My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #828: More Than One Way to be Productive

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-24-2012 11:17 AM 6088 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 827: From Teacher to Student Part 828 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 829: Building Pattern Packets »

Recently, we have been looking into some new things for the business in order to help it expand into other areas and grow. While these things are quite exciting, the newness of everything was beginning to somewhat overwhelm me, and I was feeling rather anxious the other day.

Was I getting lazy in my thinking? I don’t think so. I always like new things and I am a strong proponent of diversification and branching out to several areas with your business. I learned long ago that counting on one outer source too much can be detrimental. Besides not having the same amount of control you have when you oversee everything, if the source fails, you could lose a large part of your revenue. The longer I am in this however, the more I am realizing just how important diversification is.

But learning a new aspect of your business can be taxing. It involves a great deal of research and perhaps could also include doing things quite a bit differently than what you have been used to doing. And that takes us from the comfort zone that we may have nestled ourselves in up to this point.

I have not looked at this as a negative at all. While the circumstances of late have somewhat ‘nudged’ us into new directions, the more I research the more I am seeing that there is a whole world of opportunity out there for us, if we would only take the steps to explore it. Dare I say that I feel that this whole situation is turning out to be a “good” thing?

One thing that I am realizing though is that learning all this additional information and still trying to keep what we have going can be quite a balancing act. Our business is quite active, and still requires attention even while we are investigating these other avenues. We don’t want our day to day operations to suffer while we are looking into these other things, so we need to be careful to divide our time accordingly.

But this is a good thing, as (for me, anyway) it allows me to process things a bit better, and it is easier for me to digest the great amount of information that has come my way at a pace where I am really learning. I would rather take my time with the new things and do them right than rush into them and make more mistakes than necessary. Keeping the existing business in check and happy will naturally slow down any new ventures and allow us to take things as slow as we can and truly weigh what we are doing. I think that is great.

Perhaps I am getting old, but the way I look at it, if it is meant to be, it will be there tomorrow. I am no longer as impatient as I was in my youth, and I am beginning to realize that there is real value in assessing decisions properly and taking my time. Not to the point of procrastination, mind you. But certainly giving things enough time to gel and taking time myself to consider all options and the long term consequences of the decisions I am making. Could it be that I am ‘growing up?’

I spent much of Saturday exploring this new avenue. I learned a lot and there are many decisions that we need to make. I will admit, by the end of the day, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed at all the changes that we would need to do to follow this path and while it was all pretty positive, it left me feeling quite overloaded.

In the past I would have pushed ahead to make solid decisions immediately, wanting to find closure and move ahead, but as I said, I have mellowed out quite a bit and I thought the best thing for me was to take a step back and allow things to set for a while. This was I feel, a smart move on my part. There are no set and fast time constraints here. There is no rush other than my self-imposed uneasiness at the present situation. There is no need to make decisions this big in a day – especially when some of them will set a precedence for how we will be doing things in the future. So I did the smartest thing I could think of – let it be for a day.

Prior to all the ‘excitement’ of late regarding my business, I was on a pretty good roll in designing. I had an agenda of doing several new designs for the Halloween season, and a list a mile long of ideas. Well here we are in the latter part of September and the clock is ticking. While I realize that many of the projects that are living in my head will just have to live there a bit longer, I still wanted to make a few more for this year.

I had half-drawn this plaque a week or so ago. It is simple and cute and I think it would be something that people will like. I got up yesterday morning and right after my blog, I decided to finish it, and I actually did just that. Not only did I draw the rest of it, but I actually made it to the saw and cut it too. I loved how it came out:

It is a two-piece “unwelcome” plaque made of 1/2” oak. The bat is suspended from the skull by using small eye pins and decorative chain. I loved the graininess of the oak and how it looked with a light coat of oil and shellac on it. It looked warm and rich. For the skull, instead of the traditional skull and crossbones, I chose to cross two Gothic-style keys (since the plaque would in all probability be displayed at an entry way.) I thought it would be a nice and quick project for the upcoming Halloween season.

But you all know me. I like to give ‘options’ for those who like a bit of color. While Keith thought I should ‘leave it be’ as it was, I had a vision in my head and needed to take it a step further. I took the appropriate pictures that I would need to market it ‘as is’ and then I continued on.

The results was as follows:

I like it even better now! :)

I used a couple of my favorite products from DecoArt to make this look really awesome. The first thing I did was use the Staining and Antiquing Medium gel that I have used so many times in the past. Instead of using it as a stain, this time I used it to ‘antique’ the bat. I used Black Pearl Metallic paint and the gel and applied it to the wood. I then wiped it back with a lint-free cloth, allowing the color to be worked mainly into the grain. I believe that oak was the perfect choice for this method.

You can see how it made the oak look old, without masking the grain in the least. I chose metallic paint because I didn’t want the color to look at all dry or chalky, and while most of the subtle shimmer of the pearl paint does get lost in this process, I find the results to be crisp toning. While I am certain the results would be similar with a regular black-ish paint, I fear that the finish may look dull and flat.

For the skull, I once again used the Weathered Wood crackle finish. After all, old bones are not monochromatic. I think that the crackle did wonders to make this piece stand out.

I also added just a bit of float shading around the edges of the skull and the features, giving them some depth.

Finally – I used a metallic glaze over the keys. The glaze is a semi-translucent product that allows all of the grain to show through, yet gives a metallic shimmer. I used an old gold so that the keys look much like brass. You don’t see it a lot in the picture, and it is subtle even in person, but it is a wonderful accent to this piece and makes it look great.

All of these processes are super fast and easy. You don’t need to know how to paint to do them, and they really can make a nice difference in the overall look of what you are making.

What a wonderful day it was for me. I finished up around nine, giving me just enough time to wind-down before bed. Taking the day to do something that I was familiar with, and also to be creative allowed my brain to rest from all the new information it was processing the previous day. When I retired yesterday, I felt a good sense of accomplishment, and today I feel ready to take on new things again.

I think it is important that we take the time to look out for ourselves in this way. When we are feeling overloaded or overwhelmed, we need to step back and evaluate things and see if we can’t switch gears for a while to do something that is less taxing on us. Even if it is only for a while, we will still feel as if we are accomplishing something tangible, when in reality, we are doing much more for our own well being. There is more than one way to be productive.

I hope you all have a wonderful Monday. I know I am going to!

-- 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 Rick13403's profile


256 posts in 3531 days

#1 posted 09-24-2012 01:02 PM

Good morning Sheila, Another great pattern for Halloween! I like the a little extra pattern the best! Can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 & Ex21 -

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2831 days

#2 posted 09-24-2012 01:39 PM

Kool details on that skull sign. I likes it alot.

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

View Celticscroller's profile


1269 posts in 2100 days

#3 posted 09-24-2012 04:52 PM

Good morning Sheila. I like the crackle on the skull – more realistic! Great pattern!

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3142 days

#4 posted 09-24-2012 08:33 PM

cool skull .. :-)


View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2947 days

#5 posted 09-24-2012 09:13 PM

Thanks everyone! I suppose my head was ‘cracking’ from thinking too hard! I am glad you enjoy the design!


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

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