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Thursday, January 27, 2011



Thank you for an excellent post, Deryn.

Out of courtesy, I feel I should let you know that I have blogged about this post on my own blog (http://silverlight-whiteleaf.blogspot.com/2011/02/copyright-what-not-to-do.html), linking back to this post and crediting you as the author of this post. I would have done a trackback but unfortunately my Blogspot blog does not seem to support them.

Thanks again for an illuminating post.

Diana Frey

Bravo! Well said Deryn.


I agree exact copies are off-limits but similiar pieces are what happens when you teach a technique from sample pieces. If folks don't want recognizable clones then limit your classes to techniques only.

Christine Damm

I'm not surprised that you could reprise this idea-- written about so frequently-- and still have comments that are so insightful and eloquent. And to say it like a lady! Civility is a sadly-neglected art for sure in our culture. I, too, have been appalled by people who think that copying a design from the Sundance catalog is ok because there's no designer listed. (If nobody's watching, is it still shop-lifting??) I think the most telling thing you point out is that not making it your own hurts you more than the person who you are copying.

Lori Anderson

Beautifully said.

Lori Burek

Wonderful advice for students ... not enough students go beyond what they can do - not to offend anyone. But yes put your voice into your work and let it sing!
Lori B.


Fantastic post Deryn. This is definitely a tricky issue that deserves to be spoken about openly. Your discussion was direct but at the same time so positive. Well done.


kerfluffle - I like the sound of that - kerfluffle - like feathers flying around in the air...
Well, this is a topic that will pop up again and again and again. Apparently, there is a need for it. Thank you for sharing.

Deryn Mentock

Kay...about the Towers and Turrets class... of course I would expect our students to want to make what they learned. I totally get that students would want to make and sell them, but my hope is that they will take it and run with it...make it their own. I'm sure they don't want to sell clones of what I make, anyway! Of course, the combination of techniques and the class concept belong to Sharon and I which is what I was referring to with my "off limits" comment. Thanks so much for weighing in!

Erin Prais-Hintz

A very impassioned and concrete piece to think about, Deryn. I think that it bears repeating from time to time. It takes a lot of work to come up with a new idea, to put your soul into teaching, not just the time to write and create but each creation has a little bit of you. I agree that your creations are like your children. I want mine to be admired and respected and seen for their true beauty, but they are mine alone. I try to encourage others to see that while they may be attracted by the light of someone they see shining brightly that they have their own light that may be hidden under a bushel basket waiting for the right chance to shine forth. And when they do, then I will reflect that back to them. Learning new techniques and having the confidence to play with materials and make them my own is something that I hope I do in my artistic expressions. There are so many ways to internalize the inspirations that we see and process them and put something completely different out there. A lot of times I think it comes down to a lack of confidence. If all you do is take that thing you admire and copy it, you are definitely stealing, but you are also not trusting your instincts to grow in your own artistry. I have been seeing a lot of people in blogs saying they saw a jewelry design at Anthropologie or Coldwater Creek or wherever and then making it for themselves. Is that really any different than taking that idea from an independent artist? I think not. You can be inspired by that piece you see in the catalog or store, but to take it and copy it is just as insidious. Make it your own! Take the best parts and make it better! But for goodness sake, put your own soul into it. No one wants to be a knock-off.

I wrote a post myself last August that I come back to time and again called Artistic Influence that addresses the idea of inspiration.

Thank you for sharing this great letter and your own thoughts into this dialogue.

Enjoy the day!


Well said and thank you for saying this. I like that you put this into context. I also greatly appreciate that you put a positive spin on this rather prickly issue, by offering up encouragement and support for creative growth. I also like the word kerfluffle a lot. It should be used more often :-)

Kay Mallery

Copyright is certainly a sticky issue. It seems to me that most of us rely more on other artists' moral character than the law, which can be expensive to enforce (in terms of both money and time).

Some artists' egos are both quite large but fragile at the same time and it amazes me how many don't realize the difference between technique and design. It can be a real eye-opener to visit a museum jewelry exhibit and see how many techniques and design principles are actually downright ancient.

I'm sure there are artists out there who overlook what appears to be copying of their work on a small scale, i.e. a couple of pieces on Etsy. However, all the millions of images we've seen throughout our lives (some longer than others) can come together to influence what one person believes is a unique design, while others may find it vaguely familiar. I have had instances (more than one) where I've made what I thought was uniquely my own, only to subsequently see something very close published in a magazine. Of course, since my piece wasn't published, there can be no accusation of copying -- I can only go back to my beliefs about the existence of a universal intelligence.

Deryn, I agree with your post in general with the exception of the pendants from the Towers and Turrets class. I'm assuming that when you say they are "off limits," you are speaking about exact copies of the designs pictured. Certainly the variety of techniques taught so beautifully by you and Sharon will be seen again. Although I personally have not completed even one piece from the class, I would hope others are out there creating and selling them; there is so much imagination and variation possible that I would hate to see wasted.

Rita Ackerman

Thank you so much for posting this blog. It is very easy to understand and will be useful to many.

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