Where credit is due

Laura Balombini shows some new lovelies on her site. She credits Tim Burton and Shakespeare among her influences!

Laura is one of those polymer clay artists whose works are often emulated. Donna Kato addressed the issue of unauthorized copying on her blog this weekend.

It’s considered good manners to tip your hat to your muse with a mention in print or a link online. Before you benefit financially from teaching a technique to others, be sure to get approval from its originator. Most artists only want credit for their ideas and innovations.

While there are gray areas in matters of design, it’s best to err on the side of politeness and to make apologies and corrections where necessary. I’ve suffered a red face and offered a mea culpa or two myself.

The polymer clay community has a long history of generosity and sharing. We can help sustain that spirit by minding our manners and acknowledging those who have worked hard to blaze a path ahead of us.

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  • reply DrMom ,

    I have become very attuned to copyrite legislation… perhaps we all need to read that again… and again.

    • reply Melanie West ,

      I whole heartedly agree with Donna Kato’s piece. Iit does’t, however, touch those tough areas that are colored in gray, rather than black and white.

      For instance, have you ever “discovered” (on your own) a way to do something, only to find that it’s already been “discovered” by others? I know it’s happened to me. So, is it copyright infringement to teach that “discovery” – even though someone else says they “discovered” it first? Perhaps. Perhaps not. There are a mutitude of examples of gray areas, or ways that you get caught in copyright issues unawares. That’s why copyright lawyers can afford to send their kids to Harvard.

      • reply Nancy Revoir Dezotell ,

        To weigh in, I also agree with Donna Kato but only to a certain extent. While an Fine Art artist for over 30 years I had several of my pieces, which were copyrighted, changed only slightly and marketed by two so-called reputable print companys. This was heartbreaking to me as they were two very important prints to my market base. We decided only to ask the offending folks to pull the prints and not market them again. After our having no response we proceeded with our copyright lawyer contacting them and were assured that this would be done. You can imagine my surprise when some twenty years later, we found the prints in gift stores all over the US. Not having the energy to deal with Copyright Lawyers again I have decided to let it ride and try to convince myself that it is the so-called “highest form of praise”, that someone liked my idea so much that they felt the need to copy it.

        In Donna’s case, I agree that she should be upset that someone didn’t link to her site and credit her with the technigue. I also realize that she is a marketing guru and that everyone in polymer has many people to thank for all of the techniques. The marvelous quality of the medium is that we all put our own stamp on each technique we employ and it would be impossible to credit everyone who thinks that they may have been the person to have discovered each technique we use.

        • reply Sherry Bailey ,

          This problem has been growing in the polymer clay world since the clay became so popular — nearly everyone who was in “from the beginning” is sensitive to the nuances of giving credit where due, and to the generosity of the claying Community. Newer clayers may assume too much from the sharing nature of the crafters who got the medium established. There ARE limits, and people who develop new techniques expect some consideration, and deserve it.

          I argue about this frequently, and my main argument is that there is a difference between COPYRIGHT and ETHICS, and even if we don’t want to fuss with the legal issues of copyright, no clayer should be insensitive to ethical situations (and good manners).

          “Simultaneous discovery” is a messy issue, but it seems logical that each “inventor” will have their own slant — as long as YOUR version of a technique isn’t easily mistaken for MY version of the same essential technique, nobody should be upset. On the other hand, if I learn my technique in YOUR workshop and then teach it for money (or even for free) without crediting you or, even better, getting your approval, that is unethical, insensitive, ungrateful, and other bad things.

          We all need to play nice, and say “please” and “thank you”, even if nobody is standing there demanding it!

          • reply Susan Lomuto Rose ,

            Great conversation – to shift gears for a moment, I just want to compliment Laura’s new work. Outstanding. Her figures are surely the stuff of the storybook world. She notes that it felt good to get those guys out of her head and ‘out there’. As an admirer, I’m delighted they are here.

            Hmmmm….do you think they’d like to join the conversation?

            • reply Donna ,

              Hello everyone;

              You know I guess I just wrote that in hopes that discussions like this one would begin – it’s such a complicated issue and yes, there are so many grey and white areas. The line is not so clearly drawn.

