Paper Mache Masks

Paper Mache Wolf, Part 5

The wolf mask is almost done. This video shows how the fast-setting paper mache is applied to the wolf’s head positive mold, and paper mache clay is added to the mask to give some nice texture to the ruff. I also show how I fixed a few boo boos. If you’d like to check out the book I mention several times in the video, click: “Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay.

If you’d like to watch the entire series of videos about the making of this paper mache mask, you can find them on my YouTube channel:

And for those of you who don’t have time to watch the whole series, I made a much shorter version showing the highlights. You can find the short version of How to Make a Paper Mache Mask here.


About the author

Jonni Good

I'm a sculptor, author, gardener, and grandma. When I'm not catering to the needs of my obnoxious cat, I make videos, create stuff, and play around with paper mache. I'm also the author of several highly-rated books on paper mache. You'll find them in the sidebar, and on


  • Jonni,
    I might have missed something in the wolf-mask sequence but I’m wondering what the recipe was for the fast drying paste that you used to attached the shop towel?
    I doubt it is simply glue and water; does it include plaster of paris for strength? It looks extremely strong when you cut it around the ears in the video – what proportions do you recommend in the mix?
    Also would you recommend using some sort of release agent on the clay core? It looked tricky to get the clay out of the back of those ears.

    I ask because I’m interested in using this process below to creating hollow puppet heads:
    1. start with sculpting a clay form for the puppet head,
    2. cover head all over with shop towels and fast drying paste
    3. once dry cut in half around edge with Dremel and remove clay core
    4. put halves back together and join seam with more towel and fast drying paste
    5. cover and detail with paper clay recipe
    6. paint and decorate


    • Hi Rob. Yes, the process you describe will work just fine – that’s exactly how I made all the masks for my book “How to Make Masks!” Except that my masks didn’t need to be cut in two to get the clay out.

      The recipes for both the fast-drying paste and the gesso that I used for the book are on the second video that I made about how to make the Pantalone mask. The paste and gesso are made with Elmer’s glue and plaster.

      • Jonni,
        I’m struggling to find Scott shop towels in Australia. I tried locally and had no luck. Also looked online but the p&h totally blitzes the towel price.
        Do you know what they are made of, maybe there is an alternative product here that I could use? Any suggestions welcome.

        • Rob, when I contacted Kimberly-Clark to see if the towels were available in non-US countries, the only sources they sent were in the UK and Mexico. They said they don’t think anyone in New Zealand is selling the towels yet – they didn’t mention Australia, but I assume the same thing would be true there. The towels are paper, but a thick, strong absorbent paper. Some industrial-strength shop towels are too strong, and don’t stretch or bend around shapes, the way the Scott towels do. I would suggest that you try some strong towels made for the kitchen. Try to find ones that don’t have a lot of texture, if you can. They won’t be as strong as the shop towels, but when used with the fast-setting paper mache paste they should still create a strong, light shell. And if you find a towel in Australia that works really well, please let us know the brand! πŸ˜‰

  • Well, before I get sidetracked…
    I finally finished el lobo. Thank you so much Jonni for your tutorials…helps me so much.
    Now off to get my tomatoes in the ground before it rains again..

    • Wow – Sharon, your Lobo is fantastic. You do an incredible job on the eyes – they’re so realistic. And the fur in his ears, the colors – wow.

      But why do you get to plant tomatoes now? That’s not fair – I have to wait until the last week of May!

      • Well, I’ll tell you Jonni….

        I jumped the gun and started my seeds the beginning of March. Probably the 1st, actually maybe the end of February. Along with my broccoli (not really the time of year for that) but, better late than never. And, my peppers are bursting at the seams…so, rather than lose ALL of them, they’re going in the ground now (leaving their recycled toilet paper roll homes behind). I figure, if I lose some, at least I won’t lose them all.
        I just came in for a drink to catch my breathe before I go back and rig up some chicken wire guards to keep my cats OUT. My grandson and I started 50 broccoli seeds and 30 tomato. We needed a project that day. So, I can afford to lose some I think.

        I really love painting. Haven’t done any of that for some time, so doing these animal projects has been such a wonderful opportunity to keep that spark lit. Unfortunately, the old saying “you don’t use it you lose it” came to mind and I really struggled getting this guy done.
        Time’s up, ack out to the project….

  • Jonni, I had to laugh as I read your comment asking me “Do you always have angst…”

    Well, yes, I realize I do. Thanks for bringing that right up in my face. Now I feel childishly silly. I also realized I’d rather keep you as a friend, rather than my nanny.
    So, with that, I’m going back to working on El Lobo so I can get to my Mountain Lion next.

    • Ooh – I didn’t mean to cause any concern. I think that any portion of our process that works for us, whether it’s conscious or not, works for a particular reason. No reason to change things that work. πŸ˜‰

      • “No reason to change things that work”… the problem associated with my ‘process’ is…

        It drives me a b s o l u t e l y NUTS!

        • Purely by coincidence, about the time that you were writing that comment I was sitting down with a new book that just arrived in the mail: Art & Fear – Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

          And on page 2 they say:

          Today artwork does not emerge from a secure common ground: the bison on the [cave] wall is someone else’s magic. Making art now means working in the face of uncertainty; it means living with doubt and contradiction, doing something no one much cares whether you do, and for which there may be neither audience nor reward. Making the work you want to make means setting aside these doubts so that you may see clearly what you have done, thereby see where to go next. Making the work you want to make means finding nourishment within the work itself. This is not the Age of Faith, Truth or Certainty.

