Thursday, November 27, 2014

Put a Pom Pom On It….

I kinda went a bit pom pom crazy the other day.
I bought some pom pom makers for my friends little girl to come and have craft'a'noon's in the studio. So I dug about in the stash and found this bag of wool crewel embroidery skeins that I bought at a country church fete about 20 years ago. You know one of those purchases that you make thinking….yeah, i'm gonna do something awesome with this stuff…..and it gets shoved to the back of the storage area and forgotten about for the next 2 decades.
So out it came, piles of colours, but many in the landscape vein, so lots of browns and greens.
I thought, well I better make me one of these suckers before she comes over so I know how to show her. So I wound up some balls in random colours and tied the ends together and started winding onto the pom pom maker.  It was a stinking hot day too, and I was sitting under the awning on the out door couch with a beer or 2 and I just kept making….they are weirdly addictive. (perhaps I was a little tipsy too)
A few days later I was looking at the pile of pom poms thinking what can I do with these…i've kinda gone a bit cray cray making them…
So I made a wreath. The pom poms sitting on the table were sorta in a circle and my neighbours have put a holly wreath on their front door and I put one and two together and well, this is the wacky result.
It's kinda out there for me, but its kooky and kinda fun and I think pom poms are the new birds. So put a pom pom on it I say!

So, what you need…
A pom pom maker or 2, I used 3 different sizes I bought in a kit from a craft store.
Scrap yarn. You need a fair bit.
A crochet hook
And a few other tools if you need them. I found a scalpel and a box cutter handy. It was easier to slice the yarn when it came time to cutting than using scissors to snip. Do not do this short cut if you are doing this with kids….I'm an adult and I cut myself. (possibly beer related…do not drink and craft??)

Make a pile of pom poms…trust me, one is not enough. When you have a nice amount together to form a squishy circle, start this bit.

Using wire, the wire I used was some twistable wire a bit thicker than florist wire that I already had. If you need to buy wire, I recommend getting one a bit heavier and then you won't need to do this step twice.
1. Snip the end of the wire with your pliers and thread the pom poms on. Repeat this step if you are using thinner wire that doesn't hold its shape so well like I did. If you need to do it twice, twist your wire between the pom poms to make it stronger.
2. Take the ends and twist together to hold all your pom poms on. Make sure you do this tightly and push your pom poms together to form a nice firm circle.
3. With your left over wire ends, make a loop - for hanging - and twist the wire down into the top pom pom so you don't see the join. Snip off any excess.
4. With some yarn, cover the wire loop, I bound mine like doing blanket stitch, where you loop the yarn through to cover over the wire.
5. Take another length of yarn and do a single crochet chain. This is what I did to hang my dangly pom poms.
6. Cut your chain into lengths and thread pom poms on and tie off.
7. Tie the chains around the gap between the bottom 2 pom poms on the wreath.
8. Dangle as many poms as you want. Go on I dare you.

You now have a super pom pom covered door decoration.
And if you are like me, busted a pile of stuff gathering dust in the stash.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Starting the Discussion

Over the past few days I have started having the discussion with people about 'copying'.
I am comforted about how passionate people in small business and creative fields are about this subject. Some of the statements and thought threads that have come out of these discussions...

"Knowing that (insert business name here) are watching me shits me to tears, why can they not just go get a life and get their own ideas."

"People and big businesses who copy are bullies."

"Copy cats are just ugly human beings."

"I feel sorry for people who have to copy, especially when they tout that they are 'creative' but all they are doing is plucking ideas of the internet..."

"The copying thing is rampant. I can't stand it when (insert creative business) copies another (insert creative business) and thinks they can get away with it, you can do a google search and similar images pop up from (insert creative business)....

Out of all of the discussions and responses not one was positive from the first group I spoke to that were all currently working or had walked away from the creative industries and had come from a trained background. By trained I mean they have all been through higher education in their fields. Degree, Masters, Phd's etc.
An education in your creative field gives you the understanding of idea creation and the importance of idea protection. You are also trained to seek out original solutions and work to your own creative responses. You are also taught about the importance of copyright.

I had a similar discussion with people working in creative or crafting fields who had not had a formal art/design education and the some of the views were surprising. Many responses were like the first group but about a third were interesting.

"I can do what ever I want I paid for that pattern"

"I saw it and liked it and thought why not"

"I only sell at markets and a few stores here and there, no one will notice"

 "Changing the colors makes it different"

"Oh yeah its crap, but what can you do about it, nothing so you might as well join them"

Are these comments from a lack of understanding of copyright and how it works? Or are they from the fact that it's rampant and we are just so used to it?
Or is it that we no longer partake in critical discussion about this issue as aspects of social media have made it very difficult to tackle without it turning into an online social media war.

Yes, we can argue the point of view that nothing is new, or that trends and themes are re-hashed and updated and renewed in times of change and progress. We can also refer to 'collective conscious' where if you are presented with similar materials and have a similar skill set you can derive from that a similar out come.
But you cannot take the view that it's ok to mimic other businesses/designers/works for financial gain as your business model. Cause, ya know, its not all unicorns farting rainbows out there, some of us need to pay our mortgage and make a living and if you have a bigger bully copying your work and selling it for cheaper to the masses you don't stand a chance.

So how do we start to fix this known problem? How do we start to do this without it getting 'ugly'.
How do we start the discussion?


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Copy Rats…and the next big thing...

