Monday, January 21, 2013

Why I don’t create tutorials for my original designs...

...and why you are doing yourself a disservice by asking me to.

I fairly regularly get asked by people on Etsy, usually hobbyists, but sometimes people with their own shops - if I would give or sell them a tutorial on how I make my original designs. Keep in mind that most tutorials I see on Etsy sell for about $7, so it’s not even like they’re wanting to pay me well for my design.  Anyway, most people would say, “it doesn’t hurt to ask, right?” I think it does.  Not only is it asking me to make my work less special by putting out on the internet step-by-step instructions for how to duplicate it exactly (and if you don’t duplicate it *exactly*, it will look like crap), but it’s doing yourself a disservice by copying somebody else’s design.

Not only are my original designs ones that I worked very hard to create, but most of them are actually pretty darn hard to physically weave.  If you’re good enough as a chainmailler to duplicate my work with a tutorial, then you are definitely good enough to come up with your own super awesome designs, that will have your fingerprint on it, that you will be very proud of.  That is why I say you are doing yourself a disservice by asking for a tutorial.  You are asking to not be special, to not be unique, to not be YOU.  Instead of copying original designs, spend your time learning different weaves and improving your skill and craftsmanship, then when a particular idea for a design hits you, run with it and work on it until it becomes the creation of your original thought.  Maybe my designs will inspire you to make something unique, that’s great!  But don’t copy.  I know people say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery - it’s not, not for me, anyway.  Buying my work and wearing it proudly, to support me and the work I’ve accomplished, flatters me to no end, and I greatly appreciate it.

And just because I feel like I should touch on this subject, if somebody were to break down my designs and figure out how to create it themselves, and either start to monetarily benefit from it, or publish tutorials for free of how to duplicate my work, I would not be very appreciative.  I promise you that you have better things to do with your life than that.  Don’t be a dick.

Don’t agree, or have a comment to make?  Feel free to join the discussion in the comments section below.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Some thoughts on CAD in advertising..

I don't know how I feel about CAD renderings used for advertising purposes when it comes to jewelry.  A CAD rendering may show you the designer's intent for how the piece is supposed to look, but does nothing to convey the quality of craftsmanship of the manufacturers.

If you're lost and aren't sure what I'm talking about, let me explain.  CAD stands for Computer-Aided Design and has to do with the 3D models that designers create, that can then be used with CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) -- that is, milling machines that can cut out an exact replica of the 3D model in wax, so that it can then be cast into metal.  So, when you see a CAD rendering, it's simply a 3D design model that's been rendered to look like real jewelry.  The problem is, the renderings are quite life-like if you don't know what to look for, and can leave you with the impression that that's exactly how the piece of jewelry that you might purchase from them would look.

The reason that there can be such a variation between a CAD rendering and the finished piece is that, despite the fact that the CAM process makes an exact replica in wax, the piece still has to be cast in metal and go through the finishing process.  The finishing process includes many steps of polishing, as well as the stonesetting and any sort of enameling or antiquing of any kind.  Basically, if poorly manufactured, the piece may look completely different after it goes through the finishing process.

It's much less of an issue if it's a master jeweler, with his own business, who made the CAD design with himself in mind to manufacture it.  He would know his own limits and how his pieces are likely to look upon completion, and tailor the CAD rendering to match.  The CAD process can also be a great way for him to create designs without having to spend his precious capital on the metal required to cast it, until the piece has been purchased and paid for, leaving many more design options available to his customers at any given time.  So there are definitely ways that I think CAD renderings can be used ethically for advertisement.

My biggest issue is when larger companies use it.  If the designer is not the same person that physically crafts the piece, then there is almost always a gap between what the designer thinks can be made, and what can actually be made by the craftsmen and/or manufacturers.  So, a piece should, in my opinion, always be cast and finished to make sure that the piece is a good and viable product, before being made available for purchase.  And if that's the case, and the piece already had to be made anyway, then the actual piece should be photographed and that photograph should be used for advertising purposes.  That would certainly be a more honest representation of what you'd be buying.

About 2/3rds of the CAD renderings I see, that are disguised as product pictures, are of designs that I don't think are plausible, especially when it comes to stone settings.  Funky super-intricate prongs that aren't likely to look the same after the stone is set, suspended tension-set stones in cast silver, that sort of thing.  Textures are another issue.  Lots of CAD renderings I see have really fine textures on them, that would have to be added on after the polishing process, because polishing would just take it right off.  Again, possible (especially for an extremely skilled bench jeweler), but not plausible given how most manufactured jewelry is made.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts on the issue.  Like I said, I'm not sure how I feel about it, but it's definitely something I think more consumers should be aware of.  What do you think about this, and how ethical it is?  I'd love to hear your thoughts. :)

-Deborah Wilson Taylor

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

And so it begins..

Howdy, and welcome to my first blog post! I’m excited to get started - this’ll be the first time in my life that I’ve ever personally taken part in this amazing cultural phenomenon known as Blogging. Wish me luck!

I’ve decided to start this off by giving you a glimpse into how my mind thinks (scary, right?) – don’t worry, I’ll only go into the details of my creative process! (Phew...) Creative process for what, you ask? Chainmaille, of course! Chainmaille is the art of linking round rings together to form different weaves, which then can be used to form many things – jewelry, armor, clothing, accessories, etc. It’s quite addicting. Or, at least it is for some of us. :)

Anyway, back to me. (Blogging is all about me, isn’t it? So hard to get used to..) First off, I have a mild case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but instead of giving in to the pitfalls of such a disorder, I’ve chosen to work to make it work *for* me. I like lines to be straight, surfaces to be consistent, and designs to have flow. And I love efficiency. These traits all bode extremely well for someone in this craft.

I also have good spatial awareness, which allows me to visualize how these (often very tiny) rings can be woven together. Shapes inspire me: modern, vintage, natural. You name it. If I see a shape I like, I try to translate that shape into chainmaille, and then make that into a wearable work of art.

It doesn’t always work out, and I scrap a lot of ideas, but virtually every idea is worth pursuing. I learn a lot from ideas that don’t work out – those can be the best teachers. But I am extremely picky (there’s that OCD again!), so I will only work to sell the best pieces that I can make. I can’t sell what I don’t believe in. I believe in good design, quality of craftsmanship, and making what hasn’t been made before.

If I settle for mediocre, I might as well go home.
If I settle for ‘done before’, I might as well go home.
If I settle for poor quality, I might as well go home.
If I settle for not improving every day, I might as well go home.
If I settle for something that doesn’t inspire me, I might as well go home.

I ain’t going home, and I ain’t settling; I’m here to stay. I hope you stay, too. I don’t aim to disappoint. :)