          OK – most of that doesn’t apply, but I’m still in love with this book, and I’m only on page 4. Have you read it yet?

          • I’ve not heard of this book. That paragraph makes sense to me. If more sensitively insightful points are made throughout it regarding the artistic mindset, I’d like to read it.

            Please share more as you go on Jonni.

  • Hi Jonni,

    I actually found this (great!) blogpost via pinterest. Pinterest always links back to the source so regardless if (silly) people don’t give you credit your website is there and you will get traffic from the pins. Pinterest is a HUGE boon to independent internet sellers and will do the same to expose artists. I agree wholeheartedly with Karla the bigger problem in TUMBLR, and actually the combination of those two sites. People post your work on tumblr with no credit and no link back to the source and then it gets pinned a million times so there is no way for someone to find the source. However, if people on pinterest were a. better educated about how to pin ie. from the specific blog posts, not from tumblr, not from google images, and how to give proper credit I think we would all find Pinterest to be an INCREDIBLE asset to us as artists.

    • I agree that the site is a source of traffic, and for some sites it’s a great source of traffic. However, the legal issues are still real. Pinterest is doing all it can to protect themselves from the legal ramifications, by putting all responsibility on the pinners. When you pin other people’s images you’re giving away the right to use the pinned images, by anybody, anywhere, and for any reason. Do we really have a right to do that if the images don’t belong to us? According to the membership agreement, Pinterest doesn’t think so.

      I think this is one of those sticky ethical questions that would be a great discussion topic for a philosophy class. Right now, I’m still on the fence. But I’m also not using Pinterest to post other people’s images on their site or mine, because I really don’t think it’s legal – even if everyone else is doing it.

      • Dear Jonni,

        I stopped by to make a comment to you about my Lobo. This wolf is taking a long time in the makin and for some reason (I can’t figure out), my process this time is so different from my Bear mask. Don’t know what I’m doing differently with this one, maybe the plaster glue was too thin? I’ll be trying a cat next when I fix this guy up and maybe figure it out 3rd time around.

        That said, and in reference to the above comments, I realize that after all the time and work I put into this guy, for that matter any other of my work, if someone were to Pin him without my permission, and he ended up plastered on someone’s website, without my knowledge or giving me, the Artist, any credit… well, I’m not so sure I wouldn’t go pay a visit to the Copyright Attorney’s office this time around. Maybe some of these people NEED to get their little selves sued…Big Time…to understand the illegality of it.

        GRRRR. That wasn’t me…that was El Lobo…

        • Sharon, even with all the challenges you’re having with el Lobo, I know it will come out great in the end. Do you always have angst during your projects? Maybe that’s part of your process. I know there’s a point in every one of my projects when I’m absolutely convinced it can’t possibly work. But they usually do, in the end.

          One problem with images being uploaded to Tumblr or Pinterest is that you would never know they’re there. And once they end up on those sites, they’re “officially” free to use by anyone, so they could end up anywhere, even illustrating an article on some site with which you fervently disagree. But you would never know. For instance, if you go to Pinterest and do a search for “Jonni Good” you will find one image. That’s the one image where my name was used in the comment. If you search for the url of this site, again you find one image. But there are hundreds of them on that site. (You can find them by clicking on the one image you do find, then find the site’s url in the bottom right corner of that page, click on that and all of them come up. I thought the person who started the site came from Google, so they should be able to make a search engine that works. Maybe they don’t want it to work?)

          The images taken from this site aren’t hurting me, and some people are finding this site through Pinterest so I wouldn’t ask anyone to take them down. But if I was trying to sell images for other people to use on their websites, I would now be looking for another line of work.

          I know that sites like that (and there are a lot of them, because the site owners are cashing in on free, visitor-generated content), are really popular, and they do generate traffic for a lot of other sites. My step-mother recently found it, and she was extremely excited to find all those cool photos. (My dad summed up the problem perfectly. He said it’s like taking a camera into an art gallery). Sites like Etsy and DailyPainters now put up PinIt buttons on their sites, and those buttons do officially give people the right to pin the images.

          Since other people’s images are shown on my site, I can’t add that button without leaving myself open for a lawsuit, even though that would probably be extremely unlikely. (Except for the few iStockPhoto images that I purchased to illustrate certain points – if I give those away, a very large corporation could come after me…) I assume that etsy and other membership sites include a disclaimer in their membership agreements allowing them to give away your images. If not, they should.

          Anyhoo – I’ll stop my rant. I know that for most artists it really doesn’t matter if people “borrow” the images, and for many people it’s a major source of their traffic and revenue. But it makes it impossible to “control your brand,” as the big guys would say. There is no longer any copyright protection online for the little guy, because borrowing images has seeped into the public consciousness as OK. Most people, like many who have commented on this page, would say “get over yourself – it isn’t hurting anything.” We can’t fight it. Might as well try to figure out how to profit from it, instead, I guess…

          • no one is going to “grab” your image from Pinterest, they are going to do it from your website. This has ALWAYS been the case! All pinterest offers for someone looking for images is a thumbnail. Sure if someone is looking for images they can do a search and find them and then follow them to the website but this is also the case with Google image search! You can use the search engine “tin eye” to do a reverse image search and google has a similar feature. No one wants someone profiting from your work, but the responsibility is placed on your shoulders. Like I said as soon as you publish on the internet you are opening your work up to being grabbed with very little recourse other than asking for it to be taken down from someone else’s site. I’m commenting because I’ve seen so many blog posts where the artist’s a. don’t really understand how Pinterest works, and b. don’t really understand the ramifications of putting their work online. I don’t have an online portfolio because I do pattern design– that stuff gets snapped up by china in a second! It is up t you to decide what you can handle being misappropriated and deal with it.

