My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1169: Making Your Own Rules

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 11-19-2013 11:35 AM 1937 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1168: An "Unorganized" Blog Part 1169 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1170: Finished Ornament Pictures! :) »

To me, one of the best things I find with designing is that the only rules that I have to follow are my own. I think that is one of the main reasons that I became a designer in the first place. I never really followed along with rules.

It isn’t that I am not able to do so. Usually I am pretty good at reading instructions and following them to the letter. . My friend Cari and I were “experts” at doing things like putting together projects, toys and furniture (you know – the type like IKEA sells) with ease. We used to joke however how they would always miss listing the most important tool of all to make things work right – a rubber hammer! Give the two of us a flat box of any type of assorted furniture (shelves, desk, etc) and in a couple of hours we would have the thing made – with little or no parts left over. We were a pretty good team. Oh – and we usually had some good laughs along the way!

We also were ‘self-taught’ when it comes to decorative painting and scroll sawing. I remember my first project that I made on the scroll saw. I modified a pattern from a book by Pat Speilman. It was a fretwork top to a jewelry box and I changed the size from 8” wide to about 22” wide and put a monogrammed letter in the center. This was to be a gift for Cari, as at the time she was remodeling her kitchen and I wanted her to use it as an accent over the sink soffit.

Even though I had never cut anything on the scroll saw before, I thought “how hard could it be?” as I went to the printers to enlarge the patterns (I wasn’t good at computers back then either, and I don’t know if I even owned one then!) I cut and pasted the monogram in the center of the design and proceeded to purchase a beautiful piece of ash that was about 1/2 – 3/4” thick. I thought it would be a breeze.

I used a #7 scroll saw blade and I can’t tell you how much burning occurred on that piece. I also glued the pattern on improperly and when I was finally finished with the LONG process of cutting – struggling all the way – I spent probably a longer amount of time scraping off the pattern and sanding off the burn marks. It was certainly a labor of love and looking back, I rather surprise myself that I ever wanted to scroll saw again.

But even though I struggled with that ambitious project, I got one of my first tastes at “designing” and I was please at the outcome. From that moment on, instructions became mere “suggestions” and I never looked back. The rest – as they say – is history.

In thinking about it, I suppose that I do pretty much the same with everything I do. While in the beginning of my painting career I paid a bit more attention to instructions, soon I found myself changing things and doing my own thing on most of the designs that I was painting. The more proficient that I became in these basic skills, the more I pushed the envelope and branched out using my own ideas. Soon designing entire projects became the norm and even though I have quite a large “collection” of both painting and woodworking patterns (that is STILL GROWING mind you!) I still almost always do my own thing. It is just my nature.

This latest pattern of intricate Damask ornaments is something that I really am enjoying. Like many of my designs, I see several different options possible for them, and I will develop at least a couple for the pattern packet.

Yesterday I finished “phase 1” as I will call it. I had cut a set of flat ornaments out of ash, and I think on their own they are really beautiful. I love making wood look graceful and flowing, and cutting those lines is probably my favorite type of scrolling. I think the results is pretty nice:

(I purposely left a ‘stem’ on the top so that a beautiful ribbon of choice could be used to accent the pretty ash. I think the effect is nice. )

While I was very happy with the ornaments done this way, I wanted to do something else to really make them outstanding and different. Naturally, I went to my favorite box of “pretty” from Rhinestone Canada and added some wonderfully beautiful crystal rhinestones. I think they brought them from pretty to ‘stunning.’

I chose to do these ornaments in traditional red (the stone color is called Light Siam)

And a beautiful, soft green (Olivine)

I had matching dotted ribbon to accent these two colors, and it gave them a nice, contemporary look. I wish you could see how they shine!

Together as a set, they look simply stunning.

But I am not done yet . . .

I did cut another version of these ornaments, and I will be working on completing them today. I am going to include both versions in the pattern, which should be ready by the update for the site early next week. I can’t wait to see them finished!

I don’t know if I have mentioned lately how much I love my job! It is difficult for me to consider it ‘work’ when I am having so much fun.

