a public apology

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Blog entry by jcsterling posted 10-18-2012 05:46 PM 2917 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Several years ago I was asked to make a project and given a photograph of what the client was looking for. I was told that the client did not know who the orginal builder was . I went ahead and decided to pursue the job because quiet frankly I was happy for the work. prototype was made and revisions done. the project proceeded and everyone was happy. Approx a year ago I posted another piece using that design. It is thru the course of that post that it came to my attention who the orginal maker was . Even though there were differences I felt bad about the piece, especially since I had met the man in the past….. but I honestly do not ever remember seeing this piece. I should have contacted the builder/artist at that time but I let it go .I wish to now apologize for interpreting his piece and claiming it as my own.

-- John , Central PA , on facebook:!/pages/JC-Sterling-fine-furniture/104430802928776

11 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3541 days

#1 posted 10-18-2012 05:57 PM

well im sure that you meant no trouble or that you meant to claim his piece as your design, we all make things we have seen in others portfolio’s , but i guess its important to make sure we dont make something from anthers work and then say see here is what i built without giving credit to the original builder, it makes me feel and also be more aware of this myself john, i take it that by doing this you either were contacted by him,. or that you just took to do this on your own, it doesnt matter which, what matters is that you have the heart to do it, thanks for making me more aware of this so that i dont get ahead of myself with making something ive seen from another, ill make sure i give credit where due…i hope your doing well john, and i hope work is ok…tough times we live in for sure…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View AaronK's profile


1507 posts in 3702 days

#2 posted 10-18-2012 06:00 PM

well, the good thing about your line of work is that even a direct copy is still handmade by you. The original design might not be yours, but you still have to make your own plan and execute it, which takes skill.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30143 posts in 2576 days

#3 posted 10-18-2012 06:39 PM

All of us borrow ideas to some degree. One of the reasons I scour over the projects as I do is for ideas. It’s reality. As long as you acknowledge the original. Is the original a LJ? I would think they understood. We do.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View patron's profile


13641 posts in 3579 days

#4 posted 10-18-2012 06:56 PM

i was asked to replicate some dining room chairs
the original guy had signed them
so i called him
and told him what i was asked to do

he didn’t want the work
gave me permission

i asked about his joinery
he had used lamello biscuits

i made mine with M&T

i did sign mine too
with his name as the designer/builder
of the original pieces

unless they are professional design houses
most woodworkers are happy to be emulated

you did good with this post

now get back to the shop
and back to work
so we can copy your stuff lol

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View MJCD's profile


582 posts in 2609 days

#5 posted 10-18-2012 07:08 PM

John – I tip my hat to a professional – one both moral and skilled.

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2735 days

#6 posted 10-19-2012 12:32 PM

You have given me pause for thought as it is not often one sees such a straightforward public apology. That takes some courage and I think that many of us have regrets that we did not do the same over similar events that ended up being evaded in our minds and allowed to slip into obscurity.
I hope your conscience has been cleared somewhat as you get this off your chest and go forward.
Thanks, I’ll remember this.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View shipwright's profile


8187 posts in 3036 days

#7 posted 10-19-2012 07:20 PM

Well done.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2713 days

#8 posted 10-19-2012 08:04 PM

Well, I would not fret too much. I have found woodworkers to be in general very gracious and less “pissy” than what one would call main stream artists. Heck even Maloof allowed people to copy his rocking chair.

A good example is a member of this board who not only graciously allowed me to use some of the structural design he created, but actually offered to help me if I got stuck building it.

In fact I am willing to bet that the person whom you copied is not only not upset, but somewhat flattered than another person would like his design enough to have it reproduced. I would much rather have someone copy my design than say ” Oh yeah, that is nice” and moving on… :-)

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View sirofchuck's profile


4 posts in 2284 days

#9 posted 10-19-2012 10:36 PM

Correct. Not upset at all. Just caught me by surprise. I am of the same impression as you in that i have shared my methods with others….there really are no secrets…just different ways of doing. I have even had clients that are not professional woodworkers come to the shop to learn how to hand cut dovetails. If i can teach my 12 year old daughter, i figured i could teach them. I am not a teacher, i just enjoy sharing what i have learned and passing it on. Skills such as these seem to be loosing ground in our modern world. Although as a full time woodworker, and I have to pay the bills, I really got into woodworking for the passion of the doing and the love of wood. It is a gift from god. I look forward to talking shop with john at the next guild show in november.
We are a short time here, and there is much wood to cut .

View DocSavage45's profile


8734 posts in 3080 days

#10 posted 08-02-2013 05:44 PM

Artists often grow through the influence of other artists. Thos. Moser learned by repairing furniture while going through school to get his PhD in English. he then copied Shaker designs and made a living doing that. he then copied other well known antiques.

One of the living shakers said to him “copying is the best form of flattery”. He said in his book “it was then I decided to make my own designs.” We can see if we look the influence of the minimalist shaker and the influence of George Nakashima in Moser’s work today.

Picasso was influence by his peers.

You are a fine craftsman. You have your influence on the natural design, and you are an evolution of the work that has preceded you.

As sirofchuck says “We are a short time here, and there is much wood to cut.”

As long as we honor nature and creativity. Wabi Sabi.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2928 days

#11 posted 08-02-2013 05:56 PM

Milton Berle (yes I’m old enough, are you?) never heard a joke he wasn’t willing to steal.

I don’t think you did anything wrong, but it sure is nice to have a real “man” stand up and admit when he thinks he may have done so. Not enough of that in today’s world.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

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