              The conference in question did reply and it was interesting. Essentially, they said that they saw no problem as the colors were “different” from mine and the shapes of the petals were larger and more angular. So, it would seem they do not regard technique and process as very important. Just change the color and size of an element and you’re okay. I think this is where the copyright thing comes in, right?

              The second class I mentioned in my blog (the original was not mine) was perhaps more egregious and their justification in that case was that the elements had been colored with a different powder or something. Silver, instead of gold? So it seemed the product used was enough to justify the class.

              So, I suppose in their world, it would be alright to submit a proposal to teach Maggie Maggio’s watercolor technique as long as your sample was in colors Maggie has not used?

              I know that techniques and processes pop up simultaneously – how could they not? And I would not be surprised to find someone, somewhere has done the same thing as I did. But, in this case I know the individual is plugged in to our community and there is no indication that this happened in her work, anywhere.

              Usually, this stuff just rolls off my back – I just move on. I don’t rely on teaching and sales of my work solely for my financial support but some do and it just isn’t right to capitalize on anyone else’s innovation for personal gain. Let me say this, I think that once I’ve taken money to teach, the technique has been released and there are no conditions on its use. I hope that credit will be given and that’s about all.

              It could get really silly, the crediting thing, but usually, the composite of many techniques becomes something else entirely – and it then stands on its own. The techniques become tools used to tell another story. But, there are times when a piece in a different color, with larger petals is still just a copy of something else, when the technique is the piece and submitting it would seem to be a violation of a stipulation in a standard teaching contract. Even though it seems we could, most of just couldn’t in good conscience do that. May be legal but it doesn’t make it right. So, I think Sherry is absolutely correct – copyright and ethics are not the same thing.

              I never want to be accused of taking credit for that which isn’t mine so I always give credit and thanks to those who have taught me anything – I’m sort of compulsive about it.

              Oh well, onward and upward.

              • reply Laurie Mika ,

                Great topic of conversation and one that I was just having with my husband this past weekend! All of this is a very tricky business and I have to admit that it is a bizarre thing to see a copy of your work on someone else’s site being sold! No easy answers but dialog like this is very useful in getting this topic out there for consideration.
                Actually I was writing because this is the first time that I have seen Laura’s work and I was awestruck…loved it. Where have I been that I didn’t even know who she was? I thank you for finding such “lovelies” to post on your site….which has become my “daily” obsession! I look forward to discovering more incredbile artists here. Many thanks…..

                • reply Dorothy Greynolds ,

                  Hi,
                  Thanks for posting Donna’s comments regarding this conference. I also filed a complaint with the conference organizers a few weeks before Donna regarding a different class, without a much more positive outcome.

                  In order to teach at this event, people are required to sign contracts, including a section verifying that are teaching original techniques, not ones learned from classes, books, magazines articles, online tutorials, etc.

                  By accepting their teaching proposals, the conference organizers put their faith in these people to teach original concepts at their event. That is why they promote them and what they pay them for. Most of the people accepted probably take their teaching contracts seriously, are teaching original concepts, and deserve the promotion and the class fees.

                  By signing up for these classes, sometimes for several hundred dollars a class, students expect to be taught techniques and/or processes by people who originate them. That is what they deserve.

                  What happens when these students find these techniques published in books, magazines or online by the original creators, not by their teachers at this conference? Will they be willing to put their trust in the event organizers, ones they had thought had researched the classes and guaranteed their authenticity, again? Will they trust or respect these teachers again? Will they feel taken advantage of and short-changed?

                  Ethics refer to copying or slightly altering techniques and teaching them without getting permission from or giving credit to the creator of a technique or process. They also include taking advantage of conference organizers and students. Is it really fair to anyone involved?

                  • reply Kim Cavender ,

                    Although I agree that there are many shades of grey in the world, I feel this issue is one of black and white and reaches much farther than just the conference in question. While many similar techniques are being developed independently and many people may have similar styles, I don’t feel that’s what the true issue is.

