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"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." by William E. Henley

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

what do you do when your memories are no longer yours?

A couple of days ago I was contacted by another seller (who had in turn been contacted by two other sellers about my new shop nova of sweden). They were concerned that I was copying their work. Reading the convo was really hurtful. She wasn't spiteful but it still stung. I had heard her name before but never gone looking for her work. I made a decision a long time ago not to look at others work. It’s so easy to get influenced and I wanted to keep my mind clear. I wanted to continue my path on my own. Without images of others work bouncing around in my head. Now I think that maybe I should have looked at her work. Maybe I would have created something different if I had. But if I did, would it still have been mine? I went to her shop after I read the convo and she creates amazing and beautiful pieces. I could see similarities with one of the things I had listed. We also use the same commercial findings. I could tell she wanted me to remove my listings and I got the feeling that no matter how I explained how my life had lead me to these designs she (or they) would never believe me. So I removed them. I have no desire to be labeled a copycat nor do I want people to see someone else's design in what I create.

When I opened nova of sweden it was finally time for me to dig my hands in the swedish soil and let the dirt fall between my fingers as I planted these wonderful seeds. I had finally come to a point where my skills and my heart had crossed paths. I was ready for more.
I was reliving all my wonderful childhood memories.. Like the time my mother and I was picking flowers in a deserted garden at midnight and then walked home barefoot through the summer rain. I was 6 years old but I remember it like yesterday. The flowers smelled so good and I don't think I've ever been so happy.

I wanted to tell you about my mothers garden. Where the flowers are always in bloom. Regardless of season somehow she works the soil like some artists work metal and create amazing things where there was nothing before. But despite all the big colorful creations I was always drawn to the little timid flowers. The forget me nots that so quietly and happy just lived in a corner of her garden. Those are the ones I remember the most.

I wanted to show you the lakes and water that surrounds us. The instant calm you get from it. How I used to sit by the lake and watch the fish touch the surface and create rings on the water that would spread and grow forever. How we used to run home when the water drops started falling from the sky. How the rain would wash everything clean until there were no traces left of yesterday. Only a new day ahead of you.

I wanted to tell you about how the season changes. About the snow that covers everything like a warm blanket. A snow that is anything but white. A snow you can make angels in. A snow that is more beautiful than anything else you will ever see.

But instead I struggle. How do you tell a story or share a memory when you’ve been told that those memories are no longer yours? I fear to let my torch touch metal again. I fear that yet another memory will be compared and picked apart until there is nothing left that’s mine. I feel a little sad.. a little trampled on. I know all designers are very protective of what’s theirs, but I ask that you to look in the mirror before you tell someone that what they dream is not theirs to dream. Are you truly that original, that there is no chance that someone else might have similar ideas? I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. I only know what I know. Or at least what I thought I knew.

So here I am. Awaiting that little ray of sunshine that will come and warm up my heart after the storm. So that once the dust has settled and the pain goes away I can start over. I only ask one thing. That before you judge others, take a moment to smell the flowers and let the sun warm up your heart. And tell me, do you think your flowers smell any different from mine? Do you think the sun feels any different from where you stand?

love //tess


  1. So sorry that happened to you.

  2. thank you. I know what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.. It just sucks getting there.

  3. oh no!!! I don't even know what to say my dear. I will only offer hugs.

  4. Nina I'll take the hugs. They do help.

  5. I don't think I would have removed the items. If you didn't copy her, you didn't. It's that simple. So what if the designs are similar. a lot of people have spinning rings and stacking rings and so do I. I will NOT stop selling them just because someone else wants me to!
    Stick to your guns Tess!

  6. I thought about it Tammy. Trust me I really did. I guess they just felt ruined somehow. Like they were broken, if you know what I mean. The joy I felt when I finished them was completely killed.

  7. :( Shame on that person.

    I hope you find it in yourself to list the lovely pieces again. They're not ruined... someone just has too big an ego.

  8. I know you are not a copycat, nova. The question never even entered my mind. And the very idea still doesn't even after you posted this.


