The Owls Are Back…!

It’s been a while since I made a batch of owl lavender bags (2011 was the last time, I believe), they were one of my first designs and I got a bit bored with making them, to be honest.

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But as tends to happen, I suddenly missed them so though I’d make some more.

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I’d planned to take lots of making photos, but they were mostly stitched in the recent damp period, otherwise known as Rainageddon and dark skies make for crappy photos.  Also, I’ve had a couple of totally blatant copying issues recently, thankfully easily sorted but still upsetting and it makes me feel nervous of how much I want to reveal about my making process here on the blog.  I’d feel sad not to show the usual photos, but I can’t help but notice people often pin them on their ‘going to make for the next craft fair’ boards and I’m not talking about the pretty final product shots, I am talking about the images of inside out rabbits etc, so they are clearly being pinned to help work out how to best copy my work and it makes me think that maybe I shouldn’t reveal so much here, as often the construction is half the battle of working out a design.  I’m getting paranoid in my old age (not that it would take that much effort to work out how to copy this owl and I’m talking about other designers openly claiming an exact copy of my work as their own on promotional sites, not people just making a version for themselves).

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Ah the stack photo, as always it makes me very happy 🙂

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I’ve started to take new photos of all my current stock, especially as Create have finally changed to high res images THANK GOD!! I tell you, my main gripe with their otherwise excellent web hosting service was the awful compressed image quality, for an ‘art’ based seller of any kind it’s a deal beaker really.

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You can find them here.

21 thoughts on “The Owls Are Back…!

  1. They’re lovely Beth, lovely to see them back again and I do love the stack photo!
    I totally agree with you not showing your making process if you’re selling a finished product! I’ve had a couple of issues myself recently and it’s very annoying. One lady asked my advice about setting up an Etsy shop and pricing etc, which I was more than happy to help her with, she was selling bears, next thing I knew she was selling rabbits very similar to mine. Before Christmas another Etsy shop was selling rabbits obviously copied from mine but I contacted the Etsy legal team and the mere mention of that made her change her mine, there were other Facebook copycats too! So yes it’s very irritating!
    Sorry off my soap box now, love the owls. 🙂
    V xxx

    • Oh V, so sorry to hear your stories, when I tweeted about one of the copies I was amazed how many people tweeted back with similar to you (ie people who had asked for advice, then set up a shop selling similar products), it’s so naughty and quite upsetting for the original designer, I am always amazed how people think you wont notice, especially if they’ve been in contact with you or have left blog comments, so show they know your work (which I’ve had in the past). It’s not even like I jump on people who copy and blog for their own use, that does happen but I just let that go, but to claim a design as yours and promote it when you also sell on-line is a big no-no in my book * also steps off soapbox ;)*. My husband thinks life is too short, but I think stand your ground and then try to let it go. Bxx

  2. Sorry to hear about the copy-cats trying to make money, and be recognised as the designer, from your beautiful creations.
    I’ll be sorry not to see your creation process photos anymore, but totally understand why you won’t be showing them again.
    I’ve been toying with the idea of selling some baby quilts, and little boy/girl quilts like the ones I’ve been making recently, but there seems to be so much to consider. When I mentioned it to my brother recently, he said “you’ll have to take out some kind of indemnity insurance, just in case you left a needle in the quilt” That really upset me. Perhaps I’m better off just making them as gifts.
    Jill x

    • Hi Jill, it is a bit of a minefield getting started but if you use a hosting company for a shop (like Create) or sell via Folksy/Etsy it’s not too bad and it’s a nice feeling getting paid for things you make so I would go for it if I were you. I have a feeling the baby quilt area might be quite competitive, but blogging is half the battle (and you already do that) as it’s the best way to promote your work, I think. Good luck if you do set up shop. Bx

  3. They are so lovely. I agree don’t give too much away about how you make things, there are so many people out there that do not have any scruples about copying and why make it easy for them.
    xxx

  4. Grr, aren’t people rotten? Glad you have had some success at dealing with miscreants though. Your owls are very cute, just waiting for the day you do some sort of linen Cavalier King Charles puppy… If you’re talking requests 😉

  5. Your owls are lovely Beth 🙂 I love their button eyes and strips. I’m so sad that those people have stolen your designs and have used them, it must feel so frustrating 😦 take comfort in the fact that your work will always be of superior quality (all my linen cat items are) and true customers will always come back to your shop and treasure the things you make. I definatly wouldn’t ever want a bad ‘copy’. I totally understand why you no longer want to put your process pictures up, it’s sad as I loved reading about it but I would rather you didn’t post about it then it gets copied by unscrupulous individuals. On a brighter note, I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend Beth 🙂 I’m looking forward to seeing your spring sewing too 🙂 safxxx

