Feature - Copying and Copyrights

*Here is the original pdf file of the article on copying that was printed in the AGS magazine.  You are welcome to reprint this article for use in your patch or club, as long as proper author attribution is included with the reprint.

I got some great comments after this article was published in the Arizona Gourds June Newsletter.
Here are some of the comments (these have been edited or paraphrased for space reasons.)

Arizona Gourds
July updates from the desert southwest...
Welcome to the July issue of the Arizona Gourds newsletter! 
Thanks for checking out the latest news! Feel free to pass the newsletter link along to your friends.

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Featured Books of the Month:

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You can use this Amazon search box link to find all kinds of books and other products.  I appreciate those of you that do so; Amazon purchases made through the links on this website help to support this site. 
Lora Irish has a new book that is due out on July 1st.  You can preorder for a guaranteed price. (That worked out well for people that pre-ordered a copy of her latest book - Amazon made a mistake on the initial pricing and preorders went out and about half of the cover price!)  Lora's new book is The Art and Craft of Pyrography.  I haven't seen a copy yet, but I'm an admirer of some of her other books.  She does a good job and the books have a lot of great ideas, instructions and art.   Also from Fox Chapel Publishing, Woodburning Projects & Patterns Treasury is a compilation book that allows you to take patterns and put them together in new and creative ways.

The other 4 books are excellent resources for visual artists that want to learn about copyrights and other legal matters that artists deal with.  I've included the Photographer's Survival Manual, as it also deals more with internet issues that face anyone who posts photos online.
*Please visit the book page links shown at right to view collections of related  titles. Each topic includes a variety of suggested books about each subject.
Note:  Not getting the email notices about the newsletters?   Please check your spam folder near the end of each month and add our address to your "safe senders" list.  Many emails bounce each month due to spam blockers. 

If your email address changes, just sign up again with your new address - no need to email me the change, as I purge non-working addresses monthly.
Gourds Southwest Gourd Techniques & Projects from Simple to Sophisticated
by Bonnie Gibson

The hardcover edition is now OUT OF PRINT!
I still have some on hand, but supplies are limited.  Last chance to get a copy before they are gone!

What's new on the Arizona Gourds website? 
(Click on book cover for ordering information.)
All photos and designs copyright © 2012 by Bonnie Gibson and may not be used without express written permission.
Featured Gourd of the Month:

"Western Tanager - Japanese Maples"

This is a large gourd with an added lifesized Western Tananger carved from basswood. The bird is attached to a manzanita branch that is incorporated into the gourd carving.  
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The Gourd Art Enthusiasts site continues to grow!  We have over 2650 members, with gourd enthusiasts from all over the world!  Membership is free and easy.  The site also has state groups, event listings, a Q&A forum and a chat feature if you need an quick answer to a gourding question!  
Check out our two great new GAE T-Shirt designs ! 
UpdateGourd Classes

The Colorado Springs, CO workshop on August 17 - 19th is now full, but please contact Merle Dallison if you'd like to be placed on the waiting list.

I'll be teaching at the Michigan Festival of Gourds, September 14-16.  Classes and details are now posted on the festival site.    I probably won't get up that way again for a few years.
*Sign up for the class updates list to the left if you want to get advance notice of all classes.
*Want to see my listing of top gourd books?  Here is my  "Listmania" listing on Amazon
June was a busy and productive month for me - I taught a 3 day workshop in the Missouri Ozarks (and had a great time) AND, I actually found some time to work on my own gourd projects.  Things have been slower online recently - I think most of us are taking advantage of the longer days and summer weather, and we're working and enjoying the outdoors.   I feel very lucky to be able to work outdoors almost year round. 

I want to thank everyone that wrote in last month with comments about my article on copying and copyrights.  It's obvious that this is a topic that will have to be revisited many times.  The trick is for us to educate ourselves and others, so that we can stand with pride behind our own work!  This month, we'll jump into the topic a bit more, but I promise something lighter for next month.
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Reader's Mailbag:
Hi Bonnie! First of all, THANK YOU again for your seemingly endless flow of wonderful inspiration! I have written to you from time to time with questions and you have always been greatly helpful. I am searching for some type of electrical wall fixture for a gourd "wall sconce" (aka "up-light"?). I recently saw a photo of a completed gourd wall lamp and have been going crazy trying to figure out what that electrical assembly might look like. Pretty sure it is not the standard nightlight/cord/switch set up for the traditional countertop nightlight - this one seems to be engineered specifically for wall hanging. I have searched high and low, including your site and have not seen anything like that. . . .do you have any idea what I am talking about? If so, any guidance on where I might find such a thing? Thank you so much! Jennifer Stewart-Benedict

