Sometimes the best thing you can do for a project is nothing. But that can also be the most difficult part of the process when you are anxious to see the outcome, or are on a schedule to get it finished.
There have been many times when I have been guilty of rushing through something that I am making for one reason or another and I come to regret it. But as I get older (and supposedly wiser) and have more experience, I find that rushing through part of the process to finish is more often than not more costly in time than doing it the right way in the first place. And that is without even considering the quality of the outcome.
I am so pleased that so many of you liked my new winter snowman project yesterday. I received many nice comments from all of the places that I post this blog and it really made me feel like I am doing something right. Sometimes I find that I like an idea, but it doesn’t really appeal to the masses. That’s OK for some things, as I enjoy doing things for myself and I am rarely accused of being a mainstream thinker, but with project such as this, which are intended to be something that I want to market, acceptance is a large part of the equation. (After all, a girl needs to make a living!) It really makes me happy that doing something that I love making so much is something that others like too. I am encouraged.
I wanted to have the next stage ready to show you today, but that isn’t really possible. Yesterday’s preview was just that – a raw shot of the snowmen fresh off of the saw. They weren’t even sanded properly, let alone finished as they should be. They were by no means a completed project and while they did look “OK”, I knew that I could take them to a much higher level with the finishing process.
I sanded them and oiled them yesterday. By ‘oiled’ I mean I dipped them in a mineral oil bath and they were left to dry over night. I plan to finish them both with clear spray shellac and also with some acrylic stains as I have been doing with my other projects to give them a bit of color. I think both versions will be attractive and since I can’t decide on which I like best, I will once again do both and offer the pattern that way to my customers.
But in order to be able to do that properly, I needed to do the hardest part of the project – wait. If I didn’t allow the oil to absorb into the maple at least overnight, there would have been some issues in applying the acrylic stain as well as the spray finish. So I did other things.
I cut a set of the same figures ( just the perimeters) which I intend to use as a painting pattern. I think the designs are cute enough and that painters will enjoy them as well as the wood cutters. Besides, I have been saying that I have the urge to paint so what better opportunity is there than to turn these into a painting project? It will be a fun twist on the design and I am anxious to see it come out. So I have much to do today.
Since that is all that I have to say about that at this time, I thought I would bring up another subject that I have been thinking about the past day or so that kind of bugged me. It would be interesting to hear others’ perspectives on it and figure out if it ‘is just me’ that it bothers.
The other night, we went to Yarmouth to do some errands. It was near dinner time, so we made a quick stop to the local Wendy’s/Tim Horton’s for a bite to eat. (Tim’s is much like a Starbuck’s. While they have coffee and donuts, they also have some sandwiches, too.)
While we were over on the Wendy’s side eating, I noticed a digital clock counting on the far wall at Tim’s.
It caught my attention, because it wasn’t counting the hours, but it kept resetting to zero and then counting the seconds. The first 10 seconds, the light was green. Then from 11 on it turned to red. Then when it got to 20 it started flashing as it counted. It was as if the clock had a life of its own and was yelling louder and louder for attention as it counted.
I watched this throughout the time I ate, trying to figure out from across the room what it was counting. At one point it reached as far as 348 and I thought that maybe it was just a fancy kind of time piece and nothing more. But as I continued to watch it, it again kept going back to zero. Sometimes reaching 28. Sometimes 35. One time it only reached 11 and then reset.
I found myself cheering for the clock and seeing how quickly it would change back to zero. And then I realized I was sucked in.
I kept mentioning this to Keith, as the clock was behind him and I certainly was getting on his nerves reporting the ‘score’ throughout the time we were eating. I was trying not to be rude to him, but it somehow fascinated me and I couldn’t figure out what it was counting. I had to ask.
I hadn’t purchased a beverage with my dinner anyway, so I decided to go get one over at Tim’s. In the process, I would casually ask what the clock was for. I am sure that Keith was happy that he was all the way across the place, as he didn’t want me to go ask, but I somehow needed to know what that clock was for.
When I bought my coffee, the lady was very sweet. She was a bit older than me, and could have been my mom. She was pleasant, but was running around at quite a pace, and working really hard doing things. She mentioned my ‘accent’ as many here do to create casual conversation and since no one was behind me for the moment, I took the opportunity to ask her what the clock was for.
She said “they time the drive through orders, and they grade us on them.” My worst fears had come true. “You should see it in the morning” she said. “If we don’t get those orders out fast enough, we sure hear about it!”
My heart sank. I thought “what a shitty place to work.”
When I went back to the table and told Keith about it, he said he figured as much. While they didn’t actually ‘clock’ him when he worked in the fish plant, they certainly kept track and speed was definitely a defining factor. Production rate was paramount and put above all else.
I must admit it rather depressed me. Here this nice older woman was running her tail off serving coffee and some suit is reading that stupid clock and tallying her numbers and little or no consideration is given to the quality of service that she offered. If she doesn’t work fast enough, they had hard and clear numbers which enabled them to crack the whip harder at the threat of losing her job. Never mind the pleasantries. Never mind the smile. Is this what our world is coming to? And she is probably making minimum wage or near minimum wage, to boot.
You know, we walked out of there with a renewed sense of knowing how fortunate we are. Keith and I kidded and said we should install a ‘digital counter’ on our wall to see how quickly we can produce patterns. Both of us tend to get sidetracked sometimes. Most times it is with work related stuff like looking into new computer equipment or getting on the phone with a customer who has a question and becoming friends with them because they tell you all about their families or the organizations they are scrolling or painting the items for and we have an actual conversation. I can imagine that the woman at Tim’s doesn’t have that luxury.
I have heard that Wal-Mart does the same thing. I had a friend in Digby who was an incredible opera singer. His voice was like magic and he performed at places around town on occasion. But times being what they were, he needed to get a job at the local Wal-Mart to support his family. He told of how everything they do is timed, and if “x” amount of stock isn’t moved, stacked, shelved in the given time, it would show on their record. It didn’t consider whether the person doing the work was a 22 year old college student or a 68 year old person who couldn’t quite survive on their retirement package. It was just a cold, indifferent figure that some corporate suit came up with.
It certainly is difficult sometimes to understand. I know I live on my own Pink Cloud and that everyone isn’t always able to do that, but here on my cloud, I am the boss and we don’t have rules like that. And we never will.
So I let my snowmen sit for the night and rest. It was more than the lady at Tim’s could do, I am afraid. This morning I looked at them and they looked good and ready to go. I will be working on them today and if all goes well, they will be finished to show you tomorrow. If they take a bit longer, then so be it. At least I know they will be done correctly.
Have a wonderful Friday.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"