My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1218: Ballerinas

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 01-14-2014 12:17 PM 3021 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1217: Just Because . . . Part 1218 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1219: Administration Duties »

I felt that I had a good and productive day yesterday. I tied up a lot of loose ends on the business side of things and then I was able to spend some time at the saw cutting out my newest project. That is always a pleasure for me to do.

As I showed in yesterday’s entry, the next project that I was creating was a set of ballet dancers. I have always loved the ballet, and as most young girls did in my day, I took some lessons at the local park district in the city of Chicago. One of the advantages of living in the big city was that there were many park district programs available. We lived about six city blocks from a large park district (Gage Park) and along with many of my classmates, we signed up for several after school dance classes. All these classes were offered for free, and they included things like tap, ballet, jazz as well as gymnastics and other sports. I am sure many parents were happy to have the programs available, as it occupied us for the two hours or so between when school was over for the day and dinner time.

We loved the classes, and hurried to get home and change and walked up to the large field house complex where the classes were held. It was a great way to socialize with our friends, as well as have fun learning something new and kept us busy and out of trouble.

At the end of the year the park district held a gym show, which was kind of a recital and we all got to preform for the very full auditorium. This included full costumes and lights and was one of the highlights of our year, as we felt important and were eager to show off our new skills and steps we had learned throughout the season.

Those were fond memories for me. Back in the late sixties and seventies things were so different. As I look back now to those times, I think of all the wonderful programs that were offered through the park district. I don’t know how many prima ballerinas came from those groups of children that went to those after school activities, but I do know that for myself, it introduced me to many wonderful things such as dancing, music, sewing and crafts as well as learning to get along with my peers and working together as a team. I am very grateful that the programs were available.

In any case, I found myself thinking back to those days when I was drawing these pretty little ballerinas. As I scoured through hundreds and hundreds of beautiful photographs of dancers, it rekindled my love of how beautiful and graceful the body could be. It also reminded me of how much athletic ability was necessary for them to appear so effortless in their movement. I deeply respect that.

In drawing my “Tiny Dancers” I tried to capture the fluidity of movement. I made these little girls so that they are approximately 4” in height. They are intended to be used as ornaments, sun catchers, magnets or anywhere else one would use a smaller piece such as this. I have some other ideas as well, but I thought that I would start here and create them “just because.”

There are two versions of each pose, and a dozen different poses. The first version has the girls dressed in a classic ballet outfit:

They are made from 3/16” curly hard maple. While they would also work in plywood, I will not be recommending that one attempts to create them using soft wood.

I think they are fairly easy to cut, with the only thing that I would call “delicate” on them being their hands. I found that at this small size, it was a bit challenging to make the hands look graceful and not like flippers. The only way to avoid that was to separate the thumbs from the rest of the hand and perhaps a finger or two. I admit that this was a little challenging to cut, but not impossible. Of the 24 girls I cut yesterday (48 hands) I didn’t lose a single digit. Of course, if one is so inclined, they could easily cup the hands or simplify them if necessary for their own skill level. I am still wondering if I should do that and include an additional drawing on the pattern. Feedback on that issue is welcome. :)

For this version, I decided to use some light pastel colors to paint in their outfits and slippers:

I then added a couple of coats of DecoArt Glamour Dust Glitter Paint to make the outfit shimmer:

The results was simple and beautiful, I think.

I have another idea for the other 12 girls. I will show that tomorrow, along with the rest of these. I think either as a set or individually, these will make a nice addition to my patterns. There are still many little ballerinas out there that would enjoy something like this for her room.

So that will be all for today. It is still warm, rainy and messy today here in Nova Scotia. Although I don’t think we are done yet with the snow and cold, it certainly seems as if spring is on its way.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Today’s Featured Product

SLD136 Layered Swan Trinket Box

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

7 comments so far

View Celticscroller's profile


1270 posts in 2275 days

#1 posted 01-14-2014 11:05 PM

Love the ballerinas. I love all the different poses. They are so graceful. The Glamour dust really pretties them up.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View CFrye's profile


10483 posts in 2042 days

#2 posted 01-14-2014 11:51 PM

Sheila, these turned out lovely. So easy to personalize, as well, to suit your favorite ballerina with hair, dress, shoe color. ‘Just because’ suits you well. Thanks for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9237 posts in 3122 days

#3 posted 01-14-2014 11:56 PM

Thank you both Anna and Candy. I have a couple of different ideas for finishing them that I will be showing in the next day or so. I am really glad you girls like them. :)


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

View justoneofme's profile


665 posts in 2682 days

#4 posted 01-15-2014 06:26 AM

Those are absolutely beautiful Sheila! You have captured all the graceful stations of ballet to perfection, and I know our ballerina daughter (in her youth) would have loved this whole set!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3266 posts in 3914 days

#5 posted 01-15-2014 06:43 AM


Maybe you could offer the ballerinas in a larger size too. They would make lovely wall art for a young girl’s room (and wouldn’t be as difficult to cut).


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9237 posts in 3122 days

#6 posted 01-15-2014 10:12 AM

I am glad you enjoy the ballerinas. Yes – they do open the door to so many applications! I can think of so many ways to finish them off and use them in other designs. I think I have opened a real Pandora’s Box here!

Thank you for your nice words. :)


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

View Roger's profile


20952 posts in 3006 days

#7 posted 01-15-2014 12:44 PM

I feel like I just went to the opera. I agree w/Elaine. You really captured all their movements.

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

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