Form of flattery

>>Form of flattery

Woke in the wee hours Monday night to thunder rumbles and flashes of day-bright light. PDX weathermen had predicted fair weather, so naturally glassland was having one of its rare thunderstorms.

I snuggled down into the covers and purred, listening to rain drumming on the skylight. No way was I sleeping through this, so I after awhile I pulled out Izzy the ‘Pad and started figuring out how to respond to a bunch of emails I’ve been saving. Finally decided the best way was to simply talk about them here.

The first three are pretty direct (I’m paraphrasing only slightly, mostly to avoid embarrassing anyone):

Cynthia, I really like your XXXX project and have decided to produce them for our upcoming craft fair. I think I will be able to sell a bunch, they are so pretty. However, I have only recently begun fusing glass so the instructions in your blog are too hard. Please send me a full list of materials (glass colors, molds, etc.) as well as full-sized templates for each cut piece. I do not have a glass saw so please make sure I can cut the glass with my glass cutter. I will also need your firing schedules and any additional instructions or pictures you have so I can see how the back looks. The craft fair is in three weeks, so I will need this as soon as possible. Your prompt attention is advised and my address is below.

I am a fine arts student who really much admires your glass portraits. Your old woman sculpture is exactly what I need for a project this semester, she is so fierce. I do not have enough money to make my own silicone molds so would it be possible to send me your old woman mold? I promise to return it when I am done. You could be the reason I get a A!

I have decided to start a website about glass and will be using articles from your blog. However, your photos are too small and I tried enlarging them but they don’t look good. Would you please send me bigger pictures of the following articles?

The fourth was more subtle, from someone I’ve never apparently met (also paraphrasing because it was looong):

Please come to my party!! I’m having a BBQ on Saturday and would love to have you as my guest. I am a novice fused glass artist who attended XXXX and fell in love with your work. I picked up your business card there and I think we should be friends! Please bring a small glass item to donate to help me raise funds for a worthy cause.

And the fifth, which is actually a composite of several emails:

Cynthia, you would be so proud of me! I just got a (great teaching gig) for next summer, using descriptions and photos from your blog. I am basing the whole class on (a glass project in this blog). It would really help me if you could send me your photos and studio notes as there are some parts of this technique that are not quite working for me.

Uhm… maybe I should explain a few things.

Folks, I appreciate the attention and I really enjoy hearing from people about the stuff I post on this blog. (and I’m not kidding). I wouldn’t post glassmaking stuff if it weren’t:

  1. A good way for me to clarify processes for myself (and keep records)
  2. A nice way to pay back everyone who has helped me
  3. Let’s be honest, something of an ego boost

However–trying to be as nice as possible here–I do have some rules about how this works:

Everything in this blog *is* copyrighted (that’s what that little footnote at the bottom of each page tells you), which means that while you can quote small excerpts from these blogposts or link to them, you CANNOT reprint, repost or publish my text, pictures, downloads or diagrams without my expressed, written permission.

I’m actually pretty good about giving that permission but you must formally ask, and be willing to provide linkbacks, credit and/or–if you’re planning to make money from this stuff–a cut or a box of raspberries or a map to a gold mine or something.

And yup, I do use online plagiarism finders (and people frequently send “did you know your blog is on —-” notes), so please…ask first and avoid a lot of trouble for both of us.

Technical support and firing schedules
I’m pretty good about answering questions in the comment section of this blog or by private email, and I try to be prompt. However, I’m also lazy, have a dayjob and am only describing what worked for me. While I’m happy to clarify where possible, I can’t customize a project for specific reader requirements.

I do occasionally post my firing schedules…with a LOT of caveats. They’re at best examples, and most likely won’t work in all kilns. If you don’t test them first, before firing some big, expensive project…be prepared for heartache.

Mostly, though, what I’m posting is less recipe book and more starting point for your own explorations. Working through the details and filling in the gaps is the best way to learn, so if you don’t get something, please try it yourself before asking.

Giving out templates, designs, molds, etc.
Never gonna happen unless someday I decide to sell this stuff, which has so far been pretty easy to resist. If I have templates for fusing projects, they were probably traced on newsprint and recycled about 15 minutes after the project became a birthday present.

My silicone mastermolds are, well, sacred, and I don’t share them.

I *am* working on a book about casting methods, but not very hard. Someday, probably when I’m 90, I’ll publish it. I’ve also got a fairly long waiting list to teach, and one of these days–when I find a venue and some time–I actually will. Fill out the contact form if you’re interested, but it’s liable to be awhile.

As I mentioned awhile back, the first (and last) time I donated my work for charitable purposes it didn’t get a very good reception. I now confine my donations to money or time (or old household stuff), just to play fair.

