I had another busy day yesterday, although it was a good one. Not only did I spend the afternoon cutting out my new ornaments on my new Excalibur (which was simply just FUN!) but I also spent the morning getting to work on my next pattern for another ornament set.
The set that I am working on (SLD445 Traditional Damask Ornaments) is not for the faint of heart. I wanted something that would push the envelope a little bit and I think these designs qualify.
I wanted to make them a bit smaller, as I am tired of making larger ornaments that can be heavy or look clunky. As a result, the detailed Damask designs can be a bit tricky to cut. (I do want to note though that people can certainly enlarge the patterns to suit their own taste or needs – making them a little easier to accomplish!) To me – it is best to start small and allow for others to make it bigger than expect the design to be reduced in size and made impossible to cut. Just my thoughts.
By the end of the day, I had finished cutting the entire set:
I really, really like how these look. I have a couple of different finishing options as well. While the ornaments can be left flat (I cut an additional set to leave as such) I also wanted the option of making them slightly dimensional using my favorite self-framing technique (as shown by those in the photo.) Since the average size of these ornaments are only about 3” – 3.5” in diameter, there is a need to be a bit more precise in cutting. I didn’t want to leave a large margin around the design area in case one wanted the ornaments flat. They would have looked too plain.
The picture above is that of the ornaments right off the saw. I didn’t even sand or vacuum them yet. I will be doing more of that today.
I need to note here that my new saw is outstanding. I can’t tell you how much pure pleasure I get from using a tool that is of such high quality. I am frequently asked to recommend a saw from people. Unfortunately, many people also add the footnote “under $300” or something similar. In all reality, it is like being asked to recommend an excellent airplane that someone can purchase “under $10,000.” It just doesn’t exist.
I am certainly not being a snob about this matter. Believe me – I am not a wealthy woman. Every penny I have I have to earn and I need to watch what I spend the money I do have on very carefully. But for ME, this is a priority and I honestly and truly think that the Excalibur 21” saw is the BEST on the market. It is only my opinion, but that is what people have asked.
When buying a cheap, $200 or so scroll saw, you are going to get just what you paid for. When people ask me to recommend a cheap saw, it is as if we are living in the 1970’s and they are asking if I would recommend a “Pacer” or a “Pinto.” (No offense meant and no letters defending them are necessary – I have owned both models of cars!)
The bottom line is GOOD QUALITY COSTS MORE.
We read all the time that people want to promote LOCAL industry. (Buy USA and all of that) Yet – they want to do so at China’s prices. I am not understanding this philosophy at all. North American workers demand higher wages than China. That is just a fact and one that I agree with. However, paying those wages comes with a cost. It means that we have to understand that those higher prices we are paying for local/home made items is going back to help our countrymen (women) and neighbors. Even those of us who do not excel in economics can understand that.
I find myself asking myself a simple question when I am in the store and purchasing something:
“Would I rather pay a little more for something and support my local economy, or pay less and support China?”
To me the answer is simple.
I find it odd that so many people complain about how much “stuff” they have and how they need to organize. The simple fact is – the cheaper things are, the more we buy and possibly – the more we waste. For myself, I find that if I spend a bit more for something, I tend to take pretty good care of it. I try not to look at everything that I buy as “disposable” and I try to make things last. That is a lot easier for me to do when I make an investment in something rather than get the cheapest thing possible.
After all – if you are paying bottom dollar for something and you know that the workers who created it (China) are getting pennies as wages (China) and that not only did it come from half way around the world (China) but also the original manufacturer made money off of selling it (China) to a store that is STILL selling it for a profit – how much quality do you think went into making it? Seriously?
Cheaper isn’t always better. To me – I would rather have ONE quality thing that I use than 10 pieces of junk that I got for the lowest price. The land fills are full enough, thank you.
I’ll get off of my soap box now, but I suppose that with the holiday season approaching and seeing all the “stuff” out there for the sole purpose of spreading “holiday cheer”, it really made me think. How much of what we see in the form of “decorations” etc. is just crap? How much of it will last one season (if we are lucky) and will be sitting in the garbage and adding to the mounting landfills by next year? I hope that this holiday season we all think twice before we purchase.
I know so many wonderfully talented creative artists that are painters, woodworkers, soap makers, sculptors and so forth that make incredible heirloom-quality items that would be passed down from generation to generation. Most of them offer very reasonable prices for their talent and while it may be a little higher than Wally world or the dollar store charges, I would think that it would be better to give ONE nice hand-made gift rather than ten pieces of garbage from one of the cheapo retailers.
Think about it.
I have never shopped on Black Friday – nor do I ever intend to do so. My goal is (and will continue to be) to support local talent and fellow artisans not only throughout the holiday season, but all year long. I would rather pay a little more and buy a lesser quantity of gifts and encourage and promote those among us who put their heart and soul into what they do. That is the only way that they will be able to continue on.
I think a lot when I am sitting at my saw cutting. It is quiet time for me when I am lost in doing something that I love to do. Yesterday when I was cutting these pieces out, the pure pleasure of the process couldn’t escape me. While I enjoyed cutting on my DeWalt saw, it just doesn’t compare with this machine. The control and precision that the Excalibur offers is unsurpassed. And it shows in my cutting:
(For those of you who want to know – I used an Olson #2 reverse-tooth blade on two layers of 3/8” ash to cut these. I could have used a #2/0 if I wanted a smaller blade, but the #2 offered wonderful control and I still got nice sharp corners and peaks.)
Today I am going to do some finishing on several projects. I am involved in some ornament exchanges and I am going to work on them and get them ready to be mailed out tomorrow. I also have some more drawing to do on the next set of ornaments, which will be a bit of a simpler pattern for someone who is newer to scroll sawing, but I hope every bit as beautiful.
I am also planning a couple of ways to finish these. As I mentioned, they aren’t even dusted off yet. I have a couple of ideas to make them really outstanding and look forward to seeing them done as well.
As always, there is so much good ahead. I look forward to another wonderfully productive day and I wish you one as well.
Happy Sunday! :)
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"