A funny thing happened to me this week. I wouldn’t really call it funny in the comical sense, but rather it was more ironic. I was thinking about everything that I want to design and for some reason or another I haven’t really felt as focused and productive as I could be. Perhaps it is because Keith hasn’t been feeling well (he is doing better, and almost back to normal). Perhaps because my saw was ‘sick’ too. Or maybe it was just because I was overwhelmed by the many, many ideas that I have in my head and want to draw and make into reality. I can honestly say that I have never had so many ideas that I want to get done.
Yesterday while I was driving back from the post office, I was thinking about things. It was a beautiful day and as I drove along the road overlooking the ocean I felt a sense of calm. I like driving. And I find that I do some of my best thinking and sorting while I am alone in the car and the music is playing and I can sort through my thoughts.
One of the things that I was thinking about was that I was wondering if I wasn’t focused enough. It seems that I have many ‘irons in the fire’ as the saying goes and I am in many different directions at once. But I don’t think that is such a bad thing actually. The economy is truly struggling and as I have said many times before, people don’t have the extra cash to spend on hobbies and other luxury items. And while buying scroll saw patterns may not seem like a ‘luxury’ to many of you, there are many others who understand that when it comes to eat and paying rent, or purchasing patterns, the choice is clear. And with all the free things available on the internet, it is sometimes difficult to compete. We have to offer a good enough pattern so people will continue to feel that we are worth spending their hard earned money. It certainly keeps us on our toes.
As with other businesses, we also have a slow season. After doing this for over 15 years, I have come to expect the late spring and summer months to be a time in our business that is slow. People are excited about getting out of the house after the long winter and there is far more social activity available such as picnics, ball games and gardening to keep them busy. Many areas experience intense heat in the summer and working in the shop is something that is uncomfortable and unpleasant and that coupled with the previously mentioned activities means that only die-hard woodworkers are spending a great deal of time there. But that is expected and we have learned to plan for it after years of doing what I do (remember the Ant and the Grasshopper story?)
So I diversify. And I try to think of other ways to work and generate income in these off season times.
But sometimes there is a fine line between healthy diversification and distraction. While working in several areas at once can be very beneficial at those times when we need to fill the gaps, it can also overwhelm you from time to time.
So there is the dilemma.
Those of you who read regularly know that I have been creating some patterns for painting as well as my usual scroll saw patterns. For me, it is a toss up between painting and woodworking. I love both of them and I truly love to create with wood and also with paint. I think both have their place in the world I truly enjoy working with and meeting people from each hobby. I wish I had two lives to live each day – one to focus on just painting and the other to focus on scroll sawing and woodworking. But I realize that I do not, and I try to manage my life so that I am able to enjoy the two different creative forms equally.
Yesterday while driving, I was thinking about all the patterns that I want to make. I was thinking about the email that I received the previous day from the Artist’s Club which featured my three ornament patterns and I was hoping that they would go over well. I really enjoyed making those kits and not only did having that opportunity fill in the gap during the ‘slow time’ of my business, but it also allowed me to do some work that included both of the things that I loved to do best – painting and woodworking.
While cutting all those kits may seem like it could be a hardship, it was actually a lot of fun for me. I often say that I don’t spend enough time at the scroll saw, and cutting pieces such as this – although simple – was not only a great deal of fun, but it gave me a great sense of accomplishment. When those five boxes of pattern kits went out the door, I felt a great deal of pride in that I was providing something that would bring some joy and happiness to others.
Since the ad came out Monday afternoon, I had two inquiries – one from Isreal – regarding purchasing both patterns and additional kits from me. Since the Artist’s Club is only selling the kits which include the pattern, if people want to buy additional wood pieces, they are pointed directly to me. This will help the retail side of my business and also expand me into the painting area a bit more as a supplier, and also allow the painters to see what else I have to offer on my site. It brings an entirely new demographic to my site and will help my business grow in that area. And that is a good thing.
As I was spraying the final coat of lacquer on the calendar pieces later in the day, I was thinking that I needed to call Bernie and order up some more 1/8” plywood to have on hand to cut more kits. While I have some left, I hoped that since it was only early May and these were Halloween patterns, that there would eventually be a reorder and I wanted to stay ahead of things. I even thought that I would perhaps begin printing some extra copies of the patterns to have on hand so that when and if the order came in, I would have a jump start on it. Part of me thought that perhaps I was being foolish, but something inside me just had a ‘feeling’ that they would sell. Seeing them in the ad that I showed yesterday was exciting and made me hopeful that they would do well.
When I got into the house and checked my computer, there in my mail box was an email from Crafts Americana (Artist’s Club.) At first I thought something was wrong, but in reading it, I realized that it was another purchase order for 200 more kits!
I had to read it twice to make sure, but after less than 24 hours of presenting the new kits in the mass email, they were already ordering another 200! And the print catalog isn’t even out yet!
I am really happy about this! I had purchased enough zip lock bags to do at least this amount of kits and I was hoping that I wasn’t being too optimistic about things and wasting my money. I also had some of the wood left over from last time and I got on the phone with Bernie and as luck had it, his order was going in that day and the wood would be delivered to him by today (Wednesday).
I spent the afternoon gluing what wood I had left here together so I could stack cut and then I began printing. I need to get more paper, but I had enough here to get started and I have plenty of ink so I am good to go.
I did finish up the calendar pieces, and I think they came out nice:
Here’s how they look on the topper:
Sorry for the dull colors, it is raining here and these are just the raw snapshots to give you an idea. I will be taking nicer pictures for the pattern packet later today.
I plan on writing the packet for this today or tomorrow. It really isn’t a difficult pattern and should be pretty straight forward. As for the other ‘Happy Birthday’ lettering, I need to work on what else I am going to add to that packet before I can complete it. I promise it is something “fun!”
So many, many things to do! I hope to have the order for the kits out by the end of next week. I know that seems like it may be a bit optimistic, but I want to have a quick turnover and get them delivered as soon as possible. Since I am pretty well set up, it should go smoothly.
I want to keep designing like this for the Artist’s Club. It really can be a good outlet for me and help my business as a whole. I have some cute Christmas ornament ideas that are on the same lines as the boots, hats and pumpkins that I would like to make into kits for them and that would get me through the holiday season and keep me quite busy, I think. I figure if I have a couple of designs going in each catalog of theirs, that is enough to fill the gap when I am having lean times in the scroll saw pattern business. I just need to keep organized and use my time to my best advantage.
With that said, I am off to ‘work’. There are so many things to do and I can’t wait to get started.
Did I tell you I love my job?
Have a great day everyone!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"