My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #414: Some Benefits of Diversification

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 07-28-2011 12:58 PM 1110 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 413: Dog Days Part 414 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 415: Difficult Decisions »

I am not sure why I am so excited about finishing up a pattern packet. Perhaps ‘excited’ is the wrong word. ‘Satisfied’ may be a better way to describe it.

It was nearly 10pm last night when I finally finished everything together into a packet form. I had worked on it all day. I didn’t have any errands to run and only took short breaks for meals. It probably took a little longer than I expected, but as I am looking at it now, I know it was worth it.

The pattern that I am referring to is for the little Halloween witch hat ornaments that I showed a couple of days ago. They aren’t a difficult project – as a matter of fact, they are geared more toward the beginner – but I wanted the instructions to be nice and detailed so that someone that is just starting out painting can easily accomplish them.

The final packet is 15 pages long for the 12 ornaments. It has a total of 29 color photographs plus the color cover. That sounds like it would be complicated, but it really does break things down so that there are step by step pictures the whole way through the process. Each hat has anywhere from two to four pictures which show the painting process, which make it very easy to follow along. Because of these step by step pictures, there is much less text needed and in looking at the pattern, it doesn’t overwhelm you with descriptive instructions. I also included some basic painting terms and techniques so that even a new painter will be able to understand the process better. And of course I included instructions to cut the hats out themselves.

All in all it is a fine project packet that I enjoyed doing very much. I doubt it will be picked up by any wholesalers for this year, as they are already looking at winter items and I probably missed the deadlines for that, but I will be able to offer it on my site, making the painting part of it a little fuller.

I rather like the position that I am finding myself in at this point in my business. It seems that the past year or two, I have been producing patterns fast and furious, trying to build a good foundation for the site and also my wholesalers. Yes, it is wonderful to offer 20 or 30 new items at each deadline, but it can be quite exhausting. But prior to those couple of years, I worked at such a sluggish pace due to some personal circumstances and I rarely had fresh or new things available over and beyond what it took to minimally get by.

I think though at this point that I have succeeded in turning the tables. The growth in the amount of quality patterns that I have offered both on my site and to my wholesalers have created a nice foundation to build on. I feel that there are not only a great number of new things available to my customers, but that they are all quality patterns too.

I have seen other designers come up with an idea and flood the market with scores of variations to the point where the quality of the designs is not what the original is. I have to watch myself when doing my candle trays so I don’t fall into this trap. I get away from them from time to time and do other things in between making new ones because I don’t want them to be cookie cutter patterns of each other and look (for lack of a better word) half-assed. I probably still have over a hundred variations of trays that I could do, but I like to mix things up and do some other types of designs in between producing them so that when I do go back to them, each one is fresh in itself and unique and a good quality design that is not only fun to cut, but attractive too. I find after doing too many in a row, it just isn’t as fun anymore and then I know it is time to change gears for a bit and focus elsewhere.

I like that I am beginning to offer more painting designs too. Besides allowing me to reach an entirely new clientele, offering painting patterns and kits also offers the opportunity for me to provide the painting surfaces for these projects in many cases. In the instance of this new pattern of hats, there are only four simple shapes that I used in the 12 designs so I am able to stack cut them and I can produce a set in no time. Unlike the skaters that were a bit more detailed to cut, the hats have simple lines and I can easily cut a set in literally minutes. From a business point of view this is very good.

Finding a compromise between detail and practicality, while still offering an attractive pattern is somewhat of a challenge. But after doing this set I feel that with the right amount of thought going into things, it can be done. I suppose that is why things may have taken a bit longer than usual on this design. I tried to think ahead as to where this may take my business and I tried to weigh the consequences of what would happen if it did become quite successful. I hope it does.

There is just so much to think about these days with the business. I don’t for a minute think that we are out of the woods regarding the craft industry and the economy in general. I think that we need to be prepared for the lean times that are ahead of all of us and especially in the craft and hobby industry. But that doesn’t mean that it will come to a total standstill. I still have my theory that when cash is short, more people will turn to themselves to make things for holiday gift giving and if I can offer them the proper tools for doing so, I will do OK. From hearing from my own group of friends – both painters and scroll sawyers – as well as customers from both areas, I find that they are still looking for new and fun designs that will help them be creative. So I will keep trying to provide that and I will continue to have hope that my business will not only survive, but will do well.

So with that said, I will move ahead from here. Today I am starting on a new project altogether for the scroll saw. I have seen a need for it for quite a long time, and I don’t know why no one has come out with it as of yet. I would like to get several patterns ready before I introduce it though, as I feel that my idea may be duplicated by others quickly once I reveal it. I know that sounds kind of paranoid, but I at least want to get a good foot hold on things before introducing it. I just feel that is smart business.

One of the things I like best about my job is that I never seem to run out of avenues for my creativity. There always seems to be several options awaiting, and with each choice I make, there is adventure. These opportunities aren’t always staring me right in the eyes, but if I look for them, they are there. It makes my work exciting and fun and keeps me sharp, as I know that in most, if not all of these instances, I will only benefit proportionally to what I invest in them.

It is a good place to be.

Have a good day.

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

2 comments so far

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3046 days

#1 posted 07-28-2011 06:53 PM

These look like they will make excellent ear rings for the Halloween festivities

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2948 days

#2 posted 07-28-2011 07:01 PM

Thanks, Erwin! They are a little big for earrings though. Each hat is about 4” tall. :) I am glad you like them.


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

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