My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #614: Exploring New Horizons

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 02-15-2012 11:47 AM 5308 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 613: Getting Reorganized Part 614 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 615: Things are Quiet and Busy »

The other day I received an email request and I thought some of you may be interested in it too. It is a survey from a marketing student from DePaul University in Chicago who is looking for woodworkers to participate. I believe it is only open for those of you who are in the United States.

I attended DePaul for a year, majoring in music and my sister graduated from their business school with a masters degree. They are a reputable university and the survey is on the up and up. I took it myself and it only took a couple of minutes. The notice I received is as follows:

My name is Allison Joson and I’m an Honors Marketing student at DePaul University. For our marketing class my group and I are researching the woodworking industry, specifically consumer purchasing decisions and how woodworkers respond to communication from power tool companies.

This research will be gathered through 2 brief surveys (15 mins.) that we have created. We are hoping you will help us out by completing the surveys and forwarding the links on to anyone you think would qualify as a woodworking enthusiast. We are required to get at least 100 respondents for each survey in order to get a passing grade!

As an incentive our school is providing us with two $100 gift cards, which we will raffle off. We will chose one winner from each pool of survey respondents, so by completing two surveys you have two chance to win. Be assured that we will not be selling the information collected, and contact information (if you chose to enter the raffle) will be used strictly to contact the winners. The survey links are below:

Survey 1:
Survey 2:

We don’t meant to be bothersome, but email seems to be the easiest way to communicate with the online woodworking community. If you have any questions please email We would truly appreciate your assistance!

Best Regards,

I hope no one is offended that I posted this. I just thought it would be something that some of you may be interested in doing. They do ask for your phone number and email at the end, so they can contact you if you win the gift card. In any case, I just though I would throw it out there.

I spent pretty much of yesterday finishing up the newsletter and updating the site. Doing the newsletter always takes me a little longer than anticipated. I don’t know why. It seems the template on the site is always changing and getting to know the new formatting changes, even if they are minor, takes a bit of time. But all went well and I was able to get the newsletter out without incident.

I then got to work on my new idea. I am really excited about it and I think it could be something that will be quite lucrative for me. I am not sure though and as with many new concepts, things can go either way. I feel that there is no harm in trying though and at the risk of losing a few days’ work, it could be something that will be really good for my business.

I have spoken before about the Artist’s Club – the mail order company who sold the kits for my skating pond. I was very happy with the relationship that I had with them and the entire experience. They were professional, fair and honest and the ponds sold very nicely there. They told me they were satisfied too and happy with the reception of the skating set.

Their deadline for their next catalog (which will be the first time they will feature autumn products this year) is at the beginning of March. I already submitted the witch’s hats and boot patterns for them to sell as a kit, with me providing the wood pieces as well as the patterns. This worked out well for the skating set and having the additional work was good for me both in the extra exposure that I received to their customers and also in the actual sales. Selling kits like this was something that would bring my name into the painting pattern market as a new source for many painters who did not have the ability to cut wood. Providing the pieces for the projects would be a new venture for me and something that I would really like to do.

While the skating pond was really nice, when I designed it I hadn’t planned on mass producing it or the wood pieces for sale. Usually when I design, I have the luxury of only needing to do one piece or set, which allows me to be as intricate as I wished. While not really a problem, I would have done things a bit differently on it knowing that I would be cutting a couple hundred of sets. The skates and little legs and details were a bit intricate and took a bit of time to do.

Still, I priced them accordingly and did well enough with them that I didn’t need to farm out any of the cutting to the other sources that I had available. They sold moderately and I was able to keep up with the demand for them quite well.

But wanting to grow and do more of a variety of projects means that I need to streamline the process even more, and consider the time involved with cutting the pieces on the ground level of the designs. This is something that I feel I have accomplished very well with both the hat and the boot patterns. Each pattern packet has a dozen variations respectively and what I did was use four different pieces and decorate each of the four pieces three ways to make the packet. I also made the wood pieces themselves quite simple and relied on the painting of the pieces for detailing, making cutting them a fast and easy process. If these items are selected for the catalog, they will be very simple to produce in even very large quantities with a minimum amount of time. It will be interesting to see how they do.

The ‘new’ idea that I thought of a couple of days ago was something that was staring me right in the face all the time. The saying ‘seeing the forest through the trees’ came to mind when the proverbial light bulb finally went off in my head and I came to this idea. If it turns out like I want it to, it could be something that is very beneficial to my company and has a multitude of clever and attractive variations, and I could see endless patterns emerging for the painters using the same basic concept and only a few different wood pieces. The wood itself is actually quite simple, and is sturdy and flat enough to be shipped in a padded envelope, which will make it cost effective to ship. Because it is somewhat flat, I could mail even several without having to advance to shipping a box, which would bring the cost up considerably.

This will work well for wholesaling too, and I am also going to offer the piece for the Artists’ Club to wholesale. I don’t know if they buy from smaller suppliers, but I won’t know if I don’t ask and so far they have been very willing to work with me as a designer and a supplier of the other pieces so I don’t see why they wouldn’t. I could really see their customers buying one pattern and several wood pieces to accompany it. It could work very well.

While this type of work isn’t the traditional scrolling you are all used to seeing from me, it is certainly woodworking and something that I think many of you will be able to relate to. I know of many scrollers who do ‘production work’ and cut blanks for painters and are very successful at doing so. The key is to actually time myself in doing the piece and pricing myself accordingly. Fudging the figures will only be a precursor to disaster business-wise so it is good to look at things honestly and without emotion. If it pays for me to do it, I will do it.

I am finishing up the drawings today and plan to cut the piece out. I will probably show you tomorrow what I am thinking about with a little more detail, but for now, I will only give you a hint:

Yes, they are in the very popular primitive style, which is not my usual element of painting. But I think that when all is said and done, it will be cute and appeal to many painters.

I was pretty excited about the idea in general, and got little sleep because all the variations were floating around in my head. I don’t always think that is a bad thing though, as it it great to have fresh and new ideas. We will just have to see how it goes.

I still need to finish the article I was writing today, and then I will get at this project and see what progress I can make on it. It will be a full and fun day and also exciting to see the project come to life. I can’t wait to get working on it.

I look forward to exploring these new areas of my work. While it is somewhat frightening to try something different, it could be something that will benefit me a lot in the end. We won’t know if we don’t try.

Have a great day!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

-- 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 ellen35's profile


2720 posts in 2854 days

#1 posted 02-15-2012 12:28 PM

I got one too… all filled out.
I love it that someone would actually do marketing research on woodworking with real woodworkers!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

8987 posts in 2342 days

#2 posted 02-15-2012 12:30 PM

I thought so too, Ellen. DePaul is a respected university so I hope people didn’t mind me sharing. What better place to find so many qualified woodworkers??? :)

Have a great Wednesday!


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

View BertFlores58's profile


1684 posts in 2344 days

#3 posted 02-15-2012 01:43 PM

Most likely that new horizon you are in will be another awesome beginning. Looking forward to it. On the otherhand, I started to design geometrical illusion using only two blend of colors (like black and white). I like to use what is available wood in my garage so that I wont spent buying lots of exotic wood. Maybe this two-tone idea can add to your vision.
About the survey, that is the good thing about website.. a new era of learning giving more accurate data. Well, I like the way you helped Allison. This is the right place for good woodworkers.
Have a nice day.

-- Bert

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

8987 posts in 2342 days

#4 posted 02-16-2012 11:02 AM

I can’t wait to see your next project, Bert. Your designs are so wonderful! I am sure that you will come up with something to make those two colors of wood look amazing! :)

Take care, 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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