My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #518: Trial and Error and Finally Success

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 11-10-2011 02:02 PM 2274 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 517: Almost There Part 518 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 519: Writing Pattern Packets and 'Just Thinking' »

First of all, I want to thank everyone for all the nice comments and personal messages you sent me regarding these ornaments. Nothing makes the extra hours and effort spent more worth it than knowing that others enjoy what you made. Anyone who creates can attest to that. The long hours at the saw spent working on these (as well as my sore back!) are now just a faded memory, replaced by a sense of accomplishment and achievement. It really does me good to see how much everyone likes these, and I have already had several requests as to when the patterns will be available for sale.

I promise to get them up on the site as soon as possible – probably within a couple of days. I still need to write and assemble the packet and I still need to do one last checking of the line work to make sure everything is perfect. I want to be certain these go out with no errors.

I spent the bulk of yesterday finish sanding everything and then I applied several coats of spray shellac to the ornaments. The maple ones look lovely and I am glad I decided to leave them all natural colored. I will post final pictures soon when I add this project to my gallery and you will be able to see them all finished.

As for the birch copies, they took a bit more work than I had anticipated. In my own vision, I had an idea of jewel-toned frames with perhaps gold leafing applied. I felt that it would give the ornaments a true Victorian look and be a nice variation from the natural wood. I like the deep jewel tones and think that they have their place in holiday decorating depending on the theme. And for those of you who know me, you know I like giving choices.

My original thought was to use my old standby – the DecoArt Staining and Antiquing medium and deep colors to stain the frames. I chose a deep Burgundy color and began to apply it to a frame in my usual manner, with a flat brush and just brushing it on the tops of the frame. (I felt it would be quite tedious to try to paint all the sides of the intricate cut out areas.)

This first attempt was quite a disaster. The gel addition to the burgundy paint made it looked watered-down and pinkish. Not the regal look that I was aiming for. I also had a difficult time brushing just the top of the frame, as the paint wanted to gather along the sides and made gel-like ridges along the edges of the designs. To be honest, it looked like crap.

So now what? (On to plan ‘b’)

I decided to paint the frames in solidly with the color. The area was so small that staining wouldn’t show any type of grain and since I had used birch, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. But how the heck would I be able to quickly and easily paint these intricate frames without it taking forever?

I thought a bit and decided to try using a sea sponge. I dampened the sponge first and squeezed it as dry as I could. I then dipped it into the puddle of paint and proceeded to sponge the entire little frame. The sponge got down along the sides enough to just about cover them without having to pick through with a paint brush. Splendid!

The hardest thing about this process was waiting for things to dry. Since I decided to do three each of four colors (Burgundy, Pthalo Blue, Viridian Green and Dioxiodine Purple) the paint from the first one wasn’t dry when I was done painting the third, so it wasn’t ready to do the back or re-coat the second layer. So I tore four small bits off of the sponge and went from one color to the next. By the time all four colors were finished with the first side, the first pieces were ready to be coated on the back. It was a much more efficient way to do things, I thought.

I applied two coats because all the colors I had chosen were semi-transparent and I wanted full, deep coverage. Besides, since I was planning to apply gold over them, it wouldn’t matter if the colors weren’t perfectly even. The same was true for the sides of the frames.

When all the base coats were dry, it was time to do the gold accents. Originally, I had intended to do gold leafing, but with the tiny size of these ornaments, it would be a tedious and messy process and would probably not look much different than if I had painted them with gold metallic paint in the first place. I didn’t want my customers to have to muss and fuss and get expensive leafing when it wasn’t necessary so I went to my supply of Americana Acrylics and pulled a color. The first color I picked was kind of an ‘old gold’. I wanted the gold to be subtle and not overpowering so I chose that to start.

However, when I sponged it on the first frame, it only made it look dull and dirty. I was bitterly disappointed. I had to allow it to dry, and then re-coat it with the original burgundy color and wait and think what alternative I could use.

I had a small jar of what they called “liquid leaf” which I never tried before. Since it was quite a bit more watery than the acrylic gold paints, I decided not to use a sponge to apply it because I would have little control as to the amount that would be applied. I decided to use a deerfoot stippler brush and kind of stipple it on the piece. It was smelly and when I pounced the color on, it wanted to run and level out. Again, I was not happy with the look at all. Back to the drawing board again.

I once again base coated the frame to bring it to the original solid color. This time I looked in my DecoArt Acrylics and pulled the brightest gold I had (they have about four different gold colors, believe it or not!) Initially I had thought that it would look gaudy and too bright, but after seeing the dull color of the Venetian Gold on the dark colors, I thought I would give it a try.

I once again used a small piece of sea sponge and tried applying the gold in that manner. Finally I achieved a level of success that I felt was acceptable. The process was quick and easy and quite inexpensive. I sponged the back, front and sides of all the twelve frames in the bright gold and I came close to what I had envisioned in my head. It was a great relief that I hadn’t ruined the second set, as I thought perhaps I had. Here are the final results of the day:

I think they look quite festive!

Here is the blue:

The green:

The purple:

And last but not least, my favorite reindeer in burgundy:

NOW I feel good about them! They are so different from the natural maple set, but I do like them both almost equally. I think that even as larger plaques they will look very nice. And the best part of all – you didn’t even touch a paintbrush to make them look that way! That will be a real plus for those customers of mine who hate to paint! Even children can help make these and be quite successful.

