31 Jul 2011

Copying, when will it ever end?

I was recently killing time during an idle phase by browsing all the wonderful goodies to be found on my favourite site, when I decided on a whim to search "wand" in the Woodworking section. I could not believe how many I found, a large proportion of them from relatively new sellers. Most of them are quite elaborate, with turning and carving, crystals, leather wrapped handles and suchlike, which bear very little resemblance to the wands I make. A few are quite similar, but the sellers have obviously made an effort to follow their own creative path and made subtle differences in style, such as leaving bark on the handle or burning a design into the wood, as well as making sure their listings are easily distinguishable from mine. But there was a noticeable amount of what can only be described as direct copies of my style of working, and I counted no less than nine individual sellers offering these wands to the public. Nine folks who haven't the imagination or artistic flair to actually come up with something of their own. And one of the bastards even has the gall to title their listings "Natural Wood Wand"!  Another uses a photo background that looks just like mine. I also spotted a seller who said they included paperwork that sounded suspiciously similar to the info I send out with every item, and it crossed my mind that some of these unscrupulous sellers might even have been customers of mine. I was curious to see that the vast majority of these copycats had only registered on Etsy within the last few months and also that most of them hadn't bothered to add any information about themselves in the personal profile... which led me to think that maybe they really are just blatently copying my work and have no background or interest in paganism or Witchcraft other than as a money making opportunity. I don't like people disrespecting my religion. It's a serious spiritual path, not Harry fucking Potter. It's not a "lifestyle" to be picked up when it seems fashionable then dropped when it's no longer convenient; you can't stop being a Witch once you've made certain sacred vows, even if you don't make them in front of a corporeal audience, and one of the most basic tenets of any spiritual tradition or religion is to act with honesty and integrity... which I take to mean as including being true to your own muse and not stealing someone else's ideas. Judging from the quality of their work, most of these people don't even have any talent or expertise in any kind of woodworking, as almost all their items are shoddy, poorly finished, hugely overpriced crap, only fit for the fire... I wouldn't want my stuff to be mentioned in the same breath as any of it. Hell, I've been making this shit for over 25 years, which is probably since before most of them were even a glint in their Daddy's eyes!

I think what makes me the most pissed off is that these sellers are ripping off the genuine pagan community and I just hate to think of the disappointment buyers must feel when they open a package containing one of these efforts. I have the experience to be able to tell from a decent photo what the surface of the wood will feel like and how well made a wand is, but most people simply don't have that knowledge and buy on trust. To have that trust abused must feel extremely unpleasant, and I'm grateful I don't have that kind of deception on my conscience. Wands of this type look incredibly simple to make, and they are. But it takes practice, experience and bloody hard work to be able to make them well. I'd got more or less immune to seeing rune sets looking as if they've been hacked up with a chainsaw and never seen sandpaper, but oddly I'd never noticed the wands before. Thankfully, there is still a solid core of well established, talented and skilled individuals making pagan related items to sell on Etsy, all of whom have a huge respect for what they do and practice true pagan ethics. But these stupid kids (and from where I'm standing, anyone who looks younger than 30 can be classed as a kid!) who think they can pick up some rotten old stick off the floor when they're walking the dog, wave a bit of sandpaper at it then fondly imagine they've crafted a magical tool fit for someone else's solemn religious ritual and actually expect them to hand over their hard earned cash for it... they just disgust me.

And no, I'm not annoyed because I think these "rivals" will adversely affect my sales. After all, I only noticed them today by accident. I went through exactly the same thing on eBay three years ago and it made no difference at all to the amount of items I sold or the amount of money I made. (Which incidentally, doesn't get frittered away on frivolities but is relied on to make up a good chunk of the mortgage and help put food on the table) I only stopped selling on eBay when the copycats started to copy and paste huge chunks directly from my listings and copy my photos and titles, and the admin team gave me no support. I like Etsy and I respect what they're trying to do, but I'm starting to think the site might be outgrowing its ethical and artistic standpoint and attracting sellers who will ultimately drag it down to eBay level. I suppose I won't know for sure until I need back up from the admin team whether or not they treat sellers more fairly on Etsy than they do on eBay. The standard of craftsmanship and quality of the goods on offer has noticeably dropped recently, and I no longer feel quite comfortable displaying my items there. I don't want to have to move on and start from scratch again, but there are other hand made marketplaces out there that are still small enough not to have this amount of poor quality rubbish creeping in. I'm going to have to give it some serious thought.