Advertising and disclosure
Many people have suggested I add advertising to this blog, and in a couple of rather interesting cases I was offered free products in exchange for writing favorably about them. This is pretty common nowadays, but I’m enough of a curmudgeonly old-school journalist that I don’t think much of it and I don’t do it.

Most of the time I buy my own supplies, and if I’m writing about something, I’ve most likely paid for it. In the rare cases that someone is nice enough to give me stuff–which *does* happen–I will mention that I got it for free if/when I write about it (i.e., I try to practice disclosure). More often, I solve the problem by just not writing about it to begin with.

Not being beholden to folks means I can say exactly what I think, and I wouldn’t give that up for the world.

So…hope y’all understand.



  1. Cynthia Morgan August 17, 2011 at 4:02 am - Reply

    Steve, feel free to link to anything on the site. And thanks for letting me know.

  2. Stephen Richard August 16, 2011 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your humorous response to the problem of copyright stealers. If I may, I’d like to provide a link to it from my site. It sets a collaborative tone with the reader, and maybe even with those who would otherwise not think what they are doing is stealing.

  3. Cheryl Samson July 27, 2011 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    I have learned most impt. lesson from you. Go slow,
    I have learnd to laugh, late at night. when I read your post..
    I have learned……from you,

    Thank you Cynthia

  4. Margot July 27, 2011 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    While doing some online research for what the going rate is for fused glass classes I found someone advertising a beginner fused glass class using a picture of one of my pieces as the class project piece. I called the instructor and asked him to remove it. Sadly, he didn’t seem to think he had done anything wrong.

  5. jenn houser July 27, 2011 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    Your prompt attention is advised and my address is below.

    Best line.

    Can I have her address, I have an 8 page letter on why it is bad to knock people off that I send to the naughty.

  6. Cynthia July 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Defining the difference between homage and flat-out theft is what keeps IP attorneys busy, and half the reason for all those lawsuits.

    I’m dealing with some really breakthrough stuff at work right now and it is amazing what the IP attorneys think we need to patent. And get this–we do it not to make money on licensing (or punitive damages), but to prevent someone from lifting our work, patenting it and then suing US. Sad.

  7. Peter Cummings July 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    I love thunder storms and have put the coat and boots on for a walk at an ungodly hour to enjoy the drama. Now if you had studied “Harry Potter” more seriously you could send a few lightning bolts returning down the trail of an email or two. But then people got burnt at the stake for that.
    It’s amazing craft/arts has so much like it. Never happens to a dentist or tax agent.

  8. Barb Ridgley July 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Sadly, it doesn’t surprise me that people ask things like this. Your blog is such a wealth of information for all. It’s too bad though that people don’t realize how much they can learn and grow and expand if they take your words and work and translate them into something of their own. We have people ask us at our art shows how to do different techniques all the time. I’ve also heard people blatantly say “I could make that”. It’s sad.

  9. gary July 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    Seriously now (me?)… I always have a hard time with myself figuring out what is an “homage”, what’s a “rip-off”, what’s a “riff-on”, and what’s just plain “Oooo… that made me think about this…

    It’s kind of like my testing software. I’ve had a bunch of the Big Players rip off my interface design (thanks, Pearson!) … but what are you going to do?

    Anyway, I like to think my glass is like my jazz solos. Every time I blow a riff I’m playing based on all the OTHER jazz solos I’ve heard over the years. I hope my glass is like that. It’s my solo, but influenced by everything I’ve seen…yet uniquely mine.

  10. Judith Conway July 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    Well…this is all WAY too familiar to me. emails from “Graduate students”, unabashed copiers, wannabe teachers (“I’m teaching a class in the technique you taught us last week. My samples didn’t come out right and neither did the students’ projects. Look at the attached images and let me know what went wrong and how to fix it before my class next week!”…….)

    Also…..coming into the studio to have us “fire a piece” for them. When they get here what they really want is a free lesson on how to do whatever it is that they think they should be able to make.even if I took several hours and explained every step to them ( which we have neither time nor the inclination to do) they would not understand it because they have no foundation of experience.

    Thank goodness these incidents are far outweighed by many wonderful, inquisitive and talented students who are willing ( and certainly able) to think for themselves and experiment for themselves..often discovering something new themselves.

  11. Linda Steider July 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    hahahahahahaha great post today Cynthia! Have you received the notes that say “Thank you so much for the great idea about xxx. I made 80 of them for the craft fair and they all sold! I was only charging for the cost of the glass because I needed to get my money back so I could buy more glass and make more to sell at my next craft show.” and “In the class I taught last weekend, using your handout, project xxx didn’t turn out – can you tell me what I did wrong?”

