Last week I finished a Twirly, which is what I’m calling my newest obsession:
(You can see more photos on my blog, here.)
It took forEVER to do: every stitch was done by hand, with what are surely miles of DMC embroidery floss. I have the holes in my finger to show for the hours of (let’s not say “clumsy”) stitching:
I’m really pleased with this, the result of an experiment into sewing on cotton knit. I’ve never really done much with knitted fabric, but I wanted to try. For years I’ve drooled over the sweater coats created by Kat O’Sullivan.
and thought about making something in that style. (You can listen to our podcast here.) I can’t wear wool (although I would surely figure out a way if I had one of her coats; I would wear it constantly even if I had to wear layers and layers and layers of clothes between my skin and the wool. Oh, yeah, I would *definitely* find a way), and I don’t have a serger and don’t really like the effect they create. But that skirt–I love that! And when I interviewed Kat for the Designer Collection profile in Belle Armoire, she sent me the instructions she sells for making her coats. I hadn’t known how to get that swirliness until I read her instructions. Oh, so *that’s* how you do that! I didn’t do it exactly like she does it, of course, but I got the basic info for figuring out shape and how it works–I got that from reading her instructions.
And that brings us to a very interesting subject: when does inspiration cross the line into something else? I am completely comfortable saying that I was inspired by Kat’s coats. For the Twirlies, I was also inspired by Alabama Chanin and her work with t-shirts and cotton knit. The stuff I’m doing doesn’t look like theirs, and I have no intention of selling what I’m creating (the idea makes me laugh, literally: it takes so long to do all this hand stitching that, if I were to put a price on it, people would laugh hysterically. So would I).
But what if I were selling these, and what if the Twirly were made of recycled wool sweaters? What if I’d used one of the patterns Natalie Chanin provides in her books (I have all three of them–here, here and here) and wanted to sell or teach what I created? What if I’d taken a workshop from either of these women–or someone else–and learned how to do what they do and then decided to go out and teach it myself? Or make a whole bunch of whatever-it-is and open an Etsy shop?
In short, where does inspiration end and Something Else begin? I know, I know: this is a topic many feel has been debated to death, but for me, it’s new again–as it is periodically–because I’ve had conversations with people about where they get inspiration and with other people who are saddened to see the work of someone who obviously “was inspired” by their own creations, and it’s something lots of artists have to think about pretty much all the time. They all wish they didn’t, but there it is.
There’s a company here in Texas that tells of getting their start when they found a coat made from a blanket, loved it, bought it, took it home and took it apart and made a pattern and started making and selling their own. This has always bothered me (and I notice the story is no longer part of their website), and I wondered why they thought this was an OK way to start a business. But that could be just me: maybe everyone else thinks it’s perfectly OK to do this.
So I’m asking: what do you think? Is that OK? What about seeing something someone else has made, figuring out how to do it, and then teaching a workshop? In short, where do you think one thing ends and something else begins? What is OK, and what is not? I’m OK with the inspiration I got from Kat’s coats. I would not be OK with creating coats like hers and selling them.
What I want to know is: where is the line?
Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.
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