                    Seeing class samples or published work belonging to another artist and feeling you have the right to reverse engineer this work and publish a tutorial online or in print or to teach it yourself, is just reprehensible. Taking credit for something because you were smart enough or experienced enough to figure it out without being taught by that instructor does NOT make it yours. I find it interesting that people who do this are given praise for being so generous and sharing. It’s easy to share what doesn’t belong to you and when you knowingly do this, you’re wrong.

                    I’m not referring to teaching someone how to do a Skinner blend (thank you Judith!), I’m talking about taking taking someone’s livlihood away and selling it or giving it away for free to benefit yourself monetarily or emotionally. This is a large and growing community but I think we owe it to ourselves and each other to be vigilant and to be aware of who is teaching and what they’re teaching and not infringe on that person’s right to do so.

                    Most instructors are very generous with their knowledge but when things like this continue to happen, it becomes hard to keep that generosity alive. We don’t have the right to use unique and specific techniques and take credit for them. Paying someone for a class and learning the technique or buying a book and learning a technique does NOT mean the technique is yours. Reverse engineering a technique does NOT make it yours or give you the right to share it with others without permission. Even if you do it really well, it’s still not yours! Even if you change the color, it’s still not yours! Give credit where it’s due. You know in your heart if you have developed something on your own or if you developed it as a result of what someone else has done. As new people join the polymer clay community, they may not always be aware of who is teaching what technique and what’s fair game to share.
                    That’s perfectly understandable and I feel as if I should say once again that is NOT the issue.

                    Sharing our ideas and our work is one of the things that makes the polymer clay community so special. Having respect for other artists’ ideas and their ability to support themselves and their families will continue to keep it that way.

                    • reply Martha Aleo ,

                      This is a thorny issue. Most of us can’t honestly claim that we developed a technique in a vacuum. We are all influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by things we see all around us. Believe it or not, the copyright laws were enacted to promote the sharing of ideas by insuring the creator would have a certain period in which his or her invention would be protected. But there had to be limits on what ideas could be protected because if you go to far in the opposite direction, you end up stifling innovation and creativity.

                      I fully subscribe to the notion that you NEVER teach someone else’s class or rejigger their instructions if it will take food off of their table. And for me, giving credit is more than an act of politeness; it is valuable information on the creative process lets me know here I might go to learn a given technique. But, I must confess, I am troubled by argument against reverse engineering. How can you precisely reverse engineer anything having to do with polymer clay? And how far do you take this prohibition? I am afraid that this would impede the exponential growth of polymer clay techniques and art we have seen in recent years. Consider this: years ago, Ford and Forlano taught (and I believe published an article) on faux Ikat. Then Donna Kato developed a much simpler technique for the same thing. Is this a form of reverse engineering? If yes, why? If not, why not? And where do you draw the line?

                      If I see a vessel in the shape of say- a spoon- and can’t find directions to make it anywhere, am I reverse engineering if I sit down at my work bench and puzzle it out myself? What if I write down my directions and share them with my friends? What if I teach them? What about a face cane?

                      I am not pretending to have the answers to all of this, but I don’t see the issue as black and white. I read Sherry Baily’s comments and think that they provide about as good a guideline as you are likely to get.

                      My two cents.

                      • reply Barb ,

                        Recently, I was in an interesting situation. Some people in the PC world thought that because I wasn’t the “first” to do my swirl technique, by work was somehow less worthy. They needed to remind me that they saw what I considered “my invention” somewhere else first.

                        After having a wonderful conversation with the “originator” of the technique, she gave me some sage advice. The most important thing is what we do with our art, not who did what first. What helped me to grow as an artist was to try and get over that “kicked in the stomach feeling” by pushing my limits every day. This is what will keep PC art alive and fresh. I certainly know how it feels to have something “stolen” from you…it hurts a lot. But how can this help you grow personally as an artist?

                        Just my view from the sidelines *g*

                        • reply Kim Cavender ,

                          Martha, I knew I didn’t explain this as well as I should have. My gripe is with someone who looks at photos or examples of someone else’s original work and duplicates it and then publishes it or makes it public without the permission of the originator of that work.

