Saturday, June 26, 2010

IP Talk With Lawyer Mom 2: Electric Boogaloo

I got a lot of great questions from people after the first Lawyer Mom post; so many that they've been broken into two posts. I'm working to get them up as fast as I can!

Can I use real people in my art? Or artistic interpretations of characters from movies?

Characters, says Lawyer Mom, are right out. The example in question was a theoretical commission from a customer of a portrait of them standing with Darth Vader. The only way this could fly would be if you contacted George Lucas (or LucasFilms, whichever entity owns the copyright) and asked for permission. Note well that at the bottom of every Droid phone ad on television, you see little text declaring that the word "Droid" is used with permission from LucasFilms, Ltd.!

(Pause at about 0:24 to see it.)

As for real people, that switches gears from IP law to privacy and slander/libel laws. The more famous the person is, the less "heinous" or powerful your message has to be, says Lawyer Mom. A commissioned portrait of Newt Gingrich is fine. But a commissioned painting of you standing with Newt Gingrich (when you've never shared space with him) could be used as a Republican Party endorsement, for example—suggesting that he knows you and recognizes you, when in reality he wouldn't know you from Adam (or Eve). (Though, you could paint a portrait of someone with a giant newt with a collar that said "Gingrich," or something else satirical/comic. This is why we can have political cartoons.)

Dead people are another matter entirely. Lawyer Mom will have to some digging on that point and get back to you. Until then, keep posting those Michael Jackson tributes.

Also note well that "significant artistic departures" from the original images (caricatures or chibi versions) constitute original work, much like satire or comic images do, so those are safe. A chibi portrait of you with Newt Gingrich is well and good.

I'm a $sports_team fan. Can I make stuff with their logo?

Nope! You can use their colors, though. Tagging them as such on Etsy is a grey area I'll get back to in another post, but using any official names or logos in the artwork or title is definitely right out. (Again, unless you ask for permission.)

Is my "$pop_culture_phenomenon"-inspired item a copyright violation?

Again, as long as you're not lifting any direct images without asking permission (or trying to bill your item as an "official" licensed piece of merchandise), you're fine.

But I've heard horror stories!

There are a number of reasons for this.

1. Sellers may have voluntarily taken their items off the market for fear of infringement. (Or other issues not related to IP problems.)

2. Sellers may have been using copyrighted images directly from the original medium.

3. Sellers may not have explicitly made it clear that their item is not officially licensed.

4. Sellers may have misunderstood the point of contention in the cease and desist letter they received.


I haven't heard any specific stories from Etsy sellers about being contacted by, say, Lucasfilms Ltd. or Summit Entertainment or anyone else with cease and desist letters, so until someone gives the specific details, both I and Lawyer Mom stand by this point that it's kosher.

I got a cease and desist letter! Help!

Each case is different, of course, but here are some questions to consider:

  • What are they complaining about specifically? (They may not have an issue with your item; they may be writing because they have an issue with the language you're using in your copy. "Onesie," for example, is a trademark and marketing an item as such constitutes a trademark violation. Selling baby jumpers, however, does not.)
  • Do they have a legitimate complaint?
  • What are they asking you to do?

In an ideal world, people wouldn't send cease & desist letters unless they understood the law and had a legal backing to their argument. But we don't live in an ideal world, and so sometimes people make mistakes. If you know what you're doing is a fairly self-evident case of copyright infringement, do the right thing, eh? But if you think it's contestable, or if you can't break through the legalese, run the situation by your local copyright/patent/IP-informed attorney.

Sometimes, even huge corporations make mistakes: bear in mind that the National Pork Board sent ThinkGeek a C&D letter about a clearly satirical/parody product that doesn't even exist.

Can I repurpose trademarked logos with artistic intentions?

The short answer is "Yes, but...". Yes, but they have to be altered in such a way that they can no longer be taken as the original product (a bracelet made out of Hershey Bar wrappers, for example, is clearly not a candy bar) nor as an endorsement or an attempt at competition. Bonus points if the use is satirical or is somehow a commentary/artistic statement. This one is a fuzzy area that comes down to subjective interpretation a lot of the time.

I have some more questions to put up (I've also been sending private answers in Etsy convos while writing this), but it would be overwhelming so here's the first part.

Also be on the lookout for Lawyer Mom theme entries! I got a lot of questions about fabrics/patterns/sewing, so I've got a whole entry devoted to just those questions coming up as well.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beads & Memories

Once upon a time, I WAS IN CHINA.

