Recent emails and posts on Orchid/Ganoksin have drawn my attention to an unfortunate story related to jewelry made from cast twigs. I can't say who is right or wrong, though I am inclined to be sympathetic to the heartfelt story.
There are at least 4 issues raised in this discussion.
1. Accusations of copyright infringement (based on cast Twigs)
2. Preventing Knock-offs
3. The "No New Ideas" justification for Unethical Behavior
4. Behaviors Creating a Breeding Ground for Copycat Justifications.
This post starts with accusations of "copyright infringement" based on Twigs.
There is no copyright infringement on cast twigs as a motif in jewelry, or anything else for that matter. Picking up a twig off the ground, casting the twig made by mother nature, and using it as a visual element in a line of jewelry is not creating an original design element.
While some makers may believe they have created a signature style, creating a line of jewelry based on cast twigs is not original.
Creating a signature style from any element that can be picked off the ground, or is readily available from mother nature makes you vulnerable to copycat problems. (To be discussed further in the next post.)
The author of the original post on Orchid states that she specializes "in setting fantastic opals in the work" which she was purchasing from "Eagle Creek Opals...Bill Kasso. This made the work particularly unique because Bill has a cutting style which is very special as well as the material he mines."
No matter how special the opals, if other people can buy the same (or similar) opals from Bill Kasso (or anyone else) you are not adding any unique element.
Most of the images in this post are NOT credited to the maker to protect everyone from threats, lawsuits, incrementation, and libel. No endorsement or refutation is implied.
What may distinguish one piece of twig jewelry and the next in this post is:
1. The quality of the photos
2. The quality of the work (which we can not see in the online photos);
3. The price point (which varied widely);
4. Some people are making more money and a reputation than others selling twig jewelry.
What lessons can everyone learn from this sad tale? If you don't create every single element in your jewelry, you will remain vulnerable to copycat work. This applies to casting twigs or buying stones, no matter how special.
Yes, it is possible to create an original "Twig Bracelet" (right) by C.H. Mackellar, if you create your own twigs. This is an original design and is possible to copyright.
Yes, it is possible to copyright a clever term like "stick Pin" which Micky Roof says she has done. Unfortunately, even if you own the copyright for one particular idea, you need money to take a person to court to protect your idea legally.
However,.....there are more issues with the story. Stay tuned...
This post was updated on March 31, 2022, to provide current links.