  12. Risa Prince July 27, 2011 at 11:59 am - Reply

    And I thought I was evil to even think about doing a simple circle on circle pattern after seeing one from a teacher…or even using a tutorial that was posted with the request to let the poster know how the users work turned out …
    You have been more than generous sharing your knowledge and experience (both glass and life) on this blog and on the various “I need some help” forums…..I can’t imagine why you feel the need to be polite to these outrageous, rude and frankly embarrassing wannabes.

    Having said that, I’d like to be your friend too but don’t expect either of us to pay for that privilege….but please put my name on the waiting list for Cynthia-clone 2.0, soon coming to a store near you.

  13. jenn houser July 27, 2011 at 10:47 am - Reply

    Words are actually failing me. No wonder it took you a while to respond. Being evil – I would track down the art student and forward the email to the insructor. As to the rest – face palm.

    I was wondering if I could get your atm #, all the others forgot to ask.

  14. Cynthia July 27, 2011 at 10:43 am - Reply

    @Gary. The thought that there are TWO of me is more than a little scary; I can barely cope with just the one of me. Fair warning: Watch her reading material carefully; I ran my parents ragged during my Karl Marx, blood splatter forensics and Robin Hood periods…

    (And don’t expect her to be fooled by some old beige box with a plug. If she’s really my clone, she’s secretly ordering a hypercomputer. With an iPhone.)

  15. Cynthia July 27, 2011 at 10:35 am - Reply

    Well, to be fair…it’s not like I get these requests every day or even every month; this is an accumulation of stuff from nearly a year’s worth of private messaging. I generally respond privately and gently suggest about what I’ve written here, and most of the time it’s taken with good grace and a bit of apology. (MOST of the time)

    It occurred to me that I probably should set the record straight, so I essentially rewrote my terms of use here, hopefully to greater resonation.

    But from what I’ve heard from other artists, it’s pretty common to have someone walk into your booth and photograph work, announcing their intent to copy…or to even ask the artist to explain how it’s done in great detail so that they can make some to sell, too. Certainly that happened to me at the show in April–in all cases the requestors were friendly, polite and very upfront about what they wanted. It took a few mental gyrations to come up with a response that wouldn’t hurt their feelings.

  16. Jaqueline Cooley July 27, 2011 at 10:27 am - Reply

    Hi Cynthia,
    This is truly a global issue! (Thought the Brits are a little more polite/ sneaky about asking for the much the same as you have described!) I occasionally do firings for people and they will come back to me several years later, wanting to fire something “the same as you did 5 years ago”. Of course, 5 years ago I spent time carefully working out annealing schedules and always gave them a copy (which they haven’t kept). I do keep notebooks with all of the firings (even for other people) and they rely on me keeping these notes. Maybe it’s time to ‘lose’ my notebooks!
    A Cynthia ‘clone’ – interesting!
    Best wishes,


  17. Jayne Cornelis July 27, 2011 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Wow! I am in awe of some people! I love your work and admire the way you create however…your work is not like mine. ( You wouldn’t want it to be) but I can get such amazing ideas from you…thank you for that! However I could not make your creations and say they were mine. Who raised these people?

  18. gary July 27, 2011 at 7:21 am - Reply

    Dear Cynthia: Last time I visited I took the liberty of removing a strand of hair from the bathroom sink (you really need to clean more, dear!). Dorothy and I have now made our Very Own Cynthia Clone using the ExCellerGrow(tm) clone maker and she is happily making Amazing Glass in the studio, profits from which have financed our recent transatlantic journey. We, however, didn’t realize that our Very Own Cynthia Clone also has the Real Cynthia desire to be supplied with Porltandia Food Stuffs. The transport charges are killing us. Suggestions are most welcome.

    PS. Our Very Own Cynthia Clone also wants internet access. So far we have been able to keep her away from the box by setting her in front of an Apple ][e and telling her “it’s state of the art, dear… get back to making glass for us…”

  19. sbenigar July 27, 2011 at 7:15 am - Reply

    The gall of some people never cease to amaze me. I wonder if they would go into a retail store and ask for something for free. What’s sad is that they probably would. Good Grief!

  20. Zane July 27, 2011 at 7:12 am - Reply

    I agree with the previous comment. I read the quoted emails with my mouth open in surprise……. (not a pretty picture).
    Do these people not realize that presenting someone else’s work as your own is dishonest? How can you teach something you do not know yourself?

    Cynthia, your answers are so much nicer and more polite than I would have managed.

  21. Ellen Abbott July 27, 2011 at 6:35 am - Reply

    I am continually dumbfounded by the nerve of human beings. Seriously?

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