Which sounds totally ludicrous to me, really—China's on the other side of the globe, after all!—but so I was. And should you ever find yourself in Beijing's Silk Market, you could easily get lost in all of the beads.

Most of what I found wasn't all that impressive: scores and scores of freshwater pearls, semi-pecious stones in assorted smooth round styles, with little variation on shapes or sizes, and so on. But then I found these beauties:

Aren't they gorgeous?! Look at the contrast with the orange-red and the light blue! What poppers!

My only regret is not buying more strands. They're a kind of agate (I think perhaps Blue Lace, judging from the polished bits, but I can't be sure) and about an inch long. I've been sitting on these for months, assembling a necklace in the back of my brain. I've got some beads picked out especially for these guys.

What has me especially pumped is not only how unique these are, but all of the memories they carry inside of them. I was in Beijing for a week, over the Lunar New Year, and had an incredible time. I climbed the Great Wall, I ate scorpions, I saw the Forbidden City, and I even crashed a New Year's Eve party at a random dumpling restaurant, where I and my buddy/guide were treated to a free New Year's Eve feast! Having a hand-made, one-of-a-kind souvenir from it is like the cherry on top.

Do your supplies have any stories/memories behind them?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

IDK, my BFF Noah?

I am totally stoked to be getting a visit from my college best friend over the Fourth of July weekend, and what better way to celebrate than to make a treasury?

For Noah

(More Lawyer Mom posts forthcoming, I've got a lot of questions so I might have to break it down into two or three more entries.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

IP Articles in Print

If any of you have access to Lapidary Magazine, their April 2010 issue has an extensive article on jewelry designs and intellectual property. Pick up a copy—my place of employment is selling their back issues of Lapidary Magazine at a loss, so I got it for $3—and check it out, all you jewelry makers.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Whoa Nelly, rub your belly!

Wow! I got a lot of responses to Intellectual Property Talk With Lawyer Mom, more than I honestly anticipated! I am queuing up questions I've received here in comments, in Etsy convos, in the Etsy forums, and via email to tackle in IP Talk With Lawyer Mom, Round 2: Electric Boogaloo. Unfortunately, that post won't be ready until Wednesday. Today was the end of the work week for most of you, but it was just the beginning for me!

Also, here's the big fat DISCLAIMER:

Questions fielded by Lawyer Mom do NOT constitute official legal counsel. Lawyer Mom's answers are based on her experience with IP work and her interpretation and understanding of the law. Bear in mind that Lawyer Mom typically works outside the realm of (fine) arts (and crafts) and, as such, may drop the ball once in a great while. (But she is always up front about when her footing becomes unsure.)

When you submit a question for Lawyer Mom in any form—Etsy forum thread, Etsy convo, comment here, email to me, etc—you agree not to hold me or Lawyer Mom responsible for any IP-related messes you might inadvertently get yourself into. This is advice and general education here, folks. Consider Lawyer Mom a jumping-off point.

Remember, with intellectual property, it's best to err on the side of caution.

I'll probably have another update up before the next chat with Lawyer Mom, but until then, keep the questions coming!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

IP Talk With Lawyer Mom

I saw this post about copyright infringement in the Etsy forums before I went to work the other day. I tossed in my two cents among the replies, then realized: I have my own in-house IP expert. I'm sure Etsy could benefit!

(My mom, aka Lawyer Mom, has been practicing patent law and other IP sundry for over thirty years. In addition to being an awesome mom, she's also a super cool pioneering lady engineer and one of the first women to work in a non-secretarial capacity at Bell Labs back in the 80s. Also, she crochets things for me and my brother and our friends and children in need. I bet if you asked nicely she'd make you a fetch scarf and hat combo. ;])

On Etsy, you can sell three things: Vintage, Supplies, and Handmade. Vintage and Supplies don't really concern themselves with IP, so this is of concern only to those of us selling in the Handmade category.


What is copyright?

Copyright is basically saying, "I created this individual piece of work, this is MY blood sweat and tears." Anything that CAN be copyrighted is copyrighted "the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device" (source: US copyright office FAQ) [NOTE TO INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS: This whole entry is based on the premise that you are working in the US and with US laws. If you are in Canada or the UK, check with the copyright office your own government—though it's my understanding that most countries, especially Western ones, generally follow the US model.]

Can I copyright what I sell on Etsy?

