My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #794: Enjoy the Process

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 08-19-2012 11:51 AM 5801 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 793: Headed to the Saw Today Part 794 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 795: Moving Forward - The Next Phase »

As time goes on, it seems that the world is migrating more and more towards instant gratification. We are continually looking for ways to have things completed in record time, with fewer steps and the least amount of effort. While I realize that this is not news to anyone, I just wanted to bring it up to make my point.

While doing things more quickly and efficiently can be a very positive thing, I sometimes find myself wondering what the hurrying is all about. Yes, I understand when we are doing mundane chores such as laundry or dishes, how having things automated could be helpful. And I also understand how nearly instant communication could be beneficial for not only social relationships, but also correspondence of more pressing matters, but where do we draw the line on rushing through things and take time to stop and enjoy some of the processes.

When I was growing up, a US postage stamp costs six cents. (Yes – I am that old!) That was back in the day when we used to actually write letters and it took sometimes several weeks to have a simple conversation with someone who was far away. I didn’t know many people far away then, but I remember one particular incident when I met some new friends on vacation that lived all the way on the other side of town and in trying to keep up with them, we corresponded through writing. Our family didn’t have a long distance phone plan then and chatting on the phone for no reason was just out of the question. We did keep in touch for a while, but being young and busy, the friendships soon fell off and died.

I think about that now as I sit here and write every morning from my little country place here in rural Nova Scotia and I receive replies from not only across the country, but across oceans too. We have certainly come a long way.

So why am I babbling about all this today? I suppose I started thinking about it as I was working on my project yesterday and really enjoying what I was doing and experiencing. Something dawned on me at some time during that process – Not only did I like the outcome of the project, but I thoroughly enjoyed every step of creating it.

There were several points when I was drawing, cutting and finally peeling off the pattern and seeing the results when I thought to myself “this is cool!” And I realized that I was not only working, but truly having a good time doing so. And the best part of all is that they aren’t done yet. While one could easily stop and call it a day on these ornaments and plaques that I created, I still have further to go with them, and this is only a stepping stone on the path to their completion. While I like them right now, I am picturing them when they are finished up and I know that I will like them even better. It will be fun to see them evolve.

But for now, here is where I am with them . . .

There are going to be 12 distinct designs in all, and there will be two sizes of each design. The ‘larger’ size will be a 4” x 6” miniature plaque and the smaller size will be a 2.5” x 3.5” ornament. I had to do a little extra drawing to make the smaller sizes work, which is part of why this is taking me so long to do, but I am so pleased with the results I realize that the time was very well spent and I am happy.

The ornaments/plaques will be in the self-framing format that I enjoy doing so much. It is certainly a nice way to present things and make them look nice.

Within the center of the frames will be overlay pieces which will be 12 silhouettes of Halloween-themed characters. I am only going to show you two of them today however.

The first (of course!) will be the cat (this piece is the smaller cat for the ornament sized frame):

It is simple, but I believe that the silhouettes needed to be somewhat simple so that the overall design would not be too busy. The simplicity of the overlay pieces bring balance to the very detailed Gothic type frames.

The next piece I will show you is the pumpkin. He is simple yet menacing and will fit in the mini-plaque sized frame.

Sometimes small and simple is more difficult to accomplish than larger and more detailed. I find that I always want to put more details than the small size will permit, and as a result, I need to frequently re-draw things several times before I am satisfied.

Now for the frames. I cut the smaller one first. It is full of details and Keith had his doubts that I would be able to accomplish it when he saw the design on paper. (How little faith he has in me sometimes!) In all honesty, it is not what I consider a ‘beginner’ type of cutting, yet it is very much able to be accomplished as you can see below:

Keith wanted me to remove some of the details to make it easier, but I chose not to. I used an Olson 2/0 reverse blade on 3/16” curly maple hardwood and slowed down my saw a little and I had no trouble whatsoever. But the key here goes back to how I began this entry – you need to take your time and enjoy the process. This isn’t made for ‘speed cutting’. While I can easily see stacking two layers for more resistance and to be a bit more efficient, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The details in the frame are what make the piece look nice:

The old saying ‘it is what it is’ applies here. I am very happy with the results and don’t see the need to change it.

I then moved on to the larger frame piece. This was cut from 1/4” thick ash. I found that cutting the larger piece was far easier and while it still wasn’t perhaps a ‘beginner’ piece, if care was taken, it also could be accomplished without much of a problem. My piece of ash was a bit warped, and that meant that I had to fight it a bit on some of the turns and twists, but it still came out nice.

I took a photo of them together so you could see the size differential:

I like them a lot and woke up very eager to continue working on them. (Of course, there is no finish on them yet!)

Now they do look nice how they are, and if I would have used some contrasting wood for the overlay pieces, the designs would stand out a bit better. But I have something else in mind for them that I think you may like. It is going to take them to another level. You will just have to wait and see about that though . . .

I did have trouble deciding which path I was going to follow as far as these designs are concerned. Part of what slowed me up in my designing of them was that I wasn’t quite sure which one to follow. I could easily do several variations on this process and all of them would be nice. I may even do another complete set using an entirely different process. We will just have to see what time will allow.

Until then, these are what I have come up with. I have a birthday party to attend today in Digby, so much of my day will be spent there. I don’t know how far I will get on these this morning, but I hope to at least get to the next stage with these pieces, and then I will continue to cut the others tomorrow. It will be a bit of a process, but I know I will enjoy every step.

I hope the next time you are doing a project that takes a while to do or is a bit tedious, you take a moment to enjoy the process just a bit. After all, that is a big part of what craftsmanship is all about.

I wish you all a great day today.

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

5 comments so far

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2801 days

#1 posted 08-19-2012 12:02 PM

Sheila, your creativeness is un-ending. Those frames are whimsically kool. And while you were speaking of stamps being 6 cents, I pumped gasoline at a gas station when gas was .39/gallon, plus washed the windows front & back, and checked the oil…... Like Mr. Dylan said, “The times, they are a cha-yangin”

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2853 days

#2 posted 08-19-2012 12:05 PM

Enjoy the party

You have earned it.

They look really cool

It is amazing how an old Scottish

custom has become soo big. :)


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2917 days

#3 posted 08-19-2012 12:11 PM

Thank you Roger! These have been “living in my head” for months now. Seeing them come to be real is truly exciting for me! Wait until they are done! I think they will look even better. :)

Jamie – you would be amazed at how popular Halloween is in the States. I have been here in Canada for over eight years now and when I left the USA it was nearly as popular as Christmas as far as decorations and such. I love all fall decorating in general, and especially the wonderful colors of black, browns and oranges. You probably already know that it is my favorite time of year! I would love to live in Autumn all year around. But then if I didn’t experience the seasons, I probably wouldn’t appreciate it so much!

Thank you very much! Have a great day!


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

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3033 days

#4 posted 08-19-2012 04:24 PM

I got out of computers, a little over 10 years ago, because everyone wanted it all NOW. I still work relatively fast but only after planning projects in great detail. I agree that looking at the stages of a design is as interesting as the finished article, sometimes.

The ornaments look suitably spooky. You’ve got some feeling into these. Contrast would be good but I suppose that will be along d’rectly.

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

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3082 days

#5 posted 08-19-2012 05:31 PM

Halloween was fun when we were growing up and when the kids were are own it was even more fun then the
neighborhood changed and we sold and moved out a ways, and now I do not have anyone to carve jack
o’lanterns for. The designing and making of projects if fun, and while I do not want to stretch it out, it is
great just to move along at my own pace and enjoy. Thank you for sharing and have a great day.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

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