Readers - I've never made a wall sconce such as this - does anyone have advice for Jennifer?  If so, please forward it to me and I will pass it along and/or include it in the next newsletter.
I was saddened to hear about the shop lady who copied from photos on GAE.  I get my ideas from other sources such as pottery, basket designs, etc.  My recent Steampunk'd gear gourd was inspired from a set of gears on a leather crafting site.  I figured I was the only one who thought of doing gears on a gourd - the movie "Hugo" made me think of gourds also.  Then, I did an image search and found out someone had wood burned on a gourd some gears and had the idea too!  
I'm noted for doing leaves.  I've taught this as a class and thought everyone will be doing leaves now.  That's when I changed to doing something else.  You either have to be the first  and remain the best because everyone catches on or passes you up.  Some of my past students whip my patootie at shows now.  I just put Steampunk'd into a show yesterday and it will be on display for two months.  I can't stop folks from being inspired by it and doing gears on a gourd on their own but if I see one out there like mine I would be steamed from the punk who did this. Much gratitude to you.
Mary Hogue - Utah
I really love traveling to teach in different areas.  Our country has so many beautiful sights.  Here are a few scenery pictures taken in Missouri - workshop photos below.
Tip of the Month:  Cleaning Warty Gourds!

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*ALL Amazon purchases made through site links and the search box help support  Arizona Gourds and the Gourd Art Enthusiasts websites, and it costs you nothing extra!
Selinda Butler of North Carolina wrote in to ask about the best way to clean warty gourds.  I've cleaned a few, and admittedly, they are the toughest gourds to clean because of all of the nooks and crannies!

Possible ways to clean include prolonged soaking, then scrubbing with copper scrubbies and using a paring knife to scrape out hard to get to areas,  using a soft brass wire brush to abrade away the skin, burying the gourd in wet dirt for several days and then scrubbing,  or using a power washer (careful the gourd doesn't go flying off!)   I've also made a homemade tool using scotchbrite pads on a mandrel and used a drill to power this scrubbing tool - which works best while the gourd skin is still wet.

Green scraping is also an option if you have a green gourd.  With this method, I recommend a dull paring knife and a lot of patience.  Put the gourd in an old towel. and gently scrape away all of the skin, taking time to poke the knife tip into those stubborn crevices. 

This chore isn't always easy - but warty gourds are so interesting that it's worth the effort!
Bonnie, I just wanted to take a minute to thank you very much for your amazing newsletter.  Every month I look forward to it for tips, instructions and inspiration.  I've taken a couple of classes with you and use your website as a source of creative fuel and invaluable links to resources and how-to info.

The article about the gourder who was blatantly copying the work of other artists was especially informative.  I often "snatch copies" of photos from everywhere on the web of things in which I am interested, which I keep for admiration and inspiration.  But to COPY is a no-no (as IF I even could do so well).  It is always good to remind us as artists and craftspeople of our responsibility to our muses and ourselves (remember the "Golden Rule").

Anyway, I just want to thank you again for the work, time and knowledge you impart, free of charge, to others.  You are a gem.  Thank you very much.   C. L. Henson - California

Book Reviews


New and Different Materials for Weaving and Coiling is the latest release from Marianne Barnes.  This book has many examples of gourd art, but the main focus is on basketry materials and techniques. Part one deals with all the different kinds of materials that are usuable for weaving projects.  The scope includes traditional weaving materials such as plants, grasses, bark, pine needles and other natural materials, to man-made  materials such as cloth, paper, wire and metals and recycled items.  Part two contains projects - 4 are basketry, 5 are gourd weaving projects.   The last section of the book contains a gallery of lovely woven baskets and gourds, biographies of the participating artists, bibliography and list of suppliers.   This is a nice book for those that are interested in trying something new and have a bit of weaving experience.  The best part is the quality and quantity of photos, especially in the gallery section.  Here, you'll get inspiration and ideas for developing your own projects.  This book is best for intermediate to advanced gourd crafters.  Some previous weaving experience is recommended.
Schiffer Publishing - 208 pg, $29.99 cover price.