That depends on what you're selling. Original fine art, whether it's photographs, paintings, collages, sculptures, prints, or carvings, is copyrighted. Patterns for crocheting, sewing, or knitting are also copyrightable. Furniture—unless it includes some of your own original art—is not. Clothing is not, but jewelry is—as long as there is some amount of "creative expression" involved that is not taken from another copyrighted source. Any photo you put on Etsy is also copyrighted, even if it's of work that is not copyrightable.

How do I copyright my work?

You! Your copyright exists "the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device." This is a point that confuses people, so I'm reiterating it here. This copyright lasts for the rest of your life, and seventy years beyond that point. (Unless you made it before 1989, in which case it only lasts fifty years after your death.) After that, it falls into public domain.

But that seems too easy.

I know! But it is. People sometimes confuse copyrighting and registering a copyright. You can register a copyright with the US Copyright Office for about $20 / copyrighted item. This isn't necessary for it to be copyrighted, but if you're worried about people ripping off your work and you want to have that government record, then go for it. Registered copyright will help with litigation. But that $20 fee only applies to one copyrighted item. The best way would be to group like items together. ("Spring 2008 crochet patterns," for example.)

How do I register my work?

You don't need a lawyer to register it. has an e-filing process you can do yourself over the Internet.

Does my _____ violate someone's copyright?

Copyright only protects the original "form" of a piece. If you sell something "inspired by" a movie, video game, or TV show, you're fine. (For example, calling a werewolf-themed bracelet a "Jacob Black" bracelet is okay.) If you take artistic license with characters or things described therein, that's also okay. (For example, cute chibi versions of the cast of Serenity.) But as soon as you use actual imagery (a book cover, a movie poster) without altering it, then you're treading iffy ground. If you bought a pattern off of Etsy and then turned around and sold the result, that doesn't violate copyright—but trying to sell the pattern itself does, as does copying it and giving it to other craft friends. Since clothing cannot be copyrighted, replicas of outfits from movies or TV shows are okay.

If I'm concerned about potential copyright violation on my part, what do I do?

If you're really concerned, you should hunt down the original creator(s) or the current copyright holders and ask their permission. In writing. If you're selling anything really current or popular, this is a good idea, as obviously the creators have an especially vested interest in protecting that copyright.

BIG FAT EDIT that I'm taking out of the comments and putting up here so everyone can see RIGHT AWAY:

Miranda:Suggesting that ANYONE take the ask-for-forgiveness-not-permission approach when it comes to using other people's copyrighted material is a slap in the face to your community :(

And I would agree that in some cases, forgiveness-not-permission is a really callous attitude. My assumption going into this part (I admit to getting tired of chugging along with the writing and getting sloppy with my explanations!) is that people reading this article and using Etsy are good, decent people who, by default, would prefer to ask permission and not forgiveness. My answer was coming from an assumption of a "Well I can't find the copyright holder, now what?" perspective. Obviously, I didn't make that clear enough. So I'm going to make it big and clear here:


But if you want to use that illustration from that 1967 children's book you got at the library sale, and you can't find contact information for the originator or her estate, you can still take the risk and use it—if you want and if you're okay with that. When you do that, you are of course opening yourself up to the small chance (but nevertheless, a chance!) that the original artist will find you and send that cease and desist letter. If that makes you uncomfortable, step away from the source material and find a suitable substitute from either within the public domain or with sources you can find more easily.

It's important to note that merely saying something like "all images copyright their respective owners" WILL NOT cover your butt, legally. Again, it's a nice gesture, to indicate that this is not *your* work, but it still doesn't take the place of permission.

Hopefully I made this part a bit clearer. Miranda, would you find this sentiment to be a better context and explanation?


However, there's nothing in the way of legal action a person can take without first sending you a cease and desist letter. If you're worried about accidentally getting hauled up in court without warning, that won't happen. Business-wise, it's probably more efficient for you not to worry about it than to spend time and energy hunting down the original author and waiting for their permission.

The government doesn't care if you merely violate copyright. The government cares if you violate copyright and someone else cares about it. The other party first has to signal that they care about it, by sending you that cease and desist letter. It's only if you ignore their wishes that they can take you to court. So if you get one, comply! Duh. It probably doesn't hurt to send them a reply, stating that you willingly complied and withdrew the offending material from sale and destroyed it (as that's often what's asked of violators).

Someone is using my photos without permission/selling my copyrightable material as their own. What do I do?

This depends a bit on context; if someone is reselling your own original work or repurposing for something else, a little one-on-one discussion and settlement-reaching never hurt anyone.

