My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #946: Pushing to a Higher Level

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 01-29-2013 12:32 PM 2759 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 945: The "Dud" Part 946 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 947: Show and Tell »

Yesterday I got a little bit side tracked. Not really too far off the path I was heading, but just enough to change gears for a day and try something new. So it was for a good cause.

I often receive many comments from people that I call ‘regulars’ here on the Lumberjock site. Even though this site is quite large at over 50,000 members, as with any place, we seem to fall into a niche or corner of the site where we feel accepted and comfortable. I am not different, as when I write here each morning it is as if I am writing to my friends over my morning coffee. It makes what would otherwise be a difficult task easy, as I have found a huge amount of support and inspiration from these friends who live in all corners of the world. (England, Denmark, Australia, Scotland to name a few, as well as the USA and Canada.)

The other day, when I posted my scroll sawn masks, I received a comment from my buddy Bert Flores from the Philippines. Bert has been a long time buddy of mine, almost from when I first joined the forum, and over time has offered much support and advice, as well as been an incredible inspiration for me to do better.

In his comment, Bert suggested I make my masks into a smaller brooch and enter it into the Lumberjocks Winter 2013 Woodworking Awards contest that is being held on the site.

I am not one for contest myself. I seldom have time to do my own work, let alone take the time to enter a contest. But after Bert suggested that I do so with the masks, it got me to thinking. Cutting those masks was already a bit of a challenge. The masks I showed the other day measure 4.5” across. Would I be able to make them even smaller and still be able to accomplish cutting them? I had to find out.

I didn’t want to do this for the contest as much as I wanted to challenge myself. I have a friend that I have known for nearly 15 years named Rick Hutchenson, who cuts more accurate than anyone I have ever known. He is known as “the animal” for his expert cutting ability and besides being incredibly prolific, he owns literally hundreds of scroll saws and has the ability to cut a set of Noah’s Ark figures that fit on a dime.

His site shows his incredible versatility and he shares a wealth of information not only about scroll sawing, but also wood turning and other aspects of woodworking. (Visit it at

While I don’t ever see myself getting as good as Rick at cutting, making these masks smaller would be quite a challenge for me, and I felt up for the task.

I first reduced the pattern from 4.5” in diameter to 3”. I thought that would make a nice sized brooch that would be wearable on a sweater or winter coat. When I printed out the pattern, I had my doubts as to if I would even be able to accomplish cutting it. The mask I chose was my favorite, the one I called “Harlequin”, and it had many thin lines to show a diamond pattern. One slight mis-cut and it would be garbage.

But things aren’t a challenge if they are easy, are they?

I picked three types of hardwood that I thought would not only look good, but hold up well to the tiny details. I had a nice piece of walnut, a beautiful piece of maple and an awesome piece of black ebony that were all planed to 1/8” thick and ready to use. They would be perfect and offer a nice variety of colors.

I used Olson 3/0 blades. My usual small blade is a 2/0, and the 3/0 is even smaller than that. Even though I was cutting through three thicknesses (I stack cut the pieces) of dense wood, the blades still worked fine. It took only one blade to accomplish the task, and while it was naturally slow going, I had the pinpoint control that I needed.

I finished the masks without error or incident. And when I looked at them, I felt pretty proud. These were certainly the most difficult pieces that I have cut to date, and I felt rather accomplished. (63 inside cuts in each piece!) I remembered that only last week when I cut the original set, I felt proud of my work. Now I was even more so.

I finished them with my usual mineral oil followed by spray shellac. The exotic woods took the finish beautifully and they look pretty cool. Now the question – to add sparkles or not?

I really fought back and forth about this issue for quite a while (while the oil was absorbing). I knew that on the previous piece, I went kind of crazy playing with my new rhinestones and setter. While I wanted a bit of shine on these, I didn’t want the rhinestones to overshadow the beautiful wood that I used to make them, or the minute details of cutting that I accomplished.

I went with two tiny 2mm rhinestones on each. Just in the corner of the eyes to add a little glimmer. I finished off each piece with two small feathers to give them a festive look, and they are ready to go.

The walnut one, with red leaded crystal rhinestones:

The maple mask with aurora borealis leaded crystal rhinestones:

And finally, the ebony mask, with clear leaded crystal rhinestones:

And here are all three with the penny for scale:

I am taking some better project pictures today and I will post the project later on. I am debating on whether to add a very thin veneer backing over just the back of the masks so that the pin backs don’t show through the fretwork to the front. I think that will be what I need to do to keep the focus on the cutting and not the shiny pin bar on the back.

I am happy that I took this challenge. It isn’t really of consequence whether I win the contest or not (although I would love to have that honor!) What is really important to me is that by preparing this entry, it pushed me to a new level of scrolling and personally I felt that I grew a bit as an artist.

