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"