Are you an etsy pirating bootlegger? Or whatever. And a giveaway.

March 12, 2009

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of the talent and creativity out there.  All the time and effort put into every piece of art is priceless.  Except, sometimes it’s really pricey!  My trolling through etsy brings me to countless treasures that I covet. Problem is, I can’t afford many of the handmade items I find.  But, I can certainly snag the materials from local craft fabric store and make it myself.   I respect copyrights and have never copied a pattern.  To be honest, I don’t know much about patterns.  You see, I am what you would call a novice crafter. I’m pretty much wingin’ it here.   Nope, you won’t be reading about new additions to my online shop.   I probably won’t be having one.  Won’t see you at the next cool modern craft fair.  I can’t put something like that together.  I craft for myself personally and it is strictly experimental.  They should have a group for people like me, to keep us from getting in too deep.  I hear this stuff is highly addictive.

But has anyone ever been contacted over a copyright?  Do you check out similar items to yours for sale on etsy to check out the competition?  For example, search etsy for, the new favorite on my wish list, the log shaped pillow:

They are all different, but all in all, it’s just a pillow shaped like a log.

That’s pretty much why I don’t have my own shop.   It is unreasonable for me to think that someone else wouldn’t be able to recreate (or make better, for that matter) something that I could put together or paint with my own hands.  How would I know if you made something that I made for your home or child that brought a smile to their face.   I don’t know you, don’t know you exist, wouldn’t know your recreated craft existed.   I love it when I see people’s blogs or flickr sites and they adamantly state “My work is copyrighted, do not recreate in any form, blah, blah, blah!” when actually their stuff loosely resembles something I’ve seen on kidrobot or deviantArt, etc.   I’ve got some things I’ve made and my 9 year old nephew in Canada tells me it looks just like ….. Well, I don’t play video games or watch Cartoon Network. So, guess I can’t post pictures of those.

I understand that selling art is often one’s financial lifeline, especially in these times. Any public library contains patterns and instructions for basic sewing and crafts.   Most items are not difficult to recreate without instructions.   I’m not talking about knitting or crocheting, cause I am an extremely amateur knitter, and that stuff is hard.  But seriously though, someone needs to buy a pattern of how to make a pizza out of felt?  That’s like needing to buy a pattern to make an actual pizza.  Does giving your plush creation a name and mythical background  history make it sell more?  Am I the only one that can’t believe how much someone is trying to charge for a felt cut out?  Felt is only 20¢.   There are so many sites that offer free tutorials:

Lit’l Brown Bird’s Ideas
Poopscape
The Long Thread
One Pretty Thing

I’m sure I will get a lot of flack for writing about all this.  I love handmade.  But when does it become a rip-off?   Listen, I just learned how to sew and if I can tell how you made something just by looking at it, I’m not buying your pattern that you will email to me for $10.  But if your craft business pays the mortgage, groceries, kid’s schooling and health insurance, then please call me.

My inspiration comes from the following story:

When I was in high school, my best friend’s older brother was in college and his girlfriend met Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam.  I know, I know, but true story, really. He was at a coffee house in Chicago while on tour and they met and talked about politics.   She said the girlfriend said Vedder was all about sharing.   He said that if you liked their music, don’t buy the albums.   Make a tape from someone who already had the music or get songs from the radio.  I doubt he would say that now, what with all the lawsuits and everything.  And for the record, growing up, when my house finally upgraded to a stereo system with a CD player, the first compact disc I ever purchased just happened to be Ten.

So, most of the time we create something that brings happiness and makes the world a better more beautiful place. That’s what it’s all about.  It doesn’t have to be perfect to bring joy. You can’t put a price on that.

Anyway, part of the whole DIY movement is the actual encouragement of doing it yourself. Moving on to: daaa, da da, daaaaa!

THE GIVEAWAY!

My first one.  Here it is.  One person gets all things.  3 items below based on things that other people craft and sell all the time.

The rules are simple:

Just leave me one comment with your thoughts.  No need for cordiality, urban craft is a freezone.  I swear (to God) here and so can you.  Make sure I get some kind of contact for you, cause I will contact you if you are the winner.  I won’t make you come back and check to see if you have won.

You DO NOT need to have a blog or linkback to this blog or anything.  If you do have a blog, let me know.  I’d love to check it out.

I’m going to leave this giveaway open for some time.  I know I hate it when I just find someone’s blog and have missed their giveaway by like a day.  Let’s say the last day for comments will be Sunday, April 19th.  That gives you enough time to finish up on your projects, finish that swap you got going.  And file those taxes.  Oh, make sure you put those etsy sales as earned income. On the next day, depending on the number of commenters, I will either pull numbers from a bowl or randomizer it.

Otherwise, if you can make this:

mini felt ninja

 

Mini red felt ninja plushie for your kimono clad Blythe or Pulip with real button eyes. (I don’t have one of those dolls, BTW.  I have a hard enough time finding clothes for myself, my son, and my husband let alone try to pimp out an inanimate object. But just as soon as I get a daughter, she’ll have one with a whole handmade estate.)

or this:

Urban Craft keychain

Felt cityscape keychain crafted in the style of my blog header.  Don’t worry, I’m sure the valet at the new hip restaurant you go to won’t want to steal it.

or this?
needle felted sushi

Set of felt sushi, mmmm.  Get those little ones started early on loving their omegas.  

Well, if you can, then you’ll save yourself around $32 plus shipping for similar items. Good Luck and thanks!

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85 Responses to “Are you an etsy pirating bootlegger? Or whatever. And a giveaway.”

