Monday, September 13, 2010

Do They Stay or Do They Go Now?

So I've had my "Bumpy Series" of pendants going for a long time now...I didn't realize how long it's been since I first blogged about them and also that I've not re-blogged them even though I've kept them in stock on my website...I like them, quite a lot really, but I'm just not sure if I should keep them going or not...I've recently seen some similar pieces and I'm struggling with whether or not these represent me enough that anyone will think of me when they see them. I already get a little lurch in my stomach any time I see work with a similar glaze finish to those I use...I realize that I don't have copyright on any portion of the rainbow... I cringe when I see/hear of a similar idea to what I've made...a comment on my bracelet bars from "Anonymous" about how they had just fired a kiln load of them...seeing Elaine Ray's lovely bead caps after I made mine thinking I had just invented sliced bread...why does it bother me so much? I know that I made those items out of those, "wouldn't it be great to make that in clay" moments, not because I had ever seen them done in ceramic before.

That's my biggest problem with this series...they're just a basic shape with some dots or lines...nothing stops someone else from making something their own idea or after seeing mine somewhere...intentional or not...collective consciousness or not...

I was discussing this with hubster the other night and realized that my initial response to seeing work that has a commonality with mine is always that it is a coincidence...I never think it's a copy...why is that? I've been published...quite a few times now...I run ads...surely some of that similar work has been influenced by mine...why do I always feel that people will see the other work and assume that I am the one influenced? At what point do I not care, having the knowledge that what I put out there was not something made to emulate another's work?

So the questions remain...does the Bumpy Series retire? What reaction do you have to seeing work that resembles something you've made?


  1. Just the fact that it is making you so sad, makes me think it is time to let it go. It had a good run! Now that others are coming out with similar designs, it's time to move on to something fresh and new! I love and cherish each piece I have bought from you. I hesitate to use them because I love them so much and I don't really want to see them go! lol. Perhaps it is time for both of us to let things go...

  2. I don't think that's a question anyone but you can answer.

    For what it's worth, I think the glaze on the second two pieces looks most like you. The pieces of yours that come to mind when I see your name mentioned are the ones with music or botanical patterns. Hmmm . . . and those are the ones I buy!

  3. I love them! I have done slip trail dots on mugs and bowls for years, have not as yet done them on charms/pendants, but I think it is a viable idea. This technique is just part of all potters bag of tricks, people have been doing it for years/centuries. I know how you feel, I made my own little press mold for my spiral pieces, totally my own, but when I look around just about every clay bead maker makes a variation of the same thing, and owls too. You just have to make sure yours is your own and not worry what other people are doing.
    again, I think your dots are fab, and if they are still selling, then keep making them!

  4. When I see these, Mellisa, they don't scream you to me. I love the ones with more delicate patterns on them. That seems more what I would think of as Chinook. But that could just be me.

    There is a lot going around all the time in our collective consciousness that is the same. We are always influenced by what we see and read and watch and listen to. And as someone pointed out, it is something in the bag of tricks of all ceramic arists to do dots on simple shapes.

    And the fact that someone with the very common name of "Anonymous" felt the need to comment with out giving a name to that voice is shameful and I wouldn't even put any stock in it.

    No one can corner the market on common materials or shapes or even patterns. I was once accused by "Anonymous" (hmmm...wonder if they are related?) of intentionally making my piece like another designers because I used...get this...a skeleton key. Last time I checked, that is not the domain of any one person, even though that is my logo! There are people out there who want to rain on anyone's parade so that they don't feel themselves standing knee deep in a puddle.

    Follow your heart, Mellisa. Do what feels right. Know that I am right behind you loving whatever you do.

    Enjoy the day!

  5. I've been struggling with the same thing. I stopped about 6 mos. ago browsing my categories on Etsy or Flickr, I just don't want to know what other people are doing with beadweaving or bead embroidery. I just don't want to be influenced. As far as removing your pieces. Do what you feel like doing. Would knowing that there are similiar pieces out there give you less joy as you work? If so, then don't do it. Create what you feel. Elaine Ray's ceramic bead caps are cute, but I still think the two of you have very different styles. Create what gives you joy. You'll work it out, I know you will.

  6. I don't really have an opinion on the bumpy series; I like them. Follow your gut. Getting rid of them might push you into something new and wonderful. But if you love them, if they delight you, keep them. If you get rid of them, you can always reincarnate them later, altered in some significant way. If you start feeling you're in a rut, it's definitely time to get rid of them.

