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Original Post Date: May 12, 2017

As part of our Mother’s Day series, we will introduce you to several superstar moms (and grandmothers!) who combine their love of family with their love of woodworking.

Sheila Landry

Meet Sheila Landry

Scroll saw artist Sheila Landry knows the headache of working with “cheap” tools. After becoming frustrated using a cheaper saw to cut out her designs, she finally took the plunge and bought a better quality saw after trying one out at a woodworking show. “It changed every aspect of woodworking for me. It was no longer a source of frustration, and I was able to fully enjoy woodworking,” she remarked.

After living in Chicago for 42 years, Sheila now maintains dual citizenship is the US and Canada, where she lives with her partner of 8+ years Keith Fenton in Meteghan, Nova Scotia. Together they own and operate Sheila Landry Designs, an online company that offers scroll saw patterns and decorative painting patterns, which can be mailed or downloaded, as well as wood surfaces for painters to paint on.

Damask Kitty Silhouette

Sheila’s two children are grown and still living in the Chicago area. Her son Phil, 33, is a police officer in Joliet, Illinois, and daughter Danielle, 27, is attending school and working on her education while also working as a bartender/hostess at a downtown Chicago pub. She is also the proud grandmother of 3-year-old Willow, Phil's daughter — “She is beautiful!”

The path to starting her own company began when Sheila and her friend Cari were learning how to paint in the early ’90s. They wanted to cut their own wood surfaces on the scroll saw, so Cari’s dad, who was an engineer, encouraged them to learn. “He provided the tools and basic knowledge, then left us to learn on our own for the most part. We made mistakes in the beginning, but that was our best teacher. He was always there for us if we needed him to help us, but it was fun and challenging for us to explore on our own,” Sheila recalled

Layered Sheep Bowl and "Baaa-Bins"

Now that Sheila creates and markets her own designs, she finds inspiration everywhere. “I love recreating animal designs in wood, but I also love geometric and architectural designs. Old architecture, such as building appointments and even ironwork such as gates and fences, can contain beautiful patterns and inspiration for new designs. I design with passion and love for art in general,” she stated. She hopes that others find enjoyment in her work as well. “I like to believe that the designs I create will also inspire and encourage others to be creative and find satisfaction in making beautiful things that will be passed from generation to generation.” 

Bluebird Sample

Pattern scrolled out 

Bluebird colored sample

Wright Inspired Candle Tray close up

Some of her favorite things to cut are smaller projects, such as the candle trays that she designed, which are typically less than 8" x 8" when completed. “I like intricate designs with lots of piercings for the most part. I have trained myself to approach cutting these intricate designs with a ‘one hole at a time’ attitude. After all, as with most art, it isn’t only the destination that is important, but the journey as well. It is very satisfying for me to see a piece of wood come to life by cutting.” 

Wright Inspired Candle Tray

The wisest purchase Sheila made for the woodworking part of her business was buying a quality scroll saw. “I can’t stress enough how important having good-quality tools is to my success,” she shared. If beginners start out with a cheap saw, Sheila finds that they usually encounter many additional problems, which are related to sub-standard tools, “I feel that turns people away from the hobby before they can even begin to feel comfortable with it or enjoy it. Investing in yourself is something that is very important.”  

Damask Kitty Silhouette

To get started scroll sawing, one doesn’t require much in the way of equipment. “All you really need are a saw, drill press, and a decent hand-sander and you are able to complete most projects without additional maintenance or supply costs other than blades and sandpaper,” Sheila noted. But she always advises focusing on purchasing the best quality scroll saw available. “Many times our customers ask what a ‘good saw’ would be that is under a certain dollar amount. It is very difficult to answer that, as what I consider a ‘good’ saw usually costs about $500 and up. But compared to other woodworking hobbies, I feel that is inexpensive.”

And if people later decide they don’t want to continue scroll sawing, Sheila sees it this way:  “The resale value of the tools is much higher than if one had cheap, poor quality components.”

One item she would someday like to complete would be a large fireplace screen. “I don’t know if I will ever reach that goal because I am so busy day to day, but hopefully, when I ‘retire’ I would love to tackle something like that,” Sheila laughed.

With the huge variety of patterns available on Sheila’s website, she can rest assured that she is inspiring plenty of veteran and would-be scrollers to pursue their own journeys of creativity.

Happy Mother’s Day, Sheila Landry!

We hope you'll be inspired!

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