Citing Artwork Found on the Web when Blogging

One of the main sources of inspiration when creating historic textiles is pictures. Painting, manuscripts, jewelry depicting people, and carvings on stone are some of the ways we attempt to see how the whole picture of a costume looked back in time. When blogging, it is easy to right click on a picture, "Save image as," and then use it in our work.

For me, I get so excited when I see something new that I often have it open in Photoshop, lines drawn all over it to accentuate seams and highlight elements, that I’ve posted it on-line in my eagerness to share it. Giving the source of the picture is furthest from my mind.

Citing source material needs to be second nature, and it is not that difficult once you find the right tools.

Bear with me as I learn this process as well, and please correct me if I am wrong or redirect me to a better tool, method or explanation.

Cite This For Me

Simply copy and paste the url, and the autocite gives you the basic information about the website. Easy peasy!

Easy Bib

Easy Bib is my all time favorite citation site. It not only gives you so many options of what kinds of things you are citing, but it translates these citations into whatever format you are using, be it MLA, APA or Chicago. With the basic information Cite This For Me give you about the website, you can copy and paste what you need into Easy Bib, and voilà! The citation is made for you.

Common Sense
Take a minute to look at the webpage and make sure that what you are doing does not violate someone else property. If the site you are using asks you not to share their work, don’t. If they as that you ask permission first, ask. Even if you give them full credit and cite the website, if they ask you to remove it, then remove it. Most authors say specifically, usually in fine print on the bottom of the page, whether or not it is okay with them to share their work. Respect their wishes.

And for the more difficult cases including things we find on Pinterest and Google Image . . .

Life is not always so simple. Sometimes we come across something on pinterest and we have no clue from where the original came. Here are a few things that could help.

Tiny Eye

It’s the opposite of Google Image . . . well, kind of. It does help you find where the image originated.

If you have not read about it, read the Fair Use laws.

Above all, remember that blogging is a form of publishing. It is less like writing a research paper and more like getting published by an actual publisher. Treat everything you put on your blog the way you would treat it if you were putting it in a book. Ask permission. Give credit. And, above all, respect the work of others.

Perspective, Objectivity and Plagiarism When Blogging

I have a problem. I’m a thief, an infringer of copyrights, a stealer of ideas . . . you get the point. Do I do this intentionally? To say no would be naive (although I am called naive fairly often).

I’m older than your average blogger. When I learned to write a research paper, it was in the 80’s. At the time, using the best home computers to write research papers was little better than using only Notepad. I researched using books, newspapers and journals that I physically touched and that I paid 10 cents a page to photocopy, and that was only if I was lucky enough to have a photocopy machine in the library I was using. Most of the time I jotted down notes on notecards – the old 3 by 5 kind.

When my research finally became a paper, every idea, picture, fact and detail was cited meticulously. Unless it was something I dreamt up in my head, I showed the reference material and I made it clear that I was no theft of ideas.

Then how do I find myself, nearly 30 years later, plagiarizing?

I’ve been blogging, even before it was called that, since the late 90’s. Writing my thoughts and ideas down and publishing them on a web page in some form or another seemed natural. It was more like journaling or writing a friendly letter to a friend. I even used that technique, ala Beverly Cleary’s Dear Mr. Henshaw, when I was writing. I would pretend that I was writing to my best friend, at the time, Ed. Most of what I wrote was simply my thoughts, feeling and impressions – my own work.

But then the internet exploded with information on so many different things. I remember when I was so impressed by Yahoo!, a directory leading to other sites chock full of new information. It was amazing, mind-blowing, awesome . . . you get the picture. The terminal at my university didn’t even have graphics. I navigated Yahoo! using only the tab and enter keys.

For you younger folks, try this out. Go to Are you there? Click in the search field. Do you see your cursor blinking? Now press the tab key. Press it again. You should now see "My Yahoo" or whatever link is to the right of the "Search Web" button all in dotted lines. Keep pressing tab and watch those dotted lines highlight other links on the page. One by one from left to right from top to bottom. That was how we searched. As tedious as it may seem, it was nothing like the card catalog.

