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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Perfecting

I've done three of the "no bail" pieces so far. The last one came out so beautifully that I couldn't wait to share it with the world. I listed it on Etsy last night.

Each of the three pieces have been a little different, in terms of technique. By the third one, I had worked out the best way to make a very functional and visually pleasing bail. It is also a little smaller. My first two were larger than they needed to be. As a result, the pendant hangs even more beautifully. I'm really pleased with the last revision. But, I will make a few more to see if I need or want to make any further refinements before I start thinking about a tutorial.

Is this style called a "slide" pendant? I can't quite figure this out for myself, despite looking online for an answer. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place.

Beautiful Willow Creek Jasper
(I don't know why blogger darkens my images!)



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Inspiration or Theft? Intellectual Property Rights

According to Merriam Webster online-- Inspiration : something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone

I was inspired by a post on facebook by Perri Jackson, of ShaktipajDesigns, wire wrapper extraordinaire and super hero for Intellectual Property Rights. (You know you are, Perri! :) ) Though, I am not as eloquent as she, I'd like to finally make a post on the subject myself.

When I began wire wrapping, there weren't the resources there are now. (There also weren't as many styles of wire working!) As I have said before, I started with Preston Reuther and some of his videotapes on wire sculpting. However, the true worth of those old videos were to inspire me to do my own thing.

Early in my career and still to this day, to a lesser extent, I collected online images of work that I liked. I never had a conscious notion of copying any of them. I just liked them. They were eye candy. They were inspiring. I'm sure most of you have a folder or two on your hard drive with images that just struck you for one reason or another.

The problem with my images, is that over time, I have forgotten who did what and where I got what image. Now, I save webpages instead. They give me more information about the artist. Why is that important? Because I want to give credit to an artist, if an artist has inspired something that I do.

But, that was not always the case. Early on, I had no real clear ideas about what Intellectual Property Rights were. It, honestly, never occurred to me that there was a human being behind that creative thought along with many hours of brainstorming, frustration and work. They were just images. No more, no less. I mean, I did stop and think, "Man, I really like this girl's work." But, I didn't put two and two together that she OWNED that idea.

It's not because I am a bad person that I ignored the effort and time that someone else invested in their work. Rather, I was ignorant. I was in my own little corner of the planet, harmlessly collecting eye candy and hopefully being inspired by some to create something of my own.

I never deliberately copied anyone. Just as a child knows not to steal, I knew not to outright copy someone else's work. To me it is the same as cheating in a game. If you win, it's not really much fun, is it? I mean, did you really win? No. You didn't. The same is true if you copy someone's work. It's cheating and you can't claim any credit for winning. That much probably seems clear to a lot of people- at least the honest ones.

What happens when some of that eye candy influences what you do? Maybe, the image was in the back of your mind while your hands were busy working and you aren't even really aware of it. Maybe, when you were finished with your piece, bells started going off and you realized that you have seen something like that before? It happens. It happens more often than most people will admit.

What do you do? Well, if you have the name of the artist, you only share your work with the caveat that it was inspired by so and so. Hopefully, the only thing you did was unconsciously duplicate a technique to use in your own work. That is, actually and legally, acceptable because you can not claim a technique as your own. You can claim your design as your own, though.

The tricky part comes in when you look objectively at your work. If someone didn't know it was yours, would they recognize it as the other artist's work? If so, you have copied their work. Yup, you did. Maybe you didn't realize it, but you did. If not, then congratulations! You have taken eye candy from another artist and used it to create something truly your own. You should still give the artist credit for inspiring you. Yes. Because it is the right thing to do and, believe you me, you would want the same thing done for you.

With the explosion of handmade jewelry and the availability of the internet to virtually everyone, sharing your work online can be frustrating and sometimes down right heart breaking. I have a unique style. One that is immediately recognizable. Lots of people are inspired by it. I get very nice emails on a daily basis from fellow wire artists.

Some messages are not so nice. Consider one email that I got that threatened that if I didn't want to sell my book or tutorials anymore then she would just have to steal them online somewhere. Or, how about the people that want more pictures because they ADMITTEDLY want to duplicate your work? I have had people who, at first, loved my work until I declined a custom job at their price, only to be personally and professionally berated and belittled for it. Or, how about the people who ask specific questions about a technique, get a time involved, detailed, generous explanation-- without so much as a thank you?? Yes, some people are nasty.

I want people to understand- there are human beings behind the work you see. We feel. We work hard. We think, plan and practice. We do not have to share anything, but we do. And it hurts our feelings to know that we get so little respect for our humanity and creations that people would blatantly steal from us and, in some cases, gloat about it, right to our face. I use the plural because I know, for a fact, that I am not the only artist that this happens to.

Yes, we have heard that we need a tougher skin. (As if we are guilty of something and need to be fixed.) No. We don't need to suck it up. People should just NOT steal from us or be mean spirited for no good reason. My mother didn't spend all that time in labor just so someone can abuse me, my work and my intellectual property rights.

You should not put up with abuse, either. Put your name on your images. If you see someone whose work is just a little too close to your own, send them a simple, polite note stating that you are happy to have inspired them and that you would appreciate credit for it. Yes, I have done it. I have also contacted other artists whose work was being copied and let them know about it. Many really big artists are copied all the time. It is easy to spot. It is much easier than the guilty party imagines. 

You know what? Just remember the Golden Rule- Treat others as you would have them treat you. Be honest and expect honesty from others.

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My admission:

Years ago, I ran across a style on eBay that really intrigued me. I downloaded an image and forgot about it. Then one day, I was perusing my eye candy and decided to give the technique a try. At first, I didn't think to give credit because I didn't know any better. After I realized that I should, I was confronted with the fact that I didn't know the artist's name. It wasn't on the image. I had no idea how to find the name, so I gave credit to an unnamed artist from eBay.

Please! Put some kind of information on your images.

The original eye candy
My inspired piece




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wire Wrapped Bails and Not

Bet y'all thought I was gone for good, huh? LOL! Well, I'm baaaaaack....

I'm sure you can relate. I was in a slump. I wasn't making anything new. I was boring myself to death. Cabbing was taking up a lot of my time and energy and then I got bored with that and felt a renewed interest in wire work. I decided that I would try to take a new approach to break from my shell. As y'all know, my work doesn't incorporate a lot of coiling, weaving and curls. So, my options were pretty limited. Time to think outside the box. What can I do that is even more minimal?




Enter- the "bailess pendant". Yes, of course, it has a bail, but it is behind the piece. It hangs very well, too. Then I thought- OK, what about a different kind of bail?




Enter- the double bail. This was murder to do! But, the next one will be easier and I have a few things I want to try differently, too. 

For the first time in a very, very long time, I am considering doing another tutorial. But, since they are so time consuming for me, I can't predict when it will happen. I was thinking of doing one for the bailess pendant. I think it has a lot of possibilities, which I intend to explore. And that's just what I am off to do.

Thanks for reading along. :)