Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Using Cookie Cutter and Piping Tips for Soap

I am amazed how much patience a cake chef has, especially when decorating a cake, it is so time consuming!  I don't bake, this is as close to "baking" as I ever get by using cake decorating techniques in soap making.  By combining the use of cookie cutter and piping tips your soap can look very 3D like these:
Little flower and butterflies were cut ahead of time using these cutters and some left over scrap soap pieces:
The metal ones I acquired from a local Japanese store and the plastic plunger style ones are from online purchase.  They are all common kitchen tools.
With cut line markings on the mold as a guide I used piping tips for the branches and leaves.  You might think piping the branches is hard, actually it's the easiest thing to pipe, the more you wiggle the more realistic it looks.
If you can't find a piping tip like the one on the left, there's an easy DIY tip, just cut a diamond shape out of a piping bag like the image on the right, which is exactly what I did because the tip I have at home is too big for the job.

There are so many different cookie cutters on the market, the possibility is endless.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sometimes Hard Decision has to be Made

About 2 weeks ago I encountered the worst case of IP (intellectual property) infringement ever in my soap making life.  It used to be mostly harmless infringement, most of the time the offenders didn't even know the photo they used belongs to me.  As a digital age grows so widely spread across the world, the world wide web is filled with countless information and photos.  Most of the people do not understand downloading and re-using information and (or) photos without creator's permission from the internet is illegal.  Unless the information or photos are being re-used solely for educational purposes and not for profit, which falls under Fair Use guideline, it is simply an IP infringement.  Under Fair Use guideline, direct quotation of information or photographs cannot be used for commercial purposes, or without attributing the author.

Most of my photographs had been watermarked with my logo before circulating the world wide web.  This owner of a teaching studio is known to be a repeat IP infringement offender since 2011.  Apparently she had been using 6 of my photos for more than a year without me knowing.  If she charges $35 per person per class, over the period of 18 months, how much revenue did she generated?  What's worse is I am not the only one the business owner has stolen many photos from, there are at least 6 other soap makers I know of.  After contacting the studio and got no respond, Other effected soap makers and I were forced to report her to the FaceBook and her web host.  Most major web hosts and online multi-media sites observe DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and have policy to respond to clear notices of alleged copyright infringement.  All you need to do is filing a detailed report with the web host and they will have to investigate and perform a force-take-down.  Fortunately Facebook reacted fast to my request and removed all my photos from her Facebook page.  Our effort paid off, her website had been shot down for a few days to resolve all the IP infringement issues.

During the period of time I had to track back my own internet activities to submit evidence of copyright ownership, I finally realized maybe this Photo Gallery page I provided on my blog had been providing people with easy access to steal my intellectual property, it was like a one-stop shop for free.  I had to make the difficult decision to close my gallery down permanently.  It had a good run for almost 5 years.  All I want to do is sharing my hard work and hoping to inspire other people with the same passion.  I never foresee this to end this way.  Please, if you want to use my photos or other people's photos, do get permission first and don't forget to attribute the author properly!  Respecting other people's intellectual property is to respect your own.