My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1035: The Start of Something "Fretwork"

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 05-16-2013 11:35 AM 4672 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1034: The Day Without Internet Part 1035 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1036: Working Weekend »

It seems that there is always that bridge of uncertainty that I need to cross between one project and the next. It is when the afterglow of successfully finishing one project begins to fade and I am looking towards the next. Fortunately, most of the time I already know which direction I will be heading following the completion of one project, for while I am working on one thing, my mind is usually racing ahead and planning on what is to follow.

Sometimes though, I get so caught up in what I am doing at the moment that I don’t have a clear vision of what I want to do next. That is when I rely on my trusty notebook that I keep on my desk and jot down ideas. That is what I consider my ‘job security.’ As long as there are fresh ideas in that book, I don’t worry. While some ideas that seemed good enough to write down at the time may have lost their appeal, usually I can envision them in an alternate form or use part of them in conjunction with other ideas. In any case, it is a starting point for me and most times that is all I need.

People often ask me where I come up with my ideas for projects. More often than not, it isn’t just one place. I may see an object in a movie, or hear lyrics in a song or even see a piece of jewelry that triggers an idea. I even just think of things while spending some quiet time on my own. There are endless sources of inspiration around us and as a designer and a painter I find that I look at things perhaps differently than most. My painting friends can attest to looking at the world in the palette that they use most for painting. Apples are no longer “red.” They are “Red Alert” which is one of the DecoArt colors that I use so often in my own painting. I look at the clouds and think of them in layers, with the reflected light behind the billowy lighter grey front of the cloud, and I think of what colors I would use if I were to paint them.

It is a fun way to look at the many wonders of our world and this awareness really makes you develop an appreciation for the smallest details of things.

After I finished my prototypes the other day, I knew before refining them I needed to begin working on my next projects. At this time of year, it is particularly important to balance my time between the several deadlines that I have. This sometimes means jumping around from one project to another, which is something that I don’t typically do. It isn’t what I would call a bad thing though, as it allows me to walk away from things and when I return to them, I usually have some small refinement to the project which I feel in the long run will make it better. Taking that breath away often allows things to settle in and I frequently have some fine tuning to do in the end that improve things overall. It is a good thing.

So yesterday I began working on my submissions for the holiday issue of Creative Woodworks and Crafts magazine. I say that I ‘began’ working on it, but I actually have been thinking it through for quite a long time. I suppose that it is more accurate if I stay I began drawing my project for my submission.

The holiday issue is usually quite a big deal. It is our most popular issue of the year because everyone is looking for new patterns for gifts and decorations for the holiday. It comes out in the beginning of fall, right when people are coming back to their shops after the busy, hot summer months and start making things for not only their own gifts, but also for craft fairs and sales that they participate in. It is an important issue to be included in to say the least.

That being said, I always like to do something that is extra special for that issue. This year I actually have a couple of ideas that I think would be cool and I am getting really excited about them. I began drawing yesterday and that spark was lit and I feel that I am well on my way.

The project is going to include fretwork. The past couple of issues I have done some word art and the dragonfly candle tray, but, but for this issue, I wanted something more classic. I love cutting fretwork too and I think that what I am thinking of will be something that will be able to be passed down for years to come.

Here is a sample of the line work:

I am not going to add color to this project, but there may be some other “surprises” that will be coming. As I continue to draw, I am liking it better and better and it is coming along very nice. You will just have to wait and see what it is. ;)

Once again, I realize how fortunate that I am to have such a fun job. I love being able to be creative and I hope that I am able to continue doing this for a long time.

I plan on finishing this drawing up today, and then I may begin cutting or I may begin working on the companion piece that I will be doing with this, which is another piece that I am submitting to the magazine. Hopefully they will like both projects, as they can be done independently, or used together to make a beautiful keepsake.

It is going to be fun.

It is raining and cool here today. It seems more like March or April rather than mid-May. Our trees are just beginning to bud and finally starting to look green. Rather crazy.

I wish you all a wonderful day today. If you are feeling stuck in your creativity, take the time to unplug and be aware of your surroundings. You will be amazed at how it will inspire you and awaken your productivity.

Have a great Thursday!

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

8 comments so far

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 2906 days

#1 posted 05-16-2013 11:58 AM

I like it so far

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

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2826 days

#2 posted 05-16-2013 12:18 PM

I always like the way you look at things. Life is good.

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

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2878 days

#3 posted 05-16-2013 01:02 PM

Sheila, inspiration is the big question.
Recently I had a visit from a friend who is a cello player
Her music is very unique and you might think she made it up as she went along
but she doesn’t and can replay any piece when called upon. I asked her how she
managed to remember all her music, she said she sees it, just like I see my furniture
before I see the wood.
It is that inner vision that is between dream and vision.

