What a good day yesterday turned out to be. After the sluggishness of the past several days, it felt really good to have a day where I felt like I moved ahead and accomplished a great deal. I think my lull is over for now, and I hope that I can keep this momentum that I have and continue to cross things off of the list.
My goal yesterday was to get through cutting the witch boots for the kits that I am making. I need 1200 of them to make the 100 kits and it is somewhat of a daunting task to say the least. It was especially difficult to get going the past couple of days because I wasn’t really feeling up to par. I wasn’t really sick, but I wasn’t myself either.
But yesterday I woke up feeling good and I told myself that I was going to have a good day and jumped right into the task. I know there are skeptics out there, but I truly feel that attitude is very important to the outcome of one’s day. If we go into something feeling as if we will be defeated, we usually are. I don’t know why, but those days when I actually tell myself “It’s going to be a great day!” they usually are. For whatever obscure reason. The days we wake up with dread and a poor attitude more often or not seem to be the troublesome ones.
You can call me crazy, but I prefer to look at things through rose colored glasses sometimes. Even if things do go wrong then, it tends to soften the blow.
When doing a large amount of cutting such as what I had ahead of me, I find that it is very important to make my workplace as comfortable as possible. This means that everything around me is clean, neat and organized and that all the work I have ahead of me is lined up and ready to go. A couple of days ago I described how I would only apply the pattern to one 10” x 10” sheet at a time, forcing me to stand up and walk around every 20 minutes or so and prepare the next piece. During this time, I also changed the blade on my saw, had something to drink, drilled the entry hole into the next piece and ran the shop vac a quick time over the saw and surrounding area, including the floor. This meant that every time I sat down with a new piece at a saw, I had a fresh work place and felt good. It did wonders for my mental attitude, as did seeing the box of pieces fill up and the scrap pile fill while the large stack of prepared boards continued to shrink. I find it the best and most productive way for me to work.
Then there is the music.
I find that music is somewhat of a necessity for me to have when I work on the saw. I love listening to anything from classical music to oldies to rock from the 80’s and even rap and Gothic music. It depends on what mood I am in and what I am up for. My own music library is massive, as I have always been this way and can’t remember a time in my life that I have lived without songs playing in the background. Last year, I purchased a set of cordless headphones and I am able to listen to music from my computer very easily while scrolling. The sound quality is excellent and they are comfortable and it really makes the job pleasant.
For some reason or another, I chose the album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” to listen to yesterday. It had been a while since I had heard it and I just had the song “Funeral for a Friend” buzzing around in my brain and I thought it was a good choice. While listening to that album (and cutting away!) it brought back so many great memories of my teens and I remembered how much I loved that album and Elton John in general. I must say that during high school, he was my favorite singer ever. I had posters and pictures of him plastered all over the walls of my bedroom, in many of his outlandish outfits. But of all the music he made, I believe that Yellow Brick Road was my favorite.
I started thinking about the album and the wonderful artwork that was included. It also reminded me that one of the first paintings that I ever did was of that album cover. I painted it in acrylic paints, on a 19” x 20” canvas and it was one of the first times that I thought about being an “artist”. I was only about 13 years old at the time I painted it, and I don’t know why I did, but I just wanted to do it. It is like many of the projects I do today. I do them just because I want to. This is the cover I replicated:
(Even Elton is wearing rose colored glasses!)
I had a friend freshman year in high school who was just as crazy about Elton John as I was. Living in suburban Chicago, there was a time when he was coming to town for a concert. We both got tickets and we went to the concert at the Stadium where the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team played. It took all our allowances, and we were in the ‘nosebleed’ seats, but I remember to this day how thrilled I was to be so close to my idol and how incredible the concert was.
A day or so before the concert, we found that Bernie Taupin (the man who wrote all the lyrics for the early Elton John songs) was going to do an interview at a downtown radio station. We took a train and several buses to get to the place where the broadcast was downtown across from the Chicago river and we waited most of the day to see Bernie Taupin. I also brought that painting that I did of the cover of Yellow Brick Road to give to him.
We finally did see him, and it was only for a couple of seconds as he walked with his entourage through the lobby, but he stopped long enough to accept the painting and we snapped a couple of pictures. Here is one of them:
I am there right behind him. It was truly a thrilling day for me. The date I wrote on the back of the picture was May 14, 1976 so I was 14 years old at the time. It was quite a memory.
While I listened to that album and all the songs from it, the memories of the incredible artwork and that special day and that whole time in my life filled up my thoughts. As each song played, I remember the pictures that were on the sleeve of the album and how I used to look at it and daydream and enjoy reading the lyrics and hearing the music.
I no longer have my vinyl records or albums. And I must admit that while I like the sound of digital music much better (no scratches or crackles!) I do miss all the wonderful album art that came with the vinyl records that we used to buy. I think that it had a lot of influence on me as someone who loves art and also had a bearing on me wanting to do something creative for a living. (Ah – the good old days!)
Before I knew it, I was pretty much done with the 1200 boots. For the afternoon, I chose other music of that era in my life and the task of cutting was just an after thought, as my head was back in the 1970’s reliving some wonderful times in my past.
I hope I didn’t bore you all with my story. I thought it was kind of cool how something as simple as a memory made what one would think would be a boring and repetitive task into something so pleasant and fun. Music is wonderful that way, isn’t it?
Today I am going to prep the third and final set of pieces for cutting. These are the pumpkins. There are only eight of them in the set so I only need to cut out 800 for the kits. They are certainly the easiest of the bunch and I really can see them all being cut in one day.
I may or may not start on them today, depending on how the day goes. I have to also get the box out with the mouse cheese tray in it and finish the instructions on that and I may take a day away from the saw or only spend an hour or so there so I don’t feel burned out. Mixing it up does wonders and I will still be on target for getting the kits into the mail by early next week.
I hope the day goes well for you all too. I really do appreciate all the nice notes that everyone sent me earlier this week. They also helped motivate me and make me realize what a great bunch of friends and followers I have. I didn’t get back to many yet, as I needed to stay focused, but I plan on catching up on those notes today.
Have a great day today. I hope you all follow your own yellow brick road, and find that it leads you to a wonderful place filled with fond memories and dreams.
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"