  1. Casey said

    I’ll take the sushi.It’s cute. I can’t make things so Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. Heidi said

    I definitely look to my fellow artists for inspiration for my personal crafting. I would not sell an item that I had “pirated” the design of, but I do use them to develop my skills.
    I make no apologies when I see an awesome necklace made with a silk poppy that is selling for $70 that I can duplicate in about 11 minutes with $2 worth of scrap materials.
    I will probably also pirate your adorable ninja. :)

  3. Sumaiya said

    hello! Love the article made me laugh i also like the Mini red felt ninja it’s very cute!

    thanks for the opportunity!

  4. That adorable Ninja, it’s Jean Claude Van Damme isnt it…go on admit it (it’s even the same height) and the Sushi, blatant Bert n’ Ernie from Sesame Street, I could tell by the hair….Ok so you changed the hair to green but I still recognise it!
    The citiscape? That was all to obvious, it’s a copy of a photo I saw on Flikr once.. a dead crow with an orange beak lies next to a pool, the stone that killed him has just hit the water behind…

    See I worked them all out!
    Nic xxx

  5. simi said

    Hello!
    Your felt sushi is delightful I must say! You are very humble about your crafting skills, yet I see a good amount of skill and innovation here!
    I really enjoyed this post. I do agree that certain items on etsy are overpriced…as a crafter/arty farty type myself I do understand the need to make a little something back for the work I put in, but in all honesty, it can be discouraging for a potential customer if the items seem too expensive….. I too have looked at certain things and thought “Oh My! I love that!….but not for that price…” and have subsequently, like yourself decided i can make it my damn self then!
    I’m in the midst of setting up an etsy shop (I was on eBay before…but the fees! Fuuuuuuuck!), and I have indeed noticed similarites between MANY items.
    I’m not TOO precious about people selling similar looking items to me, because ALL creative people take their inspiration where they can find it.
    I’m a big fan of knocking off ideas from things I see in magazines etc. too. DIY is something i would encourage to all.
    It’s so true, your point about having to buy a pattern of something when it is so bleeding obvious how to put that shit together just by looking at it!
    Although, scary as it is, some people really are clueless when it comes to that sort of thing so I guess it’s a good way to cash in :) (I think if i was going to offer instructions i wouldn’t be able to bring myself to charge people for it though!…)
    Hmmm yes- a very thought provoking post! I could write more, but it will turn into an essay and will undoubtedly be very boring to read….but you seem like a girl after my own heart, so methinks I’m going to start following you!
    I don’t mean your blog- like actually stalking you in person..*insert heavy breathing*.. haha! No just kidding! Here in Bloggyland only!
    *but ironically raises eyebrows up and down*

    Hehe. i just got a chuckle from Nicola Callows comment up there re: sesame street sushi :)

  6. julia said

    I’m enjoying your blog! I pretty well agree…I also love handmade AND I love that so many people can put so much great and inspiring and lovely and well crafted stuff to sell. But, I almost always draw my ispiration from other’s work. Can’t say I’ve had an original idea maybe ever! But I love to put things together and end up with a new thing! (bits of fabric=a new bit of fabric with a new shape-it’s great!)(p.s. love the ninja-super cute!)

  7. inki said

    Lovin’ that felt sushi! You bring up some good points with your article. I think it is inherent in crafting/DIY to get inspiration from others or make something for cheaper. However, just as Simi says, some people have no idea how to do certain crafts or don’t have the time or whatever, and are willing to pay the price. And that’s where etsy, etc. comes in, I guess.

  8. Tonje said

    Hi. I liked your post… And I totally agree that a lot of people overpice their handmade items, but with that said… I find the hardest part of selling my handmade things is pricing them. What is too expensive? When is it so cheap that people think it’s just rubbish (it has to be because it’s a lot cheaper than other similar items… right?)… I like giving away my handmade stuff though… but that don’t give me any money to buy stuff to make stuff with… lol… I think I’ll just leave it there…

  9. beingbeatrice said

    Your post made me laugh & is very very true!

    Ive only been crafting about a year & I do have an etsy shop which has some pretty unique stuff in it but then again I also make things you see over & over.. ie. plushie monsters!

    Like you I couldn’t follow a pattern if i tried & therefore everything has come out of my head, even if inspired by something else I saw!

    Love the felt sushi set,

    Caz x

    http://beingbeatrice.wordpress.com

  10. I really enjoyed reading this post! Firstly: I love buying homemade and one-of-a-kind stuff on Etsy and other similar places. :) That being said, I also love sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc things myself, and I’m pretty sure I draw inspiration from all my hours on Etsy when I create. The felt owl in my latest post is definitely inspired by my Etsy-browsing, as thos e owls are everywhere these days! It may look very similar to someone else’s owl, but then again – I kinda think many of the owls out there look very much the same. :)

    So – yeay for Etsy and yeay for getting inspired by other artists! :)

    Love your blog BTW :)

  11. bex said

    i like what you wrote on your blog…i tend to sell my stuff in actual sales…ive sold a few bits on folksy but not enough to right home about really. i love buttons and make jewellery out of them, alot of the time this is just buttons on some string with a little clasp on the ends. i feel a bit funny about selling this on the internet because it is something which someone could soo easily do themselves. if i did sell it on the internet i definatly wouldn’t sell them for alot at all, i know what you meanit is troublesome when you see something made from a felt which is super simple yet priced soo hi.
    i enjoyed reading this post (sorry you missed out on my giveaway!) take care
    bex
    x

  12. Jaina said

    I like this post, there are some strong points to ponder on about world of craft selling. :)

    I love the felt sushi set too. Anyway, happy crafting everyone!