Time for Gourds: 8 Clock Projects and Making Gourd Bowls are both by Sammie Crawford.  Both books are geared towards beginning to intermediate gourd crafters. The main emphasis of both books is decorative painting instruction.  Basic construction instructions are included, but in both cases, these are limited in scope to two or three pages out of the entire book.  The painting instructions are well illustrated, and material lists and patterns are included. 
All of the projects in the Making Gourd Bowls book are made in the same way, only the painting varies.  There are some other styles of bowls shown in the gallery section at the end of the book, but there are no assembly instructions included for those.
The projects in Time for Gourds use a combination of gourds or gourd parts, wooden backings, and clock kit parts (available in craft stores or online.)  There is more variety of projects in this book, and once again, there is a complete listing of materials and supplies (including exact paint colors) as well as patterns for each project.
Recommended for beginning gourders or those that like detailed painting instructions.  More advanced gourd crafters will be less interested in these two titles. 
Time for Gourds - Schiffer Publishing - 80pg, $16.99 cover price.
Making Gourd Bowls - Schiffer Publishing - 64pg, $16.99 cover price.
*Notice:  Due to a family event, we will not be shipping from July 12 - 22.  Orders placed during those dates will be shipped out as quickly as possible starting on the 23rd.
* Do you have any helpful tips?  Please send them to: bonnie@arizonagourds.com.  We'd love to share them with our readers.
July Specials - Discounts on metal cones, leather laces and arrowheads.
Leather laces and arrowheads are on the Special embellishments page, cones are on the metals page.  Offer good while current supply lasts.
Stuff on the Internet is not “free.”  Much of it is copyrighted…in fact most of it is.  That means no copying.

Now, when I was first learning, I did trace some things from people who did it right, but I never sold…only learned how to and once I got the hang of it, did my own originals.

I don’t have a problem with someone copying to learn, but never ever copying to sell.  You are selling another person’s art, talent, ideas and that is in essence “stealing.”  It is why you can’t copy someone’s written work or musical work and call it your own.  That is plagiarism and is a crime.  Copying someone’s art is a form of plagiarism and is also a crime.  Both are open for lawsuits when the originator gets wind.  And rightly so.  You are stealing.  Plain and simple.
Gerri Bishop - Arizona

Copying is an issue that should also be raised with AGS certified judges - that they be aware of other artists' work to be able to recognize and comment on entries that are clearly copies and not original work nor 
class projects.   How one does that seems overwhelming.   We can't 
legislate morality.  One is reared in a family and society where ethics are practiced and that's where we learn to be ethical or selfish and greedy.   It's hard to unlearn values that were around us in our formative years.  Yet people do.   We have to be good examples for others and hope they learn.   Maybe a few choice anecdotes on GAE could spread the word to the small gallery owner  -  you know, like:  "Here's Betsy's technique - now think about how you could use this technique in your own work.  You don't want to just make something  that looks like Betsy's."   "Craft is being good at technique.   Art is using the technique to convey your own inspiration."   It's a tough one....
Jim Widess - Author, and owner of The Caning Shop, California

Most of the time when I use something for inspiration, it changes so much with my own imagination, that it is unrecognizable as the original.  In that case, if it is sufficiently different, I do take credit and sign with my own name.  If it looks in any way like the original, I sign my name with “after, original artists name”  Since I  do not sell my gourds I have felt this was sufficient.  But, after reading your article, I believe I should do this and also ask.
While at a recent Gourd Festival, I was talking to people who were part of the event.   I was just shocked by their attitude about copying or copyrights - they saw absolutely saw nothing wrong in copying another person's work.  In fact, they told me she and friends have purchased some gourd art so they could copy it.  One said "there is nothing wrong with copying .... you only have to change 2-3 things". 

I was watching a vendor put pieces in their booth shelves, and noticed two that were just flat out copied.  One was a Robert Rivera doll, and another was of a metal statue that has been in magazines and at the Indian Market in Arlington, TX.   I walked over and took a closer look and also to start a conversation. They told me they were copies and didn't feel bad about it at all.  They even told me they were considering copying my Indian Maidens!!!  I couldn't figure out if they had no ethics or were just flat stupid -  I think it was a combination!  I tried to explain that it was illegal to copy other artists work, and I got a real flippy answer.  That's when I said, "Okay, let's put it this way.  You copy my Indian Maidens in any form or fashion I will sue you."  Their eyes got really big and said I wouldn't ever do that because it would cost too much money.  I asked them if they could afford to lose their home, car, money, pride, and self-respect because they copied other artists' work.  I said they needed to have faith in their own abilities and should create their own art.  She could study other artists' styles but use it in their own creative way.  An artist's piece of art is copyrighted as soon as they do it since the copyright laws changed. 
Hellen Martin - Texas

Thank you for printing this article re. artistic copyright.  I belong to a group of gourd enthusiasts that puts on the Calabash Gourd Festival here in Grand Junction, CO at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens each year.  We offer make-it-take-it classes, and freely share gourd crafting information.   Our members are very generous in sharing ideas and materials.

