Copying vs Stealing

I was reading Luann Udell's blog recently. Luann makes lovely faux ivory and bone figures inspired by her love of the prehistoric Lascaux cave paintings, which she incorporates into intricate and very beautiful wall-hangings. In her blog, Luann is talking about how she feels when she sees her work copied. Her musings are full of insight and her journey of understanding is interesting, and I recommend you read it for yourself. It made me think about this question as well, and it is a thorny and controversial subject. In my own artistic journey, I am still at the stage of learning new techniques and discovering for myself the seemingly unending ways it is possible to use polymer clay. My primary source of learning is still working through projects devised by other artists. I am naturally drawn to those projects that have the finished item I covet. I want that item. I want to see how to make that item, learning as I go. 

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