                          For example, if you were teaching a class and I managed to figure out the process on my own and posted a public tutorial describing the process, I feel as if this would be stealing. Not only from you but the people who had paid to take your class.

                          Being influenced by other’s work and taking an element from that work and exploring it in work of your own was not what I meant. I’m also not referring to people who make things that they learn in a class or from a book and sell those items for profit. Sorry for the confusion.

                          I totally agree with you, we are all influenced by the work of others and everything around us and it’s only when we make no attempt to put our own voice to the process, that this becomes an issue.

                          • reply Sherry Bailey ,

                            Reverse engineering is another sticky wicket. I imagine all of us have tried to figure out how something was done, and frankly, that’s a great way to learn — time honored in the field of Fine Art. However, once we learn, it seems to me that it’s essential to carry it further and make what we learn our own.

                            I’ve told Donna that I have wanted to mess with her (published) instructions for making constructed flower designs but first I want to have some thoughts about how to make mine NOT resemble hers — as much as I love hers, I am NOT her and mine should reflect ME. I think this should be the goal of everybody in polymer clay — and yes, even newbies! But then again, in a former life I was an high school art teacher, and I still have the conviction that everybody has some capacity to be original, copying is not necessary. Maybe that’s unrealistic… but we can all try.

                            • reply Dorothy Greynolds ,

                              Hi Kim,
                              I appreciate your comments. I think you have made a lot of good points.

                              Although I’m not sure I agree with this one: “I’m also not referring to people who make things that they learn in a class or from a book and sell those items for profit.”

                              What if the items they sell could be mistaken for work created by the teacher or artist published because they are a direct copy? What if the only difference between their work and the one pictured in a book, magazine or learned in a class is the finish? Glossy rather than matte or textured.

                              Should someone view paying for a class, book or magazine justification for copying someone’s work exactly for profit? Making some for yourself or your family is fine. That’s the way you learn a technique. But selling direct copies of someone’s work shows little respect for the teacher and his/her creativity.

                              • reply Julie Picarello ,

                                Without trivializing the importance of moral ethics (in ANY facet of life, not just art)…I;d like to have it take a back seat for just a moment while I say “WOW”!!! Laura’s work is whimsical and intriguing and captivating – I truly enjoyed browing her webpage. Thanks much for the link!

                                • reply Kim Cavender ,

                                  Dorothy,
                                  I think the issue you’re dealing with goes way above and beyond someone selling a few pieces that they learned from your tutorial. This woman has committed one of the most blatant acts of copying I’ve ever seen and has made no effort to give you an ounce of credit. She has copied your work exactly and posted photos to several sites on the internet claiming it as her original work. I’m sad to say that if these pieces were photographed side by side, it would probably be near impossible to tell which was hers and which was yours.

                                  As far as the issue of what she’s teaching at the conference, I’m apalled that the sponsor of the event awarded you a first prize award several years ago in the polymer clay category and published your winning technique in their magazine, but doesn’t see that this woman who is teaching your identical technique in her class at this year’s event as being wrong. I can’t imagine that ANYONE would think this was right.

                                  If you purchased Sarah Shriver’s Kalaidescope DVD and learned her technique, would anyone think you were within your rights to teach this identical technique at a national conference if the finished class piece were a wearable vessel instead of a pendant?

                                  I’m sorry this has happened to you. In my earlier posts, I referred to this issue as being black and white and what happened to you is exactly what I was referring to when I made that statement. There are, to be sure, lots of grey areas, and there always will be. I personally feel that there may never be agreement over the grey areas. It’s the black and white ones that most of us can agree on.

                                  • reply Pörrö ,

                                    Sight.

                                    I aggree: it is really stealing to start teaching someone elses techniques as your own. And to do it to several profeccional clayers whose reputation and income depends on that is disgusting. All this is true.

