Sculptor, painter, illustrator, writer, feral small business owner

I unapologetically enjoy anime, video games, psychedelia, old school goth, space pirates, elves, and spiders.

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21st December 2012

Photo with 216 notes

This is a crow skull replica. Jason Soles and I have been casting and selling this skull - and roughly 6 others cast from the same real bone original (borrowed from and returned to Mother Earth, because it is against US law - specifically the Migratory Bird Treaty Act - to possess any part of a native migratory bird; don’t confront me about that, confront the folks in the US government, specifically the Fish & Wildlife Dept. This is not what this is about. Moving on.) for over 12 years. We sell these in our Etsy shops, and have sold them at craft fairs and spooky events, and we sold them on Moritorium.com when said site had a shopping cart. We have re-made the molds several times in those twelve years, but I recognize our lines (molds leave lines, which sometimes aren’t sanded off as much as I’d like), our shoring (that’s where the clay goes in to make the skull “solid”, bird skulls aren’t solid, of course, more on that later), when I see it. I am proud of our work and I love seeing our castings used in other people’s crafts, jewelry, etc. We do not wholesale them and we do not sell them for direct resale, so we should be the only shops on Etsy that carry them.

Lo and behold, here is a photograph someone else took of what are definitely our skulls, and she is claiming on her Etsy listing that she made them herself.  Hm. How… interesting.



I wrote her a “conversation” (that’s the name Etsy gives its internal message system) and reminded her of why I don’t sell wholesale and that I would not sell to her again if she did not remove the listing. I ended the note with, “If you are recasting from my original molds, we have an even larger problem, but you certainly wouldn’t do a thing like that, would you?” 

I received no response. So I reported the listing to Etsy as misrepresenting the item. After all, even if she is casting them herself (which would be lame all on its own anyway), they were our research & development, our handling a dead animal (someone else’s illegal pet, if you must know; I cleaned it myself), and our risk of being FINED BY FISH & WILDLIFE TO THE TUNE OF $1500 had an agent happened to wander into my house while I was performing said cleaning. I am a conservationist, FYI, and I don’t believe it’s cool to violate the treaty, ergo, I buried the thing when I was done. Because of said treaty and people not wanting to take that risk, there aren’t a lot of crow replicas on the market. I know one other vendor (local to me, even) who makes them - they are rotationally cast and nearly as detailed and as fragile as the real thing. We make ours for costumers and for people who will wear them around so they are sturdy.

Now. Are these recasts? I do not know. They could be, but I went through my sales records and have sold Ms. Brown (MortiisM, she calls herself on Etsy, “Melissa Mortiis”, if you simply are dying to know) no less than fourteen replica crow skulls. So as long as there aren’t more than fourteen replica crows in her sales archive, we’re solid and she’s *just* misrepresenting my work as hers. I haven’t counted individual sales in her archive on crow items because this other thing got pointed out to me by a long-time friend, fan, and occasional photographer for the studio…

This listing, for a kitten necklace? That’s my kitten skull, I can tell from the teeth and the shoring… I’ve sold her one. She has sold… quite a few.

Really. Really? Really. I still need to send Etsy’s admins a note about this, but I contacted the seller immediately and let her know I could count. I can only imagine that Etsy’s complaint inbox is boiling over during the holiday season and I don’t see how adding to it further is going to speed things along. I will probably show them this post to illustrate my previous point though.



This is my hand, about 3.45 pm PST. I washed it shortly after, because dead things? No matter how “clean” you get them? Grodie. Mittens here was a barn kitten, and he did not make it, obviously. Poor little dude. So my friend traded him to me to make a mold and make some skulls for their projects. We can see here an example of what I refer to as “shoring” - clay in hollow areas to block the rubber from entering the skull when the mold is made. It also increases the strength of the final casting, while slightly altering the form. This is, however, how I know my work when I see it elsewhere. If you want a museum quality replica, you go to a museum quality replica store… if you want to put a skull on a hat, or a necklace, and not ruin it horribly and get bone sand in your food or up your shnozz (speaking of risks!) you come to Catalyst Studios and we hook you up. 