  9. all of your support is like a hundred rays of sunshine in my heart! Thank you

  10. Forget me nots are my favorite! I also vividly remember them from my childhood. Sorry this happened to you - don't let it get to you! As long as you believe in your work, everyone else will to.

  11. You know I will always support you! I heard you talk about your ideas and inspiration for a long time before you opened Nova of Sweden. I can truly see the connection between your pictures from home and the pieces. You are a talent, and over 800 sales prove that. You have made truly unique items in the past, and this new shop is only a way for you to showcase some of the other styles up your sleeve.
    You made those pieces with love, and they came from memories that were YOURS!

  12. OMGosh. I am stunned. I just got home to read this and it makes my heart hurt. I know how excited you were about your new adventure. I agree with Puss I would never think that about you. I see so many things daily that all have similarities. I get inspiration from others as well. I hope you bring your memories back out and shine like you do!

    Jaime is right!

    We all love you Tess.

  13. Hey Tess~
    It's hard for me to understand why people think that because they have made something that it is strictly theirs?? because someone has made a hoop does that mean that all the tons of sellers on esty, me included are coping others when we list hoops?? I think that as artists we see inspiration all around us.. there are only so many ways to do things. So I guess if I want to add ball embellishments, that would be coping Lisa of Lisas Lovlies or if I want to make a spinner ring I'm coping Carolyn from Autumn Leaves Jewelry or Tammy from TammysTreasureChest?? These are just some of the shops that inspire me and I'm not smithing yet but when I do I will have so much inspiration from fellow artists that I admire and respect..I don't mean that I will copy their designs but I'm sure I will add similar embellishments or do similar wire wrapping, It's called technique! I believe I know who you are talking about.. I follow both your blogs. I think that it is a bit presumptious on their part to think that every idea created is a new and original idea.. These are my personal opinions and I don't mean to make enemies but as I read this sellers blog the other day these were the thoughts going through my head.

  14. Tess,

    What a shame. I love your work. I dont mind admitting that you have inspired me, although my skills are not at your level yet. I hope you will send this blog to your accusers so that they will see that your heart was pure. I also hope that you will re-list the pieces, They are beautiful and will speak to someones heart, the same way they spoke yo yours.

  15. so sorry, Tess. {{{{{hugs}}}}} I hope the ring fits you. When you can get past the horrible things the seller said to you and disassociate those things with your work you should proudly wear these pieces. You deserve to be adorned with memories of a beautiful and happy childhood in Sweden. Maybe they were meant to be yours and not find another home. Best, Kim

  16. I wrote on the forum how I felt. I think your a great inspiration to all with your kindness and talent. You are selfless with your help to fellow designers. I think that all that matters when your a true artist.
    I love hearing about Sweden! True beauty!
    :) sonya

  17. Tess, I don't know who this other seller is so I can't compare your pieces. But when I look at your work I can tell it's made with love. You can't pour that kind of passion into a knockoff. Your work is original, and being from Sweden myself, they make me miss my home.

    I've had this happen to me too, with my photography, it's hard to take a picture that has never been taken before. I've presented images that were truly inspired by my own life, only to have someone point out that that same motive was photographed by some famous photographer 50 years earlier. A photographer I had never even heard of.

    It's disappointing have put so much work into something you thought was original, but the truth is that pretty much everything has been done before. It's a little naive for someone to think that their ideas are completely unique. There are almost 7 billion people in this world, it would be strange if our ideas didn't collide once in a while.

    Clearly, you have your own style, and it can be seen in every single piece you make. If one piece happened to resemble someone else's work, that must simply be a coincidence. I don't know you well, but I know that you're extremely generous with your knowledge. You don't mind sharing your techniques or even your suppliers.

    Keep your head up high, and don't stop creating your beautiful pieces!

  18. your support is truly amazing. I have some wonderful friends in all of you and for that I am forever grateful.

    love love love!

  19. Augh. My lengthy comment somehow disappeared after I clicked on "preview"....

    Anyways. :(

    Is this why you closed shop again? Ignore these arrogant, insecure *blip*, please???

