My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #713: The Best Laid Plans

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 05-26-2012 11:35 AM 3200 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 712: A New Project in the Works Part 713 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 714: Moving in the Right Direction »

I never said I had all the answers. Part of this journey through life is figuring out things and learning from others and our own experiences – a pretty significant part at that.

In feeling the pressure from ‘both’ aspects of my work calling to me (the painting aspect as well as the scroll saw aspect) I came up with a plan earlier in the week. I was going to work on the scroll saw part of my job during the day until supper and then spend the evening working on my painting in the evenings. On paper it looked great. It would allow me to have the best of both worlds and be able to twice as much output and everyone would be happy.

What I didn’t count on was one small issue that I happened to overlook. I am only human.

While I am sure that there are times when I would be able to follow through with this time frame, I quickly discovered that for the most part it didn’t quite work that way. After all, I wasn’t just sitting here crunching numbers or packing boxes. I was attempting to be creative and dream up some wonderfully exciting new designs for people to enjoy. And that, my friends requires one small ingredient that I foolishly forgot to consider into the equation – emotion.

It didn’t take long for me to see that it was impossible to flip my emotions from one project to another as if I were changing the channel of the radio. People just don’t work that way. It seems that I would just be gearing up and becoming emotionally tied to the pieces I was working on and the clock would tell me that it was time to stop and switch gears and do something completely different. And I didn’t like that.

For me, designing is a passion. If I have learned anything from this fifteen plus years of doing what I am doing, I have learned that the best work that I do is from my heart. It isn’t about financial gain or or prestige or recognition. Those things are the residual results of doing something that I feel very strong and passionate about. I suppose to some extent that I am able to pop out designs on command, but I don’t always feel that those are my best work. The projects that really shine are those that come from deep inside. They come from a need that I can’t define that beckons from deep within my soul and that I just have to make a reality. Those are what I have found to be my most successful pieces. And while it is possible to have that passion towards more than one design at a time, it is very difficult for me to turn it off and on as I would a light switch.

So it is easy to see how my original plan was flawed. And while I do have passion for both the painting project and the scroll sawing project that I am working on, at the end of the day when I am charging full ahead with one of the projects, it is nearly impossible for me to shelve it for the night and turn my attention to the other. I just can’t do it that way.

And why should I have to? After all, I am the one in charge of things here. I make the rules. There is nothing to say that I can’t revise my original thinking and alter the plan into something that works better for me. Admitting that I was wrong is a simple thing, and is actually quite freeing. For if I were to forge on and ignore the fact that this wasn’t really working in the way that I originally intended, I would be a fool. Sometimes it is smarter to admit you are wrong than to keep pretending that you were right at the cost of the task at hand. Pride is silly that way. But there is no harm that I see in admitting that I made a mistake. In fact it allows me to move on from here and come up with a better solution that will work. And that is a good thing.

So here is what I am going to do . . .

I spent the day working yesterday drawing on my new designs. I am very excited about them and I think they are going to be really fun to make. By dinner time, I had the eight pieces that I wanted done to the point of the basic drawings, but before they could be cut, I needed to do several things on them with the computer to make sure the lines worked out well and were ‘cut-able.’ This is perhaps one of the most important parts of the designing process, as it turns ideas into real patterns. So many designs are on the market that are not tested and people try to make them only to fail for one reason or another. We pride ourselves that our designs are not that way, and while some have a greater difficulty level than others, they are all tested and can be cut.

After supper, I was going to work on my painting projects, as the deadline for those is looming ahead. I am excited about those too, but I had trouble shifting gears in my head from cutting and line work to coloring and painting. I think it uses a different part of my brain. Besides that, I was getting tired. And while I wasn’t minding picking around on the computer with lines, I just wasn’t feeling good about choosing colors and fresh designing. That is when reality hit.

So what I decided to do (for now at least) was to continue to work on the line work for the evening, and then take a day off today from that project and dedicate the entire day to the painting project. After all, the painting project deserved my full and fresh attention, and it was equally important if I am going to be represented in the holiday catalog. The scrolling project is for myself and my own site, and there isn’t any deadline attached besides my excitement. So it was a ‘no-brainer.’

As I look at my drawings for the scroll saw project, I can’t wait to get at the saw to cut them. They are truly unique (at least I haven’t seen anything on that subject for scroll sawing) and I think they are going to be well-received. Since I posted the little teaser yesterday, I will show you the finished drawing of one of the pieces. It is a Victorian Bird Cage ornament that could be used in many applications.

