It’s another early morning today. I suppose I am excited about all that is ahead of me today. It is a new day and a new week is beginning and I can’t wait to see what is in store. There are good things happening all around and allowing them to unfold before me fills me with anticipation.
I am not as anxious as I have been in the past. After years of doubt and being unsure of so many things, I think that we have built a sturdy foundation for the business that is diverse enough to withstand some adversity here and there and still remain strong. While this has been sometimes exhausting work on both Keith’s and my own part, I believe that the time spent doing so has been positive and even with the economy as volatile as it is, we have been doing all right.
Yes, there are areas of the business that are not performing as well as we would like, but having multiple sources of income and options mean that just because one aspect may not be as we expect, the other parts are still able to keep us going. As we branch out in different areas and diversify, the load of the business is redistributed and each individual branch is a smaller percentage of our income. This means that if one part doesn’t do well, we feel it much less and are able to reevaluate that particular part and adjust it with the least amount of impact on the overall business.
I think that is why diversifying is a good thing. Many times I hear of others who are starting their own businesses who sell their items in only one or two markets. If one of them does poorly, the effect is far more pronounced than if they would have had several outlets. We find this true with Keith’s pens. There are places that they are doing well and places that they don’t sell much at all. Somehow it isn’t as bad to hear of a poor sales report form one outlet when the others come in decent. Especially with the given market conditions and all the personal feelings that are tied to selling your own creations. Any crafts person understands that no matter how much they try to take a step away from things when selling their own items, there is always a level of emotion tied to them. It is difficult not to take it personally when our items are not selling. But it is something that we need to overcome and we need to resolve within ourselves that we can’t take it personally if we are to be successful.
The other day I mentioned that we were considering another wholesaler for selling our patterns. I had a conversation with the owner of the company that is interested and I feel good about proceeding with this avenue. I am usually very cautious about new ventures because part of me feels stretched quite far as it is, and taking on another thing at this point is something that we need to consider very seriously. However, we both realize that in order to grow, we do need to expand and relinquish some of the day to day running of the business to other sources. This is difficult for me to do, as you can imagine. I have spent the last probably fifteen years of my life working on my business. I have been working with the two pattern wholesalers that I am with since the beginning and I seriously haven’t thought much about seeking out more. But the opportunity has arisen and everything seems to be on the up and up and I think that I finally feel that it is the right time to perhaps stretch our wings a bit and expand. It just seems like the right thing to do.
We are still working out the details, and as soon as I have everything settled I will talk more about it here. I find that it is a bit out of my comfort zone, but growth usually is and I need to allow these feelings to run their course and take a chance in order to continue to grow the company. Having a partner comes into play too, as having someone who is also involved in the business on a day to day basis share their thoughts and opinions is a very valuable thing. The saying “two heads are better than one” is certainly applicable here.
So with that said, we are moving forward. I think it will be an overall good thing for us and we are excited at the prospects that it will bring.
For today, I will be cutting more of the new ornaments/plaques that I have been working on. I had a short day yesterday for work, as we went to visit Bernie and Ellen at their cabin for a nice dinner on the lake. But as promised, I did get the two pieces I showed yesterday finished, and I have some pictures to show you of how they came out and what my idea was.
Here is a picture of the larger plaque:
I used black spray paint to paint the frame and the pumpkin overlay piece. I then used a small sea sponge and a tiny bit of gold metallic paint to very lightly sponge the frame to give it some interest. I debated on using copper metallic or gold metallic, but I thought the copper would be a bit too close to the background orange and I think it looks better with the gold accents rather than the matching copper. It just seems to have given it another layer of interest.
As for the center background, I spent a great deal of time the other day searching the web for some downloadable background sheets of paper that I could include with my pattern. I looked to purchase these backgrounds for commercial use because I want to include a sheet of them (or two) with each pattern packet. I certainly was willing to pay for them, as I would be in essence re-selling the designs. However, I was not very successful in finding something that I liked. The guidelines for commercial use were lengthy and confusing and also very restrictive. It was quite a hassle to figure them out and I wanted to be certain that I wasn’t infringing on anyone’s copyright.
Ultimately, I found some great Photoshop sites where geeks (and I use that term in the most complimentary manner) spend their time creating assorted brushes, backgrounds and plug-ins for Photoshop just because they can. This one I found on a site here: http://webtreats.mysitemyway.com and it is filled with hundreds of wonderful backgrounds and textures that are free for all types of use. There is a note with the files that I downloaded from the graphic designer that states “This resource is free for personal and commercial use ~ no attribution necessary” and I found the designs here to be even better than many of the designs for sale with confusing or strict usage issues. So I chose from the hundreds of designs he offered and I really liked this orange-y/amber one that I used here. I think it was perfect for the project and just what I had in mind when I thought of these plaques.
I like the overall look of these, and I was very pleased with the results. Below is a picture of the smaller cat ornament:
I simply printed the design out on heavier paper and cut an oval and glued it to the center piece. When it was dry, I carefully sanded the edges of the insert so that it would seat properly into the frame. I then sprayed it with a shot of matte poly spray to protect it and set the color before gluing on the overlay pieces. I really like the outcome.
While the small cut out eyes of the cat do get a bit lost in the shadows, I may wind up eliminating them on the ornament sized pattern. I think that they will be a little more prominent on the plaque sized version, although they are much easier to see in real life than in the photographs that I took. After all, these are just what I call ‘snapshots’ and not the final presentation photographs that will accompany the pattern. I promise better ones to come.
The last photograph is a bit of a close up of the detail of the sponging:
I often forget the value of sponging for a finish or background. I find it fast, easy and besides covering a multitude of flaws and boo-boos on things like old frames and such, it looks incredible. I was a bit disappointed that my can of black spray paint was gloss finish however, as I would have liked it to be satin or even matte finish. That way the subtle shine of the gold metallic would offer a bit of a difference in texture and add a bit more interest and depth to the frames. I may look today when I am out and see if I can get some of the spray in the above mentioned finish and give it a go. I think it will add even more to the design.
There is one more ‘surprise’ that I am adding to these patterns and working on today. Besides that small addition, I will spend the bulk of the day cutting out the other 10 pieces, and adjusting them as I go. What looks good on paper doesn’t always translate well to wood, as we know.
I plan on marketing these patterns in two sets of six different designs, with two sizes of each. I think that is a fair way to do it and will keep the pattern to a manageable size.
I hope you like this version. While I know many don’t like to paint wood, it just seemed that these designs were screaming to be finished in this manner. Of course, there is always the option of using walnut and maple or other contrasting wood and leaving it natural. But somehow I just like these better.
I wish you all a wonderful week and a happy Monday! Have fun and enjoy the day!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"