There has been an awful lot of 'copying' going on in this little world of ours. I know that personally I have been a victim of it and still are, but so have my fellow peers. It's really sad to see.
I guess as a designer you get used to the big guys (large chain and department stores) swooping in on a product at a market or trade show. You feel powerless to do anything about it. Or an image swiped off your website. The silly thing is these companies name their IP addresses so you can see who and when the image was downloaded or what pages they viewed. You maybe used to it, but it still makes you angry especially when you see one of your designs end up in a chain store that mass manufactures in China and sells it for next to nothing. 
Why so cheap? Well for starters they are not employing designers and they are sending all work off shore.
I know when I had my studio open to the public I had a few unwelcome visitors with their phones out sapping images of my fabrics. When approached they ran the hell out of there. I do know who you work for.
But fighting the big guys is practically impossible, unless you have loads of cash and lots of time to spend in long drawn out deliberations.
I know when I have spoken to my solicitor about such matters In the past I had to weigh up the financial cost. I don't have a spare $$$ to get the ball rolling, so you put it down to experience and move on.

However, there is a more gloomy side to this post. My heart breaks when I see one small business copying another small business. Or when one independent designer copies another. The world is too small now for these things to go unnoticed. 
And if the victim speaks up about it the ensuing social media war is torrid. I have read through many a she said he said social media stream only to be left exhausted.
But the thing to remember here is breaching copyright is breaking the law. Taking another persons product, concept or idea and passing it off as your own is theft. Worse when its done for financial gain. You might as well just walk up to the originator of the design and take a $50 out of their wallet.
Little things like distributing a pattern that is sold to you is another breach. Again, take that $14.95 out of the designers wallet. Every time that pattern is shared or put up on a group forum that designer is losing out.

Copyright is there for a reason. It protects us. It protects the designer or originator but it also protects you as a consumer. If you like to have a choice in the things you enjoy then opt for a world without copyright theft. Why…if companies continually copy each other we no longer have choices, it all starts to look the same. The more small independents get ripped off the less likely they will continue to create interesting products for you to enjoy. The smaller makers will not be able to continue to produce product as they will not be able to compete with the big guys and mass market production. The flow on effect, less jobs, less skills, less opportunities.

It's time to have a few more conversations that are constructive about copyright issues, especially in design based small business that don't turn into heated arguments. It's time to educate students about the implications of copyright and to get them to understand what is right and wrong when entering the work force. Just because a buyer tells you to copy another product does not make it right, it is very wrong. Or if you are given a brief and you are told to copy the image that was stripped from the internet. There are so many bad practices out there that we are too scared to speak about so they are shied away from and therefore the thief gets away with it and the victim suffers a loss. We need to be conversing about these issues in a positive way to change and educate and to police ourselves in our own practices.

So if you have been wondering what I will do next since I gave up commercial design work, this is it.
I am going back to Uni to study Law. Yep, long hard dry Law. Why, because I want to become an IP specialist and work with creatives to protect them from the people who copy them. To protect the little guy from the people who steal ideas and concepts, who stalk other businesses web sites and steal content, all those things that copy rats seem to think are ok….well, it's not. 

I'm going to embark on a journey of creative advocacy….I'll be hitting the books in a big way, but I will still be running my studio as normal.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


There was a big event yesterday. The twin nephews were born. Everyone is healthy and well.

But the thing that makes this stranger is they were born on my birthday.

My birthday has always been a day that makes me feel anxious and out of sorts. Why I don't really celebrate it in any big way.
Its a day that reminds me of the fact that I exist in some sort of cross ways point between one family, another and one that I know nothing about.
That also my existence is a problem for many. I am a secret, shame, something best left buried. By even asking a question I cause issues.
Lately there have been many programs and articles on the subject of 'identity', also more coverage on adoption. I have at times struggled in my life with 'identity'. I grew up in one family but I was a produced in another environment under not so great conditions. I have a biological mother and somewhere out there a biological father that no one will talk about.
A photo was posted onto Facebook this morning and it popped up in my feed through one of these strange connections an adoptee has. It was a family photo. There was my half biological sister and brother. My biological mother standing behind them with her husband. The photo also has 2 other families. The children linked to me by this connection. I could have been in that photo. Sitting there in the group shot taken possibly on christmas day. Are they my cousins? I am the oldest sister. The oldest of all the kids in that photo and I am not there. I was having a christmas day with my family.
I don't have any images of my biological mother. I enlarged the photo and had a good look, trying to find links. Trying to see a likeness. I can see the likeness in my bother of his father. The twig didn't fall far from the tree.
I look at her sharp face, the only one in that photo not smiling, standing back from the group. It tells me a lot about her in a way. But I am only assuming, but something about that photo answers some questions for me. It's a pattern, people don't want anything to do with her. My aunt doesn't and my brother doesn't either. But because of this, some people want nothing to do with me as I am a product of this. I am part of the problem.
As an adoptee you grow up with so many questions. You wonder where you fit. I never felt like I fitted in with my adoptive family. I was too creative, out spoken, head strong. Things my parents never really got the hang of. I was never close to my adoptive brother so I felt pretty much alone in the whole thing. At the time, I didn't know that much of my tense feelings about it all was anxiety, but anxiety is common amongst adoptees. I have battled with anxiety most of my life. I have learned to cope with it now but I still have my bad days. The days when you take a deep breath and pluck up the courage to take another step into this crazy world that I have been thrust into. That by asking a question you never know what level of hurt or trouble you are going to cause while all you want to do it find out about who you are. So I don't fit in one, i'm absent from the other but I do have my own 'family' the one I have created. My wonderful friends, my amazing husband and his lovely close knit family, I am a part of this one and I don't have to ask any questions to find out where I fit as I just know that I fit and I am accepted for who I am, the good and the bad bits. No one is trying to hide me or silence me from speaking. No one is telling me I ruined their life. No one is wishing I never existed.

So now, we have 2 new little lives born on this day. They are born into a new family, one that my brother has created with his partner. One that they are creating without our biological mother.
My birthday has taken on a new dimension, it it now a day that is happy because it is celebrating these 2 little guys.