          • Sorry – that’s not the way it works. First of all, there is an “embed” button next to every photo on their site. You can use the code generated to put the image on your own site, since Pinterest gives you permission to do so. If someone else pins that image from your site, you get the link, not the person who first published the image.

            Second, Pinterest does not post a thumbnail. Google won a copyright suit because their image search only uses a thumbnail. Pinterest, though, posts the entire image.

            Pinterest’s membership agreement states that you agree that they can profit from the use of any image you upload. If there was no profit potential for Pinterest, there would be no Pinterest. Read the membership agreement.

            The question isn’t whether or not it’s easy for someone to grab your images. It’s whether or not it’s legal. Pinterest is well aware of copyright infringement laws, and that’s why they put all the legal risk onto the Pinterest users. If you inadvertently pin a photo that was first purchased by the web owner from a company like iStockPhoto, thereby giving away an image that should have been paid for, that company will, sooner or later, come after Pinterest. They may not be doing it yet, but they will. And when they do, you are held liable for all legal fees – both your own and Pinterest’s. Again, read the membership agreement.

            I think when an issue like this comes up, we get confused by trying to figure out one issue by thinking about another one that seems to be the same, but isn’t. For instance, most people think they’re being nice when they pin someone’s work, so they shouldn’t be picked on for trying to do somebody a favor. They haven’t read the membership agreement, so they don’t know they’re giving away the right for someone else to profit from your work. Or we assume that borrowing images is so easy on the Internet, one should just expect it. Neither of these arguments have anything to do with the copyright issue. “Nice,” “easy,” and “legal” all define entirely different things.

            People who pin images from this site are trying to be nice, and they think they’re doing people a favor. They don’t read the membership agreement, so they don’t know they’re putting themselves at risk. I won’t sue if someone uses my images, because I’m not getting hurt by it. But sooner or later, somebody will, and they’ll go after the Pinterest member who gave away their copyright. That’s all I’m saying.

    • Nina, re: “Pinterest always links back to the source so regardless” … this is not always the case. Particularly if the image is uploaded by a user. Also, it seems like a lot of images I come across are linked from TUMBLR (see my comment above about them) and they most frequently do not have any type of link back to the source.

      • karla, if you read the comment you would see I mention this as a specific problem. With regards to copyright law the issue has MUCH more to do with the internet in general than pinterest or tumblr. The RISD alumni society gave a lecture last year given by a lawyer on copy right and fair use and he said that as soon as you publish something on the internet it is pretty much out of your hands. Until we get it all figured out you publish photos of your work at your own risk.

  • With my recent experiences exploring the internet, I would have to say as an artist I much more worried about TUMBLR … I am constantly running up against images with no link back and no info. This has, for the most part, not been the case on pinterest.

    • Yes, I guess with the popularity of all these sites, it changes the whole idea of “intellectual property.” Basically, if you’re a little guy and want to share images on your own site, you are expected to be calm about people using those images for their own sites, or for any reason at all. But if you own a movie company or a big music label, that’s different. I suppose we just need to accept this type of thing as the way things are, times change, etc. That isn’t easy for me to do, but if we spend too much energy on it we won’t have any energy left to create our art.

  • Jonni,

    Just a follow up, but apparently this issue is getting a lot of traction lately. I just found this article that discusses the copyright violations of Pinterest, particularly as it pertains to businesses using the service, and warning as you have that the devil really is in the TOS details.

    I don’t use Pinterest, but now since you’ve raised this concern, I’d be really hesitant to do so now. Thanks for broaching the subject and raising awareness of the potential pitfalls.


    • That’s an excellent article, Rich. It shows what a quandary we’re in – we could use the Pinterest site for increasing traffic, but if we do that in the way they seem to want us to, we’re taking on all the legal risk while giving Pinterest all the potential profit. Somehow that doesn’t seem quite fair.

      If someone asked me if they could distribute one of my images to an unlimited number of websites, and I’d get a link back from every one of them, would I say yes? Absolutely. But if they came to me and said that they didn’t have permission to use your images from your website, so would I be willing to grab some for them, while accepting all legal liability for potential copyright violation, and agreeing that I would receive no real benefits, would I agree? Absolutely not. If they asked me if they could have unlimited use of my images forever in the future, for any purpose whatsoever – and they might give me a link back for some of them but the images would often end up on other people’s websites, (illustrating who knows what), and there would be no attribution at all, would I agree? No way.

      So yes – I think their site works so well because nobody reads the membership contract.

  • OK, one more thing, and then I stop thinking about this issue.