Some Etsy sellers find their products being reproduced and resold by larger entities, though. You can still try to seek out their legal department for a out-of-court settlement (usually meaning that they pay you a licensing fee for the right to sell your work), but it might be more effective in that case to skip to the cease & desist letter.

In the cease & desist letter, you need to tell them to knock it off in no uncertain language. Items must be withdrawn from sale/taken offline/etc by a certain date, or you will pursue litigation. This is usually enough to get the job done. You can write this letter yourself, or hire an attorney to do it for you.

This becomes the point where it gets to be a matter of "is it worth it?" Claims between two individuals would go to just small claims court, where it's easy enough to represent yourself. Bringing in a larger corporation takes it to the big guns, so to speak—and you'll want an attorney for that. Bear in mind that you may not win, either; each case is different and each judge is different.

If, like a few other Etsyians, you find your copyright is being violated by companies outside the US, you do have some recourse. Still send the cease and desist order first. If they refuse, contact the International Trade Commission. The ITC can't go into another country and shut a business down for copyright violation (since different countries have different laws), and unfortunately they can't force a company to take down stolen photos from the Internet, but they can prevent their goods from entering the United States, and in some cases destroy the fakes that have already shipped in.


What is trademark? How is different from copyright?

A trademark is the name of an entire business or a concept. Walmart is a trademark. McDonald's is a trademark. Those are official corporate names that no one but Walmart or McDonald's are allowed to use. It doesn't protect any of their goods, just their name. Big Mac is also (probably) a trademark, meaning you're not allowed to open up your own burger stand and call your burgers Big Macs. The little TM you see next to a well-recognized name indicates that it's a trademark.

Like copyright, you don't necessarily have to go through legal channels to get one. I can call my business Kokoba Jewelry or Kokoba Creations or whatever else and add TM to indicate that it's mine.

However, for that ® sign, you must register it, and if you want to take anyone to court over using your trademark, you also have to register it. Registering a trademark is a bit more expensive than registering copyright (it costs about $250, since you need to hire a lawyer to do it), so Lawyer Mom is lukewarm about it. If you're just selling from your Etsy shop in your spare time, don't worry about it. If you're in the public a lot, going to a lot of shows and making a lot of sales, and you have a lot riding on brand name recognition, then you should go ahead and register it.

How do I register it?

Find yourself an IP lawyer (like Lawyer Mom) and have them file it for you. The name you're aiming to trademark can't be a generic descriptor (like I couldn't register "math jewelry"); it has to be kind of unique and specialized (like I could register "Kokoba"). Logos can also be trademarked (like McDonald's "golden arches"). Each name and case is different; if you decide to register your trademark, the lawyer working with you will help you figure out exactly what it is you can trademark for your business.

If you have a brand line of products, you can also register that brand name's trademark as well, provided it follows the aforementioned rules about trademarks.

I have another question for Lawyer Mom you didn't answer here. / I think you got something wrong.

Then I'd love to ask her for you! Send an Etsy convo to Kokoba, leave a comment here, or send an email to kokoba at gmail dot com. (Gotta watch out for those spam spiders, after all!)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Clap Your Hands If You Believe In Photography Fairies!

I'll come right out and say it: I hate taking pictures of my jewelry.

I don't really like popping a very "I-centered" entry in the blog so early on, but this is something that I struggle with SO MUCH in my crafty life that I felt almost obligated to share. I think other sellers on Etsy can relate (I hope so!).

I'm not "vacation photos with chopped-off heads" bad at photography, really. But something about taking very creative pictures in a very small space for a very specific purpose (showing off my work and enticing people to click on a thumbnail and then later buy it) sucks whatever photographic talent I have right out of me. I try to update my shop every day, though if I notice that I've run out of my "picture queue" I conveniently remember some other chore I have to do or errand I have to run. That's when you start seeing the gaps in the dates on the listings. ;)

Any given Etsy collection is going to be full of nothing but beautiful shots of products made with love and care, photographs that I wouldn't mind hanging on the wall as a piece of decorative art in and of themselves. It's almost enough to make me throw my hands up in despair and just give up on the whole thing. Because I know that, statistically speaking, not everyone featured up there can be a professional photographer. The people taking those pictures are people like you and me: people who didn't have the the chance to immerse themselves in the study of photography; people who have a thousand other things to do in life and a thousand hats they wear that don't have anything to do with photography.

It's also frustrating because if I think about signing up for the category showcase I cringe. "My pictures will look so bad next to everyone else's. No one will click it. It'll be a waste of money." Normally not a concern for me, but July will see Embracing Your Inner Geek Day which is, well, what I'm all about—the perfect time to hit up the geekery showcase. I'll have to decide—and soon!—whether or not I can overcome that fear of looking like a talentless hack on the internet to maybe score some sales.

