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March 2014

Is the Copycat Problem a Small Fraction? With HUGE Impact?

Is the copycat problem a small fraction of the craft community?

Does any data prove the impact of this problem?

In response to the first question.....let's compare how our society as a whole addresses theft, robbery, and assault (as just three example crimes).  Each is a small fraction of what happens in your local communities. Yet, a great deal of effort and money is invested by your community in police, law enforcement, and courts to prevent crimes, enforce laws, and deter criminals.

So a relatively small number of criminal actions lead to real costs which impact the entire community adversely. 


With nothing more than a code of ethics, it is amazing that the arts community has self regulated itself as well as it has in the past.

BUT the internet and digital electronics have dramatically shifted how easily art and craft can be copied and distributed.  Ideas and images travel at the speed of light. Globalization and internet visibility have expanded these capabilities to a global scale.

The copycat problem is further compounded by cultural indifference from countries such as China that had no legal recourse through copyright laws until 1979.  However, artists and makers can use search technology to discover violations as well; violations that would have remained unnoticed just a short time ago. Every media and medium are dealing with these problems. 

Is there data to prove the impact of this problem?
There is no data. There is no art organization that collects this information. There is no art organization (that I know of) that has a policy on intellectual property. 

Who will enforce this policy?
We can not rely on others to enforce. We need to raise awareness for the ethical and legal issues. If we all at least demonstrate respect and understanding of current copyright laws it would be step in the right direction. 

The examples I have are from personal stories told to me by almost everyone I know. Sometimes I hear two stories of copycat theft in a single day. Usually it is at least one story a week. Most people are afraid to come forward. Like many victims of crimes, they wonder how they brought this on themselves.  Did they invite the crime by their naiveté or lack of vigilance?

Listen to the archived discussion about copycats and artistic piracy on Metalsmith Bench Talk with Jay Whaley. We covered a range of situations with some recommendations. There is no easy solution, no one answer that works for everyone, but neither can we make excuses. 

ASK-multicolorgreeyellowASK your questions here in the comments. Perhaps you have recommendations for how you handle challenging copycat situations.

40 COPYCAT THIEVES that have been seen

Bad-copyright-CUntil awareness gains traction in every "craft corner", workshop, retail fair, wholesale show, online forum, manufacturer, retailer, designer, internet site, and becomes a public discussion, the copycat thieves will continue as pirates of our work, our ideas, and our content.

In the "Age of the Internet" and digital technologies we can no longer go back to the studio and come up with the next idea fast enough. Ideas and images are stolen at the speed of light.  

  • Are you prepared to protect your work? 
  • Do you understand the concepts of Fair Use under Copyright Law?
  • Do you understand DMCA

I will be discussing copycats and artistic piracy on Metalsmith Bench Talk with Jay Whaley. You can listen to the archived discussion. Perhaps you have recommendations or stories that you would like to share. How can the arts and crafts community learn from your experience?


