My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #372: Two New Designs

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 06-16-2011 12:58 PM 5753 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 371: New Designs and Challenges Part 372 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 373: "Roasted Birch" - a New Discovery for Me »

Finally it is a day when I woke up to a clear sky and sunshine. It has been quite overcast and rainy for the past several days. I think the last time it was sunny out was Saturday when I washed the car. I have been waiting for a bright day so I can take some pictures of the latest projects with some natural light. Usually I use artificial light, but I like to experiment with both, as some things just look better with natural light. One day I will have to get some photography lights, but not right now. I can’t believe that I went to the States and completely forgot to look into getting a light tent like many of you have shown me in previous blogs. I suppose I will have to put it on the list of “things to do” when the time comes. It just isn’t now.

I had a fine day of cutting yesterday and once again really enjoyed my saw. What a difference having the right tool makes! I never knew how much I was struggling until I moved up to this saw. (Or maybe I am just getting better!)

I cut two new designs out yesterday. Again, I thoroughly enjoyed my time making sawdust. There is something so relaxing about working on the scroll saw that is hard to explain. When I cut, I look at it as removing one piece of material at a time. Little by little the finished design reveals itself. To me, it is like watching a butterfly emerge from its cocoon. It is funny how it never really looks the same on paper as it does when it is cut. It is quite surprising sometimes. I can’t tell you how many times things look only mediocre on paper and once cut, take on an entire new personality.

I suppose that is why I like wood so much. You can take the same design and cut it from several different kinds of wood and achieve something that is completely different. Wood choice is important, and when designing I often have an idea in my mind as to which species I will be using.

I discovered that my own wood supply is deficient in some areas. While I have lots of some species, I need to replenish some others. I can see a trip to Halifax on the horizon in the not too distant future. That will be an entirely new adventure, as now Keith my partner is involved in turning pens. I am sure that our agenda will shift to finding some interesting things for him to use also.

I haven’t had a go at the lathe as of yet. I know that many of you have cheered me on to giving it a try, and I do intend to do so one day. But for now with everything that is on my plate, I just don’t feel that it is the right time to add another distraction/direction to my repertoire. I need to stay focused on what I have to do right now for my business before I can take on something else. I would rather do less things properly than spread myself too thin and make a mess of everything. The time will come and I will know when it is here, but it just isn’t now.

Back to the trays . . .

I did two styles of trays with a horse/western theme. I have been wanting to do one with horses for some time now (as I said, the list of ideas is still long!) and I began by just drawing them up. I had gone through many pictures and photographs as I always do and in the process came up with several ideas for attractive trays.

The first one was a classic running pack of horses (they call them packs, don’t they?) As I indicated the other day, I wanted to do a couple of simpler designs that one would be able to cut fairly quickly. I thought the silhouette of these animals was adequate and I choose not to adorn the edges of the trays with lots of extra cuts and designs. I wanted the horses themselves to be the stars of this project. Here is a section of the finished cutting:

I was somewhat disappointed when I went to fetch the walnut for this from my stash here, as I didn’t have any. I did, however, come across this wood that I acquired which is called “roasted birch”. Apparently they actually roast this wood to achieve the dark, rich colour. Last autumn when we were at the new place for wood, I saw it and thought I would get some and give it a try. I understand because of the roasting process, it is very stable and resisted warping. This has proven to be true, because the piece was dead-flat. On the down side, it is a bit brittle because of the dryness of it. However, with the tighter grain that is characteristic of birch, it still held together well.

I didn’t like the smell however when cutting it, as it was quite strong and smelled as if it was burning as I was cutting it. I suppose that should be expected because of the process of roasting it, but I didn’t care for that very much.

On the positive side however, the colour was dark and rich and even. It’s just the look I wanted for this piece. It will be nice to see how it looks once oiled and finished. It promises to look even richer.

The second piece I did, I decided to use some sepele that I had. I am a fan of most mahogany and its derivative species. It is suitable for many projects that I make and I really like the warm, almost cinnamon color. It is a pleasure to work with too, as it cuts beautifully and is fairly sturdy with its tight, even grain. However, the piece I had was slightly warped which proved to be a slight challenge when spinning it around to cut the details of the piece.

Fortunately there were no disasters to report and everything went pretty much according to plan. Here is a small sample of the finished cutting for this piece:

Both these pieces need to be sanded and oiled today. I also need to make a couple of adjustments in my pattern drawings so that people are able to easily cut them. There were a few instances where I drew the legs too thin or other details too small and I needed to adjust while I was cutting so that the pieces would be strong. I now need to go back and redraw some of these changes on the pattern. I also need to cut the small charm pieces which will hang from the top of the candle jars. It seems that I tend to do these last.

It will be a busy day and it will be very satisfying to see these designs come to life. I am pleased with them so far, and it gives me confidence that I don’t have to make a design with 300 cuts to be attractive. I look forward to seeing them finished.

Have a great day!Two

-- 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 Roger's profile


20952 posts in 3003 days

#1 posted 06-16-2011 01:51 PM

these would fit right in here in Kentucky at the Derby

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9237 posts in 3119 days

#2 posted 06-16-2011 01:53 PM

I have heard from so many people who love horses and I hope they will find them appealing Roger. :)


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

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3042 days

#3 posted 06-16-2011 05:44 PM

it gives me confidence that I don’t have to make a design with 300 cuts to be attractive
Oh why not?
When I read this, it made me think of the times my wife has asked me, ”why can’t you just make me what I asked you to make me without making it overly complicated by adding detailed scroll work that takes longer to cut than the actual project took to build?”


View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3217 days

#4 posted 06-16-2011 06:40 PM

Hi Sheila, I think I prefer the second design, but both look good. Actually it is a herd of horses.:-)

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

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