  13. Theresia said

    Hi,
    Love reading your blog and your work and will definitely stop by very often!
    warm regards from the UK!

  14. Kenyetta said

    Your post is so dead on! I “try” to support handmade but I don’t know, $10 for a pdf is ridiculous! Anyone can make a felt pizza, so how can it be pirated!? My stuff in my etsy, are things my girls made- if it sells they keep the money if not I paid $2 for 4 months!

  15. kneek said

    Argh. I just paid $10 for a pdf this afternoon. It was actually in a friend’s shop, another blogger, a mother who has little time for herself and I want to support. Yes, I have free tutorials on my blog. Yes, I volunteer for my kids’ school and the local women’s shelter. I give stuff away for free all the time. But I also count on the fact that we live surrounded by inspiration and we absorb our inspiration by osmosis.
    Great piece. Well said.

  16. Rain said

    I love how open you are and I totally agree with you, some things are just way way overpriced and ridiculously so. Glad to know that someone in the blogosphere finally upped and said it out loud. But yes, there are also some really talented owners on etsy who come up with awesome stuff.

    I’m glad I blog-hopped today and found yours =)

  17. Caroline B said

    Hi – judging by the above post, you will be teaching yourself to knit pretty soon! I agree that if you are perfectly capable then it is easier & cheaper to knock something up yourself rather than pay through the nose for it. I sell what I make (hopefully at reasonable prices!) and it is usually to people who don’t have that ability (or the time) and if they are happy to pay then that’s fine by me. I have seen a case where some ladies in Russia were blatantly copying (badly!) very distinctive knitted soft toys and the original creator got in touch with them for a gentle telling off – apologies ensued!
    Pricing has to take into account not only the supplies but also the time taken to make the item – if my felt mascots only take a couple of hours, then I’m not going to charge the earth, but on the other hand a knitted lace shawl that has taken approximately 40 hours to knit is not going to be sold for peanuts! By the same token, if someone rips off one of my paintings that is completely original and has taken me two months to complete, yes I will see them in court my dear!!
    Very provocative post – there are some very cheeky sellers out there who outrageously overprice – I do hope I’m not one of them!

  18. The sushi must be mine!!!

  19. Loralynn said

    I love your dry sense of humor! You had me chuckling by the end of your article! Great items for a giveaway, I especially like your ninja! I look forward to visiting your blog more!

  20. Liette said

    LOVE the ninja! We gave that as a middle name to our of our cats who has stealth like abilities. Peak-a-Boo Ninja. We just call her Boo for short.

  21. Stephanie said

    I have to agree totally with you on the whole creative copyright issue. It’s one thing for people to get pissy over someone copying and selling a pattern. But these people who get irate over crafting a similar item are absurd.
    That sushi is adorable and tasty looking too!
    Btw thank you for your comment on my blog!

  22. New to both blogging and indeed, crafting led me to the same questions….wow, there are some fantastic ideas out there and at the same time, people seem (appear to, anyway) make a LOT of money from selling their craft items. Can this really be true? I am not sure, but if you do find the answer, please share it!! Have you tried swapping your items with anyone else’s to get what you want? That might help. But I’m no expert.

  23. your little ninja is super cute! :)

  24. Kylie said

    the mini red felt ninja is adorable. :)

  25. Sarah said

    The crafts definitely are compelling and lend themselves to becoming a lifestyle.

    You have brought up some interesting topics. Pricing can be a touchy one. One thought I have is that others are sometimes willing to see the value in the skill, time, effort, and art put into a creation only when the creator asks a price that reflects such. It is also a part of valuing oneself and what one does. There are plenty of people who are not willing to take the time to develop skills, learn new things, and give time to creating. And sometimes, I just look at the prices and chuckle to myself.

    If pricing is touchy, then copyright is flammable. It is a complex topic, and occasionally the absurd bumps up against it. There are also some very simple things about it that people want to complicate.

    One more thought relating to copyright and pricing–if you could get people to pay those huge sums for your crafting, you might hope that copyright would protect your income stream.

    Your crafting is cute–value it! Just because someone could sit down, figure out what you have done, and then do it themselves, does not mean you did not work to create what you have. Also, many people will not even try. While I like the idea that someone would pay me bucketfuls of money for what I have created, I think I might be richer if I were paid each time someone says some variation of, “I could never do that/That looks so hard/I could never have the patience to do that.”

  26. i cant sew said

    etsy is crazy i have sold three things to friends and realised it would cost me almost as much to send it to them! blah didnt look into that side of things did i? it is more for fun for me, certainly not expecting to make a living out of it. i myself dont see the difference of me crafting a similar item to you and selling it, as me buying your item and then selling it on ebay cause i want to get rid of it. isnt that the same? i could buy a shirt and the next day try and sell it at a garage sale. (i actually have never used ebay but that is how i think) anyhow i dont think my stuff is of any interest to people so i dont think i will have a problem.
    by the way if i win i would like the ninja!! hiya :)
    %*_*%

  27. Love the ninja.

    When I was making baby carriers, my pouch design was very unique and I would read discussions of people trying to reproduce them.

    My ring slings were more general. I had a woman that I had never heard of/or seen her work, contact me saying I was copying her work and had to stop or she would sue me.

    I am pretty stubborn. I tracked down one of her slings. The craftsmanship was so poor, and there were other details that were different. I did speak with a copyright lawyer that said to ignore her, she had no case.