And now I've had my rant I'm going to put the whole business completely out of my mind. Having my ideas ripped off actually bothers me a lot less than you might think and I hardly ever give it a thought... but for some reason it really touched a nerve today to see such outrageous attempts to be something they're most obviously not. Copycats are never worth wasting too much energy on, and if I ignore them hard enough maybe they'll all just disappear in a puff of smoke! LOL

The Original Natural Wood Wand Shop, making and selling top quality magical tools since 1987 and online since January 2006... often imitated, never equalled... the original and still the best.


  1. I had to read all through your rant about the bloody rip-offs out there.......but you know what? I've been wanting a wand for quite some time and I've been looking for awhile too....but yours are the ones which caught my eye and imagination! So in the end it's you I want to do business with not those others. I need to know if you will mail to Australia, and I've emailed you via Etsy today. I've looked everywhere I can via Govt. sites to see if I can buy wooden items from you but I can't find anything in their search engines.

  2. Well said, I found your shop on Etsy today and was overwhelmed with your work. The look of the products is stunning and shows a love of what you do.

    I must admit my own personal wand I created many years ago is very simple, hand cut and shaped from Willow with no adornments and three drops of blood on the end.

    I was always astonished to see wands with crystals jammed in the end or feathers and ribbons all over it until they got to the point where you couldn't see the wood never mind "feel" it.

    Your products are lovely and from what I have seen of other works, they are nothing compared to yours. I especially like your bullroarers, I have never managed to get a decent set. I will be back at your shop when I have money (sadly my cat had a seizure last week and the vet bills have taken me into the red) - she was worth it though and doing better.

    Brightest Blessings.

  3. Mmmm.... i will be opening a shop on etsy to sell wands and my initial reaction as i read was... "but wands are similar & natural wood wand is an obvious choice for a title"... but as i read i understand & know exactly what you mean.

    my feeling is, that people who work with energy are drawn to what is right for them.... your work is beautiful, from your heart, touched by your soul.... line a dozen wands of the same wood type in the same style, and people will always be drawn to the wand that matches their energetic needs, however subconsciously that choice is made. Which is why your sales are assured. But you know that.

    I've had the idea.... the shop name, the descriptions etc etc floating around for about 5 years now, before i ever attempted making a wand! It was direct conversation with trees & goddess.... a partnership in the making! (oh & the first ones did go on the fire!)

    I've seen your wands before, you were one of the first shops i 'hearted' when i found etsy.... but i've studiously avoided looking at anyone else's descriptions for a good while. However, this week i've been scribbling & whittling furiously... the wands are singing... and i kept noticing a wand in the recently added bit on my page, so of course i had to look, then search, and look some more & eventually land here... sort of by accident!

    There are similar elements within my planned descriptions... but i'm not worried that they will seem like copying... i tend to look & think thats good, how can i make it different... if they are its from deep in the subconscious & they may still change, cos i'm still a way off opening yet!

    Phew... that is a long-winded way of saying hello... and for whatever reason i felt like i needed to say all that, tho now i have it doesn't seem to matter! Thank you too, for some confirmations you've un- wittingly given me... i shall definitely be calling back over here!

  4. Its good to have a rant, I have just gone through the whole thing myself. Being a crafter of shamanic drums and rattles for the last 6 years, I have always listened to my guide and made them in my own style of the land in live on not stolen native american styles. This year saw my dream of making my own hoops and rawhide come into being, I stood in a friends grove at Imbolc and spoke about how following my dream has made it real at last.... Now 2 months later I find out they are planning to make drums using the same style as mine...... Dream stealers... but like you its not going to affect my customers but its just not what you expect from others who are on the "path" ..... Good luck to them.... it takes more than sandpaper and elbow grease to bring the real healing tools into this reality .... all strength to you and your work ....


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