Copying is a big issue.  The tendency to imitate  is part of human nature.  At least I see it that way,  I think the internet has  simply made it more obvious.  And perhaps easier , but even more  than that, more anonymous.  Which probably eases the guilt feelings or even the reality of it.

But still, the impact of it all has to do with frame of mind.  I probably have a lot more to say about it,  and I will.  But today I am just whispering a bit.  Hoping you might hear me.

Speaking through stitch

You can find more about the Split Back Stitch  in the stitch section of the Methods Index.  Which is always listed in the sidebar.

Threading the story

Sharing Vision changes things.  I've pulled another thought from my face storming page.   It was there.  But I hadn't focused on it until this moment.

Time expands vision

Some thoughts are hardened . Static.  Time brings a kind of softness though.  Perspective.  A softness and acceptance  in how I feel about things.  Holes open,  experience wears my opinions thin.  And I mend them.  To extend their usefulness  because things change.

Why do we do things is a good question to ask oneself.  Is there love in it?

In General

This  post is the last in May.  As you know by now I've extended this segment  for as long as this series lasts.  Starting in June I will reduce my postings to once a week.  On Wednesdays,  as I prepare for part 2,  put my house back on the market,  and  keep my balance.  You can just check in here on Wednesdays  or subscribe to the Spirit Cloth blog,  link up top,  to be notified of new content.


  1. Joan

    I am absorbing all these thoughts…my piece I started has been sitting looking at me for probably 3 weeks with no stitching done. Jude, your comment about teaching someone how to think fluidly just may help me move forward. I have a tendency to be rigid in my thought process, at least I recognize this. I have been told I over research things…think fluidly…this sparked a feeling inside, thank you.

  2. maybe copying is also a way of honouring the person who inspired you
    I suppose what matters as well, is being honest about the copying part of where inspiration sprang, although after many years it’s not easy to remember every thread…..
    traditionally, for the first 2 years in my art school anyway, one learnt through looking and copying ‘the masters’
    and always, very quickly realized one’s limitations, which led to a personal style

    • jude

      remembering threads, wow that gets harder and harder.
      but the relationship between limitation and style brings such honesty and clarity. Thank you.

      • just listening to your voice is like being in a classroom, now my good space, i.e. my studio, but in my youth of course in school where whilst listening I would be doodling most of the time, which I still do, not just pen and paper but woodwork, fabric whatever is close at hand…….during all this my mind wanders and vague thoughts suddenly emerge and meld together, and then a true realization materializes in words I can understand….so your class does a lot for me, thank you

  3. I guess its intention really but that’s hard to pin down. It’s slippery and hard to define accurately. Maybe personal values and boundaries. Edges even? I have been doodling some personal motifs of my own which I am happy with . Yes it looks like Jude’s but it was a freehand doodle. Colour is so much harder to copy (I think) as we all have our favourites. I feel it bypasses our analysing mind. I’m trying to work on my own personal motifs in between life getting in the way and all that.

    • jude

      yes, intention colors what we do really.
      And color, so hard to describe on’e sense of that…i could consider color forever.

  4. kathrynalbrycht1838

    One of my other fave textile artist’s thoughts re: creativity;
    (& her co-author)

    . . . ‘[The] creative faculty has been sadly starved in many of us, for our education has
    tended more to direct our attention to the interpretation of other peoples’ ideas,
    rather than to the development of our own individual ones, and the possibilities for
    bringing them out; and it is probable that, were greater scope given to the inventive
    powers of our children, we should find a vast number of new and useful ideas
    developing, since no two men, women, or children have ideas exactly alike. The
    work of the hand in construction and invention demands all our reasoning powers:
    the eye must balance, proportion, and measure with accuracy; the mind must
    consider the strength of the material to resist tension, and wear and tear, the
    suitability of the work for its ultimate use. Harmony of colour, beauty of form,
    poetry of symbolism, even these can all be continued in the simplest design worked
    with a needle and thread…’

    [Ann Macbeth and Margaret Swanson: Educational Needlecraft, 1911]
    – Ann Macbeth: student and teacher at Glasglow School of Art (1897 – 1928)

    I strongly believe that most educational systems today, as Macbeth & Swanson felt in 1911, totally fail to allow children (& adults) to develop their own creative skills. (This is not the place to get that soapbox out . That which follows is only my opinion based on personal experiences.)