  6. I love your owls Beth and owls are big at the moment, I really should make some owl cards. I’m so sorry to hear about the copyright issues, people are pretty low aren’t they. It’s a shame you can’t show your process as I always enjoy seeing it but I do understand. Hope you had a lovely weekend, the nights are getting so much more lighter..horray! Take care xx

  7. Hi Beth, my very first purchase from you was an owl that still hangs on my sons wardrobe door. I love your work and the story and process behind it, for me it’s part of the reason I buy handmade items. It’s so sad that people can steal designs with out a thought to what goes into it, from the ideas to production.I love all the items I have bought from the linen cat, my bunny purse, lavender bunny, flower purse , monster purse, superhero mouse, my fantastic reindeer apron of which I like to try on even now! I am looking forward to Christmas! Your personality shines through your work and I can relate to you on so many ways, I doubt very much a copycat would be able to sell the items as we’ll, certainly not from the community that loves your work for more then just the finished item. ( hope that makes sense!) keep up your fantastic work and although I enjoy seeing how the item is made I will still buy from you even if that is not the case because your fantastic take on sewing makes me smile and relate. X x x x

    • Hi Nicola, thanks for such a lovely comment and for all the support of my work you’ve given over the years (it has been noted!). I should have been clearer, sorry, I will still show process photos, I think I’ll just be a little more aware of what exactly I do post. I’m sure that some of the things I make are genuinely quite difficult to get right (like lining up patterns and pleats on tweed purses and then getting them under the sewing machine and persuading it to cope with all the layers) and I like to think no-one would bother trying as it’s too much like hard work. I enjoy posting about the process, so I definitely wont stop 🙂 – I’ve emailed this to you as well, in case you don’t sign up for follow on comments. Bethx

  8. The owls are adorable! My business partner Fiona has had similar issues and frustrations with blatant ripoffs of her soft toy designs. You would like to think that crafty/sewing people are better than that but sadly, not all are apparently. I think you’re right to stick up for yourself so long as you don’t let it make you too mad. And as Saffa says above, what will always set your products apart is the quality of the workmanship and materials. Nothing beats a Linen Cat original! 🙂

  9. I’ve had the same thing with somebody copying a dog garland of mine exactly, same size, number, shape, bows and even using the same bakers twine and beads…she even lives in the same town as me!!! Very frustrating! I quite understand why you wouldn’t want to show the process, sometimes things I’ve designed have take a good couple of weeks to get it so I am happy with it and it’s very annoying for somebody to come along and basically steal it from you. Anyway, lovely owls! Julie x

    • Oh sorry to hear about the garland rip-off and really glad you managed to get it sorted. I struggle a bit to approach people as I usually don’t like confrontation, if I can avoid it, but I feel the need to stick up for myself at the same time. I’m a bit of a wuss, I get quite upset about copying, more than I should really but then I’m a bit like that, I just try to keep it in perspective and often the people copying are quite new to the game and aren’t selling much so I try to remember that as well. Hope your week is off to a good start! Bethx

  10. This copying thing is such a frustrating issue, isn’t it? It makes me so angry. And the result is that very talented folks like yourself feel the need to hold back in what they might like to share of their process – the very content that is so interesting and inspiring. I think seeing what goes into making a product really encourages folks to want to buy.

    I try to think that any copies will always be inferior, and that bad karma will always fall upon someone stealing someone else’s ideas for their own gain. But the internet is such a big place, it’s so easy for someone to be taking credit for your ideas without you ever finding out. And if their customers haven’t seen the original, how are they to know?

    I’m fortunate enough that this has never (knowingly) happened to me, but I’ve seen it happen to so many of my friends and it’s so upsetting. Though I believe there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by what other people are doing – it’s inevitable in this age of sharing and blogging and pinning that we all enjoy – what bad could come from saying something like “I developed this design after seeing the fantastic work of [Beth Foster].” Then you have to show your own creativity or everyone will know you’re a copycat, plus you tip your hat to the original creator and hopefully send some potential customers their way. It’s not ideal, but it would be better. Unfortunately the kind of people who do this are either not decent human beings, or (and I think this is more often the truth) ignorant of the concepts of intellectual property.

    I think you have done the best thing you can: talk about it.

    • Hi Katie,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and for adding to the debate.

