My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #645: Evaluating My Accomplishments

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 03-19-2012 10:40 AM 1358 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 644: A Great Idea From a Customer Part 645 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 646: Busy Days »

I am happy to say that I did accomplish just about all I wanted to over the weekend. It still seems however that sometimes things just move ahead at a snails pace.

I honestly don’t know how some other designers come up with such a quantity of patterns over such short periods of time. It seems that some of them have dozens of new designs with every new issue of the catalogs. I know I go through times when I seem to produce more than at other times, but usually I am working the same amount of time on things no matter what and some designs just seem to come easier than others. Perhaps that is part of what is happening.

We had another catalog deadline come up and it made me realize that I don’t really have many new patterns to offer. Keith had a few, but he was saying that he felt the same way. It seemed that between the two of us we just had a handful of new submissions and it appeared (from the outside at least) that we weren’t pushing too hard.

The previous submission period was only about five to six weeks earlier, which is not really that long when you think about it, but it just seemed to me like I should have had more stuff to offer and it caused me to look back and evaluate what I have been doing between then and now.

During that time frame, I worked on two projects for the magazine – one being the final part of the calendar project and the other being the kitty chalkboard. Both of the projects were a bit involved. The calendar installment involved a great number of pieces and the chalkboard involved figuring out some things to make it go together properly. I think that both of them were a bit more time consuming than I had realized.

I also wrote an article for publication for a newsletter. While it wasn’t a long article, it did involve some research and at least a day or so of writing. I would have thought it would be easier because I write off the top of my head every day when I am here, but it had to make sense and there was a point to it so it was a bit more formal than what I write here each morning. Perhaps it was the mental attitude that made it take more time and seem a bit more of a challenge. I don’t know.

I also spent a great deal of time working on the painting patterns for the Artist’s Club. I believe that is where the majority of my efforts were focused. And while it was a bit slower going, it did seem to pay off with them liking what I submitted and accepting three of the designs. It is one of those times when the rewards come much farther down the road and I need to draw on my own patience and remind myself that these things do not create themselves. Sometimes that is easy to do and other times it is not.

When a list of what I accomplished over “x” time is short, I find that I need to look at things deeper. In creating each one of those projects, I do see that the patterns are all over 10 pages in length (the painting patterns being over 15 pages each) and I see that there is a reason that they took so long for me to do. It takes time to create quality patterns and it isn’t something that I am able to mass produce. It involves a lot of thought and steps to create a product that people will be happy with.

In a way I feel as if I am justifying myself, to myself. It is an odd feeling of accomplishing much and still feeling as if I accomplished only a little. I need to stop looking at the number of patterns that I am making and really consider the quality of the patterns themselves and see that I have done something good. After all, what good is having a thousand patterns if people can’t follow them or accomplish them easily? Perhaps I am asking too much of myself.

One of my greatest downfalls (and one that I see in others) is to keep looking at those around me and trying to compete with them on their level. We all do it from time to time, and while it is necessary sometimes to do so in some ways, overall we need to be unique and work at our own pace and our own level. That will be what sets us apart from the masses. The phrase ‘mind your own ‘p’s’ and ‘q’s’ comes to mind.

It isn’t just a race to see how much I can produce. I am a firm believer that quality will win over quantity. Especially in something such as we do. I have a large base of patterns for a great quantity of projects already and while having new items is necessary, I still believe that having a couple of new things that are top notch is far better than flooding the market with a large number of mediocre projects. My partner Keith’s new clock is a fine example of that. It has taken him a great deal of time to work out all the issues with building it, but when the pattern is finally available, we will both know that it is a good lesson and people will be able to create the piece without much trouble. That, to me is what designing a good pattern is. It helps me to hear that he feels (as I do about myself) that his output should be higher, too. At least I am not the only one.

So we move ahead from here and continue on our path. Yesterday I finished painting the hats to send for the photographs for the catalog and I also cut out 6 dozen ornaments to include in the sample kits I need to send out. I plan on spending today doing a final proof of all the instructions and packaging the kits up to head out tomorrow. I had hoped to have them done today, but they simply were not ready to my satisfaction. If I would have pushed harder, perhaps they would be but I chose to take another day and make sure they are complete and correct. If it cost me another day, so be it.

It feels odd writing today for some reason. Part of me feels as if I am explaining myself (to myself) and another part feels as if I am trying to convince myself that “it’s OK.” I know though in my heart that the bottom line is that I am doing the best I can, and the final products are something that I can be proud of. That is what matters most.

On one other thought, I did want to let you know that Lee Valley Tools is offering free shipping from now until March 26th. If you were thinking that you have anything to order, now would be the time to do so. I believe in order to receive the free shipping, you need to order $40 or more, which is never really a problem for me. It is a good thing and I just wanted to pass it on to you all.

As the days get lighter earlier, it is evident that summer is right around the corner. I hope you enjoy the day today and have some fun.

Enjoy your Monday!

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

3 comments so far

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2325 days

#1 posted 03-19-2012 02:05 PM

‘The Plateau of Prolific Funck’

As children we ran through the Forrest of Life taking in the organic aromas of the path we discovered.
We filled our baskets with supple green leaves, brilliantly colored wild flowers at every turn and with shells, fossils and drift wood we found at the stream where we filled our bucket with the cool, sweet water from that bubbling brook.
We collected thoughts and dreams and filled our pockets with all the wondrous things that we would, later in life, call upon to reinvigorate our quest to be fulfilled.

When the time comes to put down some roots and take our lives to the next level, our cupboards are full and our appetites are satisfied.

The demands of ourselves and others, we compartmentalize and dispatch as need be, and move forward, and all the time making withdrawals from the basket and quenching our thirst from that bucket.

I find from time to time that the leaves have withered and the color fades from the flowers, the water has become stale and is no longer cool.

I have arrived at that ‘Plateau of Prolific Funck’ and it’s time to take a break and return to the forrest, if only for just a day.

Best Wishes in your endeavour to persevere. – Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View patron's profile


13610 posts in 3394 days

#2 posted 03-19-2012 02:18 PM

well you could have the instructions
written in china
and save time and money

however storing a boatload of manuals
might be space consuming for you
(and think of the e-mails that will clog your computer
‘what does it say on page 7 line 3
it just doesn’t make sense’

your attention to details and work methods
speaks for itself

let others sell quantity

and stick with quality

you will sleep better
and so will your customers
and they will keep coming back

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2972 days

#3 posted 03-20-2012 11:53 AM

Thank you both for the comments. Len – a day in the forest sounds good. Perhaps the beach. Sometimes getting away for a day or so really helps sort things out.

David – Being someone with a brain and conscience is something that I consider a blessing. It seems just impossible for me to cut corners when I know there is a better way to do things. It is just part of me. While this takes more time, at least I am producing things that I can be proud of. That to me (as corny as it seems) is more important than anything. Keith is the same way.

And as you say – I am able to sleep better because of it and I feel that in the long run, people WILL appreciate the extra effort we make. At least I hope so. Having better patterns is more important than having more patterns. That is just the way it is for us. :)

Thanks for your support. ;)


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

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