For years (yes, I was a professional student) I sifted through the "stacks" or drawers and drawers of little index cards that had been sorted, categorized and typed out by hand to include all of the information that the wonderful library contained. The card catalog at my university was my best friend. I knew how to manipulate it better than a paralegal. Ok, maybe that’s a lame analogy, but I was good. I found what I wanted to find, scribbled stuff down on my 3 by 5 note cards and wrote papers on actual paper.

A couple of years ago, I was accused by a fellow blogger of stealing a picture. I took a picture off of her website, saved it and then uploaded it to my blog without acknowledging where I found it. Aghast at the accusation, my blood pressure rose, my face flushed, I felt queasy, and then I began to defend my actions. Excuses came pouring from me. She herself didn’t say where the picture came from. It wasn’t like I was making any money off of what I wrote. Who the hell cares, it’s just one picture!

It took me a day or two of feeling self-righteous before I remembered what it felt like to have my own ideas stolen. No rise in blood pressure, no face flushing, just queasiness. Yes, I was the victim of idea theft at one point. My ideas and stories had been used by someone else as their own, and those people were trying to make money off of it to boot. I did not want to be that person.

The wind went out of my self-righteous sails. I apologized sincerely and took the picture down, although the damage was already done since you can still find it on pinterest. I promised I would go back through my blog and seek permission for or remove every single picture, idea and everything else that I did not dream up. However, 2 years passed. My sails are still windless and I find myself writing less and less. I still haven’t revamped my site, which still includes pictures and ideas that are not documented or approved by their owners.

How did I slip so far from that girl who always had a pack of 3 by 5 notecards on her? The crux of the matter was that I never viewed blogging as research. Even if what I wrote was something that I had actually researched, it was still in my mind no different from writing a friendly letter to a friend with a similar interest.

It’s taken me two years to figure this out. Yes, I can be overly naive. But . . . I am not malicious. I do not like hurting anyone.

For all of those out that who pictures I used or ideas I did not credit, I am sorry. To Racaire, the blogger who pointed me in the right direction: my daughter still says I’m the reason you took your site down, which she really loved. If that is true, I am truly sorry that a fellow blogger felt the need to hide her writing because of my actions. That is one of my biggest shames.

Like anyone with a problem that has gone on far too long, I need help. I need help figuring out where everything on my blog came from and giving credit, asking permission or removing it. I need help recognizing when I’ve done something unethical. The simplest solution would be to wipe the whole damn thing clean. Over the last two years, I have often thought of doing this action. Erasing all of my entries however would not do anything to giving credit to those who ideas and work I help spread. Only going back and fixing it will help give credit and apologize to those I have offended (offended as in committed an offense against).
Slowly, over the next few weeks, please help reeducate me on how ethically to write research. Leave comments where you see something amiss. I will try my best to go back and fix everything.

For those who will come to my aid, thank you! The gratefulness with which I see your actions I can not express enough. To those I have committed an offense against, I am sorry. I will try to make amends. I want my blog to once again be something that makes me proud.

Gleann Abhann’s 10th Year and Kingdom A&S

This weekend celebrated 10 years as a Kingdom for Gleann Abhann. In case you have never heard of it, Gleann Abhann is a Kingdom in the SCA. It’s made up of Louisiana, Mississippi, most of Arkansas and the Memphis area. At one time it was the smallest Kingdom population-wise, and it still may be, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in heart, spirit and attitude.

When my family and I started in the SCA back in 2001, Gleann Abhann was a principality and part of the Kingdom of Meridies. We made a push to be our own kingdom (Growth by Division!!), and it was all scheduled to happen in the fall of 2005. Then Katrina hit us.

It still happened. We became a kingdom. Although our mascot is the ram, like a phoenix, we pulled ourselves up after nearly being destroyed and made something even better.

I had an amazing time. I judged some lovely textile entries, talked with many friends and simple had a great time. Although I was not ready with anything of my own to enter, it was good to see the hard work and skills of my fellow Gleann Abhanners!

That’s me on the far right. Don’t judge my hodge-podge pseudo-Viking – it was record degree heat (up in the mid 90’s) and after a day of running around, that was about all I was going to wear!