Or you go to some rip-off vendor on Etsy and pay way too much for a third hand casting. I recommend you don’t, personally, but that could just be that I’m selfish; after all, this is how I make my living. Physical disability has prevented me from having any other job since about 2008, although apparently it’s not enough of a disability for the state I live in to kick me down anything. I can’t even afford new rubber to remake old molds that are falling apart right now because even with the discount my very kind pharmacist gives me on the medication that prevents me from shaking, I’m dumping all my extra income into medication and a special diet. I mean, why could I possibly want to prevent someone from ripping off my stuff? 

Edited to add:  As of 12/22/12, 1 pm PST, Brown admitted in a post on her own Tumblr that she cast her skulls from one of my castings. She doesn’t see anything wrong with this, then casts various aspersions on my craftsmanship. This is particularly quaint seeing as she badgered me for a discount - I don’t and never have offered wholesale rates, particularly to people who harass me - until I sent her low-grade/miscast/under-sanded skulls. Which is why you can see my original unsanded mold lines on the skulls she’s re-cast. 

Additional:  I have screen shots of all of her various posts, people’s replies to her posts, and the various revisions she made to attempt to cover her ass after the fact.  “You can’t copyright nature” is the stupidest thing said in the aforementioned posts/comments - once clay has been worked into an original skull and it has been cast, you are no longer “casting from nature”, you’re casting *my sculptural work*. Adding more clay to it doesn’t make any difference, particularly when you don’t even SAND OFF MY SEAM LINES FIRST.

