I know. Such a strong word for such a little person. I am after all 5.1 feet tall, not of very lofty heights. But packed with emotions and strong opinions I should remind you. Anyways, that is not at all what I wanted to say. I wanted to bring a little more light on inspiration, on creative output and copyright.
The world is going to hell. That is how I feel most of the time, except when I go for a walk with my girls or when I knit or do watercolours. It seems that nowadays, it is perfectly allright to rip out other people's work, designs, photographs, stories, you name it. The world is up for grabs. And the individuals, the creative individuals behind the creative output are suffering. Some of them immensely.
It has happened to a few people that I know of.
suffered the loss of her business to a
that mass-produces now her designs in China, with low quality materials and no thought behind it. In Stephanie's own words: "I closed my shop and stopped creating because I felt unable to share".
with her words, and yet...nothing happened. There is even a
now where you can see blatant copyright infringement, and where you can bring attention to it. [please do read these links and especially the comments of all the crafters].
has lately been suffering of the same ailment, when a magazine decided to publish her pattern in spanish with her own photographs and not even mentioning her or crediting her for the design. She has worked so hard to create a reputation and to design what she comes up with, only to be ripped off indiscriminately. I am very sad that this has happened to her as well.
But the one that I have personally shed tears for, and for whom I am still in mourning is my dear friend
. Maybe it's because we both create dolls, maybe is because I admire her so much...but this one felt too close to home to just stand by it and not say a word. I have to break my silence because it feels too heavy inside me.
We all gather inspiration from the world around us. It is pretty hard to come up with something original or unique nowadays. Especially in dollmaking. Dolls have been created since the beginning of time, since parents noticed that children relished playing with things that resembled babies. Their babies. So the story goes anyways. I know many dollmakers out there, I know their work and I know their style. We all know who copies who when that happens. And at least I hope that the one who is copying has enough time and devotion to this to evolve eventually, and to create something that comes from within. It is hard to feel like someone is taking from your work, without them even saying thank you or crediting the idea. Most crafters, myself included, do not feel bad when someone takes from their work for personal purposes. Dollmakers especially like to empower parents to create for their children, for moms to make things for their children's dolls, and if an item or an idea that we bring upon sparks their creativity, we applaud it. It feels different when something gets reproduced for sale. I wished it didn't feel like that, but it does.
In my own personal path, I have copied. Yes, I have. I have copied the style of dress that my daughter is wearing, the shoes I make ( I did not invent maryjanes!), I have incorporated a full sleeve or an idea into my dolls, etc. I started making dolls because I saw
's work and since she mentioned that using different types of yarns for the hair increased the life of it, I did the same. I did the same to achieve longer life, not to copy her work. I contacted a
and asked her to use as many fibers as humanly possible. And that is how our collaboration started. When asked how I came upon this kind of dollmaking I am the first one to give her credit. This is the extent of my infringement.
Now, I don't copy other dollmakers. I have designed my own patterns, I didn't go and buy a doll and modeled my work after it. I have learned the hard way to sew, knit, embroider, and take photographs. I believe that when you are starting to create, it is hard to find your own style. It is
hard. And you can only accomplish this by making dolls, making many dolls. But you know what I think helps out a lot? To think. To think what you want to
. How you want your doll to look like, to feel like, it helps to read books and to look at the world with fresh eyes. Not to see the work of other dollmakers and get ideas from it, or do google searches or stalk their flickr photostream. After you have gathered enough little ideas, they might not make sense at first, then you work. You try things and see what fits with you. Soon, your hands start moving in a familiar way, your fingers embroider with the same tension, your body reacts to familiar colours and you develop a style and your technique. Your own limitations will tell you the areas to improve and all of a sudden you find yourself creating with a view of your own work behind you. This is so rewarding!.
I also believe, that as you progress you become aware. You become aware of the work that it involves creating and you realize, at least in my opinion, you realize that you want to create something unique, unique to your work, true to you. Just because someone else is making things in a particular way does not appeal to you anymore, because you have now evolved creatively and you want to do things
way. And this is when you start to develop confidence. Confidence is so hard to come by, and we all need it in order to actually make things. I know that with so many talented dollmakers out there it can feel intimidating or even unsurmountable to make a doll. But it is not, all you need to do is get to it.