    However, I think people see things all the time now with the internet. But when I say “see,” you actually aren’t. I am not saying run out and copy someones work for your own profit, but that log pillow may not really be like another log pillow.

    That’s my two cents.

  28. tifanie said

    i have too many thoughts and too little time to put them down at the moment, but WOW. great blog entry. you have voiced so many of the things i have felt, at one time or another.

  29. Carolyn said

    Your post made me laugh – thanks! :o)

  30. Patty said

    I love your ninja! I know One Pretty Thing but not the other free tutorial sites you linked to so I must go check them out now.

  31. rachel said

    thanks for stopping by my blog! i look forward to reading yours.

  32. julie said

    When I worked in advertising our favorite saying was, “There is no such thing as an original idea.”

    There are only so many ways you can make a tote bag!

  33. Rachel said

    I totally agree that many of the prices for handmade are ridiculous! But that being said..there are way too many people in the world today that spend $1000 or more on a fucking pocketbook! Something that lies on the floor and hold snotty kid tissues! So I say WTF to that! Anyhow..I am getting off subject here..
    I use a lot of felt in my items and yes..it is very inexpensive to buy..but it is what you do with it that should determine the price! There are so many ‘artists’ on Etsy that cut out a flower shape and slap it on a bobby pin and charge $15+..that is ridiculous! Show some ingenuity people..get a bit more creative will ya? Spend some time making your pieces stand apart form the rest and please don’t charge a small fortune for it either! Yeah..I know that your time is valuable but so isn’t everyone else’s and if it is taking you 2+ hours to put together a felt flower then perhaps you should hang it up altogether!
    And please..don’t make something just for the sake of making it..just because you can doesn’t mean you should! Are there that many people in the world who are desperate for a handcrafted pet for their daughter’s Blythe doll? I just don’t get some of the items, ideas and purchases..along with the ‘what’s hot” trend of the month? Especially those that are decided upon by one or two people’s opinions about what we all should follow…
    Yes, I create many felt pieces that some may deem useless..but I try to create with ideal and purpose..even dare I say..multi-purpose..and I don’t ask for your kids college fund to make it…Handcrafted is a great movement..and there will always be those who make a mockery of it by overcharging and under providing…but the upside is that there are those who give you more than what you are paying for..there just needs to be an even balance..and then the scales won’t be so heavily tipped in one direction or another…

  34. Bladerunner said

    I absolutely am a craft pirate. For making stuff for myself, and for friends, definitely, but I don’t rip off patterns and sell the products as my own. And frankly, I’m a mite peeved that *every single fucking one* of the craft boards & chats & groups I’ve checked out are positively overrun with everybody pimping their stuff on etsy or ebay or wherever else. I wanna hear about the actual crafting. The inspiration, the process, the materials, the mistakes, the lessons, the frustrations, the end result, the emotions. Just shut the hell up once in a while about selling and let me have one decent crafters’ blog or board or chat where we can talk about the actual crafting.

    I’m just sayin’.

  35. val said

    thank you for visiting my humble little blog….I’ll add yours to my stalking column……..
    Also, thanks for this amazing give away….:-)

  36. Katherine said

    I’ve been thinking about selling patterns. I never mind people copying me for themselves, and getting ideas is always okay, but I would mind someone copying something exactly and then selling lots of them. But maybe I shouldn’t. Your reasons are really why I haven’t sold any patterns yet, because I can’t see how it would be worth anyone’s money. I’ve been trying to convince myself that my patterns, while totally obvious, would be worth it to someone, but I haven’t managed it yet. Also, I’m also a perfectionist, and while I’m okay giving things away that are less than perfect, the idea of charging money for something that’s less than perfect is disturbing, and making them perfect is stressful and impossible.

    But right now I’m really just procrastinating publishing my armchair pattern/tutorial. I should get back to that.

  37. Mercedes said

    Hi, it’s Mercedes from abrokenlaptop! I hopped over here to tell you that you weren’t too late. My site had more than five comments on it, but they were all my friends being goofy and charming and weird. I’ll make you something within the year, and hopefully sooner rather than later. :) This is what crafting is all about!

    I’m enjoying your blog. When I find sites that say, “Don’t reproduce this,” I generally walk. There are so many other sites where the authors are free and generous, telling you where to find supplies and posting tutorials. That’s the feel that I’m searching for. It’s the same way with writing. The Cinderella story has been done a zillion times, but it’s still popular because it’s classic and has appeal. Each author has their own take and unique touches. There’s even the popular opinion that nothing is truly original anymore, but these things shine, anyway.

    Your ninja is one of the cutest things that I have ever seen! I called my husband to come look at it!

  38. cleo said

    Hi there, – I love it when prople like my work as I feel like I am getting better at the crafts that I love to do … I find it such a co-incidence that you just wrote about copyrights .. as I have just had a ‘fall out’ with a group on flickr about the exact same thing.

    I was a group that was posting vintage embroidery patterns.. All the transfers have all fallen out of the original copyright as the are all pre 1930. In the post I asked various people posting these images that were stating that these images may not be used for commercial purposes were just reiterating what is on the original document, to which they reply was NO. I was shocked! I do not understand how they could do that – It is NOT their original artwork, they purchased a copy of a design that was commercially sold – surely that is unethical to put your restrictions on some on else’s property?!?! It is due to the fact that I work as a graphic designer I do understand copyright law very well indeed that I started asking questions. What they all stated is in fact NOT copyright law and that irritated me enough to ask to see if they understood what is copyright law. What they are in fact doing is infringing on the original creators rights, and where the works have now fallen into common domain, they are now infringing on all of our rights of free use of these items. They stated that because they spent all this time restoring it it is now their copyright and intellectual property, so they were protected by the copyright act.