                                    But. If we talk in general I must say that IMO there seems to be somewhat growing anxiety in polymerclay community to both share the ideas and question the ones who use them to sell. I am not talking about copycats – IMO too they are low and deserve the attitude – but the normal ordinary people who learn to clay from the net, books and by attending a class. They pay to learn craft and when they start selling they suddenly find out that even when they do new designs they are not always considered ethical if they use techniques teached by others. This has not happened to me, I am just a bystander, but I have seen a lot of confusion, anger and hurt fealings during the years I have clayed. Many people really – honestly – are puzzled with where the community draws the line as the line is not only drawn to straight copies but much father.

                                    Harsh? Maybe bit, but for the avarage clayer who was not on the lists when “when it all started” this must seem bit confusing and raise a lot of questions about what they can or cant’t make with polyclay to sell if it is not truly complately original. And by original most people falsly think “something that has complately unique technique, design and colours”.

                                    One thing I think needs more clarification in clay community is what we exactly talk about when we talk about original ideas or original techniques and what techniques are “common knowledge” more than original style of any one artist. I find it pretty easy to “know by heart” theese things, but I have been around for 10 years. We are now seeing a 3.rd and 4th generation of new clayers and to those people it is not at all as clear.

                                    I myself have been happy enough to be able to sell modest ideas without having to do “mirracles” in designing but then again I am in Finland where there is not much competition either. I have some good original ideas and few techniques and have teached most of them. Stuff I dont want to share with the whole claying community I keep away from internet. Most of the things I know I teach away, including tips and tidebits learned from other clayers during the years. I try to give credit where credit is due, but honestly teaching spiral canes is not a place where I start naming all the great ancestors who lived before us all who have used spirals as their motif in earthen clay, glass and Fimo :). But I always mention a fellow artists names when there is any discussion about techniques I know are originated by them.

                                    So my proposal? Maybe we should list things we as community think are as common knowlege as “knitting stitches” or “basic lace patterns” or “basic intarasia patterns” in knitting and try to find out what we as community see as “basic knowledge” rather than “unique design”. Or what do you think?

                                    • reply Kim Cavender ,

                                      Porro,
                                      I think your points are very good ones and I totally agree with them. Perhaps this discussion will open the door to more communication and an opportunity to clear up some of the confusion that seems to exist.

                                      • reply Nancy Revoir Dezotell ,

                                        Hi all again. As I read and reread all of the posts, I realize that we are all going in circles to some extent., because the issue is rather complex.This question or concept is confusing , and to say the least, rather convoluted. One of the things that makes it very difficult is the fact that there is much to be gained by some in the translating of: concept to lesson and or tutorial, either for profit or the joy of sharing. When we are not at the very least recognised for our contribution we sometimes feel slighted and if our technique is translated to others for profit then it must be considered, at the very least, unethical.

                                        Herein can” lie the rub”. Technique can not alway be legislated nor copyrighted. IF SOMEONE COPIES MY DESIGN, be it fine art or any other form of artwork and changes it by only 10 percent, I will not have a leg to stand on, in regards to a formal complaint about this issue. My technique, can not be copyrighed… my design however can.

                                        It is sad that we as a community of artist are still in this dialogue of ethics. However, as quickly as I type that sentence, my mind says “but really who was the first person to do a given technique in Polymer Clay?” Who was the first person to take acrylic paint and treat it as watercolor? who decided that salt on watercolor paper would create such joy?
                                        As I said earlier, the issue is so convoluted!

                                        Please keep up the posts on the issue. I love this dialogue and the site gives us so much on a “DAILY” basis. Thank you Cynthia.

                                        • reply Kira Slye ,

                                          Wow. I still say, polymer clay is a womens’ world. Meaning- our feelings get hurt when we think we’ve been outdone.
                                          I know for a fact that I developed a technique for using rubber stamps, totally by myself, that I then read about on glassattic.com as having been pioneered by someone else, written about, taught, etc. But you know what, I never read one of those articles or took a class from that “pioneer.” Does that make me an unethical copycat?
                                          Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s wrong to knowingly and willfully take someone else’s idea for your own. But as polymer clay becomes a more widely understood and used art medium, we are going to have to learn to let go. What if this happened during the Renaissance? Can you image Michaelangelo arguing with Leonardo? “Hey, I use ground up pigments in an oil base to paint realistic figures in perspective. You can’t do that, you copycat sell-out!”

