Recently, while having a browse through lovespoons sites on the internet, I came across a couple of copies of a spoon design which I did a few years ago with artist Jan Buehler. The design originated with a delicate little sketch Jan had made of a vase of flowers. I modified it a bit so that it could be rendered in wood and stylized the flowers a little. Right off the bat, Tulips became one of my most popular lovespoons and is one of the few designs I have ever carved more than once. In fact over the years, I have probably made ten or twelve Tulips in a variety of sizes and wood types, so it doesn't surprise me that other carvers would find the design equally alluring!
I know there is an old saying which implies that copying is the sincerest form of flattery and I am right onboard with that sentiment.....until money starts changing hands.
If a carver wants to copy one of my spoon designs as a gift for a sweetie, as a personal challenge or as a fundraiser for a charitable event, I really am flattered!!
If another carver's version of my spoon gets posted onto a website to advertise that carver's skill, then I think the least that carver can do is acknowledge where the design came from by mentioning my name. That, I believe, is just common courtesy!
If a carver puts a spoon carved from my designs on Etsy or Ebay etc., then it is theft pure and simple....and I definitely am not flattered any more.
I work very, very hard to make the best lovespoons I possibly can. When my designs are taken to promote other carvers or to make money for them, I can't help but be offended. I certainly would never dream of doing that to them and I don't like it being done to me!!
Although I'm having a good old rant here, it's important to note that I am not a miserable old coot who wants to keep everything to himself!! I am approachable and I try to always be supportive and helpful with other carvers, BUT, I am trying to make a living like everyone else!
While I am flattered that the carvers of these two spoons enjoyed 'Tulips' enough to copy the design, I can't help but be a bit offended that neither bothered to acknowledge the origins of the design when they posted the pictures to the internet.
I would have been even more offended if I had found these on Ebay (fortunately, I didn't) as it would be a copyright infringement and a theft of my intellectual property.
The internet is a miraculous thing and is the sole reason I can make a business of carving handmade wooden lovespoons in this mass-production world of ours. Unfortunately, that same internet can be a bit of a 'Wild West' and things like this can happen. I can only hope that in years to come, I will be flattered more than I am offended!!