I wish (as I told Etsy in the forums) that a photography fairy would come along and just drop the perfect pictures for my items right in to my hard drive. That would be so much easier, and I could spend my valuable time making new items or marketing the ones I already have. I have no qualms about what I make, in terms of the physical product; I worry that my photos give off a vibe that's more amateur than the work *really* is.

And it's not at all related to the quality or creativity of my product! My polymer charms are starting out kind of sad ("failed kindergarten projects," my mother called them) but then I immediately see what I goofed and what I can do better and there's a world of difference between the alpha release and the beta release (pictures coming soon!). But the photography—it's totally unrelated to my craft and yet it's one of the biggest things holding me back! How silly is that?!

You have to constantly strive to improve at everything you do, though—including photography! And so I continue to slog along, catching up on any articles on the Storque or anywhere else that I may have missed; experimenting with settings on my camera; reading other how-tos and tips on the internet. Progress comes in increments. I'm glad it comes at all, of course, but some days it seems almost a Sisyphean task.

What frustrates you as a seller on Etsy? Or in any creative or business venture?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Spotted!: Math Rings by Holmescraft

Treasury East has been busted for me for a while, but today it was finally up and running! To celebrate, I put together a "Science Genius Girl" treasury.

There's a lot of neat stuff in there that I want to talk about (or have already!), but I'm going to take this entry just to talk about Holmescraft. She makes all kinds of creative, beautiful wrapped ring designs, but the ones that interest me the most are the math ones.

Gold-Filled Picture Jasper Fibonacci Ring

fibonacci ring

Sterling Silver Amazonite Pi Ring

pi ring

Holmescraft's wirework is exquisite. Wire-wrapped rings are among my favorite items to admire, because the handiwork always looks so delicate and finely-done. Working on such a small scale can be tricky, and it takes patience and dedication to pull it off. Add some math into the mix, and well! Something to sit on my wishlist. :) (Schooling myself in wire-wrapping is also on my wishlist, so I can try this out.)

Speaking of math, the integration of numbers into these pieces is also creative. I don't see any of the other math jewelry on Etsy coming out very much like hers. (Except, well, mine!) Loads of points and gold stars to Holmescraft for the "creative incorporation of numbers" here, plus it has the subtlety that I really appreciate and try to give to all of my math jewelry. Would you know, to look at her rings, that pi or Fibonacci was sitting in there? Certainly not at first blush. And yet, can you admire the beauty and handiwork there without knowing that it's mathematical? Absolutely!

The other thing I really appreciate about Holmescraft is her use of gemstones. I feature gemstones in most of my work, but when you're making larger-scale items (bracelets, necklaces) that can get pricey. Smaller objects, like rings and earrings, are the perfect place to feature them. Plus, look at that picture jasper! I'm a big fan of the jasper family. Gorgeous.

Her rings fetch for only $16! With high-quality gemstones and precious metal beads and wire wrapping, that's a bargain. My birthday is coming up, after all...

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Look

Thanks to Blogger's great new (or maybe not-so-new but newly-readily-available at least) options I finally have a theme that jives with the idea of what I do. Yay! It looks so much better now!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fair Alert!

I just got news that I will be at the Tinicum Arts Festival! This is a juried show—I had to mail off an application with pictures of my work so they could decide whether or not it was worth it to give me the space. This is the first time I've been at a juried show so I'm excited.

The Tinicum Arts Festival runs the second weekend in July (July 10th and 11th) at Tinicum Park. Here's some directions.

Tinicum Park is in Erwinna, PA, butted right up against New Jersey. Very easily accessible from Philadelphia and New York City.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The MSoE June Theme: Ichthyology

I think I've started on a mild polymer clay obsession. Too bad I haven't had an art class since the eighth grade! The Mad Scientists of Etsy team, of which I am (almost) a part, does a theme every month. Members submit crafts and some/all of them get featured in a team treasury.

June's theme is ichthyology. Since Douglas Adams was still on my sleep-addled brain, last night I created the perfect entry for the theme that would go along with my geeky tendencies.

Babelfish Pendant


You can also see my Apple Pi Necklace in the May volcano treasury. Treasuries on Etsy don't last long, so check it out sooner rather than later! There's lots of neat stuff in there.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Late for Towel Day

But better late than never! Here is my polymer tribute to the late, great comic genius that was Douglas Adams.

