I started my day today learning something. I suppose that is a good way to start things off, even if it wasn’t your intention. Some days I am sure we can get through the entire day without learning a thing. Here it is before 8am and I already learned something important. I feel like I am already ahead of the game and today will be a fine day.
I got a lot done yesterday. I got all caught up on my financial and book work, (something that I have pledged to myself to keep up with this year) I cleaned all the odds and ends laying around the house, and most importantly, I finished the drawings for my bird cage ornaments. I even got half of them cut out, which was really cool.
What a difference it is cutting these from the cutting that I was doing for production! While I quickly could run through the pieces that I was cutting for the kits, these little delicate ornaments were very much like doing micro-surgery in comparison. I must admit I loved the change, as they were not only a bit of a challenge, but also very exacting and relaxing for me to cut. While I was sitting there cutting, I had memories of the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired candle tray that I had made last year. I had said that it was one of the most challenging pieces that I cut, with its sharp corners and long straight lines. I remember that piece taking me about six hours to complete – even though you wouldn’t think so as you look at it.
For the bird cages, it was a similar experience. However, instead of only having to consider the straight edges and many corners, you also added another element – the swirls – that made cutting them a bit of a challenge.
At first I actually wondered if cutting them would even be possible. After all, I was now used to using a #3 sized blade and racing around the edges of the pieces as fast as I could push the wood through. This was as I said, quite a bit different. Not only did you not push the wood through, but you very gently ‘encouraged’ it to go forward, allowing the blade to do the work at its own pace.
After the initial shock of realizing that very little effort was necessary, I began to relax and really enjoy what I was doing. As with any project, I needed to approach these little ornaments one hole at a time and not look at the entire piece, as that may have been far too intimidating, as each ornament had approximately 40 – 50 inside cuts – all in a small 2.5” x 3.5” piece.
Once I adjusted to the task at hand and what needed to be accomplished, I did relax and started to feel happy and really did enjoy what I was doing. As each tiny sliver of wood was removed, the ornament began to take shape and I liked it more and more. By the time I finished the first piece (approximately 45 minutes after I began) I knew I was going to have a winner with this pattern.
At one point Kieth walked by and looked at what I was doing. I received the approving “la-de-da” from him that meant that he liked them. “You know that is going to be an advanced pattern.” he stated to me, and while at the time I was thinking that I would label it ‘intermediate’ I realized that he was probably right and it would be best to call it ‘advanced.’
The only real difficulty that I encountered when cutting was the (damn) glue letting go on the curls. In all my busy-ness I had neglected to find a suitable glue stick which I intend to try on future patterns. I also realized that once again the pattern was placed over a layer of blue painter’s tape (the mass produced pieces were not) and I would have the ability to use more of the spray glue than I had used, as the tape will be what has to be removed from the final piece, not the pattern itself. (I guess I learned something yesterday too.)
But in any case, I worked until about 9:30 and got exactly half of the pieces cut out. I am pleased because they are delicate looking, yet stronger than you would think. They were fun to do and I think that while they are challenging, they are something that many will like to do.
I have a picture here of the four that I cut that I scanned in this morning:
Now these pieces are not really sanded or finished, but it gives you an idea of what they are. There will still be small bird silhouettes that will be glued on top of them to finish them off. I was debating as to whether I would have the bird silhouette joined into the pieces of the cage (cut from the same level of wood) but even on paper, I thought that it looked too flat and the birds got lost in the bars of the cage. So overlay it will be.
I wanted to have these look nice for the blog, so I printed out the cloud background and I thought it would be nice and quick to scan them in with the cloud background. (This is where the learning part came in!)
Last week, I upgraded my computer and now have a new one. Those of you who have experienced that before realize how much that entails. Our hard disks are getting larger and larger and there are more settings, drivers and files that we use on a daily basis than ever. While I have upgraded many times and have seemed to get the hang of it, there is always something that is new or missing and needs attention.
Today, I realized that Photoshop did not see my scanner and I could not scan my picture through that program, which is what I typically do.
I installed the scanner drivers and there was still no TWAIN option for scanning, which is what I have been using for many, many years. Now the TWAIN plug in for Photoshop which allows you to scan directly from Photoshop without having to open another program, has been around for quite a while. But while looking for a solution online, I discovered that 64 bit Photoshop CS5 (which is what I have) doesn’t support the TWAIN plugin and I would no longer be able to use it. Bummer.
I did learn however, the meaning of the WIA support command that was in the Photoshop – Import menu. I had never thought much about it or bothered with it, as with many of the commands we see in our program menus, if we don’t need them, we don’t ask.
Apparently “WIA Support” refers to Windows Image Acquisition, which is the more basic Windows software that allows you to import via your scanner (if your scanner is WIA compliant, which mine is.) While there is less functionality than TWAIN support, I never really deviated from the basic importing anyway, as I did most of my adjustments of my scanning in Photoshop once the image was scanned. I suppose if I were a professional photographer it would matter, but in my case, it does not.
As a rule, I try to load the least amount of software and applications on my computer as possible. So many items like cameras and scanners come with bloated third party software that we don’t need on our computers and in my early days of computing I would just load everything that was provided, thinking that ‘more is better.’ What happened was that it sometimes caused conflicts and also many of the programs added tracking and many things that I didn’t want or need on my system. (Did you notice that EVERYTHING has a tool bar it seems! If you put in all the tool bars that came with software, you would have more than you would imagine!)
So in my quest to keep it simple and clean, I try not to load more than I need from any given program.
I never knew that I could use the software that came with Windows so easily. While it is basic, it is simple and easy and once I set the destination folder and set the image to open up in Photoshop after I scanned, I wouldn’t even know that the TWAIN software was missing. Lesson learned.
It makes me think back to the conversation we all had last week about paying $10 each for a design. I think of all the things that I have learned and use to make the files good, yet small and compliant with any system and I think of the time I spent this morning ‘learning’ and I once again think how cheap that $10 offer is. But I suppose there are those that have free time that they want to spend helping out. That is great for them, but I don’t fall into that category at this time in my life.
We’ll see how well the WIA works for me over time. Today, it got the picture of my ornaments from the scanner bed to this screen. So I give it an A+. I will certainly share any downfalls that I may encounter in the future using it, if any.
Today will include cutting the remaining four bird cage ornaments as well as the birds that will be included in the pattern. I also have a good idea for a free pattern that I want to offer on the site on the next update and I want to work on that and perhaps even get some cutting done in that direction. Then there are two more projects in my head that will come rather quickly on the tail of this one.
I am back in ‘design mode’ it seems. And it is a good place to be.
It is getting warm already here. Even though the weather predicted rain for the past couple of days, there has been barely a cloud in the sky. What do they know anyway? I am sure that I will have another enjoyable day here at the saw, seeing my ideas come to life. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend the day.
Have a wonderful day too!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"