Monday, February 10, 2014

My Olympic Connection

If you aren't living under a rock, you've seen at least a little bit of the Olympics, or at least if you are a quilter you've been alerted to the official Olympic patchwork quilt of Sochi.
Very beautiful. And the purple one opened up all the way! (Just a little opening ceremonies glitch humor.)

 A few of you who know my patterns have brought to my attention that it looks remarkably similar to Diamond Dazzle, one of the patterns originally used as my January online group project several years ago.
It's like twins separated at birth with a splash of navy thrown in.
 Remarkably similar? Absolutely. A copyright infringement? Absolutely not. I didn't even think it for a minute, and I doubt anyone else did either, but just in case, I needed to assure you all that I have not been up all night every night trying to figure out how to get my fair share of the Olympic action.

In truth, if that action involves dual toilets, I don't really want any anyway.

The world of quilt design is one part joy of ultimate creative expression that we get to share with the world, and one part terror that someone else has already come up with the cool design that we just invented. I would even venture to say that every quilt design any of us ever comes up with has an almost twin somewhere else; there are just too many of us out there creating, whether we do it simply for fun or also for profit, to not have any overlap on the Venn diagram.

While no one wants to accidentally blatantly copy another designer's quilt pattern, the truth is that it is just about impossible to do so.  I like to think of it as great minds thinking alike.

So what is the point of a copyright? When I copyright a design that I have turned into a written pattern, I am copyrighting the method I used to make the quilt and my words that explain how you too can do it. My copyright states that I, and I alone, have the right to stick that pattern in a photocopier and distribute the patterns amongst my friends, or attach it to an email and send it to everyone I know. And even I don't do that because that would be bad business. If I'm giving patterns away, I give away actual patterns printed from my printer because they look way nicer.

Does this mean I am encouraging everyone to just go take their favorite quilt pattern and rewrite it in their own words? I am NOT. There is huge debate and discussion in the quilt design world about how much of a change constitutes a new design method for a pattern, and it just is not worth having one of us contact you to tell you to cease and desist.

What it does mean is that we as designers and we as quilters who create on our own without patterns shouldn't get ultra-caught up in "Am I the only one ever to come up with this idea?" Your time would be much better spent creating, sharing, and enjoying your designs. If you are going about this honestly, you know it. If you truly are stealing from other designers, you know that too. And hopefully if you are, you wake up and cut it out.

So back to the Olympic quilt. It is gorgeous. It is enticing me to maybe whip out my Diamond Dazzle pattern and make one in purple. And since I love knowing how a quilt came about, I read all about it on this site, and am sharing my favorite parts.

"Our goal was to represent a diverse range of emotions and feelings, connecting concepts like Motherland, Family, Culture, Time, Olympism, Peace, Nobility, Friends, Memory, Honour, Dreams, Beauty, Freedom, Pride, Warmth, Happiness, Greatness, Reliability, Victory, Creativity, Hospitality, Creation, Future, Russia, Planet Earth.
Every region in the world is proud of its unique origins, and it is no different in Russia. That is why there are so many different local traditions, songs and crafts that highlight the individuality of their creators, each valuable in its own right. Bosco had a wealth of choices to represent Russia’s rich diversity, but in the end we settled on something familiar, warm and welcoming: the patchwork quilt.
In the concept design, every patch was infused with the history and personality of traditional crafts from each of Russia’s 89 regions: in a single tapestry we combined Uftyuzhskaya painting and Vologda lace, Gzhel and Zhostovo painting, Kubachi patterns and the flowers of Pavlo Posad shawls, Mezenskaya painting and Khokhloma, Yakutsk patterns, fabrics of Ivanovo and other distinctive Russian patterns. That is how we arrived at a modern, distinctive and unmistakeably Russian Look of the Games.”   - Source,

You know what I did when I created Diamond Dazzle? I sewed some strips of fabric together and experimented with what would happen when I cut them apart. There was no conference amongst my shareholders about what emotions and feelings were to be included. If so, we'd have spent way too much time debating whether "Olympism" is a real word and how to pronouce "Uftyuhskaya." So anyway, I'm pretty sure no one copied my ideas, because I barely remember what they were myself.

But hey, if that quilt inspires you to make something similar, I happen to know where you can get a great pattern! 

1 comment:

Kaelyn Angelfoot said...

As someone who hopes to eventually publish her own quilting patterns, I thank you wholeheartedly for this reasonable article on copyright. I recently came across a artist whose patterns I considered buying, until I read the disclaimer that basically said anything that you make from her patterns fell under her copyright and couldn't be photographed, sold, shown, etc without her permission. The rampant misinformation out there is enough to scare people away (including me). Again, you have my thanks for the encouragement.

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