I can’t even begin to tell you all what a good day yesterday was! It felt so good to get back at the saw and actually see some of my new ideas become real. I was beginning to worry, because after being away from things for a couple of weeks, I just didn’t feel like things were going to work out well.
It is funny how we do that to ourselves. It seems we have these demons inside of us that whisper doubts in the back of our minds and cause us to doubt ourselves. Many times we listen to these negative thoughts and we are defeated before we even begin. Sometimes they creep in when I am in the middle of a project. I may not like something that I am drawing as much as I thought I would or I just can’t get things to look “just right.” Or perhaps it looks OK on paper, but isn’t as impressive as it was in my mind and it slows me down tremendously because I start doubting myself and thinking that I have been wasting my time.
These are all things that affect most designers, I expect. And I am no different. I can’t tell you how many times Keith is sitting next to me and shows me his computer screen with a new project he is drawing on it and says “it doesn’t look good, does it?”
Usually when I look at the screen, I see a great drawing and when I picture it in wood, I see the potential for another winning design. But I also see the look of concern on his face and the doubt and realize that these demons affect him too. I usually try to be encouraging and assure him that it will look great, as he does with me and just about every time this happens, after the pieces are actually cut and finished we are quite happy with them.
You would think we would learn.
While time and experience do help us gain confidence and help curb these doubts, I don’t think that they ever go away altogether. For part of being a designer is chartering new territory, and with that task comes the fear of the unknown. The more we design different things, the more apprehensive we are in regards to how they will be received by our peers and our customers.
With innovation comes risk. And in thinking about it, I think that the reason that some people are more successful than others are because those who are willing to take risks in their work are the ones that seem to advance the most. Many times I speak of ‘comfort zones’ and while I do believe it is a nice place to be from time to time, without venturing out and trying new things, it is very easy to become stagnant.
I believe what I have been feeling these past couple of weeks has been the anxiety of moving out of my comfort zone. I had thought of this idea several months ago, and only began implementing it a couple of weeks ago. It is an idea for a variation on some new designs, based on a series of designs that has been very successful for me in the past. While I have some more ideas for the older version, I have become rather “unchallenged” with things the way they were. I probably could have cranked out fifty of more of the series the way it was, but my heart just wasn’t in it. If I were a better business person I would have, but those of you who know me, know it isn’t all about money for me. I do this first and foremost because I love it, and while I try to be practical financially (and I think I am getting better at that end of things) I still need to keep my own standards of what I do in order to be happy with myself and call myself a ‘success.’
So it was time for me to move to another level and see what will happen here.
Sorry for all the rambling, but these thoughts have plagued me the past few weeks and while the holidays were quite a nice distraction, I know that it is time to get back at it and progress. As they say – “The first step is always the hardest.”
So I took that step yesterday. I finally ran out of distractions and sat down and finished drawing. I must admit, that I didn’t really impress myself. I am sure that is why I wasn’t running into this project at full speed.
A couple of weeks ago I drew up the base of a tray. Many of you have seen the many candle trays that I have designed over the past two years. They have been enormously successful for me and have done well for my customers too.
After doing so many of them, I did begin to have a problem with them. By their nature, they only have a small area for creating. If you are putting characters into them, you have just a small band around the base in which to work, which could be very restricting design wise.
I didn’t want them to be too difficult to accomplish, and I wanted the designs to be visible. Keeping things ‘connected’ within the tray sometimes posed a problem. One was unable to do so without making things look goofy.
So I had an idea . . .
“What if” I added some dimension to the designs?
“What if” I made the characters as separate pieces, and attached them to the base?
“What if” I made little scenes that went around the trays, making them a bit more interesting and fun and the patterns themselves even more versatile for my customers?
And I thought to myself – That’s it!
And I began to draw.
I had shown you a section of the base of the tray a couple of weeks ago:
It was a nice and simple design. Pretty. Yet not too difficult. One thing that I have to keep in mind is that there are so many people that are new to scroll sawing, and I want to design things that are not only easy to accomplish for the newer sawyer, but also beautiful and complex-looking. I think this tray fits that description well.
The next thing I wanted to design were some dragonflies for the dimensional pieces. Again, they need to look difficult, but be simple to cut.
On paper they were not really impressive. I picked them apart many times and redrew them more times than I care to mention. Finally, I figured that I just needed to stop and cut and see. And when I did I was thrilled.
Below is the result of my cutting:
After the first one was finished, it was as if rockets went off and music played. They looked SO DARN CUTE!!!
I continued on to cut the rest and set them into place on top of the uncut tray:
My heart soared and my mind raced at all the wonderful possibilities that this opened up for me. I had figured out how to SIMPLY prepare and attach them to the tray without fail, and I thought how awesome these will be.
You could use the tray with or without the add-on pieces, and use the add-on pieces as stand alone ornaments, sun-catchers, garlands, charms or anything you can think of. The versatility of this pattern is wonderful and making these little pieces stand up around the tray gives a wonderful blank canvas to do so many cute scenes.
I was thrilled!
By the time I finished cutting the dragonflies, it was after 8pm and I needed to stop for the evening. Today I will be cutting the tray and finishing things up.
This pattern will be featured in the May issue of Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine and I won’t be able to sell it until then. But that doesn’t worry me, because I have a long list of trays in my head that will be coming to be in the very near future.
The fun is just beginning!
What a day it was yesterday! It seems that I have broken through my lull and it simply felt incredible to be sitting at the saw cutting. I always say that I enjoy the actual cutting part and I truly do. I was truly in my happy place for the time I was there, and look forward to revisiting that happy place again today!
I hope like the new design. It may seem like a small thing to some, but for me, I know it will open a floodgate of new options for me as a designer. And that is the best that could happen!
Have a wonderful Saturday! Enjoy your day and do something FUN! :D
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"