Skjodehamn Over-Tunic: part one

I’ve been working on translating Gjessing’s and Lølvid’s work on the Skoldehamn tunics for a project for a friend. Both are written in Norwegian, and I am still trying to get the hang of the way direct and indirect objects are treated in Norsk. Thus my work has been slow going.

I am finally finished with translating the over-tunic (kofta) sections!!! And I am tickled pink that I can finally cut the fabric and get my hands dirty!!

Why not just use the simple pattern easily found online? The one drafted by Marc Carlson?

Although a perfectly good pattern, the measurements are based on Gjessing’s original 1938 paper on the clothing. To me, Lølvid has done a good job showing that many of Gjessing’s figures were off. Plus, I think I’ve gotten to the point in my research on Viking-age clothing where I need to dig deeper. I could base my friend’s tunic off of the simple pattern, or I could figure out what Lølvid is saying and see if there is anything a bit more to it.

I am glad I did! Although essentially rectangles, squares and triangles, there are definite ratios at play in the Skjoldehamn tunic. I’ve drafted up some sketches showing some ideas that came to me. As soon as I can get my scanner working, I’ll get to post them and share. Until then, I’m off to the cutting board!


Translating Articles not in Your Native Reading Language

I used to despair when I would find a non-English article about an object I was researching. I am a typical American in that I only speak and read English. Not that I haven’t tried to learn other languages, but I did not retain the paltry attempts that were made in my secondary school to teach me Spanish. When I was in college, I was also raising my family, and I had neither the time nor, more importantly, the inclination to learn another tongue.

For a while, I have been researching Viking-age clothing and textiles. Fascinating stuff!! (Not meant sarcastically at all! Okay . . . maybe a little.) Since so much of it is unknown, the debates and conjectures are far and varied. No one really agrees what the Viking Scandinavian costume really looked like, but the experts are all willing to explain their favorite theory. That stuff I do find fascinating!

However (now that’s just a fancy BUT!), most of the writing on Viking-age archaeology, especially on the textile finds, is NOT in English. So how do I, as a researcher, garner information from these foreign written texts? I’ve been asked that quite a few times recently in the same tone of voice that a neophyte asks a mystic how they do what they do.

Let me share my tips and secrets, but first let me say that there is no easy answer. There is NO program out there that is plug and play for converting one language into another. Add to that content specific words like gore, gusset, grave-find, weft, etc. I do not simply "Google Translate" the texts I find.

It is not, however impossible, mystical or magical. It IS however tedious, time-consuming, laborious, and sometimes frustrating, but the knowledge I gain from it makes it worth it for me.

1. Learn to read the language.

No $&!+!!! Yeah, that was a gimme! Seriously, I have started learning to read German and Swedish specifically to translate texts written in German and Swedish. No, I am not proficient at them yet, but I have learned enough little bits about their language structure to help when translation programs fail. And it has given me that inclination I lacked in college to learn more languages.

It doesn’t have the be the several hundred dollar Rosetta Stone program that you use. There are free sites and apps that will get you started and let you know if it is something you want to pursue. Knowing even a little bit of the language will help you decipher between "Accounting for a normal range in weft size, there is nothing to say that they sleeves, gores and body were not cut from the same piece of fabric." and "Taking into account the variation in weft size, there is no way the sleeves, gores and body were cut from the same piece of fabric."

2. Learn the subject specific terms relevant to what you are studying.

I have a 24 page Word document, in size 10 font, titled Foreign Words for Garb. It’s not something I cut and pasted from a website, a book or from anywhere. It started out as a small NotePad document with a few words I found that were relevant to whatever I was looking up. Then it grew. I had to switch to Word when I need a Table of Contents and when I realized that WordPad doesn’t do Russian.

These words I found one at a time while going through articles and books written in other languages. They were painstakingly deciphered in context. I would come across a German pattern for the Skjoldehamn tunic, say, "Oh! That’s the word for a front-centered gore in German," and then write it down.

