This is a commentary upon and expansion past the worries I expressed about 6 weeks ago.
I tend to be a very anxious person. It’s obvious enough if you know me in my day-to-day life, or if you catch me in the middle of an anxiety flare-up. Generally, as a writer, I’ve tried to keep my readers on the up-and-up as to the fact that I worry about things that no one else worries about, so that they can take my own concerns with a grain of salt and not as gospel. I am highly intelligent, but I also live with hypersensitivity, on a number of levels. My attention to detail is likely one of the reasons why I’ve been good at beading, and at writing. I wouldn’t be surprised if my hypersensitivity and attention to detail — not to mention my overuse of caution — are highly related. Right now, though, that’s speculation.
But it does show that maybe I’d be good as a Jeweler. Or, as I see below, possibly a librarian specializing in Intellectual Property law document retrieval.
I’ve gotten reassurance from a third party, that my work with glass beads is likely not going to harm me or anyone else (over the age of 14) unless the beads are ground up and ingested, or similar. The risk is also less if the beads are not in direct contact with skin. At 14 and under, the danger may be more one of blatant and obvious misuse (like putting beads up one’s nose). Because this person has been through training for handling hazardous materials (albeit not recently), I feel I can trust her insight.
For about the past year, I had been pulling away from the beadwork for multiple reasons, some of which are personal (a health scare from last year which may be completely unrelated) and likely all of which, are psychological in nature. I showed a bunch of my work to a visitor recently, and the obvious question — I realize I’m projecting onto them — is, “why aren’t you selling? You make beautiful work!”
The answer to that question relates back to anxiety. Anxiety about pretty much, everything. I mean, I’m still trying to break out of quarantining my mail.
I did look up the Seller’s Manual on Etsy, which reassured me that they take care of interstate taxes, secure payment portals, and VAT fees (VAT fees, or “Value Added Taxes,” are for international sales). Etsy also takes 10% to 25% of your sale, depending on whether you use advertisements with them. That’s not ideal, and it definitely isn’t great if you signed on when they were taking much less, and came to depend on that rate. But they are definitely providing a (large) service in taking responsibility for fulfilling interstate taxes, which are otherwise a significant barrier to selling anything across State lines. They are essentially, that is, acting as an online boutique.
And now that I know I am presently a hobbyist and not a business (until I start making a profit), that clarifies things. I have the back-up Business knowledge if I grow into a business…but I’m not there, yet.
And maybe I should keep my old papers from my Business classes.
But I am essentially…psychologically speaking, much closer to becoming a seller on Etsy. I won’t make enough to support myself, but I should make enough to help the household, or support my own craft outlays. And I realize now that people who love my work, don’t necessarily care about how much the beads cost or where to find them; they may have no idea how to make any type of beadwork, or what the craft landscape looks like at this time; they are paying me to invest in my love of design and love of color and skill in construction. Just having the beads and the pattern…maybe they don’t want that. Maybe I’d want that, but I’m the designer and the maker, not the consumer. It reminds me of that whole mantra in UX: “you are not the user.”
It’s also interesting to look up the definition of, “design,” and find out that it essentially means, “pattern,” in beadwork. Oxford Languages (Google) states that a “design” is, “a plan or drawing produced to show the look and function or workings of a building, garment, or other object before it is built or made.” (I found this by Googling “design definition”, without quotes.) The thing that I’ve been concerned about is the common legal admonition in the front matter of a book, against using the “designs” contained in a book of patterns for personal commercial gain…but especially in older books, the term “design” is never defined.
A, “design,” in this sense, appears to be the set of paper (or electronic) instructions. This brings up the question of WEMI: “Work, Expression, Manifestation, Item,” as noted in RDA (Resource Description and Access), a newer Cataloging standard…though I’m not experienced enough to be able to say definitively what category a “design” falls into, or what denotes a “derivative work” of such, in regard to Intellectual Property (IP) law. What I can see is that a design contains a Work; Copyright applies once a Work is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” I believe this means that Copyright applies to a fixed Expression of a Work. That is, a book, or a .PDF, or an .MP4 video. Not the idea that gave rise to it, which is the Work itself, and not legally protectable.
What we are legally bound to avoid using for profit, does not seem to be, specifically, the methods of production taught in those instructions. Methods of production fall under the category of Patent, not Copyright (I took a low-level Business Law class), and as I’ve written before, Patents are only granted in — effectively — special cases. Most Patent applications, that is, are denied. This means that no, all those pattern books I used to learn my craft, weren’t telling me that I could never use the techniques they taught in order to earn a profit (as I thought for years). Or if they were, I don’t imagine they would have a strong court case, given that the methods of production they taught have largely been around for quite a while; long enough, I would think, to be in the Public Domain, if they ever were intellectually protected.
That’s with basic stitches: Peyote, Brick, Square, etc. Cubic Right-Angle Weave (CRAW), Prismatic Right-Angle Weave (PRAW), Hubble Stitch, or Albion Stitch, etc., are relatively new things, with living designers who can be identified — but still fall under the heading of technique; thus Patent, not Copyright. Copyright applies to the medium you used to learn the technique, not anything you make with the technique. It may be different outside the U.S., but this is my best guess as a layman within the U.S., and not an attorney (thus not qualified to give legal advice), right now.
You think you know a word, and then you look it up, and consensus reality happens to be different than your mental model. (I want to say, “story of my life?” but it’s not that bad.)
Several days ago, I glued down my first cabochon onto Lacy’s Stiff Stuff — essentially a form of very stiff interfacing which is supposed to be a better foundation for bead embroidery than Pellon. I’ve been having something of a difficult time with everything opening up, so over the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading Jamie Cloud Eakin’s Dimensional Bead Embroidery to try and indulge my creative side, and try and take care of myself, emotionally. I’ve gotten all the way to the project instructions, which Eakin says to read all the way through, just because it will illustrate how to approach other design problems.
There are also three expansion books (under the heading Bead Embroidery Techniques) she has made, I should add. Volume 1 is Bezels; Volume 2, Edges; and Volume 3, Attaching/Finishing. They all seem…very helpful. But I haven’t tried working through any of the instructions, yet.
I don’t have any huge plans for this cabochon; I got it from General Bead in San Francisco years ago, which was a little high on the grunge factor for me to be comfortable going back anytime soon. What I will say is that they had very good prices, and some stuff I haven’t seen anywhere else since (like multiple sizes of Czech glass drops — but then, I haven’t been looking for them).
In any case, the cabochon is just a basic midsized round dome in transparent fuchsia glass and foil backing, with a very low shoulder. It also has an internal fracture which, while pretty, also makes it so that I would never use this cab in a finished piece to sell. I have other cabs; some of them, very nice. I just needed something with a low barrier to entry.
Just how it got that fracture? I have no idea. But I’ve also had glass beads randomly split on me, by themselves, apparently due to stress within the glass from not being properly cooled when they were made. And yes, it does make me want to try out ordering directly from relatively local lampworkers, instead of going with inexpensive lampwork beads from overseas, which may have problems with tempering, or sharp areas due to broken frit…or colors and designs that don’t mesh with my work.
But I have time for this, I need to remember. At least for now.