A while ago I found this amazing store on etsy that makes these fun and funky pieces of shower art out of resin, glitter, and suction cups. My roommate and I bought several of their pieces, but as any DIY-er, I wanted to try making them myself! I love working with resin and glitter and I wanted to come up with some of my own funny sayings to make them personal. Obviously, the ones in the store look better than mine turned out, but they are professionals and I’m just doing this for fun. I’ll show you how I made this one and give you some tips and tricks I learned along the way. Let’s get started!
This tutorial threw Rosalie Gale into a tailspin last week. That Etsy shop? It’s hers.
Rosalie and Doug Gale have spent years perfecting a signature product – Shower Art. They developed the concept, made prototype after prototype, perfected the product, and built a thriving business selling it for over a decade.
And then someone made an online tutorial showing how to make their product. After a very emotional day, Rosalie’s thought process began to shift. She came through the experience in a way that I found fascinating.
I read about Rosalie’s story as it unfolded in a Facebook discussion last week and I invited her to share it with us today. Anyone who has shown original work online (which is, I think, almost all of us) will in some way be able to connect to what happened here.
Rosalie, take it away. (Moxie Lieberman helped Rosalie edit her story. Thanks, Moxie!)
My name is Rosalie Gale and my husband, Douglas Gale, and I invented Shower Art: waterproof art you can hang in your shower with a suction cup. We have been making Shower Art since 2005, counting the 18-months it took us to create and refine the process. One of my favorite things about Shower Art is that people often marvel at its uniqueness. “How did you think of this?” “I’ve never seen anything like this!” It’s a point of pride for me that we somehow managed to come up with something that really hasn’t been done before.
I make and sell Shower Art full time. That’s my job. It’s how I make money to live. Outside of creating, I spend a lot of time getting Shower Art out into the world. Every once in awhile my efforts pay off and somebody cool features our work (Thanks Buzzfeed! I’ll never forget you!) and I wake up to find crazy amounts of email love, web hits and, if I’m lucky, orders! It feels like a fun mystery. Where are these people coming from? Who sent them? What do they want from me? Okay, maybe not the last one.
About a week ago I had just such a morning. I checked my stats, and realized that I had a tons of hits coming from Instructables.com. I’ve written Instructable tutorials in the past, so I thought maybe they were featuring one somewhere and it was sending traffic to my shop. When I visited the site, I saw – right on the front page – A photo of something that looked like my art, but was not, and a tutorial to make “Resin Shower Art.” WHAT!? Someone else wrote a tutorial on how to make our art? Why?
Long ago, we expanded our line to include shirts, stickers, postcards, prints, buttons, magnets, cross stitch kits, embroidery floss holders — all kinds of other stuff. If something is a popular Shower Art theme, we turn it into lots of other things. In the past we’ve had issues with people stealing our shirts — but we’ve never had the kind of time, energy or money to deal with them. Normally we just mention it online, our friends and fans go crazy and eventually the shirts get removed. We’re used to that kind of thing, but THIS? This felt different. My heart sank.
I read through the tutorial. Although the author credits our Shower Art as being the inspiration for the tutorial (proof to me that she’s not trying to do anything crappy to me and my business — but had good intentions), I wasn’t contacted in advance and it describes materials and a process that we don’t use. I felt all the feelings there are all at the same time. At first I couldn’t decide – which is worse? Someone giving away my trade secrets? Or someone telling people that I make Shower Art in a way – and out of materials – that I don’t actually use? Does this person not realize the effect that their tutorial could potentially have on my business? If you like my art so much, make it yourself — sure — but why write a tutorial for others to follow? Why copy my style so directly?
I didn’t know what to do, and I was too flustered to make a good decision in the moment. The friends I texted were initially shocked and baffled and pissed off by the tutorial. I was mad. They were mad. I wanted to write an angry letter to the Instructables author, but stopped myself so I could mull it over more. I got home that night and talked to Doug, thinking he’d be angry too, but then this happened: he had no problem with it at all. None. He loved that it was out there and I think his exact words were, “I knew this day would come.” He seemed happy. Excited. Huh? I guess, it does lend some credibility to this weird art form we’ve dedicated the last 10 years to creating. Maybe there was more to think about than just my initial gut-reaction.
I started to sort out some of my feelings. Why do I feel like we owned that process? People get copied ALL THE TIME. That’s what a trend is. Why should we be any different? Couldn’t this actually be a GOOD sign? A sign that more and more people are learning about and maybe liking Shower Art? While we aren’t the first people to float something in resin or rubber, we ARE the first people to make art to hang in your shower that has a suction cup on the back. But that said, should we be the only people who are allowed to make it — just because we were the first?
If you want to stretch a bit, it could be argued that we invented a new art form. Georges Seurat invented pointillism. Does that mean he should be the only person who can use it? Of course not. Did Georges feel kind of crappy when someone wrote a tutorial on how to do his painting technique. I dunno. But maybe he did. Or maybe he was ecstatic to be the founding father of this cool, new thing that now everyone was suddenly doing. The more I think about it — the more I am moving into the ecstatic camp. Am I comparing us to Georges Seurat? Technically, but I am simultaneously acknowledging the ridiculousness of that — so it’s okay.
On the plus side, this situation has made me process quite a few feelings. That’s hard for me because I’m from the Midwest and we have issues with feelings and thinking and talking about feelings. In this process I felt anger, thought about the anger, talked about my feelings and decided on a solution. Just like a grown up. NOW I’M ALL FIXED! Suck it, Minnesota!
That said, there are still some things that I don’t love about that tutorial and here they are in order of importance:
- The author is telling people that I make Shower Art out of resin – which I don’t – I use rubber. It’s a different process and different material. I’m not sure why that’s my #1 beef — but it is. It bugs me that she’s telling people how to make my art — but not telling them the correct materials or process.
- Rubber is a bit squishier. It’s also odorless (which is a huge bonus if you’ve ever used resin) and it dries much clearer and without so many issues with bubbles. Resin can be brittle and if a piece fell off your wall and hit your tub, it could shatter and take out a chunk of your tub and you’ll never see your security deposit again (I speak from experience). When we first started making Shower Art, we experimented with resin and experienced all of the problems I’ve listed above. Then, through a boyfriend of a friend, we discovered rubber, were pleased with the results and started selling them.
- When you Google Shower Art – now the Instructables tutorial for how to make it yourself instead of buying mine shows up on the first page of the results. Most people won’t. 99.9% of people won’t — but I just don’t love seeing it there. It also says “Resin Shower Art” in the title — which just goes back to point #1.
People may think that the image in the tutorial is of my Shower Art. It’s a fine first attempt – I’m not knocking it – but I also don’t want people to think that is what I’m selling.
My real take away from this whole experience is inspiration. I want to share our process and materials with people who are interested in making Shower Art themselves so I’ll make my own tutorial that shows the actual materials we use and our process. Why not? People who make their own Shower Art are going to do it because it’s fun, not because they want to start a business. People who have never heard of us before will see what we do and those who have heard of us before might value our work more once they see what kind of effort goes into it. Those people will most likely want to buy Shower Art from us – not just because ours are hilarious – but because it would just be much easier.
This whole situation reminded me to keep innovating and making Shower Art better. That’s never a bad reminder.
Rosalie is working on her own Instructables tutorial to make Shower Art the right way. She says, “I hope that mine ranks higher eventually in a Google search.” It should be up by the end of May.
*Edited May 8, 2015: Instructables has changed the name of the tutorial from “Shower Art” to “Resin Suction Cup Art” on the site.