It has almost been a week since I began working on this idea. The days have been full too, and I haven’t been slacking. When I look at the two little piles of ornaments in front of me it is hard to believe that something so small took that much time. But I couldn’t be happier with the results. And when the patterns are done, I will know within myself that others will be able to successfully recreate these pretty little ornaments without too much difficulty. I have done everything I could to try to insure that and that is what designing is all about to me.

I really do love my job. :)

Today is on to writing and constructing the instructions. I know it is going to be a good one. I hope you all have a great day too!

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

8 comments so far

View flskipper's profile


24 posts in 3750 days

#1 posted 11-10-2011 02:41 PM

Sheila—-Your ornaments look absolutely fantastic. It is certainly evident that you spent a lot of time and care in their preparation. I am sure they will be a good seller. I also appreciate you giving such excellent directions in their creation, as well as different options for the final preparation.

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3151 days

#2 posted 11-10-2011 02:49 PM

I really like the reindeer. You’ve given him spirit. Well done.

-- John from Hampstead

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 2823 days

#3 posted 11-10-2011 03:17 PM

They all look great! Love the tree, snowman, reindeer, bell, and the candy cane. It would seem that I prefer the “classic” Christmas items. Then again, I like the ornament ornaments. They’re kind of whimsical. You did a great job on all of them!

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

View Rick13403's profile


256 posts in 3559 days

#4 posted 11-10-2011 06:15 PM

Great job on the ornaments Sheila. I can’t pick just one as a favorite! Can’t wait to see them on your site.

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 & Ex21 -

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10153 posts in 4107 days

#5 posted 11-10-2011 10:06 PM


Beautiful ornaments!

I went to your website and saw all of the wonderful things you’re selling…

Questions did come to mind…

I have never bought a Pattern for use with a scroll saw… I can only imagine what they are like… A piece of paper with the outline, etc. printed on it… with the Solid areas shaded to show what is Cut out & what is kept… with possible dots where the holes are supposed to be. And, to use the pattern, one must spray glue onto the workpiece & lay the pattern onto it… and when dry, drill holes & start cutting… Therefore, the pattern will be destroyed.


1. What do your patterns look like… anything like I imagined?

2. Do you get more than one sheet of paper (pattern) per item ordered?

3. Are the patterns easily and legally copyable to make more than one of the same pattern.

4. How big (approx) is your biggest pattern? (Size posted with listing THE size of the pattern?)

5. How small is your smallest pattern?

6. Your Average pattern size?

7. What else do you get with your patterns?

8. The pattern pictures show how the finished piece could be finished?

Thank you very much…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2975 days

#6 posted 11-10-2011 10:30 PM

Hi, Joe:
I always have a free pattern that you can download and try out on the site. The link for it is here:

Sheila Landry Designs Free Pattern

This is one of my ‘typical’ patterns. Usually they range anywhere from 4 to 12 or more pages, depending on the complexity of the project and many other varying factors. Some patterns are for one plaque. Others may be a full set of ornaments. Each pattern has a description which tells exactly what is included in the pattern or set. All of my patterns are done in crisp and clear Vector graphics so the lines are easy to follow. Many of my patterns include step-by-step photos. All the patterns that I produce are geared to people that have little or no experience with scroll sawing. Even the more advanced designs explain the basics. This way even the beginner can advance and learn. All the patterns are able to be printed on 8.5” x 11” sheets of paper from your own printer. Large designs are divided into two or more sheets of paper, and reference lines are included so you can cut and assemble the larger pieces very easily. With each pattern (and even if you don’t buy one) you always get my help with any questions or problems you may encounter when scrolling. That goes without saying, I suppose. And finally, there is always a picture of the finished piece included, and suggestions on how you can finish it. Since we are all using different types of woods and prefer different types of finishes, I only explain the ways that I finished the project. The rest is up to you!

I hope I answered all of your questions. I suggest you download the free one and you can better see what I have to offer with my patterns. Unlike some that are just the line work and little instructions, I feel that I offer complete lessons as to how to make the project from start to finish. I am very proud of the quality of my patterns and I always try to make them the best out there. I hope you agree! :D

Have some fun and give one a try! Sheila

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

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10153 posts in 4107 days

#7 posted 11-10-2011 11:10 PM


I am Impressed!

Super Package!

Yes, you deserve to be Very Proud of your Complete Lessons that are included with every Pattern you sell!

You sell the Complete Package to get it done… NOT just a Pattern!

I think you should, somehow, emphasize that on your website so that newcomers cannot miss it…

Something like: (up front toward Top of Front Page)

“Click Here for a FREE SAMPLE of a Complete Lesson that goes with EVERY Pattern Sold”

Thank you very much!

You are doing a Super Job!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2975 days

#8 posted 11-11-2011 12:12 AM

Why thank you for saying that, Joe! We try so hard to be the best we can. Work of mouth is what is helping us grow, too. There are lots of others making patterns out there and we know that people have choices. Not only do we have to provide good designs, but I also like to provide full, clear instructions so that ANYONE cat complete the project. It must be the teacher in me.

As I have been saying all week, maybe I don’t put out the most patterns, but I know that the ones I design are good quality and complete. In the long run, that will keep my business going and keep people coming back for more and more.

I showed Keith what you said too about letting people know about the free sample pattern. I never thought of it to be honest. I supposed I assumed that everyone knew how my patterns are made and I think you are right that we have to put something like that up there for new people. Hopefully, once they try one, they will be happy and come back!

Thanks again, Joe! :)


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

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