HOWEVER, there are always a few that are taking pictures of every piece of gourd art, and don't bother to ask permission. Asking permission, gives the artist an opportunity to share copyright info, but if they don't ask...how do you tell them tactfully when they start snapping photos of your work????

I think we will post a sign this year to please ask permission before photographing art work.  May we have your permission to have copies of your article available to hand out?  (YES!)

Thanks so much for the huge support you offer to gourd enthusiasts.  Gourds have a mind of their own....we're just along for the ride! 

Addendum:  At our recent festival, I did not see many pictures being taken...BUT...so many people have iphones now, they can appear to be checking messages, texting while actually photographing your whole booth!  One gal did ask for permission to photograph two gourds, and I said of course, if she wants to make one like it for herself or a friend, but NOT to sell.
Linda Paige - Colorado
I was just talking about this issue with a friend on the way to the Kentucky Gourd Festival.  The reason behind it was because at last year’s festival I saw more copies than I thought appropriate.  They were exact copies. I agree with you completely!  Last year I was in Jan Bresno’s class of your Bird Effigy. (A project from my Gourds Book) She made it very clear that she had written to you for permission to teach it. I love what I did with it.  Now, question, it is my own design on the bird, can I enter it in the festival next year?  In such a case do I need permission?  
Lila Cruse - Kentucky

*My reply:  You should always be wary of entering class pieces in competitions - you want to enter things that look like your own work and not like someone else's.  That being said, even my project is based on prehistoric pottery, and there are current pottery artists doing similar items.  It's a fine line and grey area. Sometimes you have to go with your own gut feeling as to whether it is fair or proper.  BG
The article about copying the work of others really hit home with me.  It was like you read my mind.  A couple weeks ago I was so upset I almost wrote to get your advice how you would handle a situation where someone copied work exactly then started selling it at the same event we both attend.

One of my best customers started selling gourds identical to the ones she bought from me.   Now I frequently see some of my favorite work on Gourd Art Enthusiasts, posted by someone who has copied.
I approached one person, and asked they knew that it was wrong to copy. I was told  I was being selfish, not wanting anyone else to sell gourds.  People have even told me they have bought DVDs from Welburn Gourd Farm on line so they can start giving lessons now based on these DVDs. 
I think this is probably an extreme case.  I just try and remember, it's only gourds.   Anonymous

The copying is a shame.  People sell their original work and a buyer pays for an original.  What you see in your head and produce with your hands should be yours alone.  I have made it my business to notify the orignal designer if I can by getting a business card from a person displaying other people's work as their own. If we all did this there would be a lot less copying of other people's work. I am always polite, and admiring and frequently they just say "Well, I saw this and decided to make some to sell too."  Laura
I inadvertently copied something last year.  I thought it was a copy free image of a giraffe because I saw it all over the internet - quilts, wall hangings, embroidery and amateur paintings - then as I was burning the design,  I didn't like something about the the design- so as I was web searching for pictures of giraffes - I saw the image on another gourd and then found the original pen and ink drawing from a famous wildlife artist in England.  I still feel guilty about it to this day.

So many people are being so cavalier about copying these days that you really have to be careful.  When our club has booths at gourd festivals, I often don't bring unique items - because otherwise the following year I see copies of my stuff in other booths.  
Cyndee Newick - California

There is a great discussion about copying on the Gourd Art Enthusiasts website in the forum section.  It began with a query about whether it was permissible to use Disney images on your gourds - and progresses through many other copying issues including social media, Pinterest, and others.  It's well worth reading.  You can read it here, even if you aren't a GAE member.

Summary:  For those who still think that "copying isn't hurting anyone" - you can see that these artists feel very strongly that not only is it hurtful, but it's unethical and unfair to the customer who unknowingly purchases a copy.   Please, let's all make an effort to gather ideas and techniques, but only to use them in our own creative and distinctively different ways, so that your art is YOUR art.
Missouri Gourd Workshop
On June 4-6th, 20 gourders from several states (Missouri, Arkansas, Ohio, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota... did I miss anyone?) gathered for 3 days of intensive classes in a lovely location.  Event coordinator, Sophia Delaat, did a great job of arranging for the use of a wonderful facility with plenty of room and inexpensive lodging.  We had a great time and hope to do it again next year!  Thanks to Linda Ashmore and Elaine Sutherland for sharing their photos.
Above:  Group shot, and Sanding Inlace  As you can see from these photos, we had plenty of room in our comfortable indoor facility. 

