It’s not okay to copy

teapots_copyrightIn the past couple of months I have written blogs regarding Angel Policies and copyright issues. Angel Policies are permission to use products in your crafts that you make and sell.  I have questioned some of the policies because these are products that are produced in large quantities that are sold in stores, brick-and-mortar and online. The intent behind these products is for the consumer to buy and use. I’m not quite sure that the use of these items falls into the “fair use” copyright category for all crafters, but you are actually buying a product, not a license.  When you buy an individual item you can do whatever you want with it except make a copy and distribute it. However, you have to respect the rights of the artist, and always give credit.

In researching copyright law, I have come across a few message boards and blogs from artists who are concerned about individuals copying their work. Don’t copy, it is against the law. You can use photos for inspiration, but your work cannot look like the photo. I saw one instance where an artist was sued because he had created a ceramic piece that was an identical copy of a photo. The artist did not have the rights to the photo and lost his case because he “made a copy.” I have also seen some examples where individual jewelry makers have seen some of their work reproduced, sometimes in large quantities, without their permission. In fact, there is a lawsuit in progress regarding an artist who lost a large commission because somebody had used an image of one his paintings and used it on merchandise sold online. The commission was lost because the image was no longer considered unique.

What really concerns me is that I have seen more than one comment on a message board stating that the individual “never buys anything on Etsy” they just “figure out how to do it and make it.” Again, this is against the law because not only is the item made copyrighted, but the photos are as well. Also, it is not fair to the artist who has spent a lot of time, effort and materials to create the item that you “copy.”

I purchase fabric and have several subscriptions to quilting magazines that I use in making my quilts. Most of these are given to friends and family. I do, however, create my own designs, since most patterns are geometric and easy to create. A lot of quilt designs are based on blocks that are in the public domain. And I don’t buy “licensed” fabric, so I am not restricted on how I can use the fabric.

Things are not so simple in my cardmaking. I like quality paper. Home printers cannot print with the paper, inks and finishes that commercial printing provides. I don’t have the money to be able to have my own designs produced in large quantities. You won’t see me use a crafting design CD in my work because of copyright and quality issues. I don’t have the artistic skills to create the beautiful designs on the paper and stamps, so I purchase items that have the design and quality that I prefer. I always give credit to the company or designer, and I always abide by the Angel Policy. And I never make copies, I hand stamp individual pieces of art.

Respect the artist, and if you can afford it, buy the item. The phrase “starving artist” is not just a saying.

The teapot design at the top of my blog was inspired by an image of a teapot, but it was entirely created in Adobe Illustrator by figuring out the geometric shapes and combining them into a teapot shape. There was no tracing involved in this artwork.

Crafting Without Restrictions

crafterspledgeI am a crafter. I make small quilted items and cards. I rely on the creativity of others to produce materials that I use in crafting. I have a nice, big stash of fabric and paper. When I get my creativity juices flowing, I end up with a nice big stash of handmade greeting cards and table runners. In the past I have given away most of the things that I made. Sometimes I receive a request to make a particular item.  My friends and family most often are the recipients of the things that I make (welcome or unwelcome, they are too nice to say no). As I live in a different state from most of my family, I have no idea whether or not they actually use or display the things I make. Ignorance is bliss, and I keep making stuff.

To spare my family from being overburdened by my creative efforts, I have opened a shop on Etsy. If you are curious, my shop name is Pretty Colorful. WordPress frowns on my putting up an actual link to my shop, and I like to abide by rules, mostly because I don’t like to get into trouble. Keeping with this philosophy of staying out of trouble, I have been very careful of copyright laws regarding crafts. It appears that there are artistic people in the world that are a little overzealous in maintaining their intellectual property rights. I have read comments  from people who are concerned about being able to sell items made from purchased patterns and fabric.  Why on earth would anyone want to restrict people from making and selling things from patterns and fabric? The quilting world has very few restrictions. The manufacturers want us to use their fabric, and to be honest, most of the quilting blocks are in public domain. But for heaven’s sake, who do you think buys the patterns and fabric? Restricting an individual from selling an item made from purchased pattern or fabric is not helping the artist with their own business. Honestly, you have to wonder what goes on in people’s heads these days.