                                          • reply Jeanne Dumond ,

                                            As a fairly new convert to polymer clay, I can say that this argument goes on in all types of media. The one I have the most experience with is rubber stamping. I have read and reread the same exact arguements on rubberstamping sites as I have here. The main thing is that new people don’t always know who did what first. Kim Cavender and Judy Belcher are currently teaching a class called Polymer Pastiche in which they detail the history of polymer clay and where some of the techniques come from and who were responsible for them. This is helpful to a newbie like me, but what are the rules on me using one of the techniques I learned to sell something made with one of these techniques? How do I credit another artist, and not do it too much so the people don’t think it’s not my work, but enough so that the original artist is happy?

                                            Can you imagine trying to teach a technique you derived starting with “First we’ll make a Skinner blend, invented by Judith Skinner in ****, then we will make a leaf ala Klew to use with a flower petal also using Judith Skinner’s Skinner blend in the style of but not colors of Donna Kato to . . . .”? So how about we name techniques like Skinner blend and Kato petals and Klew leaves and Shriver canes etc. that would seem to at least give us a starting point. The problem arises when someone is unethical and copies directly a technique and passes it off as their own. Is it really a problem if someone makes say little sculptures ala Christi Friesien and sells them labeled as “in the style of”? I guess I’m kind of confused as to where you draw the line and who is the “decider” on these issues. Obviously from the discussion here and on the PCC board it shouldn’t be NPCG, and the workshop originators don’t seem to want to take ownership, so who does and how? That seems to be the question. Good discussion. Keep it up!

                                            • reply Scott ,

                                              Hello, lots of passionate responses. I respect each and every opinion. Here is mine:

                                              I have to agree with Kira, well said in simple terms.
                                              As many of you have already made the point of explaining, if you learn something from a specific artist in a class or book, it is common courtesy to acknowledge said artist and give credit accordingly. That should be a given.
                                              Porro said earlier that an artists work is recognizable. However none of us can be expected to retain a knowledge base of every pc artist. I have been working with PC for 20 years or so and yet I don’t think Porro would look at my creations and say “that is a Scott”. Does that make me any less entitled to the protections being discussed here? So much of this has to do with popularity and connections as well. If two people create a similar technique at the same time and one of them is well established, they will obviously be recognized as the originator because they have connections and are involved with the PC community. Once they put that technique out to the public, you and I will see it. In the meantime, the other artist finds out a year later that someone else has already claimed this as his/her own.
                                              Not everyone is privy to the Internet and many people start out just as I did with a few packs of clay and imagination.
                                              The gray areas are far too many, you can’t possibly credit one artist for a certain cane technique without crediting every cane, that would be prejudice. You can’t say “well I make flowers so you can’t unless you give me credit”. What about embellishments? Does one person get credit for adding non PC items like stones or wire? If so who and if not why, this is something someone did first.
                                              Sooner or later, everything will have been done and then what? Who would want to create with PC if they have all these things to worry about and had to investigate each and every artist first?
                                              Polymer clay is a freeform art and it should have no limits other than common courtesy and common sense.
                                              What makes something a technique and who decides this? Better yet who chooses who the deciders are?
                                              We take for granted everyday many techniques from clay other than PC like pinch pots and snake coils, etc. and yet I don’t ever see anyone give credit to the creators.
                                              Everything beyond common courtesy seems like insecurity to me. If someone is blatantly making an exact duplicate of your work and not giving you credit, that is just rude. The rest of it should just push you as an artist to be the best at what you do.
                                              The goal of everyone concerned about these issue is making money, we as the artists don’t get to decide what will sell or who will choose our class. The customer is the one that does this, They have a right to choose for themselves. Do they want to learn from a master or get a generic version online? Do they want to purchase a pendant made by a well know artist for 50.00 or do they want a cheaper version made by someone less experienced?
                                              Why should the PC community be treated any different from other art forms?
                                              I for one don’t want to see it held back by setting limits to what anyone that picks up a pack of clay can make with it.