It has taken me 6 years to accumulate 24 pages of terms, but I started with one word at a time. If you are researching, for example, an apron-dress, and you know of a book or website that is written in two languages that has information about apron-dresses, start there.

3. Use online, instant translate sites.

I said that you can not simply use Google Translate. I did not say that I did not use Google Translate (GT). GT alone will not get a job done. I generally use it in conjunction with Bing Translate and Babylon.

4. Use online, instant translate sites from other countries and in other languages.

I addition to those three sites, I also use translation sites that are native to the language I am translating. For example, if I’m working on a German article on apron-dresses, I find what sites the Germans use to translate German into English. Make sure that the sites simply do not plug into GT, Bing or Babylon (many do). Finding a site that is a stand-alone site is sometimes difficult, but well worth it.

Why? Because idioms don’t translate! But if it’s a technical book, there shouldn’t be any idioms, right? Wrong!

Expressions are built into all languages, and they are not always universal. Here’s an example.

In English, we use "seeing" to mean something we view with our eyes.

We also use it to me understanding. "I see what you mean." "Do you see what I’m talking about?"

We also use it to mean having experienced something, "I’ve seen him do that with my own eyes." or "Had to see it for myself to believe it." In this example, sometimes we are talking about something we do actually observe with our eyes, but not always.

What if I stuck any of those phrases into one of my three biggie instant translators? Is "I see what you mean" the same as "I have viewed your hypothesis"? Maybe on some level, but they don’t convey the same meaning.

Using the translator that a native person uses keeps intact more of the meaning behind the phrases rather than the literal translations. It’s not perfect, but in conjunction with the 3 biggie English ones, they help.

In general, I have two or three of these foreign translation sites pulled up for any given project.

5. Use online thesaurus sites.

Both English ones and ones for other languages. Again, use the sites that a native speaker would use and not just the generic thesaurus site with multi-language features.

These help decipher things when specific words just don’t make sense. Like if carve pops up instead of cut. I cut the fabric. I carve the turkey. Yet in Norwegian, there may not be that big of a distinction. In English, one makes sense and the other does not.

6. Be patient and ask for help if needed.

This is a slow process, but the more you do it, the quicker you get.

If you get really stuck, remember that there are other people in this world who are also interested in the same information that you are seeking. With the internet, finding them is a Google search and click away. It’s okay to ask a native speaker for help. Find a website written in that language on that subject, and email the person. I certainly wouldn’t ask them to translate a whole book, but if I were having problems with a specific section, they may be willing to help.

Good luck! And happy researching!!
Esperanza de Navarra

“Some Kind of Metal Closure”

After hours of frustration, I was thinking of writing a book on clasps used with Viking clothing and titling it "Some Kind of Metal Closure," because even in the well written and well documented books on Viking-age clothing, when it comes to detailing out what closes the neckline of a tunic, they nearly all say "it was closed with some kind of metal closure"!

A couple of the interesting things I learned today:

  • The German word for what we Americans call a toggle is knebelknöpfe
  • The flat snake brooches were used as garment closures, but only by women. If a man was wearing it, he was "pushing gender issues." (this little tidbit made me want to get all of my guy friends with Viking personas flat snake brooches to close their tunics and then giggle every time I saw them)

I do think I am closer to figuring out what Viking dudes used to keep the flaps of their tunics from coming open. I’ll let you know when I do.

Voiceless, but not Wordless

I lost my voice! None. Gone. Not even a little squeak. Allergens in southern Louisiana this year are worse than average. Maybe it was the alternating warm and really cold fronts moving through that have made all the blooming things bloom with a vengeance, but from what I hear, I am not the only one who has lost their voice from allergies.

I’m on day 4, and from the test this morning, I have a little bit back, but it may be a few more days or week or two until I can talk. Having Android’s version of Siri be my voice really creeps my husband out!

The good news is that I’ve been doing research. I’ve turned my focus from 14th century to "Viking" period clothing. Why? Because nearly the entire Kingdom of Gleann Abhann (my SCA kingdom) is some kind of Viking, Anglo-Saxon, Norman or other early period persona, and I became fascinated by what is real Viking garb and what is the SCA equivalent to horned helmets.