I had an absolutely wonderful productive weekend. I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel regarding my haunted carousel project. As I have mentioned previously, this has been one of the largest projects that I have ever created with the intention of offering the pattern for reproduction. I want it to be just 'perfect'.
When looking at the carousel all assembled and painted, it can be quite intimidating.
For those of you who look at it and say "Wow!" I want you to imagine how I feel with the task of writing the instructions to recreate it. It is just over 16" tall and 16" wide and much bigger than it appears on the photographs. Besides the painted graphics, there is a lot going on with it that makes a wonderful presentation when everything is put together. Translating a piece like this into something that can be EASILY recreated has been a daunting task. But I think I am on the right track and I am very excited about the upcoming pattern. Just as excited as I am about the carousel itself.
I spent the last several days in essence rebuilding the carousel for myself. Unlike the first build (my prototype) which consisted of several steps that were 'trial and error', everything had been adjusted and it was a matter of following my own instructions to make it work. While there were a few things that needed to be fine tuned, for the most part, it was pretty straight forward. The result was a build that was not difficult at all, and one will be able to replicate it using only three tools – a scroll saw, a drill press and a sander. Mission accomplished.
By Saturday evening, I had completed the "build" part of the pattern. To me, that was the most difficult part. I checked and double checked my drawings, drill bit sizes and measurements and took many photos of me recreating the carousel itself. I organized the steps into sections, so each part in itself was not overwhelming or difficult. I feel that even someone with limited woodworking experience can easily (YES – I said EASILY) reproduce this piece. So far, it was going well.
On Saturday night I sent what I had written so far to two of my woodworking friends for proof reading. One friend is also a painter, and she agreed to look over that part of the instructions as well when they are ready. The other is a long time friend who does general woodworking and scroll sawing and whose experience will also be helpful. I figured that two additional sets of eyes is better than one. Especially on a project so involved.
Yesterday I began the task of writing the painting instructions. In order to do this properly, I need to re-paint some of the elements of the carousel from scratch. While I had a general idea of how I wanted to design this piece, over the course of actually building and painting it I changed some things here and there. I tried to take many photos as I was painting, and I have quite a few, but some of the elements I was just 'winging it' to get a pleasing look and in the process, I may have missed a step or two.
So re-paint I did. And I am happy to say that is is MUCH easier for me the second time around.
I think that step-by-step photos are very important in this type of project. Even though the instructions are going to be long (probably over 50 pages) it doesn't mean that they are difficult. It only means that they are very thorough and complete and because of that it will be EASY for even someone newer to painting to create this wonderful piece.
Here is an example of what I mean . . .
The carousel ceiling consists of a dark sky with clouds and rhinestone 'stars'.
In looking at it, initially it looks a bit initimidating to paint. But what I do for my instructions is break it down into steps that are easy to follow. Small bites, if you will.
First you sponge in the light color for the clouds. You want them to radiate from the center:
You keep sponging, moving back towards the edges and turning the piece. (If you put too much of the light color – no worries, you can easily correct it by sponging a little of the base color back in. There is no stress here!)
Work your way all the way to the edges:
Next we sponge on a deep, transparent color to tone and give the clouds 'depth.' This doesn't have to be done evenly – as a matter of fact, it looks best when it is not even coverage. . .
Finally, a little metallic highlights on the areas of the clouds we want bright . . .
All that is left is to add some beautiful crystal rhinestone 'stars' and we have a magnificent dark sky ceiling done!
See how easy that was when broken down into baby steps?
I like to teach all of my patterns like that. Many people ask why I don't label my patterns (woodworking and painting both) according to level. One of the reasons that I don't is because when I write a pattern, I try to always break things down in this manner so that even a beginner can enjoy it and make the project successfully. How else are we going to learn? By labeling things and grading them, we are assuming that we have a clear line of what 'beginner', 'intermediate' and 'advanced' means. Since we all have different definitions of those phrases, I find that it is best to focus on including all the necessary steps and information so that even those who are new to the particular technique can be successful.
Perhaps I learned this habit from writing for the magazine for nearly 20 years.
I realize that every designer doesn't do this. But I feel that it makes me stand out a bit from the rest. There are many excellent painters or woodworkers that are brilliant artists, but don't know how to write a clear and educational pattern packet. I hear about it all the time from people on the forums. They expect explicit instructions and are disappointed when what they receive are vague and incomplete. I don't think I will ever be accused of that.
Today I will (dare I say) finish up the painting instructions for the carousel. Then it will be a final proof read and I will be ready to put the pattern up on the site by mid-week. I am still awaiting for one more shipment of parts for my pre-ordered kits (you can pre-order the carousel kit here: SLDPS238 - Haunted Carousel Kit Pre-Order) and I expect to ship them out early next week. I am thrilled at the many people that have pre-ordered them and I thank them for their patience. I think that they will find the kit and patter will be worth the wait.
It is another beautiful day here for us. The sun is shining and the birds are singing and everything is turning green. Even the leaves are starting to bud. I hope to have a wonderful week ahead and I wish you one as well.
Happy Monday to you all!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"