                                              Scott

                                              • reply Sera ,

                                                There are very few techniques in polymer clay that have NOT been done before. If we all refrain from teaching or selling our work because we didn’t invent the technique originally – we may as well give up claying all together… This issue has been dividing the claying community for as long as I can remember. Whoever said that copyright and ethics were totally different hit the nail on the head!

                                                • reply Nancy Revoir Dezotell ,

                                                  I love that posts 22 and 23 have finally gotten down to brass tacks on the issue. You have said exactly what some of us were saying…but not wanting to step on anyone’s toes. You have both done the claying community a great service with your honesty and spirit.

                                                  • reply Aldona Grinius ,

                                                    When I took silversmithing at the New Brunswick Craft College in Fredericton, New Brunswick,one of our instructors told us that there is virtually nothing that has not been done in jewelry before .The Ancient Romans, Greeks , Phoenicians,Africans,Chinese,Egyptians Mayans,Incas, Etruscans and countless other cultures laid the groundwork for us all. Today we might have some newer materials and spiffy-er mechanized tools but so many of the polymer clay techniques are borrowed from potters, sculptors, lampworkers, painters, printmakers, enamelists ,blacksmiths, makers of Japanese armour, weavers , knitters ,mosaic artists and on and on……we owe and owe…. its not easy to unravel where a lot of things started. Wandering around the Metropolitan or British Museums for an afternoon can help put things in perspective. Blatant copying such as described here is certainly offensive and to be discouraged…but limiting human expression and creativity is not what we need.

                                                    • reply Jackie ,

                                                      I say kudos to Scott’s comments about this subject. If a famous artist finds an exact copy of their work, and wants to pursue legal action, that is sensible. But when we are talking about all these gray areas – oh come on people, leave it alone! Because Scott is right – who gets to be the “deciders”? If it is me, I’m not going to play policewoman over the work of others. I do see that some people, though, will jail me and throw away the keys if I make a cane that looks like someone else’s, whether I ever saw their cane or not.

                                                      You know, we’re here on earth for only 70 years – give or take – why not make the most of the days instead of worrying about someone copying the work of another? The fact is, most people don’t, and so many people are only in for the short run, anyway, that much of it will go away after a few weeks. Enjoy your time for creating, or spend it in your lawyer’s office? It’s an easy choice for me.

                                                      • reply anne ,

                                                        I have been reading all the posts ….. left this site , but had to come back and leave my comments….

                                                        I know how it feels to have one’s work copied…as a painter, I was doing shows with some juried promoters and I made a ton of money on a cute little bear that I painted on white rugs…I really sold a lot of these critters for $19.95…a good selling price…one day I was looking through a country magazine that we all know of and low and behold there was my lil’ bear…red bow and all saying welcome…also one time I returned to my booth at a craft fair and found all my hand drawn and cut out ducks lying on my table after someone had blatantly taken them down off my grids and copied them….

                                                        needless to say I was upset, but at a later date when I saw how awful their copies were, I felt better…so what I did, was…I sold copies of the drawings and made a little more money, and then moved on to something else….

                                                        now I have done a lot of things, especially with earthen clay and now with polymer clay….I taken workshops with several of our polymer clay artists that I respect…I teach polymer at our local Michaels and I have come in touch with people that have purchased many of NPCG’s artists books….If I know how to help them achieve a certain technique, and they have tried to do it on their own, I will help them if I can…believe me, it is not at all the same as what is in the books when they are done

                                                        My point is…there will always be someone out there that will inspire to do what it is that an artist does…it will probably not in any way resemble their finished work…I know that as traveling artists and teachers many of you get great satisfaction teaching others your techniques, you all also get paid for your time, so please don’t get upset when someone trys to do what you do, and can’t remember who showed them how to do it…if they sell their work, all be it…they just may need to support their family also….all the more power to them…..

                                                        jewelry has been around for hundreds of years, techniques have been around for hundreds of years…people have been using each others techniques…. sometime improving on them, somtimes making awful replicas of them…we just have to deal with it..

