Recent events have come to my attention, which make it clear that it is time to shed a bright light on ugly words that have been allowed to thrive in shadow. After thinking on it, consulting trusted friends, and making sure I had all of my facts straight, I have come to the conclusion that it is better to speak up, publicly, on record, and have my cards on the table rather than continue to have my name and reputation maligned in private.
Rumors have been flying around for far too long now, and it’s time that they were flushed out by light and transparency. Mutual acquaintances have let me know that another designer is badmouthing me to people I respect, in a way that makes them uncomfortable, and often in a forum where restricted vewing means that she is free of consequence. This other designer even wrote a maliciously false message about her “copycat stalker,” enumerating the many and unfounded reasons she feels I have copied her work, and posted it to the San Francisco Etsy Street Team, a large and well-read collective of artists. Still more, individual customers have relayed to me that she has implied that I am copying her work, and another designer related to me that the designer in question had warned her that I would copy one of her lines.
This cannot go on. Nor is it ‘old drama’ if it is ongoing, but simply not widely public. This might seem like small potatoes or mindless drama to some, but when my name is being maligned to people I respect, I must speak up to defend myself, both as a person and an artist.
So, time for some facts! The following list is a verifiable timeline of some things that have been in controversy:
— My line of copper electroplated leaf necklaces, featuring leaves with a cascade of gemstones, pearls, and crystal, launched in October 2008. They were re-issued in 2009, and have been every year since, featuring most prominently in my Autumn update, though I also feature them in Winter. In Autumn of 2011, I began to add varying wireworked elements, as my wirework skills grew. The other seller began her electroplated leaf line well after mine had been established, later adding a copper coil element to visually distinguish them from mine. She recently did away with the copper coil element, which made her leaves look even more like my leaves than ever. To add: my line of iridescent patina electroplated leaves (blue, purple, mauve) debuted in February 2012, before hers, which, to the best of my knowledge, debuted in her Halloween ’12 collection.
— I had also done a Midsummer Night’s Dream line in February 2009 and a lumi-glass “Delicates” collection in October 2008. My collection predates her Midsummer Night’s Dream collection.
— I launched vintage Halloween image pendants with asymmetrical chain danglies in October 2008. They predate strikingly similar pendants of hers sold later.
— Also included in the October 2008 collection was Black Widow, a crackled agate necklace with spider. There were also matching earrings. Both have re-occurred every year since. Black Widow predates Tangleweb, the first iteration of which was almost an exact match, by a year.
— Yule ’08 update consisted of silvered branches, silver electroplated leaf necklaces, and blown glass ornament earrings. They debuted as a collection of silver and ice, and they have repeated every year since. Her Yule ’09 collection was very similar in both content and theme, and has also repeated since.
— My “Guess the Gemstone” contest debuted in March 2009 and continued throughout the year and into 2010. It predates her contest which followed mine in exact title, topic, and style.
— In July 2009, I debuted a line of intent necklaces which I had been researching/developing for a few months for the seller Whitemagic. About that time a) Whitemagic passed on the line (and then formulated a cheaper knock-off line which she’s selling to this day), and b) For Strange Women was featured on the Etsy front page. I put the 10 or so prototypes on my site for sale, as they were already complete. The other designer then contacted me and said there had “been talk” that my pendants were too close to For Strange Women’s customizable herbal pendants. I explained that I was having a hard time finding a small bottle pendant that was water tight and therefore safe to house oils securely, as corked bottles would not work for my purpose. It was a lack of options at the time which presumably led to For Strange Women and I choosing the same bottle for our talismans. At any rate, I still haven’t found a suitable alternative bottle, so I haven’t put any new ones for sale since. Sometimes that’s just the right thing to do. (The owner of For Strange Women has since commented and confirmed that the “talk” did not originate with her, nor was she aware of it. She does not consider my work to be a copy of hers.)
— The first teasers for my faery wings were in January ’10. The techniques were learned from Cynthia Thornton’s Enchanted Adornments, and although I have been steadily developing my own unique wing line with crystal and color, iridescent materials, and differing wing shapes, I will forever be grateful and glad to give her credit for Woodland Wings tutorial, and for inspiring me to work with resin. Every single iteration has included crystal and color, and my very earliest teasers for the items on Livejournal and Etsy listings were open that I was using Ms. Thornton’s book as technique guide and inspiration.