    Just to see what happens, I went out to my one Pinterest board and grabbed the embed code to the one painting I pinned from Jessie’s site, with her retroactive permission. I stuck the embed code on a temporary post here on my site, and then clicked on the Pin It button at the top of my browser bar. When I went back and looked at the new pinned image, it gave me a link back to this site, not Jessie’s site. Even though their system must know where the image originated from, she gets no credit for it. And there’s a big “embed” button beside every image on their site. I’m just not seeing how that’s fair. I immediately deleted the second pinned image from my board, of course, and deleted the temporary post. But was it deleted from the Pinterest database? Who knows. So, to make up for the temporary theft of Jessie’s painting, here’s a link back to here site: Jessie Rasche Loving Mom Paintings. πŸ˜‰

    – In response to Sharon’s previous comment, read this article, then read this one, and try to reconcile the two. ’nuff said – really. It should be discussed much more widely, but this probably isn’t a good spot for it. If it interests anyone, I’d be happy to discuss it privately.

  • It’s interesting reading everyone’s thoughts here.
    I don’t like it one tiny bit. Was never drawn to shady dealings. You have read that the FBI is currently soliciting applications to internet sites for their new project right? If not, the FBI wants new apps to Wire Tap the Internet enabling them (FBI) to have these taps to check on anybody at any time using the ‘social network monitors’ on these sites. I found this information on which took me to the Social Media Application. I was able to check there on their link some Internet sites that have shown interest.
    As far as I’m concerned, everyone should be aware of this. Some more shady stuff going on here.
    As I said, I don’t like this stuff at all. Could almost admit it raises the hairs on the back of my neck.

  • It’s the giving “Pinterest the right to profit ” from the work of others, or even their own work, that kills me. I used to belong to varous discussion groups, “List Mails” as they used to be called. The site that ran them decided to change it’s policy to one that basically said that all posts and images were the sole property of the site and they could use any part of them as they wished. Basically what Pinterest states it is doing. Needless to say I quit that site and never looked back. Those were my words and my thoughts. Nobody has the right to their ownership but me. Nobody has the right to use them as they wish without my approval. Nobody has the right to profit from them but me unless we have an agreed upon arrangement.

    Needless to say that when joining a discussion group now I ALWAYS read the agreement before I join.

    Right now SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) are on hold because of the major uproar they have caused. It’s sites like Pinerest that might make bills like SOPA and PIPA possible sometime in our future.

    People just don’t think about what they are doing and they rarely read the agreements. Plus there are a whole lot of people who just don’t care. They Believe that everything on the internet is fair game, it belongs to all, and if the owner/creator of it didn’t want other people to “take” it and use it however they want….. the owner/creator shouldn’t have put it on the internet in the first place.

    With that said when it comes to images there are ways to create/code web sites that prevent people from copying images. I’ve ran across a few over the years. I don’t know how to do it, but I do know it’s possible.

    • Yes, there are ways to stop people from pinning a photo – Flickr has figured it out. I have no idea how they do it. And yes, it’s the profit angle that is disturbing – the only reason I can think of for the Pinterest owners to spend so much money developing the site is to eventually go into competition with and other image-selling companies. They have a huge competitive advantage, because iStock has to pay their photographers and illustrators, while Pinterest gets all the images for free – and they have the “right” to allow anyone to use photos on their site on any other site. They encourage people to take images from their site and post them on their own sites, all for free. Today it’s free. Someday in the near future we’ll see exactly how they intend to profit from all those free images. It’s really the big image selling companies that are being hurt right now.

      The one way that I think an artist might be hurt is if you just get started learning how to sculpt or paint, and you’re really excited about your very first attempt. You upload it to your Facebook page. It gets pinned, and ends up all over the Internet, on sites you’ve never heard of. Then, a few years down the line you go back and look at that image and realize you need to remove it from your Facebook page because you’re now a professional who has grown exponentially – you don’t want that piece of work to represent the kind of work you’re now capable of doing. But removing it from your own page doesn’t help, because it has been republished in hundreds of places, and there’s no way for you to find them all.

      I admit that I’m lazy about reading agreements when I sign up to things. I think I’m going to change that, as of now.

        • That makes me feel much better about the whole issue. And I like the fact that they’ll be limiting the number of characters in a post – I see that some people have copied nearly the whole article from some of my pages, which makes it pointless for readers to click on a link and come back to this site to read more.

          With the code they’ve added, people who want to get more traffic by sharing their photos can do so, with the understanding that they’re giving another entity the right to use those photos and distribute them any way they want. People who sell photographs or other imagery and who don’t want to give away their inventory can prevent those photos from being grabbed, much the way Flickr protects user images from being copied. I like it. Now I can move on to the next big issue, and let this one go… πŸ˜‰

          Thanks, Rich.

    • Just one last note on this Jonni, if you don’t mind.

      I am in total agreement with Teresa on everything she stated. Oh, and you know the PIPA and SOPA deal is NOT going to go away. They are already working on a way to squeeze it through and not necessarily for the ‘reasons’ they stated that appear acceptable.

      Enough said. And thanks Jonni, I agree this discussion should be private.

  • Fascinating.

    I just received my invite to join Pinterest and haven’t bitten yet because I dislike linking facebook into the account. (I have an inherent distrust of how facebook shares my content.) …

    Anyway … I searched on Pinterest and found a picture of my Gargoyle pinned from the article on this site. If I click the picture of the gargoyle it says it was pinned 13 days ago from — which links to that article on this site — (so (tiny) amounts of google traffic coming your way from that.) : )

    But down the page it says ‘pinned via the web from — which is an internal pinterest link — which brings up the page that brings up all your photos — that you linked to above. That page also references but it’s a dead link. ?? (http:/// ) That seems like a problem.

