A Bowl of Flowers
original work by SKW, mixed media
from the collection of Laura Sandison
I think it is the same with tailoring or garment construction. Sewing a garment from a Butterrick pattern even if silk is used instead of cotton is to me not original work. The garment might be beautiful to look at and might be beautifully constructed. But it is still a Butterick pattern.
It is embroidery that know best. I know that if a person stitches a picture of flowers from a chart, that is a technician stitching someone else's original pattern. If that stitcher changes the big flowers from red to blue and the little flowers she uses a thread that the pattern did not call for, that is a technician taking a flight of fancy. If that stitcher takes the pattern and puts her own design of a sleeping cat next the big blue flowers, that is still not original work--it is an adaptation. If that stitcher takes the big blue flowers, the sleeping cat, and a bunch of robins from another pattern and puts them all into a sampler, that is still not original work, but an adaptation. When that stitcher takes the sleeping cat and stitches a pillow and chair, both her own work into the picture, that is original. No one else had a thing to do with the pattern.
Silk painters use brushes silk dye and paint, and resist to paint designs on silk fabric. A lot of times they use blanks or pre-sewn garments to paint on. In my mind this is still original work. The garment blank is like an artist's canvas. The canvas itself is not the point of the art.
In lace making the same things apply. A lacer can be the world's greatest technician, but she is not an artist until she starts designing her own work. Here in Albuquerque we are lucky to have Laura Sandison and Susan Peterson who fit into that category of great technicians and great designers of lace.
Work done under the eye of a teacher is very rarely original work. I was in a Rocky Mountain Region Seminar class quite a while ago where we were given a theme and instructions in making a mixed media piece. The theme was the four seasons and we were to use transfer paints with stitching over them to work to the theme. The teacher had several examples there to show us. Everyone else in the class worked to the theme, did the transfers, and stitched her own version of fall, spring, etc. I have long been unable deep inside me to do other people's ideas, so I worked to the seven continents producing flowers that would be typical of the continents (okay, snowflakes for Antarctica.) I was happy with what I did and the other people were happy with what they did. Since then I have seen a couple of those four seasons works shown as original work. No, they weren't original. They were done under the aegis of a teacher with her theme married to her technique she was teaching. Mine? Mine weren't original either. The only difference in mine was that chose my own theme.
Originality is a unique vision of the artist, from beginning to end. Unique is starting from scratch with your own thoughts and assumptions.