My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #419: A Really, Really, (really, really) Good Day!

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 08-02-2011 03:26 PM 1206 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 418: After all, what are Sunday's For Anyway? Part 419 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 420: Life Without a Computer »

First of all, I am tardy today for a reason. We had some lightning and thunder in the early hours of the morning and the lights kept flickering We thought it would be best to shut down computers until things seem a bit quieter. (I still hear thunder as I write, but the rain is gentle and I had to do something!) Hopefully it will hold out so I can get some work done.

I actually had a good blog planned. I know it has been quiet of late, but yesterday was a day that was full of adventure and news and I wanted to share it with you. It was a very good day for us and we opened the door to several new viable businesses opportunities.

We started off taking the car to be looked at, but of course, it was quite all the way to the mechanics. It made me think and wonder if the noise wasn’t just tire related or road related, as I am sometimes picky with it and would rather err on the side of caution. But I honestly heard nothing the entire way there. When we arrived there, the place was closed. Either he took the day off or perhaps he took the entire week for summer holiday. He is a one man shop and when he is closed, he is closed. So it came to decision time.

We had decided to take with Keith’s pens and were planning a trip to Bear River, a small town near Digby and also to Annapolis Royal, a historic, touristy town about 30 minutes further to scout out shops and see how we would fare with his pens. He had about 30 of them and they were adding up and it was time to get out to market them.

The day was like Sunday – beautiful, warm and sunny and it was the perfect opportunity to take a ride and test the waters on that side of the province. After talking it over, we felt that we would take the chance on the mustang and try it out and be aware if we began to hear noises again. After all, even if the mechanic was there, it would be difficult to pinpiont the problem since it was no longer occuring. We had the phone with us and as it turned out in the end, everything was fine.

We had quite a long day but I am happy to say it went very well. Keith had his pens picked up by two higher end galleries, one which had paintings that were priced up to $4500 and the other which had many items priced over several hundred dollars.

The first gallery is in Bear River and is called Flight of Fancy. The link to it is here. We talked directly to Rob, the owner and wound up spending a couple of hours there. Rob is renown for his bird paintings on rocks and his place is listed in just about every guide book about Nova Scotia. Even though the store is only open until October, he wanted to give the pens a try when he saw the one Keith made for me. We went to the car and got the cases and on the spot he took a dozen of them to try. He took all the most expensive ones, too and the price didn’t bother him a bit. Keith did leave them on consignment, but that was fine. Rob has been in business over 30 years and is honorable and stated that he does usually prefer to buy outright, but since it was late in the year, he would try them out and then if they sold he would buy outright for next season.

While we were there, there were many customers coming through and buying. It was definitely a busy place. Bear River had changed a lot since I used to go there for painting almost three years ago. There were several new stores open and it looked like it was very much on the upswing. For a while there it was really going through some difficult times and was almost to the point of being a ghost town. But the main street of buildings are once again developed into quaint shops and cafe’s and it was promising. We will just have to see.

The other gallery that took about 15 of Keith’s pens is called Bluefin Pottery. It is located in Digby on the main street which is just down the block from where I used to live. I used to casually know the owner there, and had talked to her several times when I did some selling of my fine art paintings at Annapolis Royal and I remembered that her shop had more artsy type of stuff. By the time we arrived there, (it was after 5pm because we we had other stops in between) as we walked up to the shop there was a tall gentleman just locking the door. He asked if he could help me and I said I was looking for the owner and I pulled out my pen Keith gave me to show him the kind of work Keith did and was selling and he was immediately interested. He reopened the store and invited us in.

It turned out he was a delightful and friendly man and he had purchased the shop from its previous owner about 2 years ago, just about when I moved from Digby. He was a pottery artist and he and his wife did very well there. There was a variety of things and local artwork available in his store, ranging from pottery to paintings to note cards and textiles. There were copper sculptures and other ornamental items and even though it had such a great variety, it was nicely laid out and not cluttered in the least. It was also a beautiful store.

His name was Hans and he was from Germany and actually was friends with Rob from Flight. He inquired about my accent and when I told him I was from Chicago, he told us that his wife was from a northern suburb of Chicago too. Small World.

Long story short, he absolutely loved everything and wanted to take all that Keith had. He said he was going to restrain though although he kept picking and picking and picking. He kept asking us “Am I taking too many?” and “Should I put some back?” and we both immediately told him no.