    I pretty much agree with what’s been said so far. I understand when small sites copy (hope for attribution) but am weirded out by the pinterest language implying that because it was posted, they can now distribute, license, modify, etc. and profit from it.

    But for now, I’m not going to ask them to take it down. And I admit, my first reaction was flattered that someone pinned my gargoyle.

    • I think they let you opt out of linking to Facebook, don’t they? I still haven’t figured out Facebook, but I know I should spend more time and try to learn their system. It’s taking over the world, after all. I find things on my Facebook page and I have no idea how it gets there.

      I agree that it’s flattering for our images to be pinned. I’m flattered myself. But I wish we knew more about all the implications. For instance, there is some code that I could put on this site so a button shows up on every page encouraging people to pin it. People say that helps bring in a lot of traffic. But if someone did use my button and pinned your gargoyle, would that leave me open for a lawsuit? Or is that so farfetched that it’s absurd to even consider it? Also, there are a few posts that I needed photos to illustrate something, so I bought photos from If I added that button to my pages, would they come after me when the photo was stolen off my site? They’re big enough to hire the lawyer, and win. And Jessie pointed out that Etsy now puts the pin-it button on all their pages. When those items are no longer for sale on etsy, the image will still be on Pinterest but the link from their page will be dead because the post was taken down. Does that matter to anyone? Should it?

      I think the site could be a real help to people with new or smaller sites, and I can see why people like it. It’s also really easy for me to look on the page that contains all the images form this site to see what people like when they visit, which is interesting. It is weird that the links at the top of the pages are all broken – maybe it’s a glitch they haven’t fixed yet. I hadn’t noticed that.

      It will be really interesting to see how this all pans out. Will it be the latest best thing, the opportunity to get in at the beginning of the next Google? Or will it become the next file-sharing nightmare? I doubt that most of the kids who uploaded music to share with their friends thought they were hurting anyone. This doesn’t seem different to me. And a lot of new singers and bands got attention through file-sharing sites when radio DJ’s wouldn’t give them any air-time, so they were grateful that people passed their music around. (Until they signed a contract with a record label, of course.) So – it will be interesting…

  • From what I have seen most copyrighted stuff is watermarked so that you can buy an unmarked copy from them.

    Pretty sure that is easy to do on most photo editing software.

    • Actually, everything that is written, photographed, painted or drawn is automatically copyrighted, whether it has a watermark or not. But I do think that most sites that put a copyright watermark on their images also tag their images so they can find them if they’re used without permission – but I don’t know how the technology works.

  • Back to Pinterest. When I read up on the 2 sites you tagged Jonni, it was very clearly pointed out that the majority of people who post an Artists work do not tag back to the original Artist’s web or site. Consequently, those Artists are not revealed as the creator.
    Also, what I found distressing was the revelation that Pinterest (in some way I admit I don’t understand), places their tag on the work and holds that work indefinitely (as long as it’s useful the them) even if the originator of the work has removed it from their site/Web. Pinterest now in essence owns it, tagging it so that if it goes somewhere else, is then tagged, they are taken back to Pinerest. (does this sound as confusing to you as it does to me?)

    • The whole thing is confusing. On the one hand, they don’t want people to self-promote, which seems to imply that they want you to pin other people’s stuff. But they will say that you’re been told they don’t allow pinning of anything that you don’t have permission to use. But on the third hand, they give you an ap for your browser that makes it easy to pin any image, anywhere.

      And, if we can start on feet, the number of links you can get seems almost exponential. I can see a group of artists agreeing among themselves to give each other permission to post each other’s work, and then pinning the heck out of images on each other’s sites. With that many links, you might be able to get noticed quickly, if the comments were written correctly. So – it could be used, I think. But still – you don’t really know what they may do with your images later, because the license you give them seems to be pretty much permanent. The technology is outstipping my brain’s ability to grasp all the implications. If I could figure out how to personally profit from it, I’d say it’s good. Maybe….

  • Fair use, which is a ball of yarn all by itself, aside for a moment, and look to the heart of the matter:

    T.H. White once pointed out that every time you get something new in the way of abilities, you also get a moral decision you have to make. I think that is true about the web — your work gets massive exposure not really possible in the past without an advertising budget like Disney’s, but the downside is that yes, you have massive exposure. Not everyone is going to rush to buy your work, but simply to grab it up. So no, first you don’t kill all the lawyers, you need the help of an attorney when you find that someone has done this.

    First, you do the obvious first step yourself — you write the Desist or Die letter, warning the entity that took the work they can eradicate it from any visible surface they can control within 15 days, or you will make them wish they had. To answer Jonni’s query, there are different fees charged for different services rendered, which same depend on what has been done, how far it has gone, the money the infringer has probably gained or not, etc. But trust me, you will not be happy, as most of the time you will get a judgment that is, um, not enforceable.

    So forget Pinterest for a moment, and think it over: you can lock up your work and keep it from being copied or grabbed, but then, of course, people will not see it. The reason there is that long bunch of stuff that nobody reads but marks ‘okay’ swears that you have read and understand what is happening, so you cannot plead ignorance, which in any case, after you have the DorD letter, wouldn’t happen anyway. Music has always had a problem — come out with a hit song and a dozen road musicians will play it on Friday nights in any one of a thousand bars where enforcers never were or just left. Hard to keep up.

