The Catt Box
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Primitive CopyCatt Doll!
Indulge me for a moment. Imagine having the power to 'spirit' yourself above the clouds. Imagine if you could have one night where you could hover over mankind and peer into the lives of a few people...in particular, a few lives of those within the primitive doll community.
What would you find?
Who would you find?
And what would they be doing?
Take my hand and come with me on a journey.
On any given night the midnight oil burns late for the artist....the doll artist.
She's a hard working eBay seller.
Her hours are long, but the work can be rewarding.
And, unlike the majority of sellers on eBay, the person who has to MAKE what they sell toils for many more hours than most people can imagine. She spends untold hours shopping and researching and designing her items.
The doll artist in the 'primitive doll' category knows that each day there can be anywhere from 500 to over 900 dolls listed at a time.
That's a lot of competition.
There are many thoughts and ideas she ponders. Many things she tries, trial and error, to find something unique in what she does.....to present something new to the 'primitive table'. She needs to make sure her items stand out so that they'll be noticed.
The true doll artist doesn't deliberately search out other ideas on eBay from her fellow artists. She takes pride in her own work. She wants to stand alone. She doesn't seek to be influenced by the work of other people.
No one knows the sacrifices she makes or the time that is involved in creating something that no one else has presented....to find her style, her signature 'look'.
She has more than paid her dues along the way.
Nothing that's as satisfying and rewarding as this will come easy or fast.
And even if someone has inspired her, or helped her in some way, you can be sure she will give credit where credit is due.
Learning new things and working with friends is one thing, but they know where to draw the line.
The doll artist has spent months and months watching her low sales, pulling herself through disappointment after disappointment, but she doesn't give up.
Little by little she gains a good customer base....loyal customers who appreciate and value her unique work. They, too, appreciate that her work stands alone.
As more time passes, she is growing and learning her craft. Her dolls are evolving and she's finding herself in her work. Her dolls begin to take on a particular style. Pretty soon her work is recognized and her personal touches are becoming more familiar to those who watch her work on a regular basis.
She learns which things will sell well for her, and which things didn't. There are many hard-learned lessons.
But, in spite of any success the doll artist might feel, she will never say, "I have made it."...she knows that the market is fluid, it can and will change.
A lot of things have been done-to-death, and it's not easy to add a new twist to something.
But after all the countless hours and sleepless nights...after all the sacrifices and problem-solving, the doll artist proudly presents a new idea.
However, it won't last long.....
She also keeps in mind that she must keep at least one step ahead of ....
Ahhhh yes....the CopyCatt.
For every true doll artist that slaves away at her work by bringing to life new ideas and creations, there's a CopyCatt lurking in the shadows, poised to snatch that idea and run with it, claiming it for themselves.
Our journey now takes us to another house... where the midnight oil of another kind burns late at night.
Tonight we're peering into the life of the Composite CopyCatt. This is a night in the life of the rabid copier who copies the hard work of the true doll artists.
We hover closer and we see her in action.
She has just come in from the kitchen with her 9th cup of strong coffee and she reeks of cigarette smoke. She stands about 26 inches tall and has severe bed-head.
She, too, will spend a long time 'working' tonight...but it won't be her own creations. No, this woman 'copies' other artist's ideas. Her work is usually sub-standard and smells of stale cigarette smoke.
She saunters over to her computer desk, scuffing her feet heavily....scuff, scuff, scuff....her well-worn and heavily stained bedroom slippers have seen many nights such as this.
Her slippers were purchased.
She sits down in her favorite wicker chair.
Her shabby bathrobe is tied tightly around her waist, covering her blue and white checked Homespun dress. Lace trim had been hand-stitched around the bottom of her dress. She had seen that idea on a doll one night and decided she would look just as nice if she did that to her own dress.
Her bathrobe was purchased.
As she is seated at the computer the light from the monitor reflects itself in her eyes, which are green with envy.
I swear, this doll looks just like my parent's ex-housekeeper Andrea....the troll.
Her open mouth drools a small puddle beside her keyboard as she skims over the listings of her favorite doll makers....the ones she watches...the ones who inadvertently inspire her.
She thinks to herself..."Hmmmm....who's the hot seller THIS week? What seems to be 'all the rage'? Which items are the highest priced? Oh, look....crabby_gabby_dolls has a new nail-head doll on auction."
In the blink of an eye the Composite CopyCatt whips up a 6 1/2 inch tall heavily grunged nail-head doll and sets it aside.
(the wicker chair and even the wicker basket holding the dolls is included)
She also makes a mental note to stop in and see the gorgeous work of thesmilinggoatprimitives before the night is over.
(Yes, I know crabby_gabby_dolls didn't corner the market on nail-heads, but I'm using her as an example)
Her next stop is thecatt....."Hmmm...I wonder what thecatt is up to THIS week? Let's see...she has a Goth Raggedy Ann. Hey, I can do that, too!"