    It’s often very hard to start an idea from scratch. It’s also difficult if not impossible to fully remove the designs of others from affecting our own. As with Intellectual Property, even the law recognizes how our brains imprint and often remember what we sometimes don’t consciously recall. But also, learning to create sometimes requires emulation of another’s creation, especially if their work “speaks to us” and gets our attention. Once you perform all the tasks required to recreate someones idea, much of the stress fades as we realize that we can actually do the leg work. It’s then often not as daunting to focus on the ‘mental work’, when that is now the sole task. But copying another’s design must stop beyond that (unless pattern offered for retail), as most if not all present company live by. Jude continues to be very gracious and understanding and I thank her for that & much more.

    Don’t get me started with trademarks and copyrights. Just thinking about all that paperwork is leading me toward the cooler and the new bottle of Riesling that hopefully is chilled by now. Sláinte! (To your health!)

  5. Michele

    Your permission to copy makes it much easier for me to begin. I have so much anxiety about starting that I can find myself drowning in indecisiveness. Once I get going my lack of experience and well honed technique usually finds me unable to copy your work. Instead of being discouraging it’s been more of an opportunity to take the work in another direction. I don’t think that I would have been able to do that without watching you “just going”. It’s wonderful to watch your  process and see  what emerges as you stitch. It’s even better to listen to your kind encouragement. 

  6. debgorr

    I’m thinking about communities that are created. Sometimes, often, the binding factor is that we like the same things. I am so grateful that you have chosen to teach. Teaching opens up a world of possibilities. Thinking about patterns and recipes…meant to be replicated. And about how we season and alter. Thinking about permission.

    • jude

      this is so good, yes, and does community itself continue to create a kind of sameness ? But then I wonder is that also a limiting factor in development? I watch as “followings” emerge as a form of “club” sometimes. I think it happens more on the very large scale, and sometimes I fear that. I always hope not to lead anyone anywhere but rather encourage freedom…
      And there are so many seasonings!

  7. We are all so connected to the creative stream. We are made this way. That stream goes both ways and side ways and all ways. So sometimes it can appear that we are copying each other when what is happening is that we are receiving the same nudge or information from that creative core. And, yes, sometimes people can outright steal and copy another’s ideas or work outright. Usually that kind of creating does not bode well in the long run because it does not have enough new creative juice added to it and it falls flat. I remember a pivotal (for me) TED talk from 2012 called “Steal Like An Artist” by Austin Kleon (google it). I heard it many years ago and listened to it again before I started writing this comment. Yes, I steal like an artist every day.

    Jude’s offerings are so rich for stealing because they inspire me to look at things in new (and old) ways. I don’t make work that looks like hers. I made “quilts” on photoshop a couple of years ago, using “stolen” dresses from online catalogues. I called the pieces “dress quilts” and made nine of them to put in a digital art show and I called the collection “nine patch”. In the recent year I finally put some thread through a needle and started handsewing again, after many decades of not sewing so much, using some of my mandalas printed on fabric. Every stitch I take is a “stolen” or copied stitch. So many human stitches before us all and so many more to come.

    Thank you, Judy, for this supposed last class. It’s my first with you and it’s the “cat’s meow.”

    • jude

      For some reason I do not like the word steal. Probably I mentioned that I never read that book because of that. Maybe there was an explanation. But that word has always put me off. I guess for me it is something like you cannot steal that which is given.
      I do agree that everything we do is drawn from what has come before. it’s just that word, steal, and now even copy is starting to bother me. I always do this, get annoyed with words and invent new ones. The word USE rings well.

      And isn’t it true how if we try to be someone else it never really works. One reason copying doesn’t bother me any more is because I feel like a bottomless pit of ideas.