  1. Manufacturers that copy images off maker web sites.
  2. Manufactures that copy images off online markets like Etsy.
  3. Manufactures that offer to copy craft work for mass manufacturing even though they do not own the copyright to the image or design.
  4. Manufactures that make and sell items based on craft work by makers without permission.
  5. Manufactures that go to wholesale/retail craft shows to copy ideas to manufacture.
  6. Retailers that copy images off maker web sites for ideas.
  7. Retailers that look to the craft community for ideas to manufacture.
  8. Retails that distribute merchandise based on a crafts persons ideas.
  9. Retailers that do not require designers (by contract) to offer original ideas. 
  10. Designers that surf the web for ideas. Quoting Suzanne Beaubrun,"Designers should not be surfing Pinterest or the web for ideas. Products “inspired” by original artists and makers are derivative copies and unethical." She is not the only person to say this. 
  11. Anyone that loves a makers work and decides  "I love your work and want to make one for myself." For personal use this is unethical, but not illegal. Regardless, it is a copy.
  12. Someone who purchases craft work, and takes it apart to copy the components.
  13. Anyone who posts/publishes instructions based on another person's workshop or book without permission. To represent the work as your own idea is piracy. 
  14. Craft shows that allow copycat merchandise to be included in the show. 
  15. Craft shows without a mandate that all merchandise must be original ideas not copied from books, instructional materials, or workshops. This applies to the smallest show to 100's of exhibitors.
  16. Workshop teachers that teach workshop based on published instruction they did not create. 
  17. Workshop instructors that teach techniques based on a workshop taught by another person. They are a "workshop imposter".
  18. Workshop organizers that do not verify their instructors are teaching original content.
  19. Workshop participants that copy ideas/designs from the workshop and sell these ideas/designs as their own work.
  20. Businesses that copy images of art work without permission to teach how-to "paint parties" of enthusiasts.
  21. Authors of instructional materials based on another person's workshop. Do not publish another person's workshop instructions.
  22. Magazines that publish tutorials or instructions without requiring that the ideas and instructions are original to the author.
  23. Wholesale shows that lack enforcement for no photography including cell phones.
  24. Anyone that sells art or craft based on instructional materials. Selling should be the realm for original ideas, style or technique.  
  25. Artists or makers that accept commissions to copy ideas, style, technique based on another persons signature work, or photographic image.
  26. Anyone that thinks a image posted on line is theirs to take, borrow or steal.
  27. Anyone that takes an image from another person's web presence and represents this as their own work.  
  28. Anyone that copies books to sell digital copies online.
  29. Anyone that copies books or instructional materials to "share" content if the do not own the copyright.
  30. Anyone that copies a workshop to "share" the information with their friends in "The Guild of Unauthorized Sharing."
  31. Student work that is derivative should not be shown or sold. By its very nature, student work is about learning and possibly copying the masters. But this work should not be shown or sold as original work. In this example, citation of the source, just as in writing should be a standard policy.
  32. Anyone that uploads images or artwork they do not own for the purpose of printing merchandise with the image. 
  33. The copycats cloaked in naivety or inexperience.
  34. Enthusiasts with the express objective to copy another maker's technique and share it with others. (from the comments.)
  35. Businesses that grab an online photo or art and make an ad out of it without compensation, or permission from the original artist. (from the comments.)
  36. Anyone that steal/copies graphic design images, icon or components for their own T-shirt, graphic designs, advertising and more without permission or compensation to the original artist. This is just one of many sites with examples of stolen graphic design.
  37. Copying a magazine article without permission with the intent of distributing the magazine. (Facebook suggestion)
  38. "Enthusiasts/wanna be information mavens who act as compilers, in hopes of generating traffic to their online sites- by posting free pictorial tutorials using screen shots without links to the original source or citation." (Facebook suggestion)
  39. Your thief goes here?
  40. What have you seen?

Resources and articles about DMCA & Copyright Law:

Some Thoughts on DMCA Safe Harbor

CafePress, Self-Publishing and the DMCA 

Why Are Google DMCA Notices Skyrocketing?

Flickr and Facebook STILL Strip EXIF Data


Jewelers Jury Images Used by Another jeweler

The $23,000 T-shirt: Teaching Copyright in Today's Social Media Culture

"Previously Owned By . . ." ADDS Value IF you have the Provenance

W5196h_ Pearl_Peridot_Pendant
Pretty antique jewelry abounds in the secondary market -- unless it has provenance.  A documented special story can change this pretty ordinary-appearing necklace to extraordinary.

W5196_pearl_peridot_pendant_1496_generalThis necklace (left) was previously owned and worn by Edna Thornton (1875 - 1958). Edna was an English contralto who sang with the Beecham and British National Opera Companies in the early 1900's.

"A fine and impressive antique Victorian 6.98 carat peridot, 0.36 carat diamond, natural pearl and seed pearl 15 carat yellow gold pendant and necklace;  AC Silver antique jewellery and estate jewelry collections tells me that a great story can generate  revenue.

W5196 _Edna_ Thornton
Does your work have a good story? Do you keep Inventory Records to establish provenance?


Below is another example where the provenance, the story, significantly impacts both the price and the marketing. 
This  bow pin looks like one of many precious gem bow pins available for purchase, but it has provenance.  In this case it was owned by Jacqueline Kennedy -- with documentation to prove it.  "Previously sold through Sotheby's in 2005", Caroline Kennedy writes that the items being sold belonged to her parents and were "part of their years at the White House." 

