I have read about this kind of request, but until today had never received one quite like this. I received this in the afternoon’s email:
Hi! I am trying to recreate a yarn wall hanging. I have attached a picture. It would be about 72” in width and about 48” long. Would you be able to custom dye yarn in this style? If so how much should I need and what would the cost be?
I’m not sure if my correspondent realized the text would come along with the picture, but I’m glad it did. I don’t know this Lauren Williams, but if you look at her Instagram (no, really… go look! It’s amazing!) it takes half a second to realize she is not only an artist, but one with a very definite style about her works. I couldn’t help but scroll and scroll and scroll…. and then I found this post:
This is what I wrote back to my correspondent — it took all of a couple minutes to compose my thoughts and type them into the email:
Xxxxxxxx:Thank you for your inquiry. Because this is the work of another artist, it would be inappropriate for me to even attempt to recreate it or dye yarns similar to what she’s done. Because she works directly with a mill to create exactly the type of yarn required for her unique style, even if I were a willing accomplice to steal her design, it would be impossible for me to come close to such yarn. With the yarn that works for this type of work being created especially for her, no other dyer would be able to replicate her work.Your only ethical options would be to buy one of her works, or study the craft and develop your own style to come up with something even more wonderful.Good luck in your questRay Whiting
The topic of stealing another artist’s work has come up frequently in several of the yarn-dyeing groups where I participate on Facebook. Certainly, there are limited yarn suppliers, and limited commercial dyes that many of us use, so it is expected that many of us will come up with similar concepts — especially with the changing seasons, new colors becoming popular, and other factors.
But when a dyer takes commonly available yarn and commonly available dyes to create unique colorways, it becomes their own creative expression. This is what they (we) do to create income. For me, it just means dyeing yarn for others to knit, crochet, or weave with and create the finished work. For others, like Lauren Williams, she not only dyes the yarn, but dyeing is just one step of her creative process from concept to finished product, so her finished pieces are part of her income.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but flattery doesn’t pay the bills. Imitating someone else’s creativity is not flattery, it is stealing. Soliciting others to participate in that theft is inviting others to not only become an accomplice to the theft, but you put that artist in the position of stealing from another artist. Certainly it happens, but we try to root it out when we discover the fraud. Becoming known as a fraud and thief in the fiber arts community is the quickest way to end up without any clientele. We know our own and we know our bad apples. No, thank you.
eta: Fortunately she understood, and wrote back:
Oh my. I honestly hadn’t even thought of it from that perspective. You’re totally right. I just saw it and knew I’d made wall hangings before so I could make something like this but didn’t know where to get yarn like that. Thank you for helping me realize this!
I wish all crafters understood this.