Left: Some people were very relaxed during our classes!
Reader's Mailbag:
Yesterday I received a package from you shipped last week.  The package arrived quickly with no delays at the border. Thank-you very much. You are very reliable and offer a great selection of items. Dawna-Lea, One Sparrow Images, Canada

Note:  Shipments made to Canada are sent via international first class mail. You may place your order through the shopping cart as usual (however, I cannot send liquids out of the US.)  I also ship to other countries, but due to the wide differences in shipping prices, you should place your order via email, and I will let you know the actual shipping cost before you order.
Reader's Mailbag:
I bought some drumskins from you about a year ago and I am now just working on making/finishing my drum. A question - do I burn the design I want on the top of the rawhide before or after I set it on the drum? Dry or wet? I don't want to mess it up. Thank you. p.s. you're art has really inspired me to come out with some nice experiments on my gourds ( I am just a beginner.)

While you can burn on leather, I don't recommend burning a drum skin, because they are very thin and burning just a fraction too deep will cause the drum skin to fail - it'll either rip or develop a hole. (If you still want to try it, use LOW heat!)  Instead, I recommend using something like Pitt Pens to draw on the drum head after it has been stretched and dried thoroughly.  Seal the drawing with a light coat of fixatif or matte spray after it is completed.
Reader's Mailbag:
I am sending you a photo of the gourd mask that I made for a competition. I learned a lot from you and enjoyed classes last year at the Lone Star Gourd Festival in Fredricksburg. I am a glass artist as well and incorporated some glass in my piece. It won 3rd place!
Susan Urban -  Texas
Coming next Month: Gourd birdhouses and feeders!  Do you have any photos of your creations to share?  Please send your favorite pics to bonnie@arizonagourds.com  If you have any photos of OCCUPIED birdhouses or feeder - even better!  Thanks for sharing!
Reader's Mailbag:
This lamp globe was my second attempt at filigree after obtaining your instructions and tools. It is a top for an oil lamp.   As luck would have it, my son broke the bottom lamp bowl - you wouldn't by chance know someone willing to part with a similar bowl would you?  I really enjoy your news letter. Thank you so much for all the wonderful articles and inspiring pictures.  Amy Huston
Price update: I announced last year that the Chinese mines were ceasing production - and as feared, as the availability of old stock decreases, the price has increased rapidly.  Due to this, I will be stocking fewer sizes and shapes, but will still carry the most popular sizes.  You should expect that the prices will only continue to increase in the future.  (Dyed magnesite turquoise is a good option for the budget minded.)  Check out our available inventory on the Inlay Supplies page.
About the shipping policy on the Arizona Gourds website.... 
Several people have written over the years to ask about the shipping charges on the website, or to say thank you for unexpected "freebies" in their orders.
Our site uses the least expensive shopping cart system available, which allows us to keep our prices as low as possible.  However, the shopping cart software only allows for flat rate shipping charges, and it doesn't take into account the weight or distance your package travels.  Our flat rate is set based on the total cost of your order; sometimes your actual shipping costs are more than what you are charged, sometimes they are less.  To be fair, when there is great difference, I try to throw in some extra merchandise to make up for this discrepancy.  On some heavy items such as Apoxie Sculpt, a small surcharge is added, and it is refunded if possible.  In all cases, I try to treat you fairly.

Did you know that all retailers must pay a percentage of every sale if they accept credit cards?  In our case, we are charged 30 cents per transaction, plus 3% of the total.  On a 25 dollar order, that would be a little over a dollar.  This credit card/paypal fee is built into the shipping and handling charge.   If you feel the shipping charges online are too high for what you have ordered, you are welcome to send in your order by email and to pay by check. If you pay that way, shipping is usually much less, because there are no credit card fees added.

We also try to keep GREEN by using recycled shipping materials as often as possible. 

Thanks to each and every one of you for your business and your support of the Arizona
Gourds website.  Please write me at any time if you have questions or concerns.
Arizona Gourds is committed to the re-use of packaging and shipping materials whenever possible to produce less waste, use less resources, and promote a cleaner environment.