Thursday, March 20, 2008

Oh NO!!

The polymer clay community has been consumed recently with issues of copying, infringement, ethics, inspiration, etc. So imagine my distress this morning when I followed a link on a blog and found this photo (right) on Tina Holden's blog. I was upset because, totally on my own, without ever seeing Tina's lovely work, I have produced almost identical items! Since Tina posted her image sometime yesterday, even if I had seen it then, I would have had to scramble to find shells and a sand dollar, make molds and produce polymer clay copies. Proof that great minds think alike. Yet, if I put my items for sale on Etsy, I'm sure someone would accuse me of blatant copying. (However, I seriously doubt the two of us are the first to make PC shells from molds.)

My shells below:
I returned from scuba diving in the Caribbean a couple of months ago with some shells and a sand dollar and immediately made molds of them. My sand dollar isn't perfect, so I need to do some more work to make the mold the way I want it. I finished some small shell earrings (center in photo)and experimented with different coloring for the big shell. I put a ring in the white one so I can string it. In addition to my plans for making some simple earrings and necklaces, I also made some faux black coral and I was planning to make a starfish and some other creatures, like sea fans or sea urchins, and then combine a bunch of the pieces into an elaborate necklace. I just have some preliminary sketches of that. But I checked out Tina's Etsy site today and she has some nice starfish and fish items and Just Jewelry showed sterling silver sea fans on the 18th. I was going to try making them with liquid clay....

I know all the discussion of what constitutes copying is having a distressing effect on me as I struggle to "find my own voice" and I hope it is not causing anyone to forego pursuing their ideas.


  1. Oh NO!! lol
    Waving to 'ya Clayamie!
    Gera knows me so well. She's right. Living by the ocean here, so its a pretty constant muse, but bet there are many getting ready to make shells and 'dollars, no matter where they are. After a wet/cold winter we're all anxious to bring a bit of spring and summer into our lives. omg...the word "spring" brought another thing to mind...spring cleaning!

  2. Making shell molds is a pretty common practice, I think. It was one of the first things I did in my early days of clay. They didn't look as nice as yours or Tina's though (which is why I have moved on to other things, LOL!) It's the personal touches you add after the mold is made that make the pieces unique. But I'm sure you already knew that :-)

    It's really a shame that so many of us are so sensitive about being perceived as copycats. I've never worried much about that, since I know my own heart and where my work comes from. That approach has had its drawbacks at least once, but I don't intend to change it.

  3. How funny that you both have the creative need for shells at the same time. Thanks for showing the pictures of your molds.

    You are correct that we shouldn't be afraid to show what we are making. There will always be some similarities.

  4. People have made jewelry items from seashells, and everything else possible to use that can be made to look like a seashell. I think you are safe in the seashell department of creation.

  5. Hi Cynthia,
    when replicating natural shapes like a seashell, the issue of copyright is pretty moot. Nature created shells, and we freely admit to copying the forms and colors! Many pc artists have already "been there, done that". I hve a how-to for making faux seashells and coral in my book "Create A Polymer Clay Impression, and its been out for years. Nor was I the first (or the last)to think of it; we all take inspiration from nature and nobody holds that copyright--only the writing and photos get to have copyrights applied!

  6. Great post-- the only people who have an honest right to rant about copying are the ones who can absolutely, positively say that they never, ever did anything derivative. And that's nobody, of course. All art is derivative.