high, as most of their brushes were priced well below the similar brushes of Company A. Now I know that there are different grades of brushes to use, but so far I see these as performing very nicely. I am extremely pleased with how they have worked so far and I think they are an excellent line of brushes to introduce to new painters and veteran painters alike.

In speaking with my liaison there, she was able to help me with my class and offer to supply one of the four brushes I needed to teach. With times being what they are, I am very appreciative for any help whatsoever and graciously accepted. I also ordered the other three from their company, although unfortunately they only offered the one style of brush I needed in a set of five sizes, which wouldn’t do for the class. It would just be too expensive for me to put that kind of money out and it would give me a quantity of unnecessary brushes that I didn’t need or have use for, as I don’t teach very often. So I took what I could and figured I would find the missing style of brush in my travels.

Not twenty minutes after settling out my order with company B, I received an email from company A, saying they would provide twenty of one style of brush for my classes. I immediately responded to her email, and requested the missing style that I needed for the class. She wrote back that the order had already been placed, but they were sending a duplicate of what I just ordered from company B. With a little persuasion, I was able to get her to request that I would instead be sent the style that I needed. I didn’t want to appear ungrateful, but since I wanted something that I needed instead of twice as much of another, I felt it was worth asking. I am happy to say that it seems to have worked out.

I don’t think that there is anything wrong with accepting products from two different companies in this instance. Both have high quality merchandise and while one is strictly mail order, the other is strictly retail. Living in a remote area as I do, I find that it is difficult to find things retail and I do quite a bit of mail order shopping. I find that my customers do so also. I want to be able to hook them up with a place where they can find supplies as easily as possible and I can personally vouch for company B.

Company A however, has been around a long time and also has a great reputation for quality products, although they are a bit more expensive. I feel that it is good to offer two choices. In any case, it is a great load off of my mind to get this matter out of the way and settled. I believe it is the last big thing that I have been trying to resolve.

I put together several new pattern packets yesterday as well. I had to get the instructions for the next magazine submission ready to bring with to give to my editor when I see him, as well as a couple of additional new patterns that we will be putting on the site for our next update.

Today I need to re cut some of the sample bunnies, as I found they need adjustments because of their small size. The spiral ‘basket’ part of them is not locking in like I thought it would and I believe I need to adjust the angle a bit to make it work. I also need to do some adjustments on the line work and prep several of them to be ready for the demonstration. And I need to continue to work on my handouts and outlines.

Things are moving right along and I think I am on the right track. One by one I am checking these important things off and accomplishing. With each one I feel a bit better.

Have a great Wednesday.

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

4 comments so far

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2893 days

#1 posted 03-16-2011 02:21 PM

You are very correct. Times have changed, greatly. It seems you just can’t rely on many companies like you used to. A local Lumberjock and I were discussing this very topic the other day. Places we used to loyally take our business too havesince been taken over by the kid’s of previous owners or sold all togehter and are now no longer worth going to.
A good example is ABC Hardware (of course I made up the name to hide the real name). I used to buy all of my hardware there. I mean ALL of it. If the old man there didn’t have it I would let him order it. If not, he has even gotten it from another hardware store and I paid his markup on it. I was willing to do this because of the great service. Also the store felt like a home away from home. If I had time I would pull up a seat, have a cup of coffee to the side of the service counter, and talk with the owner a bit.
Now the son has taken over the business. He has no idea where nothing is. He has no desire to find out where nothing is, or to learn the hardware business in general. Going there is like going to a yard sale and hoping to find what you need. If you don’t find it, you will get no help. So, needless to say, I stopped going there.
Now though, I feel lost at times. I have nowhere dependable to get my hardware locally.


View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3166 days

#2 posted 03-16-2011 09:58 PM

I don´t see anything wrong to introduce several different company´s to your student´s
after all they are at the course to learn and that incl. from now on different suplyers to know
you can shoose to tell them how hart it was to get the things for the class in this case the brushes
and thats why they have different brands
or you can just say you wanted to let them learn different style and brands to know
nomatter what you say they will eat it raw….... the words come from the expert teacher
a famours designer none the less …... thats how they will look at it 99,9 % of them

take care

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2939 days

#3 posted 03-17-2011 12:45 PM

I’ve run a number of fund raisers for various organizations that involved obtaining donations of merchandise from local stores, and I’ve found one little point that really helps.

I tell them about the fact that everyone who attends our event gets a program that has a “thank you” page listing all donors. The fact that they will get publicly recognized for their donation helps a lot.

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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2970 days

#4 posted 03-17-2011 12:52 PM

William – Yes, it is a whole different world out there for sure. I am sure that I will never see days of promotion like I did back then. (Man – when I say “back then” I really feel old!! YIKES!!)

And Dennis – that was my thoughts too. My partner was unsure if I should use both kinds of brushes in the class and accept samples from two companies, but I do think it will give others the chance to use BOTH products and they can make their own choice. One line of brushes is a bit more expensive and one is more reasonably priced. I also like the mail order factor for those who can’t get around to the stores and search for them. I found that many stores keep less stock/variety now days (there I go sounding old again!) and there is more selection and choice online.

And to Paul – I do plan to do that. I put a little paragraph in my pattern with the website and a blurb about the online brushes. And I am going to pass out pamphlets at the class for the other ones too. I think it will give the new people a good idea what to look for. :)


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

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