    Personally, I think people worry too much about copying each other. Even if it's out-and-out stealing, whaddya gonna do? Do what you love. If someone else is also doing it, who knows who had it first? I'm concerned that maybe you're spending a lot of energy on an issue that would be better channeled into something creative.

  7. (those who have email responses enabled for their comments I emailed directly, for the others I'll post here and hope you pop back)

    Michelle- How very interesting that you see those last two glazes as more "me", I think you're correct! The first was an experimentation with an underglaze coated in clear...not something I usually do.

    Pam- Thank you! This is exactly my thought...there are certain techniques (or images) that just are part of a medium...the best we can do is create our own work from a pure place.

    Marcie- I completely understand what you're saying about not looking on etsy, etc at what others are doing, I try to stick with checking out inspiration in other mediums. Oh yes, I think Elaine's bead caps are spectacular but I totally see that we're making two entirely different was just that moment for me of "oh...I'm not the only one who had the brilliant idea"!

    Jenny- Truer words may never have been spoken! I'm not typically one to expend my energy on this type of worry...if you've read my blog for a bit I think you'll know that I tend to sit on the side of glass half full. I think part of the reason this is tickling away at me is not that I'm in a rut with them but that I haven't fully had the chance to explore them and I'm already considering letting them go...does that make any sense?

  8. They don't look as much "your style" as some of the pieces with more dramatic designs IMO.

    The fact that you're asking tells me that at least subconsciously you've already decided to let them go.


  9. I love them, but if you are feeling a bit creatively over them then you as the artist might be ready to leave them behind.....My favourites are the convex ones... so lovely..Vicki

  10. i happen to love the bumps - esp when they are in contrast the the base...
    ahhh - mellisa - the copying topic... i tend to respond as you do, that it is coincidence... that people have been adorning themselves since the beginning of time, that nothing is really new, that it would seem impossible that with all of the brains in the world that only one of them would come up with some 'thing... could one brain create something in their own way? certainly... but to lay claim to something that could come from nature, from past decorative objects, from any number of places? well, that seems like things are being stretched...
    as bead/component makers and jewelry designers we know the different types of shapes used for interest and function... and when you can put your own spin on them, that is great... to be honest, i have in the past purchased glass that i knew had to be from the same color rods - but by different people... because each was done just a bit differently... i love your bracelet bars... and that is wonderful that elaine ray has made bead caps, but she certainly shouldn't be the only one doing it...
    this kind of jittery-ness to explore seems very inhibitive to play and exploration of our vision and skills...
    oh, um, yeah - you struck a nerve! :0) i remember this going around about a year ago...
    bottom line, i think much of this has to do with intention... and if you are working from your vision with your abilities - than good for you (the collective you, but also you mellisa)...

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  12. Oh I am so sorry to hear that you are upset. I think your work with the slip trailed dots are great! but whether you want to Eliminate them from your inventory...maybe not make them for a while and see what happens..

    our medium (ceramic) really only has a few variables. color of clay, color of glaze and texture tools.. I love dots and when ever I have a slip trailer filled with slip I dot something..sometimes more on one than others.. but I cannot really see where slip trailed dots is an actual copy of something..they are almost instinctual for most people working with clay because used scraps usually end up as slip either for joining or decorative purposes.

    I hope you do not want to abandon your love of these pieces because you may have seen someone elses work with the same or abandon your own pieces because they are similar to Elaine Rays.. just because you created something and it looked like something she did, does not mean you copied as much as Elaine did not invent ceramic end caps. They came from a very creative moment you had and look similar to someone else's. it is not a big surprise this happens since we basically are all using the same materials.

    I think we as artists get a little over protective sometimes about things that may not be intentional because our work is so private and personal. Chances are this will happen again in the future a whole bunch of times...

    Sometimes I think this sort of thing keeps me on my toes...always inspiring to move forward..

    Dont let it get you down especially to eliminate a whole series that you love so much from your inventory..

    hope this all works out..feel better!

    lisa p.

  13. I don't think that my last comment really conveys the support I want to give.

    I think it would be a real shame to put down an idea because of the fear of someone calling you a copy cat. It happens way too much and because of that I see the point of showing these designs as what they are.

    I think it is out of hand. Materials and techniques are eternally repeated.

  14. Maire Dodd- Oh No, I'm copying a topic from a year ago!!! ;)

    Such interesting comments on this post...thank you all for such thoughtful responses!

    I'm sad if anyone felt that they needed to take my post as anything other than what it was- dismay that I felt my bumpy series pieces weren't distinctive enough to make a statement that wouldn't be confused with others' pieces...and with copying accusations that seen to fly around so frequently, I don't want to be on the receiving end!


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