Thank you Bert for your encouragement and thanks to Rick and my other mentors who set such a great example for us all and who teach us to try harder. You are an inspiration to us all.

Have a great Tuesday!

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

15 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4155 days

#1 posted 01-29-2013 12:37 PM

these are amazing. Absolutely adorable and … perfect
(love that walnut one!!)

Definitely needs to be entered in the Awards event. (It’s not about winning, it’s about participating, right??) Nudge nudge.
deadline to enter is Jan. 31st at 3pm Central time… hint hint

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4155 days

#2 posted 01-29-2013 12:38 PM

oh.. and the feathers could hide the brooch pin… or did you already do that?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 2879 days

#3 posted 01-29-2013 01:08 PM

Very nice looking and great cutting

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2850 days

#4 posted 01-29-2013 01:09 PM

Morning Sheila those are stunning, definitely competition material :)
I’ve printed out one and drilled the holes to make one, wish me luck
I do prefer these filigree ones they look light and airy just like lace I think
they have the look like they would go well with a crinoline outfit?
Have a Stupendous day.


-- 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 2914 days

#5 posted 01-29-2013 01:21 PM

Thank you all so much! Debbie – I have a couple of ideas that I am going to try to hide the pin backs. I will have to see which one works best. That is why I didn’t post it as a project yet, but I should have it up there by tonight.

Thank you Jerrell. I am glad you like them. :)

Hi, Jamie – I can’t wait to hear how you do on them. I can’t figure which ones I like best. They each have their good points. I love this one though and it was the most difficult in the larger size, let alone this smaller size. The diagonal lines are very thin and give you no room for error. I actually was able to sand these with my 1/3 sheet Makita orbital sander when they were finished and they held up fine. I attribute that to the tight and even grain of the wood that I used.

I love daydreaming about these while making them. Think of the beautiful outfits they would have been worn with. The marvelous occasions! What fun and what mystery must have surrounded the real masks like this “in the day!”

Thank you for your thoughts. Today will be a good one, as it already is! :D


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

View BertFlores58's profile


1697 posts in 2916 days

#6 posted 01-29-2013 01:39 PM

Was about to sleep however, my habbit is just have glimpse over my tablet… found that my wish comes true! A nice way to realize that a challenge for a buddy like Sheila been fulfilled. I am in awe! The fact that not only it be comes a challenge, the made was really terrific and incredibly micro cutting inhardwood.

Now the vote… thank you very much! Just to be mentioned in your blog is already an honor, plus the pm that i was really proud tobe one of your good buddies here.

By the way, making it more smaller… a brooch… makes it also wearable daily… and fits all… what a surprise. A winner in myheart…. and ofcourse inthe lj contest. My plan was to join with wooden belt… no time. So congrats.
Good luck!

-- Bert

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3030 days

#7 posted 01-29-2013 01:43 PM

Stunning and nicely understated on the decoration side, Sheila. The feather is a really classy touch. Then there’s the scale. This is highly skilled work of the first order.

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

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3297 days

#8 posted 01-29-2013 01:48 PM

grand slam here sheila, you certainly showed your skill here, i would have blown them, some of those lines are really thin, you did so well, cant wait to see them posted as a project and entered into the contest…bravo senorita….

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3521 days

#9 posted 01-29-2013 02:09 PM

These have the Wow Factor! Beautiful!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View lumberdustjohn's profile


1263 posts in 3161 days

#10 posted 01-29-2013 02:42 PM

Very nice!
What beautiful pieces.

Thanks for sharing!

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2798 days

#11 posted 01-29-2013 02:54 PM

Way way kool. Sheila. Good luck in the contest.

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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2914 days

#12 posted 01-29-2013 02:58 PM

Thank you so much, guys! I really appreciate the cheering on! I am happy that I tried these. They were one of the projects that I made “for not particular reason other than because I liked them.” Those are the most fun!

You guys are the BEST! :)


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

View Celticscroller's profile


1269 posts in 2067 days

#13 posted 01-29-2013 05:11 PM

Good morning Sheila. Wow! These are beautiful and so accurately cut. I love your wood choices too and the decoration you did. These are an inspiration to any scroller to challenge oneself. I sure hope you enter them into the competition. Seeing this quality of work, I believe encourages people to raise the bar on their own work.
Have a great day.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3012 days

#14 posted 01-31-2013 04:25 AM

I’ve been out of town for a couple days and saw this when I got back home, just lovely! No way I could cut something like that. Edith maybe. I like the Ebony one best.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2914 days

#15 posted 01-31-2013 03:50 PM

Thank you so much! :)


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

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