    AS stated at the COPYRIGHT.GOV website : [http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-fairuse.html#locimage]

    “How much do I have to change in order to claim copyright in someone else’s work?
    Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. Accordingly, you cannot claim copyright to another’s work, no matter how much you change it, unless you have the owner’s consent. See Circular 14, Copyright Registration for Derivative Works.”

    When I queried this as to me it seemed as if they were now violating the copyright act, I even posted the above extracts from the American copyright act to show them that they were infact in violation of the very act that they were claiming – I was attacked from all sides and promptly banned – yes, they broke up with me!!! Ridiculous!! They acted like I was a corporate spy that was going to steal all their patterns and put them all out of business! Like yourself I do not have the time to sell my products, for me to ‘mass’ produce some thing take all the fun out of it for me, I will on occasion make something on consignment for a friend or family member, for very little more than the cost of the item (I will add on a little to cover a frozen margerita or two for my time spent!)

    I think that the abuse of the copy right act is very disturbing, as I still don’t understand how you can copyright a log cabin pattern on the pillow – what the law does state is that her use of the combination of FABRICS that she put together for the pillow IS protected and that is what someone may not copy for commercial purposes – but NOT the pattern.

    I know that also it is illegal for a company who sells for example clothing or dress patterns (I know that Amy Butler got into a little trouble for this) to state that their patterns may not by used for commercial purposes ..

    http://www.tabberone.com/Trademarks/HallOfShame/AmyButler/AmyButler.shtml

    The copyright on patterns only covers the physical pattern purchased, not the end-product. The copyright protection applies ONLY to the pattern. This means that you can make as many things as you want from the pattern for resale – BUT you may not SELL the pattern itself!!

    I completely agree with your musings and I do the same .. I will surf the net, craft books, magazines and my local library and then improvise and make my own version of something that I enjoy. Now that I have finished my soap box tirade .. I am off to have a margarita to soothe my parched throat!!!

  39. Staci said

    I love your felt creations. I have tried making things out of felt many times but they never come out right.
    I think I like the ninja the best. :)

  40. i have a slightly different point of view than some of the others on your post…and mainly it’s around the craft vs. art debate.
    i am in the midst of applying to art fairs to sell my pieces and i guess i wonder about whether people would consider my work craft or “fine” art as things have changed in recent years with the upsurge in handmade (which I am so happy to see.)
    my process is to sketch the concept I have, sculpt the birds, have some of my original drawings printed on fabric, and build a piece from wire, fabric, clay,etc. I don’t know if that’s considered altered art, craft, or original art. But I do know the large pieces I do take many hours to construct and i guess I wouldn’t feel so great if I saw someone trying to copy them…just another opinion! :)
    Love the discussion-thanks for bringing up the topic!
    tammy

  41. luciep said

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I like how you write and the way you see things. Have a good week end!

  42. dette said

    Hi, I found this post very interesting. Originality is a bit of a mine field isnt it. We all get our ideas from somewhere in this post post modern world. There is only so many ways that you can make a rectangular tote! Also with crafting we are working with techniques that are thousands of years old in some cases. It’s hard to know who to credit a crochet flower to! I can’t believe how many times I’ve made something I thought was fairly unique and then later that week I seen something almost exactly the same created in greenland or brazil – i’m in australia. I suppose the uniqueness comes in the way you combine the elements and skill in creating the object. I recently had a fairly unique idea for what I call a HANDbag it’s tiny and slips over your wrist although when I sold them people thought they were the most innovative thing they had seen I got my idea from the larger japanese style ones I had seen in the art gallery. I used the basic concept to change and made my own pattern, so I felt it was my idea. Then we come to pricing- this always frustrates me because if the object was in a boutique with a lable people would pay outragous ammounts for things that may have had a designer input but constructed for next to nothing by children in third world countries or in china where people are paid poorly. I have a tendancy to still underestimate my skills- I have been crafting/designing/ sewing since I was 3 when I would make fairy clothes from flowers sewn together with long fronds of grass. Just recently I decided that I would calculate the price of my products in a way that valued my time and 40 years of developing my skills (yes I’m now 43)I calculated the cost of the fabric used by dividing the cost per metre by the ammount I used then if it was a very old piece of fabric/vintage I allowed extra because the supply is then finite. I also considered that in makeing the bags in particular that I create each one differently and will only use that particular fabric combination and decoration once. So I came up with the price per hour that I would charge for all this and decided that as I paid my cleaning lady $25 dollars an hour for her unskilled labour that it wouldn’t be so unreasonable to charge that for my skilled labour. (If I truely valued my skill as some do I would charge more!) There in lies the problem we as crafters/artists often don’t value our skills and there are others who think it is just a handmade object therefore worth less than the mass produced stuff you can get in the groovy surf shop/ department store. This is beginning to change and people are beginning to feel differently. So if you can make one yourself go a head and make one for yourself but for those who don’t have the time or can’t they should be prepared to pay for what is unique, or at the very least different to the mass produced stuff and for the skills that they don’t have. (think how much we pay for plummbers and electricians etc!)
    Sorry this became an essay!!!!