Unfortunately, creating from within is not the norm. Not for everyone it seems. And some dollmakers are very, very connected to their work, so much more than others. Some dollmakers are real artists and not hobby dollmakers. Some dollmakers have immense knowledge about their work. Some dollmakers make dolls for their love of children and storytelling, not just to make a living, or become a celebrity. Some dollmakers take it to heart when hurtful words are spoken. Some dollmakers feel the need to stop creating and sharing. And when I say some dollmakers I don't mean
. I mean some of my friends, like Juliane. I wish you could have seen her hands at work!. Those of us who had the lucky opportunity, were blown away. Her hands really tell you a story even before her mouth gave you instructions. Her care, her approach, her technique, those were so visible just by seeing her fingers wind wool. I felt so humbled by all there is to learn, and by how little I know, and how inferior my approach was. That is what inspired me the most.
That she has had the fortitude, the enlightenment and the clear vision to stop what she was doing is sad and an example to follow at the same time. It is, I believe, a lesson. A lesson in understanding. Understanding that our actions have consequences. If I share something someone might steal it. If I create something by imitation then someone might be hurt, a real someone not an imaginary someone. If I say this or that someone might have thoughts about it and stop doing what they were doing, which was a source of joy for many. Not all of us are aware of our actions this way, but I do believe is better to go through life trying to be more conscious and more aware than just to go through the motions with no concepts and no real understanding. I feel that to live like that is rather boring, and hurtful to those who happen to come in contact with us.
I bid farewell to my friend, farewell from the creative realm. I know we will always be friends but I am sad to see her go. So sad. Juliane personally helped me understanding my own demons. Understanding a little bit more about making dolls versus creating personalities. Anybody can make a doll, but few can create a living doll, I know she did. Her advice shed so much light for me, when I was feeling down and trotted upon. And her absolute refusal to contribute with her work to the current mania surrounding dolls is of superior merit. She will not allow her dolls, her work, to be used as currency. To be used as fuel for the fodder. To become some sort of savings bank in which you can rely upon in times of need. Her work means so much more to her than that and I applaud her determination, although I am still sad. She left before this kind of crazyness got to her, and she did it out of solidarity, solidarity with the work of other dollmakers. Her work has never been traded, or re-sold, but it has been copied, manipulated and walked all over.
I am sad that things have gone this way. Sad that she, like so many others, had to remove herself in order to live content and at peace with herself. Sad that the demand on her was of such magnitude that her personal life was suffering. Sad about the current state of affairs in the crafting arena. Sad that I will no longer, like so many others, read her stories and her chronicles. Sad that I will never see the work of her sprouting hands. Sad to lose one more creative genius. Sad that the dollmaking world has lost a powerful teacher. Sad for all those children that were expecting a doll from her. Sad that the voracity of some has turned the world so grey. Sad but hopeful.
I hope things will change. I hope many new dollmakers will arrive, and they will bring loads of fresh air with them, not stale sacks. Hopeful that all those hands that learned dollmaking with Juliane will go on a path of their own and spread the joy that she had when she taught them. Hopeful that all those children that were lucky to have a doll created for them by her will have a true companion to share stories with. I hope that those individuals that stole from her realize the extent of their actions. I hope that those who take very easily from here or there meditate a little and grow up. I hope that we all learn to be "excellent to one another". I hope that we dollmakers, and doll lovers, can learn together ways of responsibly sharing the doll love. I hope her leave of absence is not long. I do wish for that. I hope one day she can come back and be a happy dollmaker...
Thank you Juliane, for setting the bar so high.
For loving red and acqua so much.
For teaching and writing.
For your german accent.
For your love of dresses and baking.
For your talent.
For hooking me up with other dollmakers.
Even though I know you feel empty and tired, please know that you have
I wish you peace, and rest, and a beautiful Spring.
I wish for your teeth troubles to end soon ;-)
and for your feet to walk soon into a home of your own.
I will think of you often, most often when I caress wool batting or pick something very girly to wear. May your days be filled with laughter and may your stories never end.
They live within me.
Good bye my dear friend! Adios mi queridisima amiga!
God ta min käre vän! Auf Wiedersehen mein lieber Freund, froken skicklig :-)