Apparently the Composite CopyCatt doesn't possess the 'little voice' in the back of her head that says "Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD!"
She completely abandons any hope of having a conscience.
Again, within no time, she has made herself a 13 1/2 inch Goth Raggedy Ann, complete with a metal cross hanging from it's neck.
She began to think about a description...."Thecatt writes stories with her dolls....Hey, I can do that, too."
And with that the Composite CopyCatt begins to try her hand at the stories with HER dolls. What a great idea!
This was so easy! All she had to do was look at what the OTHER folks were doing and she could do the same thing, after all, she couldn't come up with her OWN original ideas. She was merely letting everyone else do all the problem solving and designing work FOR her.
However, even though thecatt has been writing stories with her dolls for 25 non-stop months, the CopyCatt is yet to discover just how hard this is to keep up. She'll keep up for a few weeks, maybe even a few months, but before too long, she gives up. It's just too much work, considering how little her dolls eventually sell for....IF they sell at all.
Apparently it wasn't as easy as it had seemed.
As she looked at more of thecatt's items, she noticed that thecatt used a lot of spools on things.....things like shelf sitters or a Witch's shoe pincushion, made from a Netty LaCroix pattern.
And even though thecatt, and other artists, gave Netty LaCroix credit when they used her pattern, the Composite CopyCatt won't mention Netty. After all, she's bought and tweaked the pattern here and there and figured it's now HER OWN PATTERN.
She also decided to use the spools with her shelf sitter, so she whipped up a kitty shelf sitter and a Witch shoe and felt real good about herself.
The shelf sitter cat is about 4 inches tall and the shoe is about 3 inches long and 2 inches tall. (these are so tiny and cute)
And for good measure she even whipped up a Heart In Hand pincushion and placed it on a wooden spool.
They seem to sell well for several sellers out there....
This tiny Make Do heart In Hand version measures about 5 inches tall from the fingertips to the bottom of the spool. (thank you for the spool, dollisa)
(I'm merely using examples with a few of these items. I am not claiming to have cornered the market on spools and Heart In Hand)
"Wow...look! Thecatt has made another Witch Sewing Basket of Secrets! That looks like a good seller...and it looks fun to do. Hey, I can do that. I'll just use an old brass cricket box and make my items look a little different and then no one can say a word about it. That won't REALLY be copying...not REALLY."
(Yes, this was TOTALLY my idea and it's been copied by several folks)
Sure enough, the Composite CopyCATT made the contents of her own Witch's Basket look a little different. She included tiny Tarot cards and a glass vial, some marbles, a tiny book, etc.
The little brass cricket box measures 3 1/4 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches tall.
She further assured herself, "Yep, this is my own creation. Certainly NO ONE can split a hair like I can. And I bet I can find others who would agree that there's absolutely nothing wrong with what I do...not ethically, morally, or otherwise. Besides, if I'm 'called on the carpet' on what I'm doing, I'll just pretend I have no clue who thecatt is or what she's made."
And no doubt, if she wasn't up all night stealing ideas and techniques from other artists, she'd probably sleep really well, feeling very satisfied with herself.
The hours tick by and the Composite CopyCatt then finds herself on the auctions of tinkwitch. She adores how tinkwitch makes witch hats and decorates them with Spanish Moss and little brooms and things.
Yes, another brilliant idea lifted!
This hat measures about 3 inches tall and 6 inches wide.
More time passes and the Composite CopyCatt finds herself at the classy auctions of dolls_of_yore.
"Wow", exclaims the CopyCatt, "I've always loved that particular face on those photo-face dolls. I bet I can do that, too!"
However, this created a stumbling block for the CopyCatt. She needed to get THAT particular face. That's the one she wanted.
She then zipped on over to her favorite message board and a great conversation took place among other copy-folk. They were discussing how to 'lift' that face from the pictures in the auction so the CopyCatt could use it on a doll. There just HAD to be a way to do this.
After much discussion on the matter, the other copiers began to insult and put-down other artists and their work.
The rest of the night was a complete blur of copy & paste and lots of muslin fabric, but at the end of it all, a cute 13 inch photo face doll was born of that very coveted image.
(thank you so much, dolls_of_yore, for sending me your own beautiful small version of my favorite photo face to add to this project)
You people have NO CLUE how hard it is for me to part with this little doll. It's been right here beside my computer for a few months.
The next stop for the Composite CopyCatt was to see the tags of a few sellers on eBay. She took a particular liking to the tags of samiamcreations. So, with her stained little tags ready to decorate, she studied the photos on the tags of samiamcreations very carefully.