  43. JDS said

    Nice post with some great thoughts and insight. Yummy…sushi. Your giveaway items are perfect.

    visionquest2020 at msn dot com

  44. great post – its totally true. Some people get very touchy about copying but lets be honest there is virtually nothing original out there these days. Keep crafting!

  45. Tania said

    Urban Craft, are you always this feisty? Excellent stuff! I wouldn’t pay for the Pizza Pattern either. But I can’t do sushi (even real-life, edible sushi – it’s a hang up I have), so I would be mightily chuffed to be entered in your inaugural giveaway.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Talking To a Brick Wall Syndrome fended off for a while longer!

  46. Fresh Tea said

    I love looking to others for inspiration, as I have “nappy brain” and can’t think for myself .
    I have blatantly copied crafty things, case in point – the knitted puppies I made for my kids and given a few as gifts.
    I am careful to give credit to the original maker and I have never sold anything I have copied.
    I find the whole copyright rules very confusing, perhaps due to my still suffering nappy brain!
    As for your felt sushi, love it, and will (if I don’t win it) try to copy it!

  47. sarah said

    hi there- my personal point of view is that anyone is free to copy me and my designs (i even was on Martha Stewart teaching people how to make sweaters like mine) but what burns me is people who have copied me (and I’m talking about exact design replicas- or a bad attempt actually!) and then try to sell their creations on Etsy- for way less $$, with no credit given to me, claiming they are selling one-of-a-kind items!!! i am getting worked up as i write… I want to write these people and tell them to knock off the knock-offs, but i hate confrontation. the only comfort i take is that no one is selling anything.

    anyhow, i like your blog, i’ll keep reading- glad you like the breastfeeding symbol action- i actually just posted a canvas bag tutorial with that symbol on it-

    sarah

  48. liYana said

    I love the ninja..cute ;)

  49. emma said

    I feel like mostly it is time and motivation. That is, I agree that I could probably make most things I see on etsy – but I don’t want to.
    I would never buy hand knit socks (I love to make them) but I might consider buying a sweater just because I don’t want to take that much time to knit one.
    I think one problem with etsy is that all the crafty people who like to make things themselves are on it, not the other people who don’t want to make things, just buy them. Maybe it needs better marketing?

  50. Kirsten said

    Well,personally, I wish all the metalsmiths would Please please please start charging lots and lots more money, definitely more than what I’m charging. ;)
    but really, it’s none of my business. There is so much stuff out there, I can often find what I want at the price I want.
    Usually, the stuff I want to buy is stuff that I can’t, or don’t want to make myself.

    about copyrights- people do seem to be oversensitive to it. I have seen some definite legitimate complaints and a lot more unnecessary whining.

  51. Loving your blog. I sometimes feel the same way when a handmade fad catches on and it seems like everyone is making the same thing….I think — oh, well, I could do that! But then — there are lots of people who can’t do it — or aren’t inclined to do it — or would just rather pay for it. To them I say, “Buy some stuff, heck yes!”

  52. Soulmom said

    I enjoyed your post and the other comments here on copyright issues. When I was new to crochet and etsy I was contacted by the designer of the Boy Beanie pattern from Debbie Stoller’s Happy Hooker book because I made a couple of the Boy Beanies and listed them on my etsy. It was an honest mistake on my part. She was very polite about it, asked me to unlist the items but encouraged me to use the pattern for gifts or as the basis for my own unique creations. I immediately complied and now take much better care as to what I list.

    That being said I wrote one pattern for a character and had so much fun I wanted to share it with everyone! Also, since the character itself is copyrighted I wasn’t sure about the rules on making money off a pattern to reproduce it so I figured I’d be better off just spreading the love.

    BTW, love the felt goodies!

  53. d all of your Blog this morning and I like it’s tongue in cheek style and taking the pissness! Keep on at it gal!

  54. 3rdEyeMuse said

    What a great post – love the honesty.

    Plus, (mhmm, I admit it) I’m so lovin your giveaway prizes – fun, fun, FUN!

    … ok, my two cents (or is that twenty five cents thanks to inflation … guess it makes no never mind) … like you, I have a number of favorite items on Etsy that are WAY out of my budget, but it doesn’t change that they are listed in my own fav’s … I think that all the prices are subject to the opinion of the purchaser … overpriced to me may be nothing to another, so it’s all a matter of perspective.

    As for copyright law, it’s all martian to me.

    hmm … maybe that was worth even less than two cents. :)

  55. Stacey said

    I don’t think you should ever feel back about using someone elses idea to do something creative. After all, you are not making it to sell, you are making it for the enjoyment.

    Even if you were selling it, nothing is copywrite unfortunately in hte world of design. Just as my designer friend who had one of her idea stolen and reproduced into a grament whihc was then sold for thousands. :(

    I adore your sushi. Sahimi is my 16 month olds favourite food! I’ve been feeding her sushi and sashimi since she was 6 months old.

    You are so clever!

  56. Christy said

    I came here the first time on a giveaway day! I really like your blog. Its right up my alley.

  57. Diana said

    I like the sushi!!

    you should totally enter my giveaway if you are interested

  58. Sara said

    That felt sushi is absolutely gorgeous! They would make really cute keychain charms or Christmas ornaments.

  59. Very well written! I don’t have kids (yet) but I’m so planning on making my new niece lots of the felt things that I’ve seen on Etsy… just b/c I can. I think that I’d enjoy it and there’s no way that I could justify paying what some cost. No need to re-invent the wheel :)

  60. Rosanne said

    I agree with you, I find lots of inspiration from Etsy for things I’ll make myself and things I wouldn’t but I would buy them because I just don’t have the skills!