                                                        It takes a lot of money to go to court, and it could take years to win or lose a lawsuit….my advise…..

                                                        just move on and do what it is that you do best…create, design, and if your don’t want people to copy your work, don’t show ’em how to do it…..simple as that….luv ya all…A

                                                        • reply Sandra ,

                                                          A few years ago, I saw “someone” on the Carol Duvall show making “something” out of Polymer Clay. I was fascinated! I had read an article oh, so many years back about this and had not had time to check into it. But this time I did. For Christmas, I ask for clay. For my birthday, I ask for clay stuff; pasta machine, books, books, and books. I started making small sculptures, jewelry and other things. Finally, I had so many things that I HAD to enter a local craft show.

                                                          A friend of mine asked me about the copyright of the things that I was making out of my books.

                                                          I showed her a booklet, “CLEVER CLAY CREATIONS” BY Shelly Comiskey, published by: HOT OFF THE PRESS. Inside the front cover, it states in part……”The designs in this book are protected by copyright; however, you may make the designs for your personal use or to sell for pin money. This use has been surpassed when the designs are made by employees or sold through commercial outlets. Not for commercial reproduction.”……….

                                                          I showed her another book “Making Animal Characters in Polymer Clay”, published by : NORTH LIGHT BOOKS that states…….”Copyright (c) 2000 by Sherian Frey. Manufactured in China. All rights reserved. The patterns and drawings in this book are for the personal use of the artist. By permission of author and publisher, they may either be hand-traced or photocopied to make single copies, but under no circumstances may they be resold or republished. It is permissible for the purchaser to use the designs contained herein and sell them at fairs, bazaars and craft shows.”………………..

                                                          I love making things with Polymer Clay! Again, it is my hobby. Did I make those sculptures exactly like the ones in the book? Just as close as I possibly could! It told me exactly what colors to use and how big to make the balls. And I tried as hard as I could. Came out pretty good, too. In other words, the instructors did a great job!!!! Actually, at first, I wouldn’t have known how to change anything, if I had wanted to. LOL Of course, now I WANT to make them different. But no matter how I change them, I still learned it from the book.

                                                          Now my question, how on God’s green earth could I keep buying clay and clay stuff if I couldn’t sell some of the things that I make so I can buy MORE clay and clay stuff…and books? People ask me how I learned to do what I do and I usually tell them that I learned as much as I could from artists on the Carol Duvall Show and from books that I bought and from just “doing”. I certainly don’t have a problem in giving ANYONE credit for their work and don’t feel that, so far, anyone has thought any less of me for having learned it from a TV show or someone elses book. Maybe I’m missing something, but isn’t that why the books are written?

                                                          Frankly, I crack up everytime I see a person with a copyright for something like , say, a quilt pattern. How many of our grandmothers made quilt patterns?? So this may be made out of clay, but did any of your grandmothers get credit for the quilt pattern? Mine didn’t. Actually, she would have been honored that you liked it so much and would have given it to you.

                                                          Copyrights are one thing but to me just plain common sense and courtesy goes a long way.

                                                          I’m just having fun claying…………. 🙂

                                                          Sandra

                                                          • reply Sandra ,

                                                            I just read the funniest thing…. a quote from Albert Einstein, it says……..

                                                            “The secret of creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”

                                                            Albert Einstein

                                                            🙂

                                                            • reply Aldona Grinius ,

                                                              Amen…….

                                                              • reply Polka Dot Creations » Blog Archive » More food for thought ,

                                                                […] And here’s one from just over one year ago, which just goes to show that this has been on the polymer clay community’s mind for some time (and will probably still be an issue down the road): This post from Polymer Clay Daily includes a lively, 30-comment-strong discussion of the topic. […]

                                                                • reply Dyan ,

                                                                  I have been looking for a good Halloween black Cat and can’t sem to find one, can anyone help me with this? I am making candle holders and candy containers and I really need this cute Cat charector. Dyan

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                                                                  • I'm Cynthia Tinapple, an artist, curator, and leader in the polymer clay community for over 20 years.

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