Many companies that make products for use in paper crafting have “angel policies.” I recently wrote a blog on angel policies (https://prettycolorful.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/when-angel-policies-are-just-plain-silly/). I only purchase products from companies that have a liberal angel policy. A company or artist may produce some wonderful things, but if they place restrictions on how their items can be used, that places restrictions on my own creativity. I recently read  the angel policy from one company that only allows the consumer to make things to sell ( in limited quantities and restricted venues) to have the end product only contain items from their product line. Needless to say, I will never purchase anything from this company, mainly because I use items from more than one company in my cards. I often use products from two or three different companies in just one card.

I respect every artist’s right to protect their designs and not just because of copyright law.  But, if you don’t want someone to make something with your artwork, be it paper, stamps, punches, or whatever, why on earth are you allowing the manufacture of your designs? Crafters like to use pretty things to make even prettier things. We are artists too. We often come up with unique ways of presenting images and words in our own creations. If I see a scrapbook page or card that uses an image or paper that I like, I will buy it (unless, of course, it has a restrictive or nonexistent angel policy). That means that there is one less consumer for your product, and I am pretty sure that there are other crafters who think just like me.

Quick and Easy Butterfly Theme Card

hunkydory_pyramage_finalI have fallen in love with Hunkydory Crafts card kits. They are not so easy to come by here in America, but they are working on availability of shipping their beautiful kits to America by the end of 2014. For my readers in the UK, you have many options of places to purchase the kits, primarily at http://www.hunkydorycrafts.co.uk. I have made my purchases from www.paperwishes.com, but I have to be honest with you, the last few blog posts I made about directions on making a Hunkydory card, the kits sold out.

This is a tutorial on how to make a “pyramage” card from Hunkydory’s Twilight Butterflies luxury card kit. The cards are a beautiful die-cut scalloped shape and there are 4 cards that can be made from this kit titled “Twilight Dance” and “Twilight Flight.” The card is reminiscent of a shadow box. The front frames the layers of die-cuts foam taped on the inside of the card. The end result is like a pyramid in shape, thus the “pyramage” title for the technique. The card only takes about 5 minutes to make. This card is absolutely beautiful, and no one will know that it comes together very quickly. It looks like you spent a lot of time making this card

The cards come in jewel tones of magenta, purple, gold and black. I chose to make the purple card from the “Twilight Dance” die cut sheet. The die-cut pieces from this kit are exquisitely foiled in gold. Hunkydory is famous for its foiled cardstock and paper. The kit also includes four 6-inch white envelopes. The cards measure about 5 ¾ inches square.

Supplies Needed

  • Twilight Butterflies Pyramage Kit
  • Glue
  • Foam squares, preferably ones that are only about 1/8 inch high
  • Ivory ribbon bow

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Carefully punch out the center die cut from the front of the purple scalloped-shaped card. This can be used in another project. Punch out the two purple butterfly die-cuts. If you look closely, you will see that each one of the die cuts has a smaller die-cut; punch out each of the smaller die-cuts so that you have four die-cuts that you will layer.

Step one: carefully glue the largest die cut to the inside of the card, it helps to close the card front frame so you can see where to place the frame shape. This die-cut is slightly larger than the opening on the card front.

Step two: apply foam squares to the back side of the next largest die-cut. Layer this shape on the die-cut that is glued to the inside of the card. Line up the edges of the die-cut with the artwork on the bottom layer.

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Step three: repeat the application of foam tape and layering process with the next size die cut. You can see the pyramid layer shape starting to form.

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Step four: apply a couple of foam squares to the back of the final die cut shape. Aligning this last shape can be a little tricky. You can really see the 3D effect on the card now.

To finish the card I glued an ivory ribbon bow to the inside, and I chose the “Just for you” purple die-cut from the die-cut sheet an applied it to the lower left corner of the front of the card.

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Just as a reminder, the finished size of this card is slightly less than 6 inches square, and US postal regulations require additional postage for odd-shaped cards. I would just slap another stamp on the envelope; you should have no problem mailing it. The card easily fits into the envelope,

I decided to mix up the die-cuts for the rest of the cards; I put the black die-cuts on the magenta card base, the magenta die-cuts on the gold card base, and the gold die-cuts on the black card base. You can have a lot of  fun playing with this kit.