I had a very productive day yesterday. After being slowed down last week by not feeling my best, I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt just to feel like myself again and really get some things accomplished. For a change, I not only met the goals that I had set for myself for the day, but I exceeded them. (Geeze – do you think I set them too low??)
I had wanted to finish up the drawing on my latest project. With the mornings becoming cooler each day, I can feel the inevitable approaching of the autumn season. And while my magazine deadlines are well beyond that time of year and now moving from winter into spring items for publication, I still have several fall and Halloween designs that I want to create for my customers who come to visit my website. While I don’t have to be quite as far ahead of the seasons when designing for the site, I still need to have the patterns ready so that others can make the projects in time for gift giving as well as selling in craft shows.
Keith and I have been really thrilled with how our company has grown this past year. Just a year ago, we made the decision to leave one of our largest wholesales distributors, as they were not following some of the basic agreements we had made with them regarding selling our patterns. It was a very difficult (and SCARY!) decision for us to sever ties with them, as they were a substantial part of our annual income. But we felt our designs were compromised and took the risk of losing a great deal to be self-sufficient and know that the integrity of our patterns were intact. It was a huge step for us and could have meant the end of our company.
But I am someone who constantly tries to look at the good side of things. I try to think that everything that happens to us in our lives happens for a reason. I try to take responsibility for my own actions and decisions and live with the consequences those actions bring. While I knew it was risky, I also knew that I was nowhere near out of ideas and that people would find us and our own customer base would grow and we would be OK. I would rather sell less and make less money knowing that every customer who bought our patterns would get the quality we intended them to get rather than sell more thorough another company not knowing what they were receiving. The constant worrying and checking up on them would be draining and disheartening and I felt that the business would suffer more from that than the process of redirecting our customers. I knew it would take time, but I also knew that it would be very much worth a possible step backwards in order to free ourselves of worry.
And I am happy to say I was right.
This past year has shown tremendous growth in our customer base and sales. Apparently word has traveled that we are here and that we do right by our customers. We still feel the scars of the past, as from time to time customers come to me with complaints of the quality of the patterns they received from the other company. When they do so, I am quick to replace those patterns with our own copies, the way the patterns were intended to be and usually we earn another customer. It is the right thing to do and it not only makes the customer feel better, but myself as well.
With all of that said, I’ll get on with what I finished up yesterday. I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent, but I am just excited about not only this design, but all the designs to come. I have so many fun ideas in mind that I know I won’t be able to accomplish them all this year, and it feels good that I will have a great start on next years’ designing as well.
What I worked on yesterday was a set of Halloween ornaments. This time, it is a set of Halloween keys. Last year when I did my Key To My Heart Valentines Day plaque, I had a great deal of fun cutting the key pieces.
Keys and scroll work do so well together!
This past year or so, in the decorative painting area, ornament keys have been the rage. Making the tops of the keys into fun, shapes really make nice ornaments. Earlier this year, I incorporated a nativity set of figures into some pretty scrolled key shapes and I was very happy with the result.
They have been a big hit so far, and I haven’t even released them on my site yet, as they are now only available in the holiday issue of Creative Woodworks and Crafts magazine. (They will be on the Sheila Landry Designs site SOON!) I have had numerous calls and notes with people asking about them.
So what I decided to do, was to make a set of scroll sawn Halloween themed keys. I love Halloween and it seems that every year more and more people decorate for the season. I think that these key ornaments will be really popular with the scroll sawyers, as they are fun and easy to make and came out really cute:
I cut my pieces from 3/16” maple with a layer of 1/8” birch underneath them, which gave me a great deal of control in cutting the details, as well as offered me a duplicate set to decorate a bit differently. They were fun and quick and I think they will have a great deal of applications in Halloween decorating.
The maple was a dream to work with, as it is very tight grained wood and holds the details of the designs so well. And the 3/16” thickness was just perfect for the size of ornament that it is:
My pieces here are all sanded and oiled in mineral oil, and I will be finishing them up later on today. I am debating whether to make a painted version that won’t include the inside detail cuts and the designs will be painting on with acrylic paint. However, I don’t know if there are too many similar painted sets available on the market already and if it would be worth my time to make the painted version. I am going to ask on my painting group and see what they think.
I have some special surprises in store for these before I am done, and I will show them as soon as I can. I do however have another deadline due at the magazine, so I have to get working on that.
It is good to be busy and it is fun to see everything come to life. I really enjoyed making these pieces and I can’t wait to see the completed. I hope you enjoy them as well. As always – any thoughts you have on them are welcome.
I wish you a happy Monday and a wonderfully creative week ahead.
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"