Yesterday I finished packing up and shipping out one of the packages for an ornament exchange that I participated in. I am now waiting excitedly for my own ornament to arrive, as I am sure it will be awesome!

I am very pleased with how my work is coming out. As always, there are at least a million more ideas that I have to develop, so I will be busy for a long time to come. I thank you all for your support and friendship and encouragement that I receive every day from you. I know I wouldn’t be as happy or enthusiastic without your cheering me on.

So it is time for me to get busy. There is lots that I have to accomplish today, and I can’t wait to start.

I suppose the moral of today’s post is “Don’t be afraid to implement some of your own ideas when making projects – they may be the beginning of something great for you.”

I wish you all a wonderful Tuesday and I hope that you have a fun day.

Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

-- 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 Handtooler's profile


1553 posts in 2130 days

#1 posted 11-19-2013 12:42 PM

They are really beautiful and each has its own from. And you may find this humorus, but I see a face in each one w/ a particular expression, example the lower left one w/green bow appears as a excentric man ragged hair bad frown and not feeling well. Others have smiles of different degrees, some appear as ladies others men. Even though the stones are stunning, I perfer the plain ones. Thanks for sharing.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2918 days

#2 posted 11-19-2013 12:51 PM

You know, Russell – I actually was thinking when I was cutting these how I should make some “Pumpkin Damask Face Ornaments” for next Halloween! I also saw ‘faces’ in the pieces – but not until I was cutting them out.

I am really glad you like them – plain or with the ‘bling’! That is one of the reasons I still take pictures of the plain. For some it is a blank canvas and for others – they are happy with the wood standing on its own. It is what makes the world go around!

Thanks as always for your input. :)


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

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 2882 days

#3 posted 11-19-2013 01:00 PM

I love you thoughts of how you started. At the craft show, the one I told you about, several people ask me how I learned to do scroll work. Same here, I just purchase a saw and started cutting. I still remember times when I had the blade upside down and it would make the wood bounce up and down pinching my fingers. Plus the bad cuts, wrong way of doing things and much more. I stuck with it and I guess I do a good job today, people like it and purchase it.

Plus, you patterns look great. I have some special orders to finish including another 18 inch doll furniture item I will post soon.

Have a nice day up North.

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

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2802 days

#4 posted 11-19-2013 02:19 PM

I agree with you 100% about making your own rules. It’s nice to be in charge. :) These are beautiful, as always.

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

View kepy's profile


293 posts in 2271 days

#5 posted 11-19-2013 04:21 PM

I thoroughly enjoy all the patterns that we now have available either in books or on line. I do think though that they somewhat stifle inspiration at least for some people. I remember my first saw (old Delta scrolling jigsaw that was very heavy) and how I had to come up with my own designs. This was back in the 70’s and I had never seen any commercial patterns. I designed an ornament every year that was decorated and dated that I sent instead of Christmas cards. Everyone seemed to enjoy them as a lot of people add a dated ornament every year.

-- Kepy

View Celticscroller's profile


1269 posts in 2071 days

#6 posted 11-19-2013 06:19 PM

I love these damask ornaments and I appreciate that you include many different finishes to encourage your customers to make them their own. You remind me of a local artist that I took drawing lessons with many years ago, Raymond Chow. The first thing Raymond said was ” I don’t want you to become a Raymond Chow, I want you to go beyond Raymond Chow and become better than him” You not only come up with wonderful designs but you are a great teacher and inspire folks to expand their horizons.
Enjoy your day. Beautiful sunny but cool day here.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2918 days

#7 posted 11-20-2013 12:10 AM

Thank you all for the nice comments. I really do appreciate them. I worked today on the other version of these ornaments and should have some pictures tomorrow.

Anna – I love seeing my customers do their own take on my designs. I like giving many options to kind of act as a springboard for their own creativity. Try as I do, I can’t settle for just one version of a pattern when so many are in my thoughts. I know it may seem like overkill, but I love pointing out the possibilities. :)

Have a great night everyone! Sheila

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

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6855 posts in 3977 days

#8 posted 11-23-2013 08:12 PM

You sure do beautiful work, Sheila.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

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