True to its character, this polymer clay chameleon from Doreen Gay-Kassel blended right in with the other files on my desktop. How lovely to rediscover it.

Doreen (we last visited her in July) says she’s got some other new works to be posted on her site soon so check back often.

On another note…

Who knew that the discussion about copying techiques and designs would cause such a dustup? Sometimes it takes a person with some distance to bring clarity.

Pörrö from Finland suggested that the community develop a list of basic techniques and designs that are public. In that way we begin to set some boundaries and allow students to produce their works without fear that they’ve violated some unspoken ethic. "Try to find out what we as community see as basic knowledge rather than unique design," says Pörrö. No need to write Judith Skinner each time you roll out a blend (though I’m sure she’d like to hear from you).

Thanks for all the comments and for maintaining civility throughout. NPCG president Judy Belcher says the board will be looking at this issue and your ideas help.

Donna Kato has a luscious new pod bead series on her art page. Go bask in the color.

  • reply Melanie West ,

    Lovely work on both Doreen’s and Donna’s part!

    I have to agree with Porro. It would be fantastic to have that kind of info, so we can tip our hats when called for. I don’t, however, envy the person(s) who take that task on. There are some dark sticky places there, I’m sure.

    And speaking of the NPCG, I saw your name on the Shrinemont attendee list, Cynthia. I’m looking forward to finally meeting you face to face! 🙂

    • reply Kira Slye ,

      I love talking about this stuff! I commented regarding Christi Friesen’s “ownership” of the critter concept on our blog, and she actually replied to that.
      I have mixed feelings regarding who owns ideas. I mean, when I comment on nature on my own website, to my friends, or to my guild, I don’t cite every Science Teacher I ever had….”I would like to thank Mr. Camacho, my HS biology teacher, for teaching me about the anatomy of the bullfrog, I would like to thank my Dad, a biology teacher, for teaching me about leaves….” If we credited every teacher we ever learned something from for everything we ever create, our thanks will start sounding like an Oscar acceptance speach.
      On the other hand, there are some things I just won’t teach to people because I don’t want them to “steal” my idea.
      I have a tutorial on my own website, for leaf canes- because I consider them standard PC knowledge.

      • reply Sherry Bailey ,

        I started a thread at PCC ( to discuss what might be on a list such as Porro recommended.

        This would probably be really helpful, and might help make people more aware that the polymer clay community is small and watchful!

        • reply River ,

          I went to the DK link and found, not a bead but a sweet little colt !! only a day old, she arrived with the feel of Spring; it’s over 70 here in Columbus today.


          • reply Jeanne Dumond ,

            Donna’s new pod beads have moved to page two of her My Art page. They are awesome! I agree, a basic knowledge list would be mighty helpful to all involved.

            • reply Trina Williams ,

              I am glad to see Porrro chiming in. She has been a member of many of the clay groups for as long as I have (12 years) and brings a great perspective to the discussion.
              For many of us it is a struggle to make certain techniques “our own” but I hope we would have sense enough to give credit where credit is due. And, of course, it is not the technique (which isn’t copyrightable) but what you do with it.
              It is interesting to note that two well known friends of mine who have had flat out copying are still going strong whereas the copiers fell by the wayside.

              • reply Judy Belcher ,

                Let me clarify what the NPCG board has been doing. We have been discussing, like many, the discussion. I personally think this is the best thing that can happen. If it is openly discussed in a polite and intelligent manner we all gain knowledge. That’s a great thing and one that will hopefully continue and therefore become less of an issue in the future.

                • reply Aldona Grinius ,

                  I ran across the book teaching the Donna Kato floral petal technique in a bookshop. As I flipped through it my reaction was, “Oh, Donna Kato’s florals….but not nearly as nicely done”, and I put it back… not thinking that it wasn’t attributed to her. This seems a thorny issue as people inside the polymer clay community would recognize copying more readily than the consuming public. The public only wants something that they see as attractive. One could say that a technique is a technique and is not copyrightable.If someone changes the palette, the shapes , the images, or the piece that it is applied to is it still your design? Who invented the spiral cane? I recognize that this sort of petal cane took a deliberate working out of the method. Superlative craftsmanship can make it sing.On the other hand some people appreciate a funky edge. I am not sure what the answer is. A discussion in a forum such as this could certainly help sensitize people to the issues. I flatter myself that I have enough imagination to make a method my own whilst not copying others, but that takes effort and lots of experimentation [ mileage I like to think of it ]. But then,I set up at a show with my newest designs, and a browser comes by, sees the occasional bit of spiral cane and blurts out” thats just like what ———- makes.You can’t seem to win.

