LumberJocks

My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #1141: Are "Variations" Considered "Cheating"?

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 10-01-2013 11:55 AM 1308 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1140: My Day "Off" Part 1141 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 1142: A 'Late' Start »

Yesterday I spent the day lining up the next projects in my head for Creative Woodworks and Crafts magazine. While we are on the first day of October here, in the publishing world, they are getting to closing up the submissions for the March issue. I am used to living in this time warp, as I have been working with the magazine for over fifteen years now and I always seem to be living in multiple seasons at one time. It is just my way of life.

Even the magazine issues seem to be living in their own parallel universe of time. The Christmas issue hit the stands in August and even though it is barely a week into fall, the projects that are in the current (November) issue have a flavor of both autumn and ‘last minute’ holiday projects.

I suppose that is how it needs to be. After all, most of our customers are crafters who do shows and need to have their own stuff done well ahead of whatever season is upon us. If the magazine doesn’t give ample time for them to plan out the approaching season, what would be the point? It is a ripple effect that penetrates many layers.

In any case, what we are working on for that March issue are projects themed with ‘romance’. The magazine will be on the stands right after the new year and people will be looking for gifts and trinkets to make for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday. Many of the items in that issue will also serve a dual purpose for weddings, mother’s day and a variety of other occasions, so things aren’t just specialized for that one day.

In thinking about what I wanted to do for this issue, I had a couple of ideas. The recent popularity of my Nativity Christmas Box made me realize how many people like boxes. I don’t make a lot of boxes, because I don’t have a table saw readily available and cutting straight lines for mitered corners is challenging on a scroll saw – even for the best of cutters.

But the decorative slotted corners in the box was a pretty good alternative. You didn’t have to cut perfectly to get a nice and decent looking joint. I liked the way the corners met and made the box look. It seemed fitting for that style.

So I was thinking about doing another box for the issue that we are working on. This time, instead of the Nativity theme, I would have a theme of ‘romance.’ I had a lot of ideas as to how I would accomplish this to make a project that was nice and would not only be used for Valentine’s day, but also for anniversaries, weddings or other romantic occasions. I think it will come out nice and I hope it will be well-received.

I also had the idea of making some more ‘key-styled’ ornaments. I have so many ideas for other key themes and I think that they will be something that people will enjoy. My recent Halloween keys were very popular, as were the Nativity themed keys that matched the box. As you can see, there is a lot of variation in each of the styles and even though they are all keys, they are certainly different.

I have some ideas for making heart themed keys, and I want to have a set with those. I know that they will much different from the previous sets of keys that I had made. I even think they would be wonderful wedding shower favors that would be unique and serve as a wonderful keepsake for those attending, as well as the bride and groom.

I have had requests as well to make some Christmas themed key ornaments – both scrolled and painted – from people who enjoyed the other patterns. As usual, my head is spinning with ideas and I think that I can do some really fun things with that theme. I haven’t seen them done before (in scroll sawing) and I think that it would be something new and exciting for people to make.

There is part of me that feels that I am ‘cheating’ when I take a concept and replicate it in different themes. But there is the other part of me that realizes that people have different tastes and want patterns for different items and are LOOKING for variations such as I am describing. I think of my candle trays and how even though I have so many of them available, there are still many, many more designs that I want to do. I also think of my Forest Leaf Series that has been such a strong seller (and STILL IS!) after almost 13 years when I first introduced it.

I don’t like taking one design and planting it into another frame and calling it a “new pattern.” While that is helpful to some who can’t draw and like slight variations of designs, I feel rather guilty offering things like that as a new idea.

But making variations of things like the keys and Christmas boxes that are basically the same concept, but different enough in drawing, is something that I feel that my customers would like and appreciate. I welcome any thoughts you have on this idea.

So for today, I will continue on my path of drawing. I have the basic outline for the box mapped out and I see the fog lifting on the actual design. Yesterday was a day of thought and planning, and while there was not much that I physically created to show for my hard work, the basic foundation for my next several designs was sorted out in my head and created.

Some people wonder how I can make designing look so “easy.” My only answer to that is because they don’t see or realize the amount of unseen thought that I put into what I am designing. To some – those days may look like lazy days where nothing is accomplished. In reality, those are the most important times.

For now, I am going to give these variations that I am thinking about a go. While the concepts may be similar, I think that in the end the outcome(s) will be varied enough to make good patterns.

Is this cheating? I don’t really think so. After all – one thing I find as a designer is that people’s preferences and tastes are as unique as each individual. And appealing to as many of them as possible is just good business.

I wish you all a wonderfully productive and creative day!

Mozart often wrote to his family that certain variations or sections of pieces were so successful that they had to be encored immediately, even without waiting for the entire piece to end. -Emanuel Ax

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



12 comments so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4143 posts in 1522 days


#1 posted 10-01-2013 01:01 PM

Sheila, they come to you for the ideas and combinations
The Devil is in the Detail they say and it is those little details
that make the finished projects.
I’m sure that to start I like to see many options and then once I get the
hang of things I can mix and match.
Yes people love boxes, all sorts of boxes and as many themes as you can dream
up.
If stuck for a gift I make a box or a bowl. That is normally at midnight on the
previous day.