  61. Anne said

    Hi,

    I have enjoyed reading your blog and this item in particular. I will add you to my blog list if that’s ok, so I can keep up with your interesting views!

    This crafting lark is highly addictive, so we’ll be reading a post in the coming months advising you are doing your first craft fair, and we’ll all be wishing you luck.

    Have a good weekend.
    Anne

    ps love the wee ninja – he’s rather cute

  62. Isabel said

    Just to say that I enjoyed your post view, also most of the comments made here.

  63. Bouncing back at you.
    We had a big blogger round table in Melbourne Aus. about copying and protection (or lack there of )of your original ideas last year. It blatently happened to me, but luckily I nipped it in the bud.
    http://linoforest.blogspot.com/2008/04/what-would-you-do.html
    Such a tricky area, some people are so worried they don’t post pics. of their products anymore.
    I like your blog by the way. Happy to have found it.

  64. Rheea said

    These are cute! I love the ninja! hahaha.. Glad I’m in time to take part.

    :)

    Cheers~
    Rheea

  65. Shilbe said

    :D
    I love browsing at etsy but the price is always a great deterrance. I haven’t actually started on any craftwork, due to lack of time.. major exam at the end of the year.but i’m totally hooked on it just by reading and looking and being so inspired by everyone. but i’m excited for the year to end so that i can embark on projects that bring smiles to everyone. great blog. i shall favourite it. :D thanks for the change for a giveaway. This is exciting. <333

  66. Sarah said

    I love your little ‘rant’ – it’s so true!! I wish there were more level-headed people out there like you! …On a side note – I think Eddie Vedder is great. That’s actually what brought my attention to this post in the first place! Haha… my husband would be so proud!

  67. :D I found your post so true and relevant, but many people still think that handmade items are handmade, crafted one by one, and that’s the cost you have to pay to keep the sellers’ hands busy!

    Love your sushi!

  68. I agree with you, some things on Etsy seem a little outrageous, but as my father used to say, “there is a butt for every chair”. Of course, he was a bit more colorful! There are many people, believe it or not, that consider themselves “patrons of the art”. They are willing to pay, because they are charmed and really have no idea how to make anything.
    It is hard for creative people to comprehend this. We are always looking at the construction or design to learn, not just copy. Inspiration leads to interpretation at least on my part.
    I respect the artist ingenuity and talent, but I cannot always afford to be a patron. For instance, the birdhouse. At $300, it was a bit expensive. Even with the bird included. It looked as though it was constructed by hand, so lots of hours! I loved the idea of it, and tried my hand at one. It is a gift for my daughter.
    Would I sell it in my Etsy store (everyone has one, it seems), no! I am very respectful of truly unique designs. However, I have also seen items that I have been making for years, just not selling. It is clear that as with everything else in life…a little common sense goes a long way.
    I have sold more through word of mouth locally, than on Etsy. I have the joy of seeing the customer’s love of the item. I definitely buy a lot on Etsy for myself and others. There are some incredibly talented artists there. Those who could legitimately make a living on art. Unfortunately, too many who are mass producing and are interested in making buck, quickly.
    It is fulfilling to me to teach someone the joy of arts and crafts, and I can do this through free tutorials…if they can make a living from them, more power to them!

  69. Theresa said

    I loved your post…I am always window shopping on Etsy for ideas for my own crafts. Alot of the sellers really do ask pretty outrageous prices, so I will often try and replicate items for myself.
    While I think it’s wrong for people to copy someone else’s really unique creation,technique, or craft and sell it in their own shop, I think it goes against the nature of crafters in general to think that we won’t try to figure out how things are made and try to recreate them. With most items…tote bags, barrettes, pillows, whatever…it’s sort of like building the better mousetrap, and if you can build a better one why not sell it?
    All that said, love love love the ninja and the sushi. My daughter loves making ninja dolls for herself and her friends, so your little ninja really appealed to her. Thanks for the great post.

  70. margaret said

    No idea how I ended up here but fascinating post nevertheless, throughly enjoyed your blog and links, fab!

  71. I have to admit that I will flat-out copy anybody’s work if it’s for my own personal use or for my kids or something. I do the same exact thing with anything I see in a store, though–it’s called, “Hell, I could make that.” At craft fairs, I only buy stuff that I CAN’T figure out how to make myself.

    I would never ever sell anything that I made that way, however. It took me a loooooong time to be enough of a professional at crafting to even be able to make up my own ideas, and I sort of think that’s just what you have to do if you want to sell something.

    The exception, though? I actually think it’s fine to sell something that you make using a pattern from a published book, like Button it Up or something, as long as you acknowledge the source. I’ve never heard anything about that not being okay, but I guess when the feds come knocking at my door..

  72. Please add me to your giveaway.
    I feel us creatives as a whole undervalue our work. I would say that my prices are typically lower for most. But I have figured out how much I want to make an hour and then price accordingly. Best wished and please also send me your address for my payitforward. I love your felting – especially the sushi!

  73. Kimmie k said

    After reading this post last night, I admit that I was not able to get a lot of what you said out of my mind and I was more than a bit disturbed by some of the responses. In fact, I think that some of the repsonses only point back to the spoiled nature of a “give-it-to-me-I-want-it-now” mentality–an unfortunate by-product of the internet culture. I was angered by some of what I read, but I also believe that courtesy and respect are important values–regardless of whether or not I agree with you. I can disagree with you without resorting to cursing and vulgarities.

