Thursday, September 28, 2017
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Monday, September 25, 2017
It has been a wild and crazy month here for us at Sheila Landry Designs. Both Keith and I have been busy changing, rearranging and updating things at all of our venues. It has been thrilling and exciting for us both, and we are truly enjoying seeing everything come together.
It is hard to believe that we are approaching the final quarter of the year already. As usual, the time has just passed by too quickly for my taste. I suppose that has always been one of the biggest complaints that I have had. There is always so much that I want to accomplish and there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I suppose I have been like that for as long as I remember though, and no matter how many ideas I implement, it seems that I will always have at least ten times more things that I want to do. But I do believe it is a good thing, as it leads to a full and busy life and one that drives me to accomplish. I hope that never changes.
Besides cutting and filling wood orders for my painters, I have spent the last week or so completing the final steps to really launching my new pattern kit line of embroidery projects. Since completing the ribbon embroidery project “A Perfect World” a couple of years ago, I have longed to develop and create kits of my own. I had many inquiries as to whether I would be making my own kits or sharing my techniques with others, and these encouraging words really fueled the idea that I could really do this. I have been actually seriously planning and thinking about this step for over a year now, and while it is somewhat frightening, it is also very exciting. I want everything to be just right.
In my last post, I mentioned that I settled on a name for this new division of Sheila Landry Designs. I am calling my new adventure “The Stitching Kitty”. (What else?) Since having three separate, full websites to manage was probably a little much, I have designated my Etsy store completely to this arm of my business and renamed it The Stitching Kitty and will have everything embroidery-related available there. For those of you who like this kind of work, I would appreciate if you would go over there and see what you think. By ‘liking’ my shop, it helps it become more visible.
The goal of my store is to offer full and complete kits which include just about everything you need to make the projects. I did see a need for this, as when I purchased my kit(s) in the past, there were so many key missing items that I had to search for and track down and purchase, that by the time I had all the materials, the cost of the kit was nearly twice what I already paid. The only thing needed to complete my projects are scissors and some really basic sewing supplies that aren’t really specific and used in general and easy and cheap to obtain. I have searched literally all over the world to find high-quality supplies to include, and I have invested a great deal in making this possible. Now the fun part comes – offering the designs.
I put two new in the shop this weekend. They are cute and fun and relatively quick to make. I feel that starting small and working my way to larger projects is a good path to take, as it will not only help me get my own bearings, but it will also be less intimidating for my customers as well.
The two designs are little Halloween Witch Hats that can be used for lapel pins, ornaments or magnets. Really, they can be used as any type of jewelry or decorating, and they are colorful and fun to make.
The first one is made with black and iridescent purple colors:
I found some lovely metal charms and pretty beads to make the little tiny stars:
I used high-quality Validani hand-dyed threads and silks and all glass or metal embellishments to make it beautifully textured and colorful:
The other hat was done in oranges with some purple added in:
It also has beautiful details like a silk ribbon bow that I hand-dyed myself and a pretty crystal bicone bead to make it shine:
Again, I used lots of different glass beads, silk threads, and textures – including a metal spider charm with a crystal rhinestone set into it:
You can imagine the fun I am having with these!
Little by little, I am adding more pieces to my shop. I hope to build up things slowly while I am still doing my other designing and work.
I am still working on wood stuff as well as creating some new painting patterns. My days are full and fun and it has been great to see everything coming together. I suppose that is part of why I have been laying low for a while with blogging. The research, gathering materials, and planning has taken a large amount of my time and it really doesn’t make for interesting posts. I hope to return to posting more regularly as things settle in. I am feeling good about things though and I believe the time away from writing has been put to good use.
Keith has also been working on many new things. He recently completely updated the Tole Painting Designs catalog and is currently in the process of updating the much larger Sheila Landry Designs woodworking catalog. That is no small task and takes a huge amount of time and effort. In addition to that, he rearranged BOTH of the websites and made things a lot easier to find made them look much better. We hope you all like having things in two separate sites better, as we feel it is far less cluttered and less confusing for everyone. So far our feedback has been very positive.
Keith also has two great new ornament patterns for our woodworking followers to enjoy. The first set is a wonderful layered wildlife set of eight ornaments (Product SLDK741):
I love this type of scrolling. The individual layers can also be stack-cut so you can make them efficiently for shows and upcoming holiday sales.
The other set is a beautiful set of dimensional slotted filigree bell ornaments (SLDK739)
While these are a bit of a challenge, they can also be cut in multiples, making them more efficient if you are making them to sell. They are beautiful in natural wood colors, but look stunning painted with pretty metallic paint, too. (I would even add rhinestones if I were doing them for myself!)