Not only can this be used as an ornament or sun catcher, but I am going to have some other cool ways where it will be part of a larger project that I am going to offer. There are going to be eight different cages in the set and one is even cooler than the next. The cutting is going to be intermediate to a little more advanced, but hopefully with my instructions, they will be able to be accomplished by most scrollers.

After what seems like months since I have created any traditional scrolling patterns, it feels incredible to come up with something like this. I am happy about them and I am excited about them and I hope that others will like them too.

But for today, I am going to spend the day working on the painting project. As I said, I am just as excited about that, and I am optimistic that the results will be equally exciting for me.

I am in a really good place right now. I am filled with passion and excitement for what I am doing, and every day I wake up I can’t wait to begin. I wonder what the world would be like if everyone felt that way about their jobs? I know that isn’t always the case, and I feel very fortunate to be able to say that.

I also feel fortunate that I am able to step back when things aren’t working and admit to myself that I made a mistake. It is an important thing that doesn’t always come easy, but it allows me to try other things that perhaps will work better. And that is something that is monumental.

I wish you all a wonderful Saturday. For those of you in the States – it’s the beginning of the long Memorial Day weekend. Be safe and have fun!

“I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed: and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying.” – Tom Hopkins

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

9 comments so far

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6855 posts in 3978 days

#1 posted 05-26-2012 12:23 PM

Hi Sheila;

Well, it made sense when you posted your plan, however, this revision makes even more sense. Seeing on paper the reason it didn’t work makes even more sense.

I have a habit of being in a position of getting pulled in a number of directions as well. Different ventures need attention if they are to succeed, or they wither and die.

My method of dealing with it is to have a general plan that is flexible enough to allow for things to pop up. Often it boils down to handling the thing most pressing. It is usually pretty obvious. The squeeky wheel getting the grease plan.

I imagine it is the same method you use on a regular basis. For example, your recent rush of kits. You had to stop what you were doing, or had planned to do, and get the kits done done and out the door. Everything else becomes secondary. The only real thinking involved is how to get it done efficiently, so you can get back on track.

Well, off the the squeaky wheel. Have a good weekend.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2918 days

#2 posted 05-26-2012 12:33 PM

You hit the nail on the head, Lee. I hope I don’t get struck by lightning for saying this, but I am hoping that no more kits are ordered for at least a week or so. (I know I may regret even thinking like that!) But putting out 250 kits in a couple of days is all-consuming to say the least. I have until Thursday to get the pictures of the new painting submissions for the catalog. That is very attainable, as the patterns don’t have to be written until later on. I need to put my emotions (at least that part of them) on hold for a couple of days with the new scrolling patterns and focus on the painting designs for now so I have representation in that holiday catalog. The Halloween designs are so popular I want to ride on that wave and hope that the people that like those will like the new ones too.

Thanks for your insight, Lee. Have a great weekend! :)


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

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3339 days

#3 posted 05-26-2012 12:58 PM

well sheila
thinking can be fun at times

just keep moving forward
that will get the job done

if you need to think
here are some inspiring words

“I have opinions of my own—strong opinions—but I don’t always agree with them.”
- George Bush, former U.S. President

“Solutions are not the answer.”
- Richard Nixon, former U.S. President

these should keep you busy
till you get to OZ
and can get some better help

-- 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)

9228 posts in 2918 days

#4 posted 05-26-2012 01:06 PM

Thanks, David!

And how can we forget -

”What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.” -Dan Quayle

Figuring that one out will keep me busy on the way back from OZ!

Have a fun Saturday!

:D Sheila

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

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3016 days

#5 posted 05-26-2012 03:03 PM

The birdcage ornament is very lovely! It seems you are being given very good insights this beautiful morning! Have a great weekend!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3034 days

#6 posted 05-26-2012 05:17 PM

Have you considered outsourcing the grunt work. You are a very creative person and you can’t do it all.

Love the birdcage.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2918 days

#7 posted 05-26-2012 05:28 PM

Thanks, Erwin – you have a great weekend too!

Hi, Martyn – I do have a great friend who I have mentioned (Leldon) that would be happy to help, but the logistics of having him do the work make it difficult. These ebbs and flows are quite sporadic at this point. It doesn’t help with me being here in Canada because shipping stuff would be an issue. The printing is another point. I have the set up where it only costs me pennies to print, but the down side of that is that it takes a couple of days of solid printing to put out a 200 pattern order. With me doing it, I can babysit the printer while I am doing other things. I package the orders while watching movies in the evening. If I had to pay others hourly, I don’t think I would find anyone who would do the work with the same quality that we do for a price where I can still retain even a small part of the profit.