    (This blog post is depressing enough. I think I would do well to spare a few derogatives.)

    Next time another paranoid who has a need to prove to herself that she is so unique that she's above human and creates things that are never before seen and never will be, point her to this: and tell them that because we are all human, we bulid upon existing ideas and techniques and are always influenced by the zeitgeist, it's inevitable that a lot of people would come up with very similar ideas at the same time. When this even happens to huge and complex ideas like evolution, it's definitely even more so with small ideas like hand-made jewels.

    I expect the accuser to retort that, yes of course she's heard of simulataneous invention, and of course since she's so fabulous she definitely has read that issue of The New Yorker and that Gladwell article, but she still has all the evidence in the world that you're stealing her groundbreaking ideas. Just ignore her when she starts psycho babblings like that.

    I hope you recover soon... *hugs*

  20. oh Nign you are such a wonderful person. Your comment says it all.

    I put old nova on vacation to catch up on life, sales were almost too good (is it ok to say that?) and I was running out of clean socks. New nova... well cause there was nothing left to see. But I'm hoping to have them both opened again next week.

    And I think I'm done with feeling trampled on. Now I feel filled with this amazing energy of creativity. I'm reclaiming my dreams, and my right to my own memories.

  21. Tess,
    I am so excited about your outlook and return of creativity. I can't wait to see what you make.
    :) Kim

  22. ugh. So disheartening. I find it hard to be this, our very saturated, jewelry market. I have come up with designs by drawing from experiences and preferences (like you did) only to see something very similar somewhere else. It's frustrating. and it is certainly a challenge. Your pieces are beautiful and you should be proud of them.

  23. Thank you, I know exactly what you mean. I find it especially hard if you draw inspiration from nature. I mean a flower is a flower a leaf is a leaf.. I don't know if there is any way around that.

  24. Glad to see that you're back making things and being yourself and no longer creatively repressed by that crazy meanie. :)

  25. Oh nign you wonderful wonderful lady!
    I got a beautiful little package in the mail. A gift, just for me. I can't even tell you how lucky I feel. I love my gift, Nign, Thank you so much. Your support is truly amazing.

  26. Hi Tess,

    It's a hard predicament. I have to say, when I saw your work, I thought of someone's that it resembles. ~BUT~ having said that. It's presumptions to thing our ideas are strictly our own. I see a lot of work. I *do* look at it to see what others do, and from creative inspiration. Not to copy... but having said that. I have personally created thing in the past, thinking them *truly* my design and original; to go out and find them out there. :) happens. I believe many of us come to the same places in design individually, from our own path. And really of the millions of jewelers out there - is each of our own style totally distinct? No. Do we all not use the same tools techniques, and supplies? Generally, yes..... does some work look like other work? some more than others, yes. but hopefully we all come to it uniquely on our own. I ma glad to hear that you did, and sorry that things like this can come down to hurtful words, and hurt feelings.

    It's a tough situation, And I don't wish dealing with it on anyone. I loved reading your blog, thank you for sharing.

  27. yes, thank you for sharing, tess!
    certainly, copying is lame and amoral, and i would never condone it.
    but frankly, i think that accusing someone of copying is petty and unprofessional- if only because (in most cases) there is absolutely no way to know. and as we witness, a wrongful accusation is needlessly devastating.
    i've seen a number of designs out there verging on identical to my own, and while it makes me sad (sometimes mad!) i feel it's entirely within the realm of possibility that other people come up with the same idea.
    (& on the plus side- it pushes me to continuously come up with new ideas- or would that be 'new' ideas...?!)

    i say please don't let anyone take away your happiness in your memories and your pride in creating such lovely work. if you truly didn't copy, i don't think it's ok at all to have removed your listings under pressure.

    good luck!
    and keep moving forward!



I treasure your words and the fact that you are
taking the time to share them with me.
Please forgive me if I don't respond personally to you.
I always try but sometimes time just flies away!
love ~tess