    I completely agree with you that this issue needs to be tossed around. I discuss this a lot with my colleagues in plush making and I tend to be a bit more relaxed in my attitude about how to deal with/approach alleged copycatting. I understand that we are all inspired by the work of others and that usually shows up in our work in one way or another. Regardless, there is a fine line between inspiration and copycatting and we must be careful not to cross that line.

    When I first began making plush, I entered into the field blind. My inspirations were children’s books illustrations and I had NO idea how huge the handmade movement had become. I was new to the stay-at-home mom gig and wanted something creative and productive to do with my time when I was not busy with the dozens of other tasks that faced me each day. In order to learn how to make patterns, I tried my hand at some free online tutorials that I found. I’m a very visual person who also enjoys drawing so turning what I saw in my head into 3D images came easily to me. Nevertheless, it was important to me that I create a new spin on what is already out there.

    Now, I think there is a big difference between what you are doing and what I am doing. If you want to attempt to recreate a Whimsy Patch doll without buying a pattern, you have the freedom to do that in your own home. I do have a creative commons copyright license which permits that. Just don’t make a doll and then claim you came up with the style all on your own. Also don’t claim you used one of my patterns when making it. That is how good art-craft works. We all start somewhere, but if we are creating a trademark, we try to develop our own style. No, nothing is new under the sun, but good art-craft keeps evolving. That is what is amazing about the gift of creativity–yes, I argue it is a God-given gift, something to be valued, cherished, and fought for if necessary.

    And I think that is where we come to the bottom line with this argument. Much of the present day handmade movement dwells in the realm of “art-craft”, not just craft. It’s an entirely different world from the world of the flea market craft fair. Therefore, for those of us who are coming up with a new spin on some medium within the world of art-rafting, we should have the right to copyright our work and decide how it should be approached by others. That also gives us the right to sell our patterns for $5, $10, or give them away for free. If I want to charge $80 for a doll that took me 15 hours to complete, I have every right to do so. I should not have to lower my prices and undervalue my time in order for my work to be appreciated by a mass market. That, unfortunately, is how sweatshops are made. And, then, the amazing thing about freedom is that others can then choose to buy our patterns, download them for free, or pass them up altogether.

    And, yes, selling my art-craft is part of my family’s livelihood. But that also pushes me to keep getting better at what I do so that I can provide fun, cute, and hip new twists on plush that customers can recreate in their homes if they like. I write stories for my plush because, when I create a doll, I am also writing a story. Sure, that might be part of the marketing, but it’s also part of the creative process.

    So here is what I would suggest for all of the crafters surfing around the net. Respect what people have to say about THEIR work. If they offer creative commons license, go for it. Recreate your spin on their work, but give credit where credit is due. If that person states an all rights reserved copyright, respect that. What needs to be remembered is that these creations are very special to the person who has created them. Just because you might not see their creations through the same lens does not mean that you should not respect what means so much to the artist/crafter behind the work.

  74. Leslie said

    How beautiful! It has been far too long since I’ve gotten out my felting needles. You are making me wanna dig through my closet to find them (and then go out for sushi!)

    Blessings~

  75. enublip said

    you have what I am actually looking for here and this this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor :)

  76. Cindy said

    Hi, this really made me laugh and love your little creations. Must get out my felting stuff again too…

  77. Sónia said

    Regards from Portugal

    Ps: Lovely the set of felt sushi :) Great idea

  78. susan said

    i have pondered this same issue myself
    a lot of crafts i can look at and figure out, but there are others that i want to buy the pattern because i am not familar with that type of craft
    i do try to spend money with people that do it to try to make a living, but some items are just so unreasonably priced, imo
    love your blog, and all three of your little cuties are adorable. i am not a ninja type person at all…but he is just way too too cute!

  79. miranda said

    love this post. a good rant AND a giveaway? count me in!!! mmm… sushi.

    i think that in any creative activity there are many shades of grey and inspiration is all around us. it’s hard to “invent” the concept of anything in a vacuum and i know that anything i make is the result of all the books i’ve read, things i’ve seen, cultural elements, other handmade stuff, everything really.

    i agree about buying patterns for stuff that’s pretty obvious. like pillows. or, for example, i make felt + vintage button coffee cup sleeves and was once asked where i got the pattern. um – buy a cup of coffee. you get a free pattern in that cardboard thing wrapped around the cup. ;-)

  80. Great post! Not going to get sucked into any debate either way but I enjoyed reading your thoughts and the responses.

    Each to their own is a little motto I’ve always tried hard to employ :) Happy crafting

  81. Leslie M said

    I think they are unique , but cute!

    always_317537(at)yahoo(dot)com

    http://livelovelaughwithleslie.blogspot.com

  82. MaddyRu said

    I work at a sushi bar, so it would be so cool to win this! Thanks!

  83. cindy said

    I always see stuff and am like “I can make that” Then I go on a hunting spree online to find where I can get all the parts”

  84. Sophie said

    That sushi is very cute :) :D Have a great weekend!

  85. Sarah said

    Yes, I am. Copying things is basically what got me started in “craft”. I mean further than child’s art. If I can make it why should I buy it? But like you, I’m not doing it to sell it. However, I didn’t think I might offend someone by using their project for inspiration. I actually wouldn’t want to do that, but seriously I’m not going to spend $22 on a bag for garlic, no matter how nice. I’m going to make it for myself, that’s what I do. But I did link to hers in her store because I’m sure they’re quite nice and knowing how much effort goes into handmade, they’re probably worth $22: just not from my wallet.

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