Have a Sublime day, no pups yet
Jamie

-- 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)

7685 posts in 1585 days


#2 posted 10-01-2013 01:06 PM

Hi, Jamie:
Yes – I often forget that others don’t always think like me. Sometimes when changing an idea is something that I see as easy and automatic, there are many who would prefer that everything in the pattern is mapped out for them. That is expected and is why I am doing what I do in the first place.

I have to remind myself to think like a customer instead of like a designer. What may seem like a simple process to me, is in reality not so easy for many of my customers.

Thank you for your thoughts on the subject.

I can’t wait to see pictures of the pups! It has to be exciting for you and yours to witness! :) I hope all goes well.

Sheila

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

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4143 posts in 1522 days


#3 posted 10-01-2013 01:13 PM

Shirley has sat at her side with a book for over 20hrs :)

Jamie

-- 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)

7685 posts in 1585 days


#4 posted 10-01-2013 01:14 PM

:)

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

View HamS's profile

HamS

1168 posts in 1054 days


#5 posted 10-01-2013 01:22 PM

Mozart used many variations on a theme. It is perfectly acceptable in music,why not in wood?

-- My mother named me Hamilton, I have been trying to earn my nickname ever since.

View Rick13403's profile

Rick13403

213 posts in 2170 days


#6 posted 10-01-2013 01:56 PM

Good morning Sheila, I don’t think it is cheating to use one design as a spring board for many variations because the off shoots are as unique as the original. Yes they are all keys(or boxes, or what ever) but they are as different as the people cutting them. I enjoy cutting your forest leafs but have a few that sell like hot cakes so I keep a supply of those while satisfying my own liking of all of them. Hope you and Keith have a great day.
Rick

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 - www.thescrollerandtoler.com

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7685 posts in 1585 days


#7 posted 10-01-2013 02:44 PM

Thanks both Ham and Rick. I really don’t think it is cheating either, but I was questioned on making ‘more keys’ and I began to have some self-doubts. Even though I know that these will be greatly different from the ones I had shown before, I suppose like everyone else, I am still not fully confident in myself. Thank you for the supportive answers. :)

I am going to go ahead and make my other versions and see how it goes. You all can be the judge in the end. I hope that you all like what I come up with. :)

Thank you ! Sheila

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

View BritBoxmaker's profile

BritBoxmaker

4378 posts in 1701 days


#8 posted 10-01-2013 03:44 PM

Boxes are a variation on a theme. The enclosure of space. This isn’t cheating. There are many ways to enclose space.
To say there are only to be few or only one is a minimalist viewpoint.

Keys can mean different things to different people, there are many ways of designing for this. A definition of variation.

Sometimes people accusing you of cheating are doing so from a position of jealousy, not having come up with the original idea themselves, much less the ability to interpret it in many forms.

Anyway try asking nature, it’s been using the same basic design idea (DNA) for over three billion years.

Basically, no, it’s not cheating.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging. http://www.theartofboxes.com

View Celticscroller's profile

Celticscroller

811 posts in 738 days


#9 posted 10-01-2013 04:44 PM

Good Morning Sheila. One of the things that I love about your patterns is that you do give many variations. While I love all the Halloween stuff, I don’t make Halloween stuff myself so while I wouldn’t make the Halloween key ornaments, I will definitely be doing the Christmas ones! And you can never have enough boxes! Looking forward to more box patterns! I am also enjoying your painted variations of your patterns.
Have a great day. I see some blue sky today after a couple of very wet days.

-- Anna http://richmondcarvers.com/

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7685 posts in 1585 days


#10 posted 10-01-2013 07:12 PM

Thank you as well Martyn and Anna. I am glad you view it as something new. I do believe it is different. Sometimes it is difficult to draw the line between where to end one pattern and begin another. Especially if things are in the same theme. In the past I have split sets up into multiple patterns, but I try not to do that. Bottom line is I like to give a good value to my customers. Sometimes that means describing how to finish a project in multiple ways. Other times it means giving a number of pieces. Knowing that it isn’t looked upon as ‘cheating’ means a lot. :)

Sheila

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

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

2083 posts in 1226 days


#11 posted 10-02-2013 01:17 AM

Sheila

I love the box. That is how I always intended to make some of the boxes I give away.

The keys are excellent and would also make great Christmas ornaments. You are the master for sure.

Arlin

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View rance's profile

rance

4135 posts in 1826 days


#12 posted 10-11-2013 09:47 PM

Is it cheating? Sure it is! But there ain’t nothin wrong with that in what you describe. I cheat all the time with my woodworking. Do you think I could ever draw an animal myself? No, but I can take a picture and copy that onto some wood and use that. Or I can take a picture from the web and get inspiration from it. Most all of the time I’ll change one thing or another to suit my tastes. I also change things to make it easier to build, or to accomodate a limitation of tools I have available to me. Is that cheating? Sure. But I say go for it anyways.

“There aint nothing new under the sun.”

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase