I didn’t think I would be writing today, but I suppose the title of this post says a lot. It has become part of my day for the past nearly two years and it is difficult for me to be here at home and not to write.
I suppose I was getting concerned because of the content of the posts the last couple of weeks. While the title of the series was clearly focused on creating scroll saw patterns, I was feeling that lately life has gotten in the way and even though I have been extremely busy, creating new scroll saw patterns has just not been an option. It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to draw. Or even that I have run dry of ideas. It is just that (as with everyone else) certain other things have taken precedence and have been calling out -rather loudly at that – for my attention. Such is life.
I actually toyed with the idea of writing ‘just to myself’ and not publishing the result, as I am a creature of habit and find it almost necessary to sit hear now each morning and write. But I quickly realized how silly that would be for me to do. Especially after receiving several personal emails where many of my friends expressed that they liked reading my blog each morning, no matter what I talked about.
So here I am back at the keyboard. Doing what has become part of my daily life and talking about yesterday and planning today. I will leave it up to you whether you wish to continue to read or not, as choosing is only a click of the mouse away and I certainly understand if you are here for woodworking information that some days may not be of interest. That way it will work for everyone.
Yesterday was what I would consider a decent day for part of the business. Keith had a meeting with Rob – the owner of the shop in Bear River, to discuss Rob carrying his pens for the upcoming season. Unfortunately, the meeting was planned in the middle of the day, so the entire day was consumed with the trip and little else was done as far as work was concerned.
The shop (The Flight of Fancy) is a cornerstone in the small town of Bear River. Rob told us it was entering its 31st year of existence and it is filled with wonderful treasures of hand created items from local artists. Even with times being difficult, Rob said that his sales were (slightly) up last year from the previous year. That in itself was a feat. Rob is a wonderful painter who’s claim to fame here in Nova Scotia is painting native birds on rocks that he finds on the beach. If you click on the link you will be able to see a sample of his work.
There is something about being in a shop whose owner is himself an artist. I think it makes all the difference in the world. Fellow artists understand the difficult struggles anyone who creates goes through and I find this very true with Rob. Rob himself is a wonderful advocate not only for local artists, but also for the development of tourism in what our beautiful area has to offer. His contribution to the community is something that has helped many people in the area for several years, and his understanding of wanting to create things for the sake of creating certainly shows in his attitude and also the way he treats the artists that contribute to his store. Having the store is what fulfills his dream of promoting both the area and his own art and is a great asset to to Nova Scotia.
What I am happiest to see is that he recognizes Keith’s pens for what they are – beautiful pieces of ‘art’. Last year, it was sometime in August before we even approached him with taking Kieth’s work. It was far into the season and we were happy that between that time and the time his shop closed for the season in October he had sold four of Keith’s pens. It was a good indication that they were accepted and appreciated by others too and that in the proper setting, he would be able to sell more of them.
Yesterday, Rob chose 17 pens to have on display. Among them was Keith’s most expensive pen to date – his Executive Fountain Pen. (Pictured on the left)
He also took several of his higher end pens and really loved the wedding set, too. It was a good boost to Keith and while it wasn’t outright sales, it at least gave the opportunity for the pens to be seen and perhaps sold to some qualified customers. I will keep you posted on how he does.
One bit of advice that Rob offered to Keith was to ‘hit the road’ and get the pens out there to many shops and places as possible. While we would love to be able to do that, it isn’t really something that would be possible at this time. Most of the places want things on consignment, which means many visits and a higher risk for us. The time involved to travel the province would be very high in relation to the return he would receive on the pens. He is realizing that as time goes on and doesn’t want to invest too much time making new pens at this time. He probably has over a hundred here and materials to make at least fifty to a hundred more.
It is difficult to be torn between pattern making and pen making for Keith. I go through this myself with my painting. It is only recently (after over 18 years) that I have achieved marginal success with selling my painting designs and I have come to accept that making the scroll saw designs is my mainstay as far as income. At least I enjoy what I do in both aspects, as does Keith. It is just that the area is so volatile and as I have stated before, it is always a good idea to diversify a bit when doing these things. It is just good to have a safety net.
While we were sitting on the bank of the Bear River waiting for Rob, it was a good time to reflect. Here it was the first day of spring, and even though I wore my wool coat (as it was cold when we left home) it was sunny and warm and I found myself stripping it off to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. The tide was moving out and the river was quiet. From where we sat on the bank you could see some mid-day activity at the little store in the center of town. But it was quiet, peaceful and beautiful.
Choosing a life as a designer means giving up several things that many wouldn’t choose to do. Living simpler is a good start and not having to have the latest and greatest of everything is a key. Even Rob told us that he knows very few artists that are able to make a living on their art itself, and most of them are required to work additional jobs to survive. In thinking about that and sitting on the bank of that river in the sunshine, I couldn’t help but feel that Keith and I are the exceptions, and we are very fortunate to have the life we live. I wouldn’t give that up for the world.
I wish you all a wonderful day today. May you all find your peace and happiness in what you do.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"