(again, just another example, but samiamcreations does make INCREDIBLE tags)
The Composite CopyCatt kept her sewing basket stocked with all the things she needed to reproduce the things she saw on eBay. She had a bag of doll stuffing, a bolt of muslin fabric, a small stack of Homespun fabrics (many thanks to therealsilentwoman), a 'sewing machine', small vials of real coffee and Cinnamon for staining the dolls, a strand of buttons, a strand of wooden spools, and a tinier sewing basket. There was also a small cardboard box full of goodies, as well, including a tiny little notebook, for her notes, with real lined pages. (it's just too cute)
All items are completely removable from the basket.
The CopyCatt isn't alone in her deeds, there are many more just like her. As we continue to fly our spirited-selves to other homes, we see that some folks go as far as to purchase dolls so they can take them apart and study their construction. Then they will reproduce them as closely as possible.
Other CopyCatts will go to craft shows and take pictures of the seller's items. They also make sketches, or try to pump the seller / artist for information as to how to make the items they like.
Sure enough, by the next round of craft shows, the seller is often a few tables away from the person who stole their ideas, reproduced their items, and is now competing against them.
It's amazing to see how some people will justify their actions. Obviously, they've never had this done to them, or they'd be singing another tune.
The CopyCatt looks at a few other auctions, making mental and physical notes of other things to re-create....Gerridrob has incredible huge mammy dolls....perhaps she'll also check out the auctions of disgustedcats, asunnybeecreation, raggedycats, kathysprims, befruitful, dollisa, bananadannacreations, twoheads*primitives, kellys_keepers, and many more talented artists.
Next, the CopyCatt decides to look at the bidding history of all the customers of the people she copies. She then begins to write each of those customers a note, luring them to HER auctions. She figures that if they like THOSE things, they'll like HER things, as well.
This is in total violation of eBay policy. This is considered Spam. It's also very unethical, however, the CopyCatt has no such morals.
But little did the CopyCatt know, a good many of the doll artists are good friends with one another.
Word of mouth travels very quickly in the doll community. They are a sisterhood.
As we continue on with our journey, we see another group of people at the computer monitor...the buying public. They see the market being flooded with shoddy reproductions of their favorite artist's creations.....the copiers that try to take advantage of the original artist's hard work and long hours of creation....trying to skip past 'paying their dues'....
Many of the buyers are very loyal to their favorite artists. They know immediately when someone has made a cheap knock-off and a watered-down lame version of what the artist originally created.
And even though the knock-off-crafter thinks that they'll never be noticed, they are wrong. As mentioned, word of mouth gets around real quickly...and it's not always in an advantageous way. It can make or break an person's reputation, whether they know it or not.
But, what goes around comes around. The CopyCatt's usually notice that their items aren't selling for as much as the original artist.
They can't figure out why, try as they might.
We hover past a few more people on this night. But there's one in particular....another CopyCatt. This one has managed to fall asleep....in death.
She has died and landed herself in Doll Hell.
The CopyCatt wanders around from room to room. A deep voice comes over the intercom. She is told to enter a room full of doll making supplies. She is then told that she has to create a doll that's unique and original in order to be able to leave Doll Hell.
So, the CopyCatt frets and worries and works hard to come up with an original idea of her own. She's never really done this before, but she finally manages to create something.
The deep voice comes over the intercom again and tells her to take her item into a large room where it will be judged.
She enters the room and is horrified to find that it was full of other CopyCatts and they had stolen her original idea. No matter how hard she worked or what she came up with, the throngs of other CopyCatts copied her. They didn't seem to understand how important it was for her to be able to present an original idea, it was her only ticket out of there.
The fact is, they just didn't care.
They merely blathered on about how there was nothing new under the sun and that anything created was open to being copied...or they pointed out tiny little things and explained how 'different' it made their own item.
A few of them denied knowing her or even seeing what it was that she had created in the first place. They merely said that great minds think alike, even down to the smallest details.
I mean, it was bad enough the copiers were copying her, but did they have to do it in her own scary cave-like room?
She was devastated to learn that she was stuck in Doll Hell forever.
The journey doesn't really end here..... but that's another doll for another time.
Copyright © May 20, 2004 Cathy Palmer-Scruggs / Catt Alexander
Remember, it's just a doll.... it's just a story.....and it's probably just fiction.
Being inspired is one thing, but the blatant copiers know exactly who they are and what they do.
Special thanks to Teresa of dolls_of_yore for being in ca-hoots with me, Heidi of crabby_gabby_dolls, dollisa, tinkwitch, samiamcreations, and many more PFATT artist/sisters for the inspiration for this project!
Another super special thanks to eBay seller imosh for the cross pendant on the Goth Raggedy Ann doll.
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My dolls are not for everyone, they are my art. If you are offended, I suggest you hit the back button. It will not do you any good to write me 'hate mail'.
In spite of the dolls I create and the stories I write, I do not use recreational drugs, I don't smoke cigarettes, and I don't even drink alcoholic beverages.