That doesn’t mean that it will always be like that. I have priced laser cutting and perhaps one day I would even be able to get my own CNC machine. If this part of the business continues to grow, than it would certainly be considered in the future.

It is a delicate balancing act for me to do so much, but right now there is not really a choice. It is however, nice to think about for the future. :)

I am glad you like the bird cage ornaments. I can’t wait to see them done in wood. I think they will look cool.

Thanks as always for your thoughts.

Sheila :)

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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3113 days

#8 posted 05-26-2012 07:06 PM

I knew I had forgotten something yesterday … usual :-)

dont worry about being able to switch back and fourth
speciel when we talk about being creative

no one can do that not even one that have done something for years the same way
several times a week
when people is in the mittle of something and being interupt even if its just a short phone call
it takes about ½-1 hour after the phone call to get back on track and not have to censentrate
about how things shuold be done and just doi them per automatic

so may I surgest you devide the time in 3 days circlus with a day off from scrollwork and paintwork
every fourth day and making other things like officework , the basic store rampage , etc
and of course real off days to load the battery´s .. :-)

that wuold give you the time you need to switch the contact over ….. I gess :-)

me and Silke was down at the local harbour today on the old shipyard place (just a piece of land )
to se and 98 year old wood skooner being reborn = back in the water after 4 years restoring
and still be worked on it 1-2 years more with rigging sails , etc
the name of the old lady is Bonavista and when she was build in year 1914 she was build
on the excact same spot …. and was build for the New Foundland fart ... yep
right at you neigbours frontporch …. sort off …....... one of the last places where sailboats
cuold compeat with the stinking steamships and dieselships
many many skooners and other bats made of wood was invited or just arived to the see
and applause Bonavista for getting back in the sea
though we are a very little island with only a few that is interrested in or working with wood
about 100 …....... then there was 5000-7000 to celebrate the day with the boatbuilders
the museumfoks and several sponsers
bonavista has realy got all the benefits from being draged thruogh the painfull plasticksegeons operation

what a beuaty she has become again :-)
and all the nonwoodworkers admired her curved waistline

so even trough we often thinks no one but woodworkers like things made of wood
its not true today realy prooved it ….. or was it only becourse it was this year biggest
event on the island even the news was there :-)

anyway I will blog about Bonavista tommorow when I have been around to take a picture
of her in the water wast able to do it today with all those people
and all those small plasticboats around her … it wuoldn´t wonder me if there was some of them
under the keel tooo … LOL since I cuoldn´t see any water
but the news brought a very good little vidio clip of the lunching from the dock

and the wethergod realy wanted to wish her well into her future journey
with 25 C. fullpower on the sun and a blue sky…................ not a single tiny cloud
not even a pink one

day jay think we haw a good day ….... you bett we had …. with icecream waiting for us
when we returned home …. LOL

so a warm hug from us on Ærø
to all of you have a great weekend
Silke and Dennis

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2918 days

#9 posted 05-27-2012 10:51 AM

Hi, Dennis! I am finding that you are right. Blocking off a couple of days at a time to do things is a lot easier than switching back and forth all in the same day. It does take a while to build up steam in one direction it seems. That is something that I didn’t expect. I suppose I am still young enough to keep learning! :)

My – I can’t wait to see your blog on the ship! What a wonderful day you and Silke must have had. Those ships are so beautiful and each one is a work of art. Thank you for describing it so fully. I felt like I was there at the dock with you two!

Sometimes we have the ‘tall ships’ come here to different ports in Nova Scotia. We have seen them docked in Lunenburg on the ocean side of the province (we are on the Bay of Fundy side) and they are incredibly beautiful. Once though when I lived in Digby, they had one come to dock at the wharf for a few days. What a thing of beauty it was! While I didn’t get close to her, you could see her in all her glory from the shore and it was incredible. Perhaps this year on one of our day trips we will be lucky enough to stumble upon one. I will promise to have my camera close at hand this summer to take photos.

I will look forward to seeing your blog about the event. I think it will be of interest to many here on the site and remind us of the beautiful craftsmanship those ships were built with. Thanks so much for the story! (((Hugs))) back to you and your little first mate! :)


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

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