My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #516: Quality Takes Time

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 11-08-2011 01:48 PM 5211 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 515: Baby Steps Can Take Longer, But the Results Are Often Worth It Part 516 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 517: Almost There »

I finally got a bit caught up with my sleep. The last couple of days have been odd. I suppose getting up so early has something to do with it, coupled with the time spent at the saw. Yesterday I felt a bit tense, like everything was going on too quickly and I wasn’t able to keep up with things. Every time I tried to sit down and work, something else would pop up that needed my attention. As time passed on, I felt more and more anxiety because I know I wanted to get to a certain point in getting these things done. I know we all get those type of days and yesterday was just my turn but I am guarded in thinking that today will be more ‘normal.’

I slept in until about 5:30 today, which I thought was good considering both the time change and that I went to bed around 9:30. I was due for a long night of sleep. I tried to do mail last night and I was literally falling asleep at the computer. That was weird and rarely happens to me. Especially that early. I figured enough was enough and just gave in to it. I hope everyone awaiting answers from me with emails understands. I just ran out of steam.

I spent almost seven hours at the saw yesterday. I am estimating my ornaments to take about an hour each to cut. That means that I still have two left because I needed to quit at about 7 pm last night because I was just too tired and sore from sitting and my eyes were not focusing like they should anymore. I think I was just tired out.

The two hour sprint to the finish will be fine today though. I am actually looking forward to it. It will be nice to have the cutting of these behind me and then I will be able to sand them and oil them up and finish them. When I was out yesterday I got some little bells to hang from the bottom of each ornament. I haven’t decided whether to use them or not but they were cheap enough and I know I will use them for something. I also looked for some ribbon to hang them with that would be special and came home with nothing. I had a picture in my head of what I was thinking and even though I was looking at a wall with a couple of hundred different types of ribbon displayed on it, I didn’t see anything that I thought fit. I decided to wait until they are done and then look through my own stock again or bring them to the store with me and help me decide. Since I still have the patterns attached on them, I can’t even see what they actually will look like.

I keep telling myself that this isn’t a race or a contest, but there is so much that I want to accomplish and it seems that I just watch the days tick by and the seasons are getting away from me little by little. It is difficult not to feel anxious at times about it.

It is good to be full of ideas and things to make, but at what point do we find that to be overwhelming? I realize that all of these things are pretty much self-imposed, but I honestly don’t want to slow down too much and I want to get these ideas in motion before I lose them. Yes, I have lists, but I find that I am realizing that just because I may have ten ideas in my head, it doesn’t mean that they will only take ten days to develop and produce.

Oh, where is my patience when I need it?

I have seen some designers that produce far more designs than me. I notice that many of their projects are not actually cut though, and are pictures generated by the computer. I have done this too in the past for a few of my designs that were simple plaques. It did allow me to do a greater volume of drawing and produce more designs quickly. But I find that for myself, I miss the process of creating the object and the actual cutting time at the saw and the satisfaction of seeing the finished piece. Not to mention knowing first hand the areas that may give some people trouble when reproducing it.

With this set of ornaments I am doing, I printed out two copies of the pattern and I have kept one at my side along with a highlighter so that I can mark the areas that may need adjusting. While things look good on paper, when you add in the factors of actually cutting them out of wood, it sometimes changes things a bit. Some of the weak areas are only apparent in the final pieces and although they look great on the pattern, they may be subject to failure when actually trying to cut. While I am cutting these out, I am able to adjust my own lines and modify things as I go and then I grab the highlighter to mark on the copy of the pattern to remind me where the weak spots are so I can fix it later. This fine tuning will take place at the computer later on today after everything is done and will insure my customers’ success when making my patterns. If I only use a computer model, I lose that layer of quality that I put into my patterns and while on many things it wouldn’t be absolutely necessary, something like this it is quite important.