    But artwork? Mine’s been snitched on occasion, and I’ve been lucky, the jerks involved have always been small time and have folded, muttering they were sure the image was free when they got it. I wish I felt more flattered, but I never do when it is discovered. But it is part of the whole deal — if you are gonna show it, you have to expect to sooner or later step in and protect it. One of those things.

    • Good points, Patch. And to tell the truth, I wouldn’t mind at all that hundreds of people have posted my images on Pinterest, or that people can easily use an ap to repost the same images on their own websites, if they didn’t go to so much trouble to protect themselves, while doing nothing to protect me. Still, links are good, and any traffic at all is good, so no real harm is done – at least that’s what I hope is true. They aren’t copying work and printing it on T-shirts, anyway. Or at least I hope they’re not.

      I think I feel the same way about that site as I do about Facebook – I don’t feel comfortable with something I can’t control. Things show up that I didn’t put on a page that is supposedly “mine,” and I don’t know why. Or things show up on somebody else’s page and I can’t figure out how it got there. Big companies go to a lot of effort and expense to control their brand, but we can’t really do that on a smaller scale, with big sites like that calling the shots. Is it a bad thing or a good thing? I honestly have no idea.

  • Oh yeah, and your wolf looks great too! If there’s ever a question about whether you should show your mistakes or not, show them! I find seeing someone else’s errors — and how they correct them — is a great learning tool. It’s also comforting to know the masters aren’t perfect either. :)

    But how did you cut the ear off? Was that just with a razor? It looked like a very clean cut.


    • I don’t know if I’ve achieved “master” status yet – and I doubt that I will any time soon. But thanks for suggesting that I have – πŸ˜‰

      I use a pair of sharp scissors. It seems to work if you cut the mask before it’s really hard. I’m less likely to cut off my finger when I use scissors instead of a razor. (I still haven’t had a chance to try your glue recipe yet. One of these days I will, though. It looks really promising).

  • Hi Jonni,
    Your wolf looks GREAT!

    I took a look at Pinterest when you 1st posted it. No good thing is going to come from this for we small artists.
    Hum, your question: “How much does a copyright attorney cost these days?” I’m curious too.
    In the mid 1980’s I was commissioned to create a full line of greeting cards for a small specialty shop here in Sacramento. The owner sold all over the U.S. I can’t begin to tell you how intensive that work was for me (not to mention the cost involved to get them printed). I immediately took out copyrights for each design and registered them with the government. Well, it didn’t take long before one of my designs showed up from a company on the East Coast. Exact same design and wording as on my original card. That company was soliciting my shop owner for her business to purchase “their” cards to sell.
    I contacted a Copyright Attorney, the nearest being a good 100 miles from where I lived. The initial consultation fee was $500.00 just to allow me to present my case. I’m certain 30+ years later, that fee is quite out of date.

    • Thanks, Sharon. I have him just about half-painted now. I can’t wait to get on to the next project.

      OK, now you have me curious. Why did you have to print the cards if the shop owner commissioned the designs? Is that the way it works? That doesn’t seem fair. And even more importantly, did you file a suit against those folks, and did you win? (Boy, am I nosy or what?)

      • Now you have me thinking. Maybe the shop owner did pay for the printing. Well, sorry, that could have happened but it isn’t the issue that stayed with me these 30+ years on that venture.

        I did not file a law suit with those folks. I did make my bundle with the owner who bought every card and sold them.

        No, I don’t think you’re nosy. I’m nosy and you don’t come close.

        So why didn’t I file?…I didn’t want to cut into my profit. I readily saw pursuing this was going to be a BIG headache…very possibly a BIG COSTLY headache, and I already had one that was big enough.

        Before my cards were on the market, I had planned to never do a greeting card venture again. So much work to get everything perfect (which was a demand from my printer). Drove me nuts. (You have an idea how I can be, all on my own, without any outside pressure.) So I banked my money and closed the door.

        Big money corps. have the funds and the time to pursue these copyright infringements. Not little business owners. A rock and a hard place, that seemed to be my locale.

        • I agree – sometimes the stress isn’t worth it. Better to walk away and chalk it up to experience, unless you really enjoy the fight.

          I’ve heard that lately there’s a design theft problem cropping up at the large indoor arts and craft shows. Some nice person comes along and buys a few items, and a few months later a huge factory in China is whipping them out by the thousands, sometimes competing at the same show next year. I don’t know if that’s true or not – I think I read it in a fabulous book about designing a good booth display for art shows, but now I can’t find the book so I can’t show it to you. Anyone who sells their artwork that way should read the book – too bad I can’t tell you which one it was. I’ll ask Jessie – I think I loaned it to her last year.

  • Interesting thoughts here. I have just started using Pinterest and I use it as a visual bookmark organizing system. I find it very helpful. I am not sure about the copyright issues. How would seeing images there differ from, for example, images showing up under a Google search? FOr that matter, if someone really wants your image, there is nothing to stop them from doing a screen capture. I don’t … seems like if you put your images online — and yes, I do :) — you do so with the realization that some people may be less that honorable about what they do with your images.