We don't know the price.  Currently listed on line as Price on Request, it is one of those questions where if you have to ask you can't afford it, but we do know that the provenance certainly affects value.

Who will own your work now and in the future? How will that impact the value of your work? 

Daphne Farago purchased these bracelets off my wrist, literally. She didn't want any other example of my jewelry. That had value to her. 
That is also how my tin bracelets landed in the Permanent Collection at the Museum Fine Art, Boston.

How is your story working toward your professional success? 

Attend the Professional Development Seminar as part of the SNAG Conference, or come for just one day. Learn more about our entire line up of eight speakers. 

Deborah Boskin, Appraiser at Bonham's  will be talking about the resale market and determining value.

Donna Schneier is part of our spectacular conclusion as she speaks about her jewelry collection and donating it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Racine Art Museum and more.

Ulysses Dietz, curator at the Newark Museum offers insight into the museum collection. How do they select work for their collection? Why?

Are you ready to take notes? What if you can't come?  Just in case, we will have live blogging by Lindsey Snell posting on Tumbler, Twitter and the Professional Development Facebook page.  Follow our feed today.

Lineage, Provenance, Maker Marks, & Macchiarini

Recently I discovered this brooch on an online site selling 20th-century jewelry. I recognized it immediately as mid-20th-century modernist jewelry by Peter Macchiarini, a San Francisco legend. 

It was described as, "Important Peter Macchiarini studio brooch of sterling silver, brass, ebony and bone inlay. The brooch is quite large and measures 3" by 4". "

In the photo below you can see it was signed "Macc" on the back.
The description says: "In excellent vintage condition.  Price is $3,450"

To complicate this story, below is a pair of earrings I purchased at an antique/flea market. There is a remarkable similarity to the Macchiarini brooch. The white dots of bone or ivory go all the way through the black of the ebony(?) to the other side. The earrings are marked Sterling. Notice the similarity in construction to the Macchiarini brooch with the sterling wire extending beyond the circle. Definitely, "in the style of Peter Macchiarini." The price?

I paid 50 cents because the lady selling the earrings thought that no one would want to wear these earrings.

The Macchiarini Studio still exists in San Francisco only a few doors down from the original location. It is run by Daniel Macchiarini (son of Peter Macchiarini and grand-daughter of Peter Macchiarini.)

Until his father's passing Daniel worked closely with his father . . . and there is renewed interest in his father's work. A third example is shown below: 


Sterling, ebony, ivory and brass dot ring by Peter Macchiarini; created in the 1990s in collaboration with Daniel Macchiarini; top is approximately 7/8" x 5"; ring is about size 10-1/2; marked: "MACC;" fine condition. On M.Schon   $1,450

What determines the price of each item?

Why is it so hard to find Peter Macchiarini jewelry in the secondary market as compared to other 20th century modernists?

Macchiarini-Studio-Contructivist-Brooch-Stamped-Mac Macchiarini-Earrings-Question Peter-Macchiarinin-Dot-Ring





How does the identity of the maker affect value and price? What are the factors that cause similar appearing works to be valued from $0.50 to $3,000.

EXTRA: Daniel Macchiarini  sent me additional information about the "Dot" series. If you are interested please contact me, and I will send you this background information.   




Marking or Signing Your Work? History, provenance and value of your work depends on YOU.

Art jewelry is entering the secondary market.

What is the secondary market? The term "secondary market" describes the sale of work after its first retail purchase such as a in a gallery or store.  An example of "secondary market" for jewelry could be auctions or specialists in reselling like M Schon and 1stdibs.

Boskin_Deborah-ColorDeborah Boskin will be lecturing about the auction market during Collector's, Collection and YOU on April 27, 2014 in Minneapolis, MN, but you can hear about her experience as a maker in a one hour interview with Jay Whaley's Metalsmith Bench Talk on Thursday, March 13, 3:00 p.m.(Pacific time).

Don't miss this preview of her lecture for the Professional Development Seminar at the SNAG Conference.

Deborah Boskin is a specialist of fine jewelry at Bonhams in San Francisco. She knows a lot about establishing value for jewelry on the secondary market. 

