Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Variation on a Theme

A few things happened this week that left me wondering 'is there such a thing as an original idea?' Yeah, I know, I had to go and lie down for a few minutes to get over the shock of such a philosophical question having the audacity to disrupt my day.

I have a craft fair coming up and while I've got a number of handbags ready, after a brief stock take I noticed I was short on pocket money products, smaller items that entice but don't break the bank. At a fair last year I had been sorely tempted by a beautiful silver and felt pin cushion on offer by another crafter. She had mounted a felted ball of mixed merino wool onto a sterling silver ring base. Cute and practical, what more could a girl ask for. Unfortunately it's price was a bit too steep for my finances to scale so I had to stay at base camp and worship from afar. 

So when I was thinking of a small item that would be inexpensive, quick and easy to make my mind turned to the 'pin ring' and I set about adapting the idea. Using a water bottle top, a bit of frilly elastic and some of my fave fabrics and ribbons these are what I came up with. 

I was quite pleased with the results.....for all of about 5 minutes. Then worry set in. It hadn't really been my idea, I had just adapted it. Is that the same as copyright theft? Would I get into trouble if I offered them for sale? 

I was still pondering this when I met up with some friends for lunch. We all attend a creative writing group that recently started in Moffat, and since the 2 hours once a fortnight given to the class never seems like quite enough we meet up socially for extra chat time. By our third cup of tea one of our members mentioned that after completing her new story she had taken some down time and spent it with her Kindle and a newly acquired novel. A number of emerging authors are choosing this as their platform  since it doesn't require them to have a publisher. Anyway, as she was reading she began to notice that some of the characters were very similar to the ones she had just written about. Since she was planning on submitting her story to a competition it was a bit of a concern.

Well that set me off again. And there was to be no respite. When I got home I was confronted by a sea of MDF on the kitchen floor. My husband builds bass guitars and when he is designing a new one he draws them out on MDF first to see if the shape will work ( it has to accommodate electronics and hardware, and balance least so I'm told ) and I get called in to do the 'tweaking'. No easy task since every curve, bend and swoop seems to belong to some other guitar builder, of which I am completely unaware. The conversation usually goes along the lines of "no that looks too much like a........" " no ....... have a top horn just like that" " no that bottom horn reminds me of a ......" at which point I throw the pencil at him!

One of my husbands designs,an ACG Harlot 5 string

So is there such a thing as an original idea? Or are we all just rehashing a thought that someone in the dim and distant past has already had? At what point do we have to start thinking about copyright or plagiarism? Do we have to shut ourselves away in a darkened room in order not to be swayed by outside influences in the hope of coming up with something that has never been done before? Or is it that very influence that encourages development, the original being forever improved upon as we use new materials and technology? Does it really matter who had the idea in the first place, is the journey it takes not more important?

All I know is that now I have a headache!(and it's only half way through the week!) Oh, and a basket full of 'pin rings' that I may or may not be able to sell on 1st May.


Anonymous said...

Man alive ....!
she's off again

Linnhe Mara said...

I have absolutely no idea what you mean Ms Johnston! :o)

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