      You are so right, I agree that it’s quite common for people to be influenced by the work of others, I see it often and am in no doubt that it happens for me as well, I am sure that things I’ve seen trickle through my brain and re-appear in areas of my work without my realising it, no matter how careful I am not to copy. I have a cute mouse made by my Gran in the 1970’s it’s very simply made and I was planning to do a tweed version stuffed with lavender to help use up all my tweed remnants, thinking they would be cute stuffed into draws to freshen your clothes. On having a quite internet check, I found another designer already making almost the exact same thing, marketed for the same use, so I abandoned the idea, but if I had gone ahead it may have appeared I’d copied and I always remember this and keep it in mind when judging if I feel someone has been a bit naughty or not. Also, one of the things that was copied is a product I make that has no label (it’s too small to have one that wouldn’t intrude on the design and the packaging is labeled instead) and to be fair, it may be the designer who copied it had been given one and might have thought it was commercially made, but I decided before approaching them that in this case it was no excuse, it would have taken them a moment to check on the internet and see it was my work and it really was an exact copy with no variation at all and again, marketed for the exact same purpose I sell mine.

      When it all kicked off, I also had an interesting twitter exchange discussing how some people copy not really realising that it’s a no-no, perhaps they are new to this world and think it’s flattering to take such influence from another’s work? I’m amazed how many people contact the designer, asking for help with material sources and then set-up a similar shop selling the same product, I’ve heard this story a number of times now and I’m sure they aren’t being malicious, just very, VERY misguided (V and J, you both told me similar experiences of this). It is partly why I decided to mention it, as you pointed out opening up the discussion might make people think twice.

      The internet has a very double edge on this, I think, it makes it easy to draw lots of influences from all over and the potential of coping, but it also makes it quite easy for designers to check if anyone is using their designs. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that there are couple of key words I search for every now and again (handmade bird + ribbon tails being one), just to see what images come up. I should add, just so I don’t sound like a complete lunatic, I am only interested in finding people commercially selling or claiming an exact copy of one of my designs, in order to decided if I want to approach them, I have enough common sense and understanding to not get uppity about things that are clearly influenced or just similar.

      Big soapbox clearly needed in my house 😉

      Lovely to hear from you Katie, I do hope you are well.

      Bxx

  11. Whoops, WordPress posted that essay before I was finished! I also wanted to say I’m sorry you’ve experienced this, but thank you for sharing about it. I know it’s not a solution, but I do think talking about it helps people to be aware – not just creators, but customers as well.

    Katie 🙂

  12. Hello Beth,

    I am so sorry to hear of your stinking experiences – copycats are the worst, and the downside of this all is that you can’t show us all the pictures you wish, but I agree it really makes sense! Why offer even more to those *#%&s, let them figure out how to copy at least! And after all your designs are so clever and tuned to perfection, that nobody really stands a change to get them done as perfectly. But I can understand it sucks to see a copy no matter how badly done.

    I wish you a happy and sunny March nevertheless, enjoy your creating and sewing – and keep those happy stack-pictures coming, thank you!

    Yours,
    Mia

  13. Hi Beth, What rotten people there are in this world—using your photos and openly copying your creative work. I’ve read all the comments from other readers and it makes me ill. Why can’t other people get some of their own creativity. Even I’ve had some of my hair pin designs copied.(by an awful woman in California.) Don’t worry if you don’t want to show so many photos. You need to think of your shop and yourself first. I’ve been enjoying your owls, birds and brooches. They make me feel that somewhere, somehow Spring will arrive.
    with all best wishes,
    Anne xx
    PlumCreek Studio

  14. Beth, I completely know how you must feel. Sadly some people have no scruples about co-opting others ideas and passing them off as their own. I’ve had a similar blatant issue where someone seemed to assume that my business was just a useful blueprint for their own if they copied step by step what I did and said, and it can make you feel very paranoid. In the end I decided that i preferred to be a trusting person and figured that they have to live with themselves afterwards – far better to live with integrity and enjoy your creativity without having to look over your shoulder at others copying you. Shame you have to even worry about it though. BTW – i’m quite sure the copies are always inferior – your lovely products ooze the love and care that you put into them and you can’t easily copy that! x

    • Sorry to hear about your copying problems. You are right, I think it’s best to be trusting and probably just try to ignore these things, I have no doubt they bother us more than those doing the copying…I do think some people just don’t think through their actions, they maybe just don’t really consider the original designer and maybe think it’s flattering that they copy, those are the ones I find the most difficult to deal with as it’s not maliciously intended but can do harm if they are selling or promoting someone else’s design. It’s all a bit tricky….Bx

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