So you see, we have both been busy.
As I keep saying, I hope to get back into the habit of writing here in the mornings. I miss talking with many of you and appreciate your feedback and friendships. All I can say is that I will do my best to keep on posting as time permits. I hope you come and visit us at our sites as well. We are always trying to add fun and interesting projects for you all to enjoy.
Happy Monday to you and happy AUTUMN!
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Last post in a series describing some repair work on 4 sliding paneled doors, or ita-do, and related sliding track, for the Boston Children’s Museum.
Today was install day, and that meant a 2 hour commute to Boston, one of the least drivable cities on the planet in my experience (not that I have driven in every city on the planet!). I allowed extra time this morning for the drive, which was fortunate, because one of the routes close in to the city resembled a parking lot for a good stretch of time. When I got to the museum, the parking lot I normally access was being dug up by the City of Boston, and after some fruitless searching at two other parking lots, one full and the other too low to enter, I ended up parking about a mile (1.6km) from the Museum. All in all, that put me about 50 minutes behind schedule from the start.
Fortunately, all the steps went smoothly. The first part of the work, and the part which i thought contained the greatest potential for time-sink, was the removal of the old track. I guessed that it was probably going to be extensively nailed from the backside, which was unaccessible without dismantling a lot of things, so my strategy was to sacrifice a carbide saw blade and rip cut the entire track, snipping as many of the nails as I could in the process. This approach proved to work very well - here, I’ve finished the cutting and with the aid of a long pry bar I’m starting to pull one half of the track away from the rest of the framing:
The other side came out without much more in the way of complaint:
With the track removed, I pulled any remaining exposed fasteners, or trimmed them off flush with my angle grinder and cut-off wheel, and that left me a clean deck to work with:
The track was relatively trouble-free to fit, requiring only a small amount of scribe fitting to the left post, which was twisted slightly out of position:
In the west, the drawing techniques for fitting a sill between irregularly rotated posts is termed ‘tumbling’, while the Japanese cluster it in generally with scribing, or hikari-kata. It’s a useful skill to have in one’s bag of tricks.
Once the track was secured in place, I commenced working on putting the doors. I had left the stiles a few mm long in case significant adjustments were required, and it wasn’t too long before the first couple of doors were in place:
A short while later, all 4 doors were in:
I had forgotten to bring any wax, however the Museum happened to have a bar of Japanese sliding door track wax, so I applied a little bit to the track’s mizo, and that made for a nice feel in the sliding motion. Here’s a look with one of the doors open, though the doors will normally be closed as the 2nd floor is not open to the general public:
The Museum was very pleased with the work.
The process went very smoothly, and took me only a little over 2 hours to complete, including removal of the old track. Then more driving awaited on the commute home, but at least I was ahead of rush hour. That’s it for this short series on BCM work for 2017- thanks for tuning in.
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Sunday, September 10, 2017
Post 4 in a series describing some repair work on 4 sliding paneled doors, or ita-do, and related sliding track, for the Boston Children’s Museum.
After the frame members were through joinery and finish planed, the stiles received a coat of stain so as to match the rest of the doors:
Rails next, after a coat of stain, which is still wet in the photo below:
The panels and battens had received a lot of wear and tear, exposing raw wood in a number of places, so the four entire panels were given a refresh with stain:
As noted in a previous post, removal of the old frames revealed several broken batten tenons. One of those battens had tenons snapped off of both ends, so I removed the batten from the panel, and placed it in a fixture so I could rout a short mortise for an insert tenon:
Here I’m doing a dry fit of the panel and batten assembly to the two newly made stiles:
The bare patch you can see in the above photo is where the removed batten locates, left off for the trial fit as I know it will fit the mortises just fine.
Everything was fitting up nicely, so I knocking things apart one more time, put the batten back into place, and then glued up using ‘Old Brown’ hide glue:
Though for many circumstances a 72" rip capacity on a table saw is of limited use, it happens to be an ideal surface for placing a clamped up assembly of about that length :^)
On other panel assemblies, only one batten tenon was broken, so instead of removing the batten to effect a repair, I worked on the joinery in situ using a simple set up like this:
You can spot the just-completed batten mortise in the middle:
At the end of a Sunday, I had three of the four doors glued up, and two of those doors were into a second application of stain. Tomorrow should be the last shop day on this project, and Tuesday is the planned day of install at the BCM. Hope you’ll stay tuned for the next installment, and thanks for your visit today!
