It is just a perfect morning so far today. There is a chill in the air and at least around my place, the trees are really reaching their peak of color. I want to be sure to take some time and take a walk today in the woods to enjoy how pretty the leaves are. I know that probably within a week or so, the beautiful colors will fade and most of the trees will be bear. I need to enjoy the beauty while it is here.
This time of year goes by so quickly for me. I don’t know if it seems that way because I enjoy it so much or because it is such a busy time of year or because the time the colors peak is so short. Or maybe it is a little of all of the above.
It is cool in here this morning. I even pulled out my heated throw for the first time so that I can keep warm here in the early hours of the day. As soon as the kitties catch on I will surely have some company on my lap, and they will probably continue to jockey for position here each morning until next spring. It is amazing how much I can accomplish with the cats on my lap. I have even learned to paint with them lounging on me. I suppose that the limit is when I am at the scroll saw, although Pancakes sits just behind me, getting as close as he can be without sitting on the scroll saw table itself.
It’s nice to be loved. :)
I spent the bulk of yesterday working on a series of yard art patterns. The series has nine different figures in it and I am not only going to sell the pieces individually, but also in a full set. I like to give the customer full control of which pieces they may want and this was the only way I figured that I could do so.
Naturally, the full set would be much less expensive to buy than the individual pieces, as the cost of producing them is also far less. If someone wanted to buy several, it would serve them far better to get the entire set than the cost of the individual items. Since it cost me less to print and produce the patterns, I like to pass on as much savings as possible.
One area where these large patterns really differ from what I am used to selling is the size difference. Because of the huge size, the printing and shipping of these patterns is a real consideration when designing. When making typical scroll saw and painting patterns, I usually offered them both in PDF format so that they customer could print them out themselves as well as paper patterns that could be mailed. If the designs were bigger than a standard sheet of paper, I simply had the pattern printed on two sheets with reference marks so that the customer could easily print out the pattern and tape the sheets together to create a full-sized pattern. I was never one for shrinking patterns and instructing the customer to increase the size by “x” percent. That always seemed much more troublesome to me, as the customer would have to still go to a copy center that would offer a larger sheet of paper for the output. By the time they were done there, I am sure the cost would frequently exceed the original price that they paid for the pattern initially, and subsequent copies would also add to the cost.
The print-and-tape method was far better, I felt.
But when creating these patterns where the pieces are sometimes 4 ft tall or more, there is no way that I can easily produce the patterns on anything less than a plotter. Since the plotter prints in 36” widths, there is still the occasional time when the cut and paste method needs to be used, but I don’t see that as being an issue.
Since the cost of printing on a plotter is a bit more expensive than on a regular printer, it is even more important for me to learn to lay out the patterns efficiently. Wasting space in laying out the patterns would not only result in a higher cost to print, but also a higher shipping cost. This is where much of the learning process has been for me.
Shipping is something that is really a factor with patterns such as this. Larger patterns can easily weigh enough to cost a significant amount to ship. Many times, the shipping cost can almost exceed the pattern cost itself. This was something that is really new to us, as we are used to sending most of our patterns through email. While we feel rather guilty with charging so much for shipping, it is what it is and if we don’t charge for it and lose money in processing the orders, we certainly won’t be in business very long. It is simple mathematics.
But what I am finding is that most people who purchase this type of pattern are rather used to these things and do consider it in the price. While it may be new to Keith and I, they are no stranger to having to pay for the shipping and expect to do so when making the purchase.
Still though, it is to everyone’s advantage to work hard to make the patterns as compact and lightweight as possible, without compromising on the quality of the instructions. Again – a learning process for us all.
I am getting the hang of things though, and little by little I am feeling more confident in creating the large patterns. While I started with some of my simpler designs, I am already beginning to think of some more involved pieces that will still be easy to make, yet hopefully something that is a bit better than what has been on the market to date.
The best thing I can do is to take it slow and absorb all the information I can and learn as I do. I am already seeing things picking up as far as how long it takes me to do things. My confidence is coming along too and I don’t feel as ‘lost’ as I did a month ago. (Much of that is thanks to Jim Barry, who has the patience of a saint with us and our learning the process!) All will work out fine I think.
Today I will be working on the instruction booklets for this series of patterns. Hopefully I will be able to come close to buttoning it up and finishing. Then I have some ideas for new scroll saw ornament patterns for Christmas that I want to get busy with. Keith has been developing a couple of new sets this past week or so and should be done cutting them today. His recent “Filagree” ornament series has been doing extremely well for us and while this set is a bit different than that, it is something that we think everyone will love!
Keith’s New Filagree Cross Ornaments SLDK215
While it may seem that we are moving a bit slowly into this new aspect of woodworking, I feel as though we are making great strides. Being able to create larger pieces and present them in patterns that are clear and easy to understand will allow us a whole new world of design possibilities. Not only are we able to make small ornaments and huge yard pieces, but we also can make projects just about any size in between. And that will open doors for our company that we have never explored before. It is very exciting.
(Photo courtesy of http://funnyanimalpicturescat.com)
I hope you all have a wonderful and productive day!
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"