Yes, it slows down the volume of production that I do, but I would rather have quality than quantity as cliche as that sounds. Lately on some of the forums I see references to my patterns and I am noticing that people are saying how complete and thorough my instructions are and that is when all this extra work all pays off. It seems that I am gaining a reputation for a certain quality of pattern and I realize that having that reputation will mean far more to my customers than having a huge volume of shotty work.

Is this good “business” practice?

Wall street wouldn’t think so, I am sure. But I really don’t care. I can’t buy into the mentality of making the most I can in the shortest amount of time. Where is the joy in that? If I were to follow that philosophy, I would probably make a lot of money quickly but then as soon as my customers saw the decline in quality of what I was doing, the jig would be up and I would just fall into the mediocre masses of pattern makers and lose not only my edge, but also my reputation for quality. It isn’t worth it.

As I sit here and write, I know that I am satisfied with myself and my principles. I may not be the most enterprising woman in the world, but I feel comfortable in the fact that I know what I am doing is good. Yes, I still make mistakes at times, and I try to rectify them as quickly as I can when I am made aware of them, but I am still very proud of what I accomplish and what I offer to others. And that is more important than any amount of money to me. I can’t help but say that.

So onward we go today. I already feel that it is going to be a good one. I look forward to the final stages of creating these cool ornaments that have been living in my head and at last becoming real. I am very excited about it.

Slow and steady will win the race at the end. We need to show patience with our own limitations and allow ourselves to enjoy the journey. This is far more important than big numbers and mass production. In the end, the care and attention to details will shine through, and you will be able to look at your accomplishments and smile, knowing you did your best.

Have a wonderful day! Pace yourself.

-- 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 leanne's profile


45 posts in 2436 days

#1 posted 11-08-2011 03:43 PM

Thank you. You are a blessing,the things you put in your blog are so often just what I need be reminded of.
Since I am in Australia I am off to bed now, but you have a wonderfull day:)

-- Leanne, Australia,

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 2909 days

#2 posted 11-08-2011 04:22 PM

Thanks loads for this post. I do not always read all of them however this one caught my attention and was read completely. YES, quality takes time. If the product you are producing does not stand up to the judgement of many they why produce it. I was cutting a pattern the other day and had made a few misstakes (only I would have known) and then a BIG ONE. Well that piece of wood went into the trash and I’ll start over, soon.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3060 days

#3 posted 11-08-2011 05:48 PM

Just get all the ideas down in rough form, Sheila. There is plenty of time to work on them later providing you have something to jog your memory.

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

View Rick13403's profile


256 posts in 3529 days

#4 posted 11-08-2011 06:14 PM

Good morning Sheila, We just finished up a 2 day craft show this past weekend and the majority of sales were your designs! The Dreamcatcher ornaments were a big hit and I need to cut more before the next show. That is proof that quality shows thru and people recognized it. Keep up the quality work and we can’t wait for the new ornaments to go on sale.
Rick and Kathie
The Scoller and Toler

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 & Ex21 -

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3332 days

#5 posted 11-08-2011 10:16 PM

You are so right that quality takes time…regardless of what it involves…and when more people realize this… the world will start to get back to where it should be.
In a world where fast production, cheap prices and shoddy workmanship seem to be the norm, it is important to each of us to try and be that individual who refuses to accept these lowered stanadards. When something is worth spending time on it needs to be done with the absolute best quality and craftsmanship that we are capable of…regardless of whether it is for sale or for personal use and satisfaction.
There are lots of people who shop for “cheap” and there is also a niche’ market who shop for high standards of quality and creativeness.

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 2946 days

#6 posted 11-09-2011 02:44 AM

There are times that delegation of work is really worthy. Like what you mentioned computers, scanners and other assistance will be a big help. Quality work comes from those delicate details.. that should be yours to do.. but I like the ending… slow like turtles can win the race and the secret is keep on going and never stop.
Thanks for the encouragement… though my woodworks are left aside due to my work… I don’t miss catching up on the LJ.
Hope the end of this day will be very productive at your side. Mine is just beginning.

-- Bert

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