— My PMC leaves debuted in July ’10. Not too plussed over this, since leaves are common for PMC, but just in case you were wondering, mine did come first. Also, specific designs, like Winter’s Oak (sold in December ’12) predate similar designs of the other seller’s. In addition, where I have used elements on my PMC leaves derived from a popular tutorial by PMC Master, Anna Mazon, aka Drakonaria, I have always been completely up-front about that, giving proper credit in my item listing. (Though, to be clear, my use of tiny leaf embellishments in my PMC work does predate my purchase of the tutorial in Aug ’11.)
— Halloween ’10, posted in early September, included silver bat wings, both necklaces & earrings, crafted with wire and resin. They were followed by purple and black ones. These pre-date the other seller’s similar bat wings by a year.
— The first iteration of “Persephone Descending” was sold in July ’11. It came after the other designer’s original “Persephone” piece (we had both done several Persephone / Proserpine pieces prior), but before her “Persephone’s Descent Into The Underworld,” which looked quite similar to my “Persephone Descending.”
— “Full Moon Flight,” my series of bats flying against gemstone ‘moons’ in fine silver, is a series that began in October ’11, and re-occurred in October ’12.
No, I am not copying her. There’s no way I could be, unless I’ve got a time machine under wraps. And no, the TARDIS won’t fit under my bed.
The above items are not “she said / she said” or unverifiable hearsay. To prove that I have not been copying her, one must look no further than our Etsy sales histories. Match up the first listing/sales dates of the similar items. Surprising patterns may emerge about just who has been copying who. Trust me when I say that my sold item history on Etsy speaks more strongly against my copying her than anything else I could possibly say on the matter. Although customer quotes like “I wanted to buy those earrings from her, but then I realized I already had the same pair from you last year” do a pretty good job, too.
To my knowledge, Etsy sales histories cannot be deleted or tampered with, so when in doubt, check to see who posted/sold it first. Do some digging, verify the facts for yourself. It’s all in the open through an unbiased third party. And hey, sometimes when you search through histories, you find really interesting stuff.
Also, I often post previews on my Twitter and Flickr account. Many things, like my faery wings line, were previewed weeks to months ahead of launch. All of this is public record and dated at the time of upload.
To her claim that I am “targeting” her: jewelry making, especially on Etsy, is a small backyard. And when an acquaintance who is selling on the same platform as I sell does something untoward, it’s easy to see and notice, as it’s in our shared backyard. When I saw that she was reproducing popular wire tutorials verbatim and calling them her “signature wirework” without mentioning the design’s originator in her item listing, I found that misleading and unfair, and I said so. I don’t think of that as “targeting,” but your mileage may vary. I also contacted her directly following the debut of her electroplated leaf series to express concern about her work’s similarity to mine (eta: yes, I emailed her directly about it, and we had, what I believed at the time, to be an amicable discussion about our mutual concerns with a resolution. I left it believing that the coincidences were possibly unintentional. Then the pattern continued). To boot, she used to be on my friends-list, where we had been mutually friended. Her updates would show up on my friends-page. It’s hard to “target” something that shows up over your morning cuppa joe, you know?
Now, we’ve not been friendly for many years now, but I do have customers/friends who email me when something looks suspicious. Sometimes it looks suspicious to me, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, it’s a matter of common supplies, and some times it’s more concerning than that. I’m not concerned about us working in similar mediums. There are thousands of people on Etsy who work in wire or PMC! I am concerned with the similarity of specific designs.
Barring major incident or need of clarification, I consider this post to be my final word on the topic, and I swear whatever oath necessary that my words here, to the best of my knowledge, are 100% factual and true. If I find that I have misconstrued a fact (launch dates, etc), I will amend the post to reflect that in good faith. If you have a question about any particular item– either timing or inspiration– please don’t hesitate to ask. You can comment here or reach me at christina at sihayadesigns dot com.
Thank you so much to my friends and customers who have supported me. Your words and the fact that I have you guys watching my back means so, so much to me. I cannot thank you enough. And thank you to those of you who helped me pare this down from a rambly, emotional behemoth into something concise and precise. 🙂
ETA: Last year, I moved my blog from Blogspot to WordPress. This caused the comments to render quite strangely– paragraph breaks and word spacing did not transfer over as they had originally been written. I don’t know how to fix this without deleting any of the original commentary, so I apologize that it’s a bit harder to parse. In addition, many of the the original links in the comments do not work. You can manually edit them to make them work, or simply search for the items in our respective Flickr accounts for quick access to the items being compared.
I have also added to the above list as necessary, to add both context and clarity of facts.