He really wanted my fountain pen, and I told him he absolutely positively could not have it. :)

He told Keith he loves fountain pens and Keith should make more for him. He said many of his friends love them too and they would be wonderful for them and they would be interested in them. It was a very positive experience.

We wound up staying there for over an hour talking with him and writing things down. It was nice of him considering that he was heading home for the day when we arrived, but he said his wife and child were on the road anyway and he really liked what he saw.

Digby is having their annual Scallop Days festival beginning tomorrow, and Hans said that last year that was his best week. He said that even though he has had about a third of foot traffic in the store as the previous year, his sales were up. He also said that the lower end items (under $20) were barely selling at all and his customers were buying the higher priced stuff. He was very excited about the pens, as he felt it would allow him to offer things that would be geared to male customers, which he had little. He also thought they would go over wonderfully at Christmas time, as he remains open all year long.

I will cut it short now, as I got a late start already. I could go on, and I probably will talk more about the trip in comments and on subsequent blogs. All in all it was a wonderful day. We didn’t get home until after 8pm, but we were both happy and excited about the outcome of the day. Keith isn’t looking to be in too many places, but now he is in three top notch galleries and they are somewhat scattered so they won’t really be competitive with each other. His pens are all unique anyway, so even though two are somewhat close in Bear River and Digby, they each seemed to favor different styles of pens so they will not be the same at both stores.

For now, this is plenty. His case is almost empty and all of his high end pens except one are gone. He is thrilled because he needs to get back to work and make some more. A dream for someone who likes to make them as much as he does. We will have to see how things go, but we are optimistic that the outcome will be good.

The rest of the week will be drawing for me. I really need to spend the time here at the computer doing some designing. There are so many ideas that I have to work on that my head is going to explode. It is just a matter of squeezing the hours out of the day.

With that said, I will close for today and get to work. The sun is almost out, peeking from among the mostly clouded sky, but there is still almost constant rumbling of thunder in the sky. It is kind of weird. I wonder what the day will bring today.

Have a good one!

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

6 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4187 days

#1 posted 08-02-2011 03:35 PM

two thumbs up!!
Great blog – and very positive, not only for you two, but for artists in general.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2947 days

#2 posted 08-02-2011 03:39 PM

That is why I wanted to share, Debbie! I have lots more to tell, as there was a lot of good going on, and some other narrow thinking too (which we didn’t let dampen our spirits!) The outcome couldn’t be better though and I do think that there is hope for those out there who create things if they know they right places to look and are fortunate to meet the right people. Attitude means a lot and having confidence in yourself and your product is so important. :)

Thanks! Sheila

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

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3063 days

#3 posted 08-02-2011 04:20 PM

This all sounds very positive, Sheila. Which is as it should be. Keep us posted.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2947 days

#4 posted 08-02-2011 04:34 PM

Martyn, I thought of you and your beautiful boxes while at those galleries. They would do really well there. Although I must admit that sometimes I didn’t understand their concept of “art”. Some of the most expensive paintings looked like they were done by a four year old child. :)

It was really positive to see the reaction to the pens though. As soon as I showed them, their jaw dropped and we had their full attention. When I first mentioned it, he said he had pens. There were a couple of slim lines with practically no finish on them for about $40 retail and there were some long wood turned pens that were hollowed out and used “BIC” refills! They looked hideous. I think the owner knew that these were a different class altogether. In fact, while we were there, he cleared an entire shelf that was built into the wall with a light on it to display Keith’s pens. They will definitely be seen.

Now we need to hope they will be purchased by customers. That will be the real victory.

Thanks for the support. :)


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

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3045 days

#5 posted 08-02-2011 10:07 PM

Good for you, I am happy for both of you and I hope Keith’s pens sell fast.(they should as the quality of the pens are fantastic) Nice that there are several tourist traps in the area to attract buyers. I wish you both the best of luck!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3063 days

#6 posted 08-02-2011 10:22 PM

Sheila, I think its called de-constructionalism or some similar such twaddle. Sad to see a grown adult imitating a four year old, though I’ve seen similar in the Tate Gallery in St. Ives no less. Each to their own I suppose.

I have no doubt whatsoever that Keith’s pens will sell. I only hope they get what they are worth. Your talking the sort of quality that people who don’t ask the price expect. I seriously think he should try sending a copy of the one he made for you to a really high end store (equivalent of Harrod’s in the UK, I don’t know many Canadian/ American top end store names) just to see their response. I’m thinking he would be pleasantly surprised.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

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