Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Giving credit where credit is due

EDIT 4/5/11: I wrote this post before I made my decision to make this pattern available for free online. Now that I read it again, I cringe a little inside. I'm leaving it up because I feel its important to be honest with what I was feeling at the moment.

I’m having a bit of a weird morning.

Last night, when I was working on my portfolio, I came across a few people who had made their own versions of my Han Solo cross stitch.

They’d re-created it, stitch by stitch. I didn’t see it for sale anywhere, but it still made me feel really strange to see it out there…especially without my name on it. I emailed the one I had contact info for, asking her to please credit me with pattern design. I tried to explain that it was a labor of love, and that I had received no payment. That I was fine with her stitching it up.

Now I’m starting to wonder if I did the right thing. I was polite, friendly even. But I’m wondering if I’m not blowing a tiny thing out of proportion. I’ll admit, there’s a part of me that feels weird seeing other people stitch up my work. I didn’t share a pattern, mostly because I couldn’t find a software program that worked on my Mac, and now I’m too poor to buy one for my new PC. So, in my mind, it was more “art” than “craft,” a one-of-a-kind creation. Now I see that other people have gone and re-interpreted my work, as crafty folks are wont to do. I’m both flattered and…and well, jealous.

I don’t know if I have the right to feel that way. The crafty community is all about sharing. I myself have enjoyed stitching up free patterns that have been made available. But, the difference is, the designers made those patterns available. I wouldn’t dream of re-interpreting someone else’s design. But that’s just me. I’m also really careful to always attribute the patterns I stitch up, even if I’ve paid for them. I don’t know.

Is this something I’m just going to have to let go of? The spouse reminded me that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” I guess I should feel honored that they chose to stitch up one my designs. If nothing else, this is lighting a fire under my butt to get that pattern out there for free.

I’d love to hear what other folks out there think of this, if they’ve ever dealt with something like this. Is this something I’m going to have to learn to live with, or am I right in asking people to credit me for the pattern until it’s available?

[Note: The image was one I found on benisawesome.net. If I knew who had stitched it, I would have credited the photo.]

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Futurama has me in stitches

Sometimes I fear we are cute...
Continuing on my sci-fi stitching kick after the Adventures of Rocketgirl, I decided to turn my embroidery needle to something a little simpler, a little softer, a little...cuter.

Behold, Lord Nibbler the Nibblonian from Futurama!

He may not look very regal in this pose, but make no mistake, he'll vaporize you with his kitten-class attack ship (unless you can fight him off with a folding chair).

His likes include devouring hams (and live animals) whole, being scratched behind the ears, and messing with the space/time continuum. His dislikes include intergalactic pet pageants, flying brains, and high-velocity mail.
He's stitched up with back stitch, satin stitch, long-and-short stitch, and french knots. Click the picture for a closer look. He stands (well, sits) around three inches tall, and is mounted in a four-inch frame.
I wish I could take credit for the stuffed ham in the first picture, but alas, I am not that crafty a sewer. That delicious-looking plushy is from Sweet Meats, which gets extra points for wrapping their fuzzy creations in deli paper.

I'm contemplating more Futurama-themed stitching projects, since the art style lends itself so well to it. I have an image of a scuttling Zoidberg that would make an interesting piece, as well as some funny Bender pictures. We'll see, though. I'm 1/3 of the way through an involved Dia de los Muertos embroidery project I would like to finish by the end of the month, and then the holidays loom near. Which I'm so not thinking about right now, not with Halloween around the corner!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Letting go of "Someday"

I’ve been a crafter my whole life. I may not have labeled myself as such, but my hands have always been busy with one sort of creation or another. My bedrooms, dorm rooms, and living rooms have been stuffed with boxes full of magazines for collaging, art supplies ranging from acrylic paints to pastels to air-dry clay, fabric fragments, yarn skeins…you get the idea.

I’ve hoarded art and craft supplies the way squirrels do nuts in a tree. Though I diligently purge books, clothes, and knick-knacks, I hold on to every magazine, every ball of clearance-bin yarn, every glass bead and block of Fimo clay.

What’s worse is that I add to this cache constantly. I swing by the craft store to pick up an extra bit of floss for a specific embroidery project, and leave with charms for beaded necklaces, colored felt for softies, and fat quarters for future quilting projects.

Never mind that I haven’t beaded in years. Never mind that I don’t have a specific softie in mind for the felt. Never mind that I have never made a quilt, and my sewing machine is more of an heirloom than an actual tool. Nope, none of that matters. Because, I’m sure I’ll need it someday.

I fall in love with the idea of projects so quickly, with the Martha Stewart-esque fantasies of 100% homemade gifts, holiday decorations, clothes, and more. This infatuation leads to spur-of-the-moment purchases…which in turn leads to expectations once I get the supplies home.

Sometimes I start the intended project soon after I make the purchase. Most times, though, the felt/yarn/fabric/Fimo sits in its store bag for days, until I deposit it in its proper place among my crafting supplies. Where it sits. And sits. And sits.

The longer the materials sit, the more obsessed I get with the idea of using them when I come across them again. I’ve held on this long, why give up now? Why relinquish the potential that these supplies hold? I might as well be throwing away the finished quilt/scrapbook/necklace/softie.

What I keep forgetting, though, is those two tiny things that turn beads and wire into necklaces, paper and photos into scrapbooks, and fabric segments into a quilt: time and energy.

I may not be employed, but I’m a busy woman. I write regularly, and am crafting a freelance writing career. I go to swimming classes in Berkeley and into San Francisco weekly. I do the bulk of the chores and shopping for my household. In my free time, you’re as likely to see a game controller in my hand as a set of knitting needles. I don’t have as much time and energy as I like to pretend I do.

Why am I sharing all this? Because I came to a difficult decision last night: it’s time for my first honest-to-goodness de-stashing. I’m going through ALL my supplies -- especially the ones I’ve had since childhood -- and getting rid of everything I really and truly will never use.

These supplies I will donate to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, so I know that they will be used and loved -- not someday, but today -- by children, teachers, artists, and other crafters.

These items will still reach their potential. They will still be made into clothes, paintings, necklaces, and more, but by people who can put the time and energy into making it happen. I’m hoping that in letting go of these supplies -- of letting go of the potential -- I can let go of my own crafting expectations. I can focus on the crafts that truly make me happy, and that I actually want to make, rather than feel like I have to make.

I made good progress last night, though I still have the bulk of my magazines and paper scraps to go through. That may be my hardest challenge. But seeing those squares of felt, tubes of old beads, and hunks of yarn all neatly packed away is very encouraging, and extremely liberating.