Towel Day Necklace
Towel Necklace for Hoopy Froods

A towel, as we all should know, is the single most important item we can have as we hitchhike the universe:

A towel, [the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Fans of Douglas Adams celebrate Towel Day as a way to remember Mr. Adams, and also because carrying a towel around is simply a darn good idea! Some of us, however, are not in a position where we can carry a towel, and so this little polymer charm is the perfect alternative.

I might make accompanying earrings, or maybe shrink plastic 42 charms.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

WIP: Algebraic Printing

Whilst traipsing about the internet, I found this article on algebraic weaving. It incorporates math directly into the generation of the art—as opposed to merely parroting or mirroring pre-existing numbers—in a way that I find fascinating. I want to try and move it from weaving to painting, since this seems like something I'd actually be capable of painting. Plus, I don't trust my weaving skills so much yet.

I did a proof of concept on graph paper with colored pencils. I scanned it in and really quickly blocked over the colors in the GIMP so you can get a sense of what it "should" look like. I didn't get a chance to finish out this particular expression before the paper ran out, so it's complete along the long edge but not along the short edge.

My idea is to break up one large algebraic grid into four or nine smaller pieces. This makes them more marketable in terms of economics (smaller canvas + less paint = cheaper painting) and also in terms of aesthetics (splitting the larger grid into smaller canvases creates an interesting asymmetrical look on the individual canvases). I don't know the first thing about painting, though. This project is going to take a little bit of research.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Spotted!: Molecule Jewelry by Molecular Muse

I was cruising Etsy to find the "chemistry" hits and I found Molecular Muse's absolutely stunning shop! The work is so precise and well-done, I am thoroughly impressed. I'm also heartened to see that "my" idea is viable and marketable! I'll post some pictures but really, check out the store for yourself.

serotonin necklace

Serotonin Necklace

Not only does she do excellent handiwork; Molecular Muse also does really fun and creative things with combining different molecules into themed pieces.

focus necklace

Focus Necklace
"The three molecules featured on this necklace are norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and dopamine, which aid focus and attention."

How can I ever make something to compare with what she does? Guess it's time to start playing with solder!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chemistry Charm Bracelet (Step 0)

Today I finished the first step on the way to a new line of chemistry jewelry! My Avogadro necklaces will finally have some company.

A friend of mine (PonderosaCat on Etsy, among other places) out west blogged a little while ago about the fun she had messing around with Shrinky Dinks. Some of her results are for sale: not much so far, but the Autumn Necklace she has up is darling and I love it:

PonderosaCat got me to thinking to what I could do with Shrinky Dinks. I browsed around and found out that I could use number 6 plastic (the kind in your restaurant take-out/to-go containers) just as well as Shrinky Dinks' proprietary material. Bonus: I now had an excuse to buy the chocolate chip cookies from the grocery store bakery!

This detailed, multi-part plastic doodle charm tutorial on Dabbled is a really great source, and I set out to replicate her project.

I didn't document the whole process—I don't like documenting an "alpha release" of a totally new medium for me—but I did get some promising results!

They're promising, but not perfect; Dabbled warned about colors getting darker as they baked, and so the metallic silver Sharpie I used went from a light silver sheen to a dark thundercloud gray. The squares aren't cut exactly, well, square, either, and things aren't as centered as they could be.

Despite all of that, however, I am surprised at how well this turned out. Everything I'm dissatisfied with is a result of impatience: "OMG I WANNA SEE HOW THESE TURN OUT!" The charms are as flat as I would want, and all of the little numbers in the atomic number and atomic weight printing stayed very legible. It's much more economical (and environmental) for me to wash and cut up old to-go containers than to go out to Michael's or JoAnn's every couple of days. The only change to make, besides measuring and cutting more carefully, is to nix the gray background and see what the writing looks like on plain, shrunken plastic.

This is Step 0, like I mentioned. After I perfect the art of Number 6 Plastic Charm-Making, the next step is put them on some jump rings and make some bracelets and things out of them. I want to use chain for the bracelet—instead of beads and SoftFlex/Beadalon, like I'm used to—so that will also take some experimenting.

The first compound up on the agenda is H20, followed by caffeine (C8H10N4O2), capsaicin (C18H27NO3), and ethanol (aka booze) (C2H5OH). There's a couple different directions I could go with these, and I can't wait to get more time to work out which way to go with them. But first I need to conduct more to-go container experiments. If you have any laying around, by the way, I'd be glad to take them off your hands!