My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #461: Quality, Not Quantity

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-14-2011 01:20 PM 1833 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 460: "Knowledge is Power" Part 461 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 462: Premature Celebration (or "Don't Bank on It") »

As I look to the calender today and see that we are almost half way through September, I am once again amazed at how quickly time seems to pass. I truly don’t mean to keep complaining about it, as I know I mention it from time to time here, but I just can’t get over how the days go by so quickly. It never used to seem this way. It gets me to wondering. Does this mean I am a poor time manager? Or does it mean that my life is full and therefore the hours slip by quickly?

I feel as if I accomplished a lot yesterday. I finished the songbirds pattern and when I sent it to my proof reader, I received the report from him that there were no (apparent) errors. That has got to be a first. I always try hard but there always seems to be something lurking no matter how many times I read things over that come back to haunt me later on.

I am proud of that pattern, as well as the ornaments themselves. I have high hopes that other will like them too and I am going to try to get to work on the second set of them as soon as possible.

The update for the website is almost ready. I was pleased because there are a few more patterns than I anticipated that are going to go ‘live’ for the first time there. These were some of the more complicated patterns like the Rocking Reindeer set and also the Fiona Kitty Halloween Pull Toy. Both of these designs were a bit more involved than the usual ones of cutting flat pieces. Each one covered newer territory for me as a designer and I am happy and proud to see them finally ready for presentation.

I find that even though I may not be producing patterns at an alarming rate, the patterns that I do create are far more detailed and the presentation is better thought out. I think that part of this comes with experience and the other part comes from my internal desire to stand above the rest. With all the free patterns available and the quality of what is available on the market, I would rather have a smaller number of new items with more substance to them than just crank out as many variations of one design as I can.

While it may be poor from a business point of view, in which the usual philosophy is ‘the more the better,’ I think that in the long run it will pay off for me. After all, how many new things can people accomplish in such a short time anyway? I think once I reached the 400+ pattern mark, I figured it was time to slow down and really do some different and interesting things. On my site, there is a base of plenty of timeless patterns that offer a great deal of variety for many different kinds of scroll sawyers. The average person wouldn’t have time to do them all if they tried. I think that there is enough there to keep everyone busy for a while.

I used to think that taking a week or more on a pattern meant that I was slacking. I suppose if I offered the line art and a couple of lines of instructions to follow, that could be the case. But when I look at what I am producing lately, I realize that putting together a packet like this isn’t something that can be accomplished in a couple of hours. I like the fact that I offer full and detailed instructions, as well as pictures so that even the beginner can successfully create the project, even if they have little time at the scroll saw. I suppose it is the teacher in me that likes to do things this way. I always seem to look to the future and realize that the way our craft will be sustained is to bring new people into it.

In the past, I have had some customers comment to me that I repeat some of the basic instructions in every packet, and they questioned me as to if it were necessary. In answering them, I told them that I thought it was, and that I didn’t want to assume that people knew these steps. I wanted even the beginner to be able to purchase a pattern and learn from it and be able to accomplish the project successfully. It is important to me.

Conversely, I also have heard from many who are new to scroll sawing who were very pleased with the amount of detail that I put in the instructions. It supported my thinking that if they are successful in making the projects and it was a pleasant experience for them, they will want to do more.

So I err on the side of offering more information than perhaps necessary for someone who has had some experience rather than leaving things out that a beginner may not know. I think it is the best way to do things.

I am changing my free design that I am offering on the site too. The pattern that I have had up there has been there quite a while and I thought it was time to update it. I felt that using one of the bird ornaments from the new set would be a nice sample and a good stand alone project for people to enjoy. Usually on my free patterns, I give out an entire pattern, but this time I thought I would try something new – giving one of the pieces from a larger set – to see how it works out.

In writing out the packet, I found that it took almost as much space to write the instructions for one of the birds as it was to do the entire set of eight. I don’t know why that surprised me, but it did get me thinking about all that I stated above. The actual process for all eight is essentially the same whether making one or all eight ornaments. I hope that by giving this out, people will enjoy making the ornament so much that they will come back and get the entire set.

I also have in my mind the thought of shooting a couple of videos, one to demonstrate the veining techniques used in making these bird ornaments (that is where I am heading with the online class anyway after the next lesson) and another one to once again demonstrate the staining technique that i used to color in the birds. I think with the companion videos available it will make the process even clearer and easier for everyone to follow.

So all is well I feel. When I see the quality of the work that both myself and my partner have recently created, it alleviates the anxiety of not having a huge number of new things each and every time I update the site or send items into the wholesalers for the new catalogs. I think offering a few excellent items is far better than offering a large quantity of mediocre items.

We’ll see in the long run.

I wish you all a wonderful 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 ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 2822 days

#1 posted 09-14-2011 03:03 PM

That set is truly beautiful. Seeing the background on your photo makes me think of them hanging by suction cup in our bay window that looks out to our wild area with all the trees. It’s so over grown with trees, brush and weeds that it is a sold wall of greenery.

I could see a lot of people hanging one or several of these hanging in their window all year around.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3169 days

#2 posted 09-14-2011 03:32 PM

looking at the painted set of birds makes me smile , thinking of those my daughter made in pearls
when she was four – five years old I think :-)
if I ever take up scrollsawing with an electronkiller device you can bett this is one of the patterns
I will go for I even consider to make them with the new old saw …. LOL
but it have to wait …...too much I have to come around of first

and you are right about not to slack on the quality of your patterns

take care

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 2976 days

#3 posted 09-14-2011 03:38 PM

Wow! Birds seems to be naturally hanging proudly on the trees full of determination to survive in an everlasting life. That is were quality comes. The details are so clear that only the original hand crafted by the designer herself could reveal. The painting part is likewise very cool.

I prefer quality than quantity. The challenge in every project I make calls for quantity because there are so many friends of mine asking to have one of my boxes, however I still maintain the quality of each. To make it more quicker or quantity wise I do it in a simple and easy construction but the quality is still there. I don’t sacrifice on the wood, glue, or even finishing. Quality impacts a lot on the maker and brand such that if the product fails to their satisfaction, the user will never recommend it to others. In the long run, the cost of one good quality work may equates to three or more times than that of the low quality.

Being also a teacher, I can confirm that as a you teaches, the students will really become the best because you have all the qualities of being a subject matter expert (scrollsawing, painting, teaching) aside from the proof of your quality designs and products.

What will I ask for from you…. just KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. Have a nice day while I am on my night nap.
Take care,

-- Bert

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2974 days

#4 posted 09-14-2011 04:00 PM

Thank you all for your positive support. I know you guys realize that what I do is much more than just drawing and printing out patterns. I am learning to be comfortable with producing a smaller number of patterns, as long as the quality is excellent. Relaxing and taking my time with them is what makes the job fun. Pushing too hard takes that away. I am glad you like the birds!

Sheila :)

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

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