    • I know that the Internet makes it easy to republish other people’s content. that doesn’t make it legal, of course, but I don’t worry about it very much, unless the content is something I’m trying to sell. And I was so not aware of this issue (didn’t read the service agreement) that just as soon as I signed up a their site I pinned one of Jessie’s paintings. I was thinking – this is cool. We can all help each other out by getting each other more links. It didn’t occur to me that I was publishing one of Jessie’s paintings without her permission, even though I would never even consider doing that here on my own blog. Something about Pinterest makes it really hard to recognize what one is actually doing when they share other people’s images. And maybe that’s what bothers me so much. (I still haven’t asked Jessie – I guess I’d better send her an email, or take it down).

  • “By the way Γ’β‚¬β€œ I love a good argument! Please donÒ€ℒt be offended if I take the other side, just to keep the discussion going.”

    Oh, heck no! My father used to take the other side of an argument even if he agreed with it because he said it made the discussion more interesting. But you are right about one thing: I never read the membership agreement! I didn’t sign up for an account, I only looked through the site briefly.

    And now, having waded through that and the original article you linked to (which I also initially didn’t read :) ), I’d say I just might agree with you now! I did read another article taking the opposite side and also bringing up Google — but it noted that by creating a thumbnail of the picture it was all okay. Also, because they have the copyright infringement policy that permits owners to challenge a pinned item it lifts a lot of the risk from Pinterest and puts it on the members pinning the items. I see from your article though that may not be good enough. Interesting issue nonetheless!


  • Not to beat a dead horse, but I decided to do a bit of research on this subject. I went to Pinterest and did a search for images that had been taken from my site, and there are lots. (finding them isn’t easy, because a search using my name only showed one photo, and my URL also brings up one. If you click on the one photo, a link to all the others shows up on a new page. I have no idea why their search system doesn’t work, but I think it’s because all the other pinners aren’t putting my name or URL in their comment area.) The only direct link, by the way, seems to be the one that the person put into the comment section. All other links to this site are redirects, so I get no Google link juice from them.

    I’m sure that most of the pinners were just trying to be nice by spreading the word about this site. They’re my visitors, in other words, and I value my visitors very much. However, many of the photos taken from this site don’t belong to me and I don’t have a right to give them away – they were posted by guest posters or by visitors who uploaded their photos in a comment. Those folks might be happy about people sharing their photos, and, on the other hand, maybe they’re not. (If you’re one of the ones who’s images showed up on that page, please tell us how you feel about it).

    I recognize the argument that an artist benefits from Pinterest because they get more visitors to their own site, and that offsets any harm caused by having their work published without permission, so I checked my logs. Out of the 51,833 visitors that have come to this site so far this month, about 210 people have come from a link on Pinterest, about 1/2 of 1% of my total visitors – which doesn’t look like a very good traffic-getting system to me – but every link helps, I guess.

    So, I thought it would be interesting, just as a matter of curiosity, to contact Pinterest and see if they would remove the images pinned there – just to see if they would do it. But I’m torn – I’m sure the people who did the pinning were trying to be nice to me (always appreciated) and it seems a bit harsh to “turn them in” for copyright violation just to see what would happen. But, on the other hand, the pinners have agreed, that:

    By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, *modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.

    That means that my well-meaning visitors have unintentionally given Pinterest the right to profit from my work, without my receiving any portion of any profits made by them. That, in fact, is the reason why I would want to take my images off their site – not because I dislike my images being shared by people, but because I didn’t agree to give any form of license rights to that company. They’re “paying” me by sending me those 200+ visitors this month, but in return they receive rights to hundreds of original images. That doesn’t seem like a fair trade. But – they’re encouraging people to share these images in such a “fun” way that it makes fighting it seem small minded and mean-spirited. Yikes!

    So – am I just being in a peculiar mood today? Should I send them a letter and see what happens, or drop it? If your images are on Pinterest and you didn’t put them there, how do you feel about it? Does it bother you?

    • I just want to let you know there is a super simple way to check what’s been pinned from your site. Just type (your blog url here) and that will direct you to a page with everything pinned from your blog.

      I can see both sides of this argument, but what Pinterest does that say, tumbler does not do is that it links the source code to the image. Pinterest isn’t attempting to rip you off and to further protect blogs, they have even limited the number of characters in the descriptions because some were not practicing good etiquette and copying whole posts onto the comment. I think their effort to stop that shows they care about credit going to the person it’s due. Other bloggers rip off ideas and don’t give credit. I’ve had more problem with that than Pinterest who gives my blog lots of traffic. And honestly? I pin inspiring ideas, but I would never save those ideas in a regular browser bookmark since that just lists a title and who remembers what that was? I think when I use an idea, I give more credit to what inspired me than I might have before Pinterest simply because I can go check where that idea came from!

      The simplest way to make sure all your images are explicitly labeled as yours is to watermark them.

  • Hi Jonni,

    I’d heard of Pinterest before, but never bothered to look at it until your post. From what I’ve seen, and I’m not lawyer — I think Shakespeare had it right, “First thing we do is kill all the lawyers” :) — is this wouldn’t fall under copyright infringement. Rather it would probably be considered under the “fair use” exceptions carved out of copyright law.

    According to that reliable source Wikipedia, there’s essentially a four-part test that must be met to fall under fair use: “look to the nature and objects of the selections made, the quantity and value of the materials used, and the degree in which the use may prejudice the sale, or diminish the profits, or supersede the objects, of the original work.”

    So I’d say a bunch of individuals not looking to profit off of the artwork but merely posting it on Pinterest for others to view and comment on would likely be covered by that exception. Of course lawyers can and do argue anything and are willing to sue anyone for a buck.