Have you ever considered the importance of marking or signing your work? 

How will the secondary market look at your work in 50 years? or 15?

The pin below was made by Sam Kramer. When he was selling his work in Greenwich Village in New York City, do you think he thought it would sell for $4,800 in 2014?


SAM-kRAMER-MARKS-BACKSurrealist eye brooch by 20th century modernist jewelry designer, Sam Kramer. Sterling silver with a yellow taxidermy eye. Signed on the back with Kramer"s mushroom hallmark. (Image above and right)



Below is a William Harper Brooch.

William Harper 1998 Brooch front

Notice in the photo below that the brooch is signed by William Harper, along with the title 'The Lotus' and the date - 1998. Have you ever thought about how people will look at your work in the future? Signing and dating your work may increase the value, now and in the future.  

William Harper Brooch Signed and dated on back

LISTEN to Deborah Boskin in the archived radio interview. She talks about her experience as a maker and how she landed as an appraiser in the auction market. Stay tuned to live blogging from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar on April 25. It may change the way you think about the future of your work beyond the first purchase.


Using Pinterest Link for Visibility and Vigilance to Monitor Your Images


Pinterest has a method to look at images pinned from your website or blog. It is very simple.

COPY this link shown below and insert your website or blog address instead of the yellow text:

For example; to look at the images pinned from my website the link looks like this:

Why would anyone want to look at Pinterest images of their own work, website or blog?


By checking on these Pinterest results you could:

  • ask for proper attribution in the description
  • correct descriptions
  • see which images are most effective
  • gauge interest in a body of work
  • ask for the image to be removed (if you object to your work on Pinterest)
  • contact the poster - (maybe they would like to buy your work, and talking to the artist is all they need to be engaged for a purchase)


Keep in mind that you need a Pinterest account to contact the pinner or leave a comment.


What is the Value of Your Work?

Harriete Estel Berman standing in front of her artwork at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
Have you ever wondered ...

What are key considerations when art or craft is accepted into a collection?

What is the value of that particular work to a collector or collection?

Does having artwork in a collection actually affect the value of future work?

These questions delve into the myriad issues of value. Price is not the sole determinant of value. Materials are not the sole determinant of value. The amount of time you put into making a piece has little to do with its perceived value.

In fact, the value of a particular piece may vary depending on different contexts, situations or people.

In the post "Most of all, money is a story", Seth Godin says:

“Five dollars to buy a snack box on an airplane is worth something very different than five dollars to buy a cup of coffee after a fancy meal, which is worth something different than five dollars in the grocery store. That's because we get to pretend that the five dollars in each situation is worth a different amount--because it's been shifted.”


Deganit-Stern Schocken Me Uchim. NYTAs artists and makers trying to sell our work, we often talk about price and value in the same sentence, but they are not the same thing.

The necklace to the left is attributed to Deganit-Stern Schocken Me Uchin.* 

It is made from crushed tin cans without any effort at refined craft skill.  

Below is a necklace by Mary Lee Hu.* It is finely woven from gold.

Both necklaces are made by contemporary art jewelers. Each makes a statement about value of materials, and craftsmanship. Both are in the Newark Museum collection. I can't wait to hear what Ulysses Dietz has to say at the SNAG Professional Development Seminar about this work and other pieces in their collection.

Are there actions that artists can take to increase the value of their work? 


TOP TEN TIPS for Getting Into a Juried Exhibitions, Juried Shows, Books or Magazines

TOP-TEN-TIPS-for Juried-Opportunities

There is a new improved PDF for the TOP TEN TIPS for Getting into a Juried Exhibition, Craft Show, Book or Magazine with a colored background and internal links for easy reading.

Special appreciation to Tittin Rinde in France for efforts to make this document easier on the eyes. 

Many professionals from the arts and crafts community offered their opinions writing this resource for artists and makers. Their names are listed at the end of the document.

 The Professional Guidelines for the arts and crafts community has 19 documents. 


ASK-Harriete-Green-noBKASK Harriete has a number of posts about Juried Exhibitions that you may find helpful in your professional development.

 Information about retail craft shows can be found under The White Tent or the White Wall.