"Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either." ~ Elizabeth Zimmerman

4/4/07

Getting Up on a Soap Box

I had an interesting experience last night. Before bed I just thought I'd check my email and found the following message from Diane Fitzgerald, the famous bead work designer.

"Dear LJ...

A friend just wrote to tell me you are teaching a class from my website...the Chevron Chain. It is published in my booklet, "A Dozen Beadwork Chains." If it is true that you are teaching this, I would very much appreciate it if you would give me credit for documenting this chain as I think it was not previously published. I assume you are writing your own instructions since the material is copyrighted and you may not reproduce my instructions without my written permission.

Please get in touch if you have questions
."

I find this to be extremely offensive and insulting. The implication and assumption is that I am teaching this technique using illegal copies of her precious published work and claiming it as mine.

I did no such thing. I gave her FULL credit. In fact, I call it the Diane Fitzgerald Chevron chain. In addition, I did not make copies of anyone else's stuff to use as a handout. I didn't even have a handout. If I am teaching a particular project that is published in a copyrighted manner, and that material is necessary, I require my students to purchase a legal copy of said copyrighted material. I don't make illegal copies and hand them out, nor do I allow my students to use illegally obtained copies of patterns in class. I am a PROFESSIONAL when it comes to my teaching. I resent that she, or anyone else, would assume that I would be otherwise!

I have talked to others who have had this experience with her and other designers of bead work patterns. What a shame.

The email immediately brought to mind an experience I had with another 'famous' bead work designer last fall. This person has a wonderful design that she is selling kits for. If you buy the kit, you get the pattern, beads, and everything else needed to make the project. I don't buy kits, as a rule. I like to buy the pattern and use my own choice of beads. In this particular case, her kits did not come in a colorway that I found pleasing anyway. So using beads from my stash, or purchasing my own, was even more desirable. So I emailed her and asked if she would sell the pattern minus the beads. Her reply was no, I was encouraged to take one of her classes, and I quote:

"We do not sell patterns individually in order to maintain the integrity of our designs."

Maintain the integrity of our designs--talk about a slap in the face!!! In other words, I am not capable of picking the proper beads to do her designs. Only she can do that. Anything else would ruin her reputation. What I find ironic is that I could buy the whole kit, discard the beads, use my own, and that would be perfectly acceptable. Needless to say, I did not purchase the kit. I decided I don't want to make that particular necklace after all. Not from someone who is insulting. I wonder how much income she's missing out on because of all the other beaders like me who loath buying kits, but would love to buy the pattern? Hmmm....

What is with these people? Is it they have an enormously blown up perception of their own self importance? Or complete paranoia due to severe lack of self esteem? Are there that many folks out there 'stealing' from these ladies? (Are there that many inept beaders out there making hideous recreations of their designs?) My experience has been no! The majority of people are honest and do the right thing.

This is a phenomenon I have come across since joining the beading world that is disturbing. Designers so protective of their precious creations that they are downright oppressive toward the public who, supposedly, they create their designs for. They assume the worst in all of us, not giving us the benefit of the doubt. We all are trying to steal from them. I've even seen articles in bead magazines that say it's unethical to learn a technique from a designer and then go teach it to others because you may be depriving teaching income from that designer. Huh? Since when did learning and then teaching what you learn become unethical? If that's the case, then there are thousands of college professors out there who are being extremely unethical, aren't there? I feel sorry for these designers. They can't be happy if they're spending all their time worrying and policing about this stuff.

If I teach a class and my students go out and teach what they've learned from me to others, that is an enormous compliment to my teaching ability. If they go out and teach others one of my designs, Wow! Now that's a compliment. Nothing makes me feel more proud than someone doing that.

When I teach a class of my own design or anyone else's, I do not require that all students must make the project in the exact same colors I chose for my project. I encourage creativity. Let them pick colors they like, instead of being restricted to my choices. This is what teaching is all about. Expanding someones ability to do an art.

For me, teaching is not just passing on knowledge, but also helping the beading designers, publishers, suppliers, and retailers in their business. From that single Diane Fitzgerald Chevron stitch class , someone learned about this fabulous designer. I gave her information to find Diane's web site so they can see her kits, books, and patterns available for purchase. This may lead to a sale for Diane. In addition, the owner of the shop I teach at benefits because the materials for the class were bought from her.

I suspect, though, that most of the designers with such a suspicious attitude see it only as a way to make money. That's really sad. They're missing out on the whole point of designing and publishing patterns.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a shame that some designers are like that. Good for you for bringing this topic to light, I'm sure you're not alone!

    ReplyDelete