    Recently the law firm Righthaven teamed up with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and went after bloggers who quoted snippets from the news site, suing them for tens of thousands of dollars. They actually got a few settlements before someone took umbrage and fought back. The courts ended up squashing the lawsuits saying the bloggers usage of the snippets and links fell under “fair use.”

    So again, I think Pinterest would as well. Moreover I think artists might actually welcome the broader exposure their art gets by having it featured there. Naturally there are many shades of gray when it comes to legal issues, and at some point I imagine someone will go too far in their use of art images, but on the whole I wouldn’t be too worried about it and might be happy as an artist if some creation of mine was featured there.


    • I think you’re right when you say that a lot of artists would be happy to have the exposure, (but they might be so happy after they become successful and start taking the ownership of their work more seriously), but I disagree about the fair use issue. I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t know why the bloggers won that lawsuit. However, If it’s legal to copy an entire image and publish it anywhere, even to profit from that image without permission, then there’s no point at all in the copyright law. Why is the music industry so close to getting a major new law against internet piracy passed through congress if artistic copyrights don’t matter?

      By copying your artwork onto the Pinterest site, I’m giving them the right to profit from your work. That’s what their membership agreement says I’m doing when I post your artwork. The membership agreement also says I shouldn’t post anyone’s work unless I own the copyright, but people are obviously doing it in droves. When people started sharing music files online, the individuals doing the sharing were the first ones to get sued (or put in jail). Then the big music companies went after the sharing sites. So, how many people didn’t bother to read the membership agreement (I didn’t, when I signed up for my Pinterest account), and think it’s OK to pin other people’s copyrighted material? Am I not leaving myself open to a lawsuit? Would I be able to plead ignorance of the law? If iStock Photo can sue for damages if someone steals a photo from them and posts it without permission, why can’t they sue me for posting the same photo, without permission, on Pinterest?

      • Hi Jonni,
        Thank you for posting something that I have been wondering about since I joined Pinterest about a month ago. You have pointed out every concern I have had! Now, that being said, I found your blog (beautiful work by the way) by a Pinterest photo which took me to the person who “pinned you.” I understand I am, in the minority, I guess, after reading the articles you also attached, because I will always take the photograph link back to the creator (glad I did). My daughter and son-in-law have a business on line and I, after getting permission, have posted their work. At the time of me speaking with my daughter, I asked her if she was concerned about the copyright infringement. Her response was “Yeah, you’re right but what are you going to do? It happens all the time.” They are not of the financial ability to fight it. So, they have gotten more traffic to their site and a few more sales. Now, I truly think there is a bigger problem lurking with Pinterest in that, I believe Korea or China has a clone for Pinterest which they have cleverly named “Pinspire!!!” I can so see some people getting on Pinterest running with the copyright infringement!!! I have had two people ask me if they could repin something I’ve pinned on Pinterest and I advised the 2nd person only, because I didn’t know at the time of the first request, what Pinspire was, that they should get permission from the person that created what ever it was. The question that I asked my daughter, can’t you get a software that either puts a copyright across your photos or a program that will prevent people from downloading your tutorials or make it difficult to see? I know it is a pain in the rump and costly but if it would prevent the theft it might be worth it. I don’t blame you for being upset! I too am a crafter (not someone who makes a living with my craft) but have sold about $3500.00 hand etched, hand painted ornaments to a fair sized themed restaurant. At the time I was doing this as a side job, I had not seen anyone doing what I was doing. Now I see some attempts and only a couple that do it fairly well (just my opinion ; – }.) Bottom line, I am right behind you in my belief! By the way, yours is an art that I think most people would not attempt or if they did attempt, would become very frustrated and give it up. I am of the belief that the people that would take it for personal benefit probably are looking for something quick and easy to make money! Good luck and please continue to share but PROTECT yourself! Take care!

        • You have good points, Linda. But I do want to be clear that I’m still on the fence about this. My site is a teaching site, so I do actually encourage people to copy my work. That’s what all the tutorials are all about. I can’t see any way that I’m currently harmed by Pinterest, and I may be helped quite a lot, since people like you have found me through them. But does that mean it’s legal or right? I’m still not sure.

          • Your site is indeed a teaching site, Jonni, and it is generous of you to invite people to copy; however, copying an image of a sculpt I don’t think could be called copyright infringement anyway. Anyone good enough to copy the wolf exactly with the same process? Unlikely.

            They can attempt to do what you do and demonstrate, which is a whole lot of different. People copy a style or a process all the time (fine artists prefer to call it ‘painting in the style of *, or if it is not a direct copy then “influenced by * ” but the rest of us joes just call it copying). When you see an attempt at this sort of thing which doesn’t quite come off, many people smile and quote the old adage about flattery.

            I’m against things like PinInterest on principal, and wish things like Etsy could gain a following a la Amazon. But artisans like yourself and anyone else who makes an object, are gonna get people who copy your motions but just don’t get your result. Sort of like people trying to make something taste like it did in a particular restaurant where they could watch the chef.


          • Thanks for responding Jonni. I understood you to be on the fence. I am as well. That is why I said I was right behind you. I don’t think that everyone has the talent to do what is being done a lot of times. As someone else mentioned, I think, there are artist’s that do paintings “in the style of.” Bottom line…time will tell which way it will fall, of that I am sure!

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