  8. alijory

    I am very glad for this conversation, your work so touches my heart Jude, and I long to be able to make something as meaningful and beautiful but hate the thought of copying. Finding an original voice is hard and can only done by ‘doing’ and often there is the frustration of realising that what you are doing is derivative, but keeping on going you realise that as someone else said you can never really capture the spirit that has gone into another’s work. I love some of the quotes attributed to Picasso, and one is ‘Good artists borrow, great artists steal’ which I’m sure everyone knows. Nothing is original but inevitably your own voice will be manifest if you keep at it – I hope it will anyway.

    • jude

      i think my “copying” often occurs in my head these days, things play out for a long time as imaginings and by the time they take physical form they are all mixed up and hard to recognize, but influence is part of imagining.

  9. I am glad you helped make this connection. I was conscious of using your ideas, and the fabric from your shop, and blending them with the ideas of others teachers and my own. I appreciate that you understand that it is how we learn. What I appreciate most is that you make it conscious. A rare gift. I have not shared what I have made using your ideas anywhere but on the fb group because I did not want to take credit for your work. That is how I have decided to approch it. Because I am learning even at this late date and I really enjoy listening to you and being influenced by you. I hope this makes sense. It is late and I am thinking out loud.

    • jude

      copying is not a good word anymore. it has too much negative history. maybe trying could be used for a while. you make sense and thinking out loud helps me hear you.

  10. Thank you, Jude, for making this connection through the month of May and going back…I have never tried to make a piece like yours (except for nine patches) until this month. I’m struggling with my three figures and where to go from here. I think I am afraid to copy yours, especially the faces…but at the same time, I crave being able to make stitched pieces like yours. They are so beautiful and so heartfelt.

    • jude

      Give it time… i remember copying way back when i began drawing. Sometimes it’s a way to find where your ideas depart from others. All of a sudden you take another turn and there you are.

  11. grace

    so, i have thought all day. Have i copied? I guess i must have….how and how much, i wonder.
    I know that i have absorbed so so much of your teachings in the 10 years. I know that you gave me
    a way to translate 3D figures of the “doll people” into the more manageable world of cloth. I know
    that i love it equally. That i did not miss them. That the cloth gave me the possibility of creating worlds
    for the figures….which i had long wanted for the doll people.
    it’s a hard word for me.
    Do i copy now? still?

    i went into the small cardboard box i ‘ve kept with me, didn’t put in the storage unit. Stuff from the Altar
    at the Desert Home. I got out the small piece of woven strips. 3 X 4 inches. Just pretty much uniform size
    strips of torn cloth, woven and then stitched in place with a pale aqua blue thread. In the online about weaving.
    I remember how it made me feel Crazy to see it on your blog and in the online example pics…Crazy in
    such a good way, Crazy with love for it and i stared and stared at it and went off to find scraps i had that
    were so similar in pattern and colors, feel, age, and i had them. I even had a piece FROM you
    And i wove them together. No. so i wove them again. Again and Again. i tried everything i could to
    recreate this small very plain square of weave and NOTHING came anywhere near what it was. And i think
    i must have whined about that because you sent it to me.
    I have it here, today.
    in my hands now.
    There is something that cannot be copied. the spirit of the maker’s imaginative world? It stays clean and pure
    their own.
    Have i managed any of that?, i wonder? Or do i not see clearly?
    I try to think. Yes. the Lizard cloth from patchwork beasts. That would be copying. Making a lizard of
    triangular pieces of cloth. On a 3 tierd base. yes.
    and the Daughter Cloth….copied. Even the dancing Goat in the center…again, like patchwork beasts…

    I hadn’t thought much in the subsequent years about copying. But here i am today….wondering. eee

    • jude

      The thoughts i have about copying have no hard edges at this point. If someone asks me about it, i consider it. But really i dont think about it much anymore. I need a new word for it. Maybe because teaching changed it.

  12. (((Jude))) you share so much! One of my most successful pieces was stitched on an indigo dyed old linen that you sent to me, I felt your thoughts from the Sun Moon Stars as I stitched the piece & loved it, here’s the link
    PS love those Japanese snips but the vintage ones from Richard Carbin are even better as they are forged & don’t have the rivet that eventually breaks.