Final commentary:  this post has received over 190 reblogs. WTF. Anyone with questions - serious inquiries only - can contact me personally.  A fair warning to Ms. Brown, I have a full list of your sock puppet accounts now, including the fake Etsy profile you use to falsely increase your hearts and sales on Etsy and give yourself positive feedback and anything YOU send will simply be forwarded to my lawyer. Thanks. Bye. This is a crow skull replica. Jason Soles and I have been casting and selling this skull - and roughly 6 others cast from the same real bone original (borrowed from and returned to Mother Earth, because it is against US law - specifically the Migratory Bird Treaty Act - to possess any part of a native migratory bird; don’t confront me about that, confront the folks in the US government, specifically the Fish & Wildlife Dept. This is not what this is about. Moving on.) for over 12 years. We sell these in our Etsy shops, and have sold them at craft fairs and spooky events, and we sold them on Moritorium.com when said site had a shopping cart. We have re-made the molds several times in those twelve years, but I recognize our lines (molds leave lines, which sometimes aren’t sanded off as much as I’d like), our shoring (that’s where the clay goes in to make the skull “solid”, bird skulls aren’t solid, of course, more on that later), when I see it. I am proud of our work and I love seeing our castings used in other people’s crafts, jewelry, etc. We do not wholesale them and we do not sell them for direct resale, so we should be the only shops on Etsy that carry them. Lo and behold, here is a photograph someone else took of what are definitely our skulls, and she is claiming on her Etsy listing that she made them herself. Hm. How… interesting. I wrote her a “conversation” (that’s the name Etsy gives its internal message system) and reminded her of why I don’t sell wholesale and that I would not sell to her again if she did not remove the listing. I ended the note with, “If you are recasting from my original molds, we have an even larger problem, but you certainly wouldn’t do a thing like that, would you?” I received no response. So I reported the listing to Etsy as misrepresenting the item. After all, even if she is casting them herself (which would be lame all on its own anyway), they were our research & development, our handling a dead animal (someone else’s illegal pet, if you must know; I cleaned it myself), and our risk of being FINED BY FISH & WILDLIFE TO THE TUNE OF $1500 had an agent happened to wander into my house while I was performing said cleaning. I am a conservationist, FYI, and I don’t believe it’s cool to violate the treaty, ergo, I buried the thing when I was done. Because of said treaty and people not wanting to take that risk, there aren’t a lot of crow replicas on the market. I know one other vendor (local to me, even) who makes them - they are rotationally cast and nearly as detailed and as fragile as the real thing. We make ours for costumers and for people who will wear them around so they are sturdy. Now. Are these recasts? I do not know. They could be, but I went through my sales records and have sold Ms. Brown (MortiisM, she calls herself on Etsy, “Melissa Mortiis”, if you simply are dying to know) no less than fourteen replica crow skulls. So as long as there aren’t more than fourteen replica crows in her sales archive, we’re solid and she’s *just* misrepresenting my work as hers. I haven’t counted individual sales in her archive on crow items because this other thing got pointed out to me by a long-time friend, fan, and occasional photographer for the studio… This listing, for a kitten necklace? That’s my kitten skull, I can tell from the teeth and the shoring… I’ve sold her one. She has sold… quite a few. Really. Really? Really. I still need to send Etsy’s admins a note about this, but I contacted the seller immediately and let her know I could count. I can only imagine that Etsy’s complaint inbox is boiling over during the holiday season and I don’t see how adding to it further is going to speed things along. I will probably show them this post to illustrate my previous point though. This is my hand, about 3.45 pm PST. I washed it shortly after, because dead things? No matter how “clean” you get them? Grodie. Mittens here was a barn kitten, and he did not make it, obviously. Poor little dude. So my friend traded him to me to make a mold and make some skulls for their projects. We can see here an example of what I refer to as “shoring” - clay in hollow areas to block the rubber from entering the skull when the mold is made. It also increases the strength of the final casting, while slightly altering the form. This is, however, how I know my work when I see it elsewhere. If you want a museum quality replica, you go to a museum quality replica store… if you want to put a skull on a hat, or a necklace, and not ruin it horribly and get bone sand in your food or up your shnozz (speaking of risks!) you come to Catalyst Studios and we hook you up. Or you go to some rip-off vendor on Etsy and pay way too much for a third hand casting. I recommend you don’t, personally, but that could just be that I’m selfish; after all, this is how I make my living. Physical disability has prevented me from having any other job since about 2008, although apparently it’s not enough of a disability for the state I live in to kick me down anything. I can’t even afford new rubber to remake old molds that are falling apart right now because even with the discount my very kind pharmacist gives me on the medication that prevents me from shaking, I’m dumping all my extra income into medication and a special diet. I mean, why could I possibly want to prevent someone from ripping off my stuff?

Edited to add: As of 12/22/12, 1 pm PST, Brown admitted in a post on her own Tumblr that she cast her skulls from one of my castings. She doesn’t see anything wrong with this, then casts various aspersions on my craftsmanship. This is particularly quaint seeing as she badgered me for a discount - I don’t and never have offered wholesale rates, particularly to people who harass me - until I sent her low-grade/miscast/under-sanded skulls. Which is why you can see my original unsanded mold lines on the skulls she’s re-cast.

Additional: I have screen shots of all of her various posts, people’s replies to her posts, and the various revisions she made to attempt to cover her ass after the fact. “You can’t copyright nature” is the stupidest thing said in the aforementioned posts/comments - once clay has been worked into an original skull and it has been cast, you are no longer “casting from nature”, you’re casting *my sculptural work*. Adding more clay to it doesn’t make any difference, particularly when you don’t even SAND OFF MY SEAM LINES FIRST.

Final commentary: this post has received over 190 reblogs. WTF. Anyone with questions - serious inquiries only - can contact me personally. A fair warning to Ms. Brown, I have a full list of your sock puppet accounts now, including the fake Etsy profile you use to falsely increase your hearts and sales on Etsy and give yourself positive feedback and anything YOU send will simply be forwarded to my lawyer. Thanks. Bye.

Tagged: catalyst studiosa.s. koismall businessrip offscametsyskulls

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