Have a sublime day
Jamie in Chilly Scotland

-- 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 Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6858 posts in 4001 days

#4 posted 05-16-2013 01:26 PM

Hi Sheila;

You reminded me of a very dear friend I used to work with, who has passed away. His name was Jeff Clark, and he was a designer, and also taught design at a college in Philadelphia. A very talented and creative guy. He was always noticing his surroundings, and could recall them with amazing detail.

A number of times he and I did a casual walk through a 4 story building, filled with a clients furniture, all with the idea of coming up with a design for renovations.

What appeared to be a casual walk for him would result in a meeting between us, where I would watch him take a sketch book, which was always with him, and proceed to draw a free hand sketch of each floor of the building, pretty much to scale, showing all the furniture currently in each room, including it’s positioning.

The detail was astounding. I couldn’t recall the number of rooms on each floor, but he would have the rooms, the furniture and any special detail from each room, all from a casual walk through.

Quite often, I would refer my clients to him for design services. On one occasion, the client wanted wall panels done, to reflect the look she saw in a magazine. I looked at her pictures in the magazine and suggested she would be wise to have my designer lay out these panels, so the proportions would be pleasing. He did many formal rooms, and was very talented in making them look incredible.

So I brought Jeff there to meet with the women. He looked at the pictures for a moment and asked me if I recognized the room. I didn’t. He said, ” you should, you built it”. Turns out he was right. I did build it…and Jeff was the designer. That lady was so pleased to end up with the very designer and contractor that did the work in the magazine she had.

Thanks for reminding me of him. He really was a wonderful and talented person.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2942 days

#5 posted 05-16-2013 01:40 PM

Thank you Jerrell and Roger. :)

I always loved cello music Jamie. I was actually accepted to DePaul University School of Music for classical music as a teen. I remember auditioning against so many others that were playing piano since they could walk. I only started at 13 (I was 17 when the auditions took place) I was accepted, but the letter of acceptance said it was a close call and I was ‘borderline.’ I was terrible at sight-reading because by the time I could play a piece as it should sound, I had already committed the notes to memory. From then on, I only needed music as an occasional reference. I really admire anyone who had the ability to read music and those who could play by ear. Especially the cello. I love its somber and emotional sound. It brings me to another place.

Thank you for your story of your friend, Lee. I loved reading it. One of the best parts of being an artist is being able to see the world on a deeper level. Sometimes I recall things and Keith says to me “I don’t know how you remember that!” I don’t think it is because I am overly intelligent, but I do believe that I do take in my surroundings completely – especially when they are something that I feel is a milestone in life. And the more you look at each moment of the day as important, the more of these milestones you have. Enjoying every day and appreciating it is a benefit of taking the time to appreciate things.

Jeff sounds like he was an amazing friend. It is nice to see that he lives on in your memory. :)


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

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 2944 days

#6 posted 05-16-2013 11:23 PM

Hi Sheila,
The fact that you love the curves of G-clef and the sounds of cello being in the Bass-clef, my mind tells that your upcoming design will be the centered ellipse and the g’s will be outside. A very impressive thing to do. In my pipeline of work…. I like to work on a trammel that can do ellipse. There are lot of methods that can be used for making perfect ellipse but the best one is the string or use of trammel.

The best among the bests is the one that you design and then you construct it yourself. Looking forward.
Have a nice day!

-- Bert

View Celticscroller's profile


1269 posts in 2095 days

#7 posted 05-17-2013 02:32 AM

Inspiration can come from so many sources as you say Sheila. My husband teaches photography and he is constantly telling his students to look behind them, above them and in all directions to see things from different perspectives. Inspiration is all around us not only in the things we see but the people we meet.
I’m looking forward to seeing the new design. Fretwork is my favourite for scrolling.
It was a beautiful sunny day here.
Happy long weekend!

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2942 days

#8 posted 05-17-2013 10:12 AM

Hi, Bert: Yes – perfect shapes can be a challenge. In designing this group of projects, I am very aware of that and need to come up with something that has some room for error. One thing that I need to remember when I design projects such as these is that there are many levels of scroll sawyers that will be attempting them. The challenge on my part is to create a design that is forgiving enough so that the average scroller will be able to complete it successfully. I have some thoughts on that though, so hopefully when I implement them they will work. That is one of the reasons I do like to test every project myself, as I can make final adjustments and know the areas that are perhaps a bit more tedious. Remember – every project is a new learning process for myself too and the more I make the better I am equip to advise others. :)

Anna – I feel that designers and photographers both look at the world in this way. Artists of all types for that matter. Having that awareness of what is around us is the first step to the process, and those with the greatest awareness seem to be the best at what they do. I have sat here in awe looking at something as simple as the pattern of fur on my cats face. We have beauty all around us and sometimes we just have to slow down enough to take it in and appreciate it.

Yes – when all is said and done, fretwork is probably my favorite type of scrolling too. It is both relaxing and fun to me and I usually am sad when I finish cutting a piece. I truly enjoy the process. :)

Happy Weekend to you both! :)


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

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