    • PPS the way you touch the cloth is magic, watching you stitching on your videos (for years now) I finally realized how to hold the needle so I don’t put the eye of the needle through my fingertips, thank you & Old Man Crow thanks you too!

  13. deemallon

    the importance of personal connection in the transmission of craft knowledge — thank you for pointing this out.

    • jude

      yes, it seems to be overlooked. Connection softens an edge… often beginning a conversation can change the outcome. create ease and then Newness!

      • As a retired librarian, I couldn’t help relating this post to copyright and the concept of fair use. It is obviously okay to copy someone else’s work if you have their permission … but it’s also okay if you use just a portion, cite the source and do not hurt the original creator’s position in the marketplace by so doing. The tricky part is figuring out just how big a portion is okay.

        That’s why I like the concept of the Creative Commons ( where there are varying levels of permission that can be explicitly granted by posting a license on your website. I have a attribution-noncommercial-share alike license on my old blog … guess I should take my own advice and similarly license my new blog!

        Last, but not least … this comment relates primarily to the written word. It is admittedly much trickier when works of art are involved.

  14. Joyce Leatherwood

    I always try to take what I learn from you – or anyone – and make it my own. I do sometimes copy what you do to learn from it myself. I am not much into faces but I will try one like these because I want to learn what works for you. Because I do want make a figure image on my Kimono Robe which is an idea that possibly came from your bird robe when I saw it years ago. Took me several years to make mine, but I still remember yours. So the impression and inspiration was there floating around. When I do figures, I usually try to do them in profile – will you address profiles at some point? Anything I copy, I would not put in a gallery show or for sale – they usually go to friends who would probably recognize your influence! Your generosity in sharing is remarkable and I truly appreciate it.

    • jude

      we cannot avoid learning from others, even if they don’t teach us. I still say the intent behind using an idea makes all the difference.

  15. Sri

    It is hard not to be influenced by what we see whether it be at an exhibition or in an online course but I don’t think that it is necessarily copying which makes me think of deliberate, conscious acts and indeed theft of another’s ideas. Crediting ones influences is important but in moments of loss of mindfulness can be forgotten. Your work is unique Jude and there will inevitably be imitators conscious or not. It’s hard. I realised that useful as instagram or facebook can be any idea which I could regard as ‘mine’ is up for grabs. But it could be very flattering in a way to have my work deemed worthy of imitation!
    Where the internet is a shop front it is hard as we might well want folk to see the whole of a piece. It’s a risk, a gamble but it is wonderful to see such original and beautiful work ‘out there’, Jude. The old masters and mistresses, the fine artists, had minions who painted in the style of their master or mistress, that’s how they learnt their art. And I can also think of art students of previous centuries who were sent out to museums to copy art work, copying as a learning tool.

    My spiritual teacher hoped that his students would ‘overtake’ him. He saw that as a sign of the effectiveness of his teaching.

    Sorry I have waffled on rather.

    • jude

      yes, a true teacher wishes for a student to move beyond… and copying might be a beginning. I think it is your frame of mind, what are you thinking when you are moved by influence. If there is love there it’s ok.

  16. Joanne

    When I would teach needle turn appliqué there was always “worry” and “stress” in the class as to the work not being just like mine or not being “perfect”. I said mine was not like the work of the woman who taught me and I never achieved perfect. We each add some little individual touch. And I often told them -oh, I like the way you did that (a mistake)…mind if I use that myself? We made a heart the first time and the second class a tracing of our sewing hand. No two alike.

    • jude

      I think there are two areas really… technique and concept. it is hard to teach technique and not expect to be copied. Concept on the other hand is different, and it has so much to do with the thought process and developing a way to get them out. teaching someone how to think fluidly rarely results in “a copy”.

  17. Pam S.

    Yes for me there is a love for creating quilts, and when I’m inspired by an artists work I always get permission before I attempt to create anything and always give credit to whoever inspired a piece. I love your lessons Jude! You’ve opened my mind in so many areas! 💙Thank you

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