Everybody likes a challenge now and then. I know that when I challenge myself, I not only usually learn something new, but I grow as an artist and designer. If I don't push myself into doing something that is a bit out of my comfort zone, then things start to lose their excitement.
Sometimes it is hard to take the time to challenge yourself when you are self-employed. It seems that we are working from deadline to deadline, and it is easy to slip into the habit of taking the path of least resistance in order to keep up with things and meet all of my deadlines. But somehow, that takes the fun out of designing, and I find that there are times when I would rather slow down and try something different 'just to see' if it is possible. It is at these times when I feel most satisfied as a designer and feel that I am still learning and growing as an artist. And that to me is very exciting.
Yesterday was the perfect opportunity for me to push myself in that way. I had shown you the new Celtic inspired ornaments that I had cut and as I was looking at them I thought how wonderful they would be as smaller pendants. Now I know that in theory, any ornament could be created as a smaller pendant, but would it really be possible to cut them smaller and have them hold up to the cutting process? Hummm . . .
I reduced the line work to three smaller sizes. I really didn't want to cut them all smaller, as I really don't have an outlet for me to sell them or use them. But I did want to see just how small I could comfortably get things and still have them work.
I chose what I felt were the most intricate of the 12 designs, and I used the two smallest sizes. I stack cut two layers of each - one layer of maple and the other layers of various exotic hard wood scraps that I felt would be thin enough for each pendant. I would say that each piece averaged about 1/8" thick.
I used a hot glue gun to glue the corners of the top pieces onto the maple. I think that is my favorite way to set things up for cutting layers, as it remains stable and doesn't shift around as some of the other methods may do. As you can imagine, any movement whatsoever in between the layers would cause the designs to fail.
I started with the smallest butterfly, as I felt it was the most complex of the designs and I knew if I could accomplish that, I would be home free. I used my tinest drill bit to drill the entry holes:
As you can see, some of the holes slightly exceeded the cavity. I had my doubts at this point as to whether it would work at all, but I thought I had little to lose and tried anyway.
It took some 'artistic license' to do the cutting. Some of the areas had to be cut slightly larger than what was on the pattern to fit the holes drilled, but I kind of just cornered them off. The first few cuts were a bit wobbly for me too, as I was getting used to using the tiny blade and small cutting area. It was not for the faint of heart!
But I continued on and finished the design. While it certainly wasn't perfect, it was what I would call 'acceptable'. It certainly made me slow down and concentrate on what I was doing. In the end I had two lovely little butterflies – one of canary wood and the other of maple.
After the first pieces were done, the others were easy. As I said, the butterfly was probably the most complex of the pieces and after accomplishing that, the others were not hard at all. By then I had a 'feel' for the saw, blade and wood thickness and after a little while I had a nice array of pendants.
I am going to include the other three sizes in the pattern. That way my customers can choose their own level of challenge. While everyone may not be able to cut the smallest sizes at first, hopefully with the patterns right there they will be able to work their way down to the smaller designs. It will add to the fun of the pattern.
I spent the rest of the day sanding and finishing the pieces from the previous two days. Today is the day of assembly and putting together the final patterns. I am hoping to have a site update tomorrow (Thursday) as we are due to send out a newsletter.
Keith has also added some great new designs to the site that I wanted to announce in the newsletter. He has a new pattern set that is geared for Woodworkers, Teachers, Artists and more specifically, Scrollers:
SLDK539 Proud Woodworker, Scroller, Artist and Teacher
I think the pattern will be very popular.
He also has a new set of plaques:
The SLDK545 Courage, Strength and Faith plaque pattern is available as a set, or you can also get them individually. Come visit our site for details.
I will be working on getting my pattern packets together today, and I hope to get them on the site by tomorrow's update. Then it is on to some new painting patterns for me to make. I have some ideas for some fun new designs.
It is quiet out today, and we are expecting more snow tomorrow. I didn't get out to do my walk as I intended, as by the time I was finished cutting, it was already getting dark out. Perhaps I will get out a bit today.
I wish you all a happy Wednesday. May you be productive and happy.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"