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Friday, September 8, 2017
Post 3 in a short series describing the repair/replacement of 4 sliding doors and a section of lower door track, or shiki-i, for the Boston Children’s Museum.
Here are the 8 rails after tenons are trimmed and chamfered:
The stiles have also been mortised - here’s a shot of the lower mortises:
The upper mortises feature differential tenon sizes due to the larger/deeper tongue on the top of the rail:
Let’s have a look at a fit between upper rail and a stile:
Together and the faces meet cleanly:
A first frame is trial-fitted together:
At this stage, while the fit on the front faces looks fine…
…in actuality the shoulders of the tenon are not fully in contact with the face of the stile:
This is by design, as the chamfers themselves remain a bit short of their final width.
The chamfers were processed on my router table, and a router cut is always going to have scallop marks. Trying to remove such marks by sanding a small chamfer like that, in such a soft wood, is a terrible idea. It seems to me - maybe this sounds crazy -but sand paper and soft woods should generally not meet one another, especially in a wood so easily and pleasantly worked as Port Orford Cedar.
Chamfer size Adjustment? That’s where the kikai mentori-ganna comes in:
After an initial pass where a thicker shaving was taken, I reduce the depth of cut for final passes:
Now the fit between the parts was more like what I was after:
All for this round- getting close to the finish line now. Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way.
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As I sit here and begin writing this morning, I realize just how much things have changed since I began blogging several years ago. What began as early morning conversations between you all and myself regarding what the plans were for my day and what the previous day had brought to me has now evolved into something a bit different. In those early days of writing, I was striving to be successful and prove that success not only to others but mainly to myself. I had started writing at a time when my business was just beginning to build up steam and I was dedicated to making my mark in the creative world. It was before my partner Keith even joined me. It seems so long ago.
The fact that things have changed is no surprise to me. I remember in those early days of writing that I mentioned more than once how I believed that life, in general, was much like a kaleidoscope – forever evolving and changing into something else. I still believe that today, and I still believe that those of us who are able to be flexible and change along with things are more likely to have an easier time surviving. It just makes sense to me.
I also try to focus on the good and positive things here in my posts. While I realize that the world isn’t full of lollipops and rainbows, I also believe that ‘we follow where we focus’ and that by concentrating on the positive and good aspects of our lives, it lessens the impact of the negative things. But that isn’t always the easiest thing to do, is it?
Things have been so difficult for so many these days. While I like to dwell on what I call my “Pink Cloud”, there have been many days of late when I have found that difficult, if not impossible to do. It is hard to be cheerful and joyful when so many are suffering. It is also hard to write cheerful and carefree posts without feeling as if you are minimizing the suffering of others or your own concerns. Sometimes it is a fine line to walk.
As a result, I have chosen to back off these past several months and take some time. I am grateful that I have been doing a great deal of 'busy work’ in creating surfaces for decorative painters to paint on. While it has been overwhelming at times, more so than not it has kept me feeling positive and productive on days when I would otherwise despair. Those long, hard days in my shop where I have piles of wood to cut for orders have been my emotional salvation, as they help me focus on positive things such as how those who ordered them will use and enjoy the pieces and even how many of them will become family treasures. Having a part in that process was the ray of light that I have been able to hold on to on some of the darkest days. It has helped more than anyone can imagine.
It has also caused me to refocus and re-prioritize what I was doing. Our scrolling and woodworking customers seemed to have really looked to my partner Keith for his lovely word-art designs, and my painting followers have encouraged me not only to continue my own designs but also to expand the scope of surfaces that I offer. It has really lifted both Keith and me up these days, and we appreciate it very much. It has encouraged us to branch out even further and expand and grow our business more. We are grateful.
In my last post, I showed you all a design I was working on for the online painting community, Toletown. Over the weekend, I completed that design as well as an accompanying instructional video for the project. The video is now available at the Toletown site, but I will have it on my YouTube Channel soon. I was pretty happy at how it came out. Here is a photo of the finished project:
I used all DecoArt Americana paints on the main design and their new Extreme Sheen Metallic Paint on the leaf frame. I love the new Extreme Sheen Metallics. They are probably the shiniest metallic paint that I have used. You can get them at the DecoArt site here (DecoArt Metallics Extreme Sheen) or at your favorite craft supplier.
I used one of my new painting surfaces (the SLDPK172 - Large Maple Leaf Beveled Wood Plaque) for the project:
I thought it looked really nice on that. I think there are so many possibilities for this leaf surface! It will lend well to Halloween, Thanksgiving and autumn designs in general. I hope that everyone likes it.