                  • reply Mariane S. ,

                    Special mention for this Dona Kato’s beads I am fan … I am fan and SHE IS one of my teacher. If I do what I do now, it is gracious to her but there is something important for me to respect from the begining : her style and her own bead. I inspire me with her techniques but not poduce beads like “swiggle” for exemple. I won’t sell and produce pieces with it because it not belongs to me. I tried to work hard to find some very personal flower even if the inspiration came from her too. So If I all understand (my english is so bad …), having a basic knowledge list would be mighty helpful to all, and it would help artists to protect there work and researches.
                    In French it would be easier for me ;o)!

                    • reply Linda Linebaugh ,

                      Along the slime-line, check out the April 2007 Jewelry Crafs mag. On Page 18 is an article called “Hand Pieced Kaleidoscope Pin”. Pretty similar to someone else’s “Kaleidoscope Pin” which appeared on the front cover of Art Jewelry a few months past. Interesting that there is no by-line in the article. You have to go to the contents page to even find out who wrote the article. They really could have at least called it something else. It was really a bit much. Hard to know just how uninformed the editors are….OR…was it just slimey? Rip off the idea without the skill or finess. Isn’t that what usually happens?

                      I something think there is a little too much “technique” possessiveness in the polymer group. Everything has to be attributed to someone. Even if the process is totally intuitive to everyone who plays with a lump of clay. On the otherhand, there really is some limit to just how much people can copy and still have any personal integrity left. Sometimes I think that newbies will do anything to get published or accepted into a show, etc. Maybe their mothers should have taught them better. If the Jewelry Crafts people had NOT known, they would have at least listed the author up front. To me, that is slime.

                      • reply Xana ,

                        Great work from both, Doreen and Donna.
                        The colors are amazing :o)

                        • reply Pörrö ,

                          Interesting. You never know where the pandoras box is until you open it 🙂

                          I must continue with few things: first of all I too think mostly everything in the art has been done before and will be done again and again. The originality of ideas in clay are mostly original from the point of material use – some of the great techniques in clay are actually adaptions from techniques from other materials.

                          What I ment about “technique vs. design” might need some example of where I am coming from: Some think caning is a technique as total and using it anyway you know and like is ok. Then there are some that think that some teached and published cane pictures are designs and should not be used in works sold by others. But when the straight question “what do you think this is, a technique or design” is not asked it is IMO much harder to even get anywhere from the point of confusion. So to have discussion – not war – is very very welcomming and healing I think.

                          BTW, I dont believe in gray in this community. Usually we are in every colour of rainbow when we dare to ask the question.

                          The other point is the one that Scott started on is basically the same ole “art vs. craf” one we have been having years.

                          From my perspectieve it took years of common discussion and joined efforts of people around world to invent and try all the stuff most everyone today can find from the internet in the first day they buy a packet of clay. When I started there was no information. I did clay for some years withouth internet and tried most everything I could come up. When I found the polyclay community (small one back then, on news mostly) most of the things I did were pretty similar to others. I too invented pastamachine with clay, i too found Mirror images, colour mixing, did faux stones etc. before even knowing any other clayers. When I started on the news and lists I found out that some of my working habbits had great difference to those that the small starting American community had found. I think we all learned from eachother – even from others mistakes as we were sharing them as quickly as we made them. We felt like exploreres of clay – and boy did we inspire eachother to try more, to make changes to the ideas.

                          But now when a person buys their first packet of clay they already have tons of information – way more they need and want – available with any google search. The starting point is very different and that has both advantages and disadvantages.

                          I have been there, among many contributers in this discussion, and I have seen how the community grew and how we all first just crafted, then the community started to get to the “we want this to be considered as artform” stage. And now after years of common work polymer clay is regonized medium even for art, not just crat.

                          Polymer clay work is no only art, it is not only craft but both. Now we are trying to have best of both worlds: have teahniques widely available for all the crafters while still being able to make unique art. There are very different kinds of users of clay nowadays. As there are teachers. Some teach – much like they teach any other crafts – everything they have learned similar to teachers who teach mathematics or biology. Others are artists that teach the way artists teach: concept, design, use of material, technique as starting point to something unique and different.

                          In my opinion polymer clay is the 3D paint of this century.
                          Not all the students are crafters. Not all the students are artists. In other mediums the teacher most ofthen chooses either audience to their teaching.

                          Long rant about life, clay and everything in Cynthias space again. I could have been shorter, but then again those who know me by now, also know that any short note from me starts from 5000 words 🙂
                          Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk among wise and creative thinkers.

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