Monday 15 June 2020

Enough is enough

Handmade lampwork glass 'Gryffindor' beads by Laura Sparling

For a good few years now I've publicly detailed the glasses I use to make my beads. I call them my 'bead recipes'. My sharing of my bead recipes was prompted by numerous "What glass did you use for these?" or "What pink is that?" type questions and it became easier to just state these facts along with the photos of my work.

Over the years I've also done the occasional video or tutorial, talking about beads or demonstrating how a certain bead is made.

The thing is, you share things and suddenly people think every bit of work you show on the internet is fair game for copying. And no, I'm not saying that if I've shown you how to make a certain bead that you are not 'allowed' to make it. I'm trying to say that some people think that because I've shown how I make a couple of things it must follow that the rest of my back catalogue is up for grabs too.

It's not.

Recently someone has adopted my 'signature' bead sets (like the ones pictured above) to the point where as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed the other day I thought for a second I was looking at my own work. And no, dear outrage police, obviously I don't think I own band, spotty, scroll, polka dot or spiral beads but I'll tell you what: quite a few people know that when they see a set of beads with those designs arranged like that, they are most probably mine. Does that make me sound big-headed? Probably. Don't care.

I've also had a thing recently where someone nicked a bracelet design of mine and is selling the results on Etsy. That's one thing, but when you have blatantly copied my description for my version of the bracelet, pasted it into your Etsy listing, changed about four words of it and altered the dimensions to fit yours, that's plagiarism. It's lazy and it's wrong.

I know this all sounds pathetic and it is, in a way. In the grand scheme of things it's just beads, right? We should be flattered that others like our work so much that they want to emulate us, right? Wrong. This copying shite has rumbled on in lampwork circles forever. I see copies and interpretations of other beadmakers' beads all the time and it irks me. Sometimes you know that a beadmaker has done a popular tutorial for a style so that's maybe OK (depending on the original beadmaker's tutorial terms) but sometimes I see absolute bare-faced rip-offs and it's not right.

A student once told me that she copied my work and the work of others but because she sold the results at fairs and not online she felt it didn't matter because we didn't know anything about it. If you're doing a "Well, that's rude!" face at the screen now, please know that my face did the same thing to her face.

Why am I telling you these petty stories?

Because I've had enough.

Sixteen years I've been doing this. Sixteen years of figuring out how glass works. Sixteen years of reading about glass, of experimenting, of trial and error. Sixteen years of mistakes and wasted hours, wasted propane and wasted glass. Sixteen years of writing stuff down and learning. And I'm still learning. You look at one of my beads and you are looking at the ten or so minutes it took me to make it plus sixteen years of practice.

Basically, I think that I've shared enough.

It got to the point where I was feeling like a bit of a mug. I'd post some beads or a new style of bead and people would comment with a short, sharp "Video?" or "Tutorial?" like I somehow automatically owe it to others to put my years of findings and what I've learnt from honing techniques out there. I don't.

I've removed my instructional videos from YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and I've made the decision to stop sharing my bead recipes. The bead recipes I've posted on Tumblr and Instagram will remain where they are, and obviously I will still discuss the glasses I use when I'm doing Creation is Messy testing, but from here on in I'm just about showing you what I've made. I will share any information I am comfortable sharing but I'll no longer respond to questions that I feel I don't have to answer.

I apologise if this post comes off as rude but there's only so long a person can feel taken advantage of before they say "NO MORE!" If my forties are teaching me anything, it's that I don't need to pretend; I can be me and be true to myself and people can accept me as I am or they can naff off.

TL;DR: Because I am an over-sensitive, misanthropic whinge-bag I am no longer answering every bead-based question I'm asked, or sharing instructional videos or bead recipes.