Keith has been busy drawing as well. He now has three different “Answer” designs that he is offering as a special pattern set (SPECIALSET on our site):
These fun designs are appropriate for many situations and are sure to be popular as gifts, at craft shows and sales, or to keep yourself. We hope you like them.
He also made a fun plaque for the coffee drinkers in the world:
I like this one myself, and it could easily be my theme. You can find the pattern on our site here: SLDK737 Coffee - Because Adulting is Hard
And because we love our scrollers:
Keith made this nice pattern set (SLDK738 - Keep Calm and Scroll On) which includes both a male and female version, as well as fretwork or overlay figures. We hope that you enjoy this for your shop or the shop of someone you know loves to scroll.
On a final note, I wanted you all to be aware that I am venturing into something else that is totally new for me. Since I have shown many of my embroidery pieces here on my blog and on social media, I frequently receive requests to offer kits of some of the things I have been making. I have considered this for over a year now, and have slowly and carefully done the homework, researched suppliers, and tried to think of every aspect of providing kits for my designs. I haven’t said much about it except to close friends because it has taken quite a while to get things in order. But I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. After much planning, purchasing supplies, and thinking things through, I am ALMOST ready to offer embroidery kits to my customers.
I am very excited about this, and I want them to be the best kits I can offer. In the past, I have purchased kits that were nice, but very 'incomplete’. This caused me to have to search out supplies and was quite a challenge. It was because of this that I saw a need for kits that had just about everything needed to make the project except scissors and a couple of truly 'common’ household supplies. Each kit will contain the highest quality silk ribbons, glass beads, metal charms, silk, perle cotton and metallic threads, Ultrasuede backings, and even beautiful, high-quality needles. I have searched all over the world to obtain these supplies and have done all the 'leg work’ so that it would be fun and easy to create using the best quality materials. Each kit will also include full, step-by-step instructions complete with color photos. I am very close to launching them and should be doing so in the next week or so.
I didn’t want to muddy up either the Sheila Landry Designs site or the Tole Painting Designs site, so I renamed and designated my Etsy Store for this venture. I now call my store “The Stitching Kitty” and it will be the home of all of these lovely kits.
I will make a formal announcement when things are ready.
So you see, I have been keeping pretty busy. With all the negative things going on these days, I find that bringing joy to others through sharing my love of creating is the best way I can cope with things. As always, Keith and I appreciate all of our followers and customers. So many of you have become real friends. We wish you all the best in whatever you do.
We will be sending out our newsletter probably later today, so if you subscribe to it, look for it in your email. Thanks again to all of you for your support. We are both so grateful.
Have a great weekend.
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I use Japanese saws exclusively, save for a lone coping saw which sees infrequent use. Some of the saws use replaceable blades, and they work well, while the remainder are traditional saws which can be resharpened. While I have saw files and can, and do, touch up dull teeth from time to time, I generally prefer to send dull saws out to a specialist, who can resharpen, set wayward teeth, and, most critically, perform metate on the blade body to bring the saw blade into perfect alignment and tension.
I gathered a bunch of saws together last year, along with a couple which a friend in Germany had sent to me, and got them together with a box to send to Japan. But then, well, life got in the way, with a newborn, and my shop time occupied with completing two large cabinets, and I did not get around to shipping the saws off until a few months back.
Today I received them back, to my considerable relief. Several of my saws were made by a deceased National Treasure saw smith, and were irreplaceable items, so trusting them to the whims of international shipping and customs was a risk.
They arrived in fine shape, and in a new wooden box:
i had shipped them in a smaller wooden box, however three of the blades I had sent were in fact NOS, and just needed new handles of the correct size fitted. These new handles couldn’t fit in the old box, so the agent I used prepared a new box, and he did a very nice job. This is the sort of customer service which is the norm in Japan, and which I have become decidedly unused to since I left that country some 18 years ago.
With the lid peeled up, I was greeted by the sight of the new handles, each numbered to the corresponding saw blade:
The tray with the handles (and one saw blade) on it was pulled out, to reveal the next layer:
And then that layer came out to reveal the next:
The bottom layer had saws affixed to both sizes. Below it was my old box.
After removing the two saws owned by my German Friend, which I shall ship on to him next week, I spent a while tapping the saw handles back on to the blades and hanging them back on the wall. It’s so nice to have a bevy sharp hand saws in my possession once again.
Thought it would be fun to share my later summer ‘Christmas’ present with you all out there. Thanks for dropping by on your journey today.
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