Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Value of Handmade

I just did my first art show of the season, and it was a wonderful show.  I was a bit apprehensive leading up to the show as it was the first time I was going to display and sell my new line of work.

I love this new line. It is more in line with who I am as an artist, and less in line with trying to keep up with the color trends or whatever is people say I should try.

I spent months designing and creating pieces for my new line. Those pieces included jewelry in multiple price points, including high end.

My higher end pieces are also the more flashy statement pieces in my new line of work. They are designed to draw you in to look at them more closely and hopefully to look at more of my work in the process. And I will say, for the most part, they did draw people in to look.

Erica's Wish




Both of these beautiful and eye-catching necklaces are valued at over $150. Each one is made completely by hand and each one took hours to make over several days.

Erica's wish was created with solid sterling silver, vintage German glass cabochons from the 1950s, a teal crystal bead, and a sterling silver snake chain. The metalwork alone took me about 3 hours. And that is just the design and fabrication, it does not include the time it took to polish the piece or the time it took to set the stone or wrap the crystal. 

I had the reaction this weekend that my necklace was only worth about $100. So lets say I let the necklace go at $100 with 4 hours of metalwork  and 2 hours in design, stone setting, and polishing. And lets say the necklace has about $20 in materials (That is actually the material cost on this necklace)


Standard pricing on handmade items is as follows (from Etsy):
Materials + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail

So my materials are $20 and I have around 6 hours in creating this piece from start to finish.

 And for now lets ignore expenses and profit. Working backwards from $100 retail.

20+6(x)=Wholesale*2=$100

$100/2=$50 as the wholesale cost of my necklace.

20+6x=$50 => 6x=$30 => x=$5.00

$20 is materials alone. That leave $30 for 6 hours worth of work. Meaning that I would be making a whooping $5.00 an hour to make this necklace and no profit.

Is this what we really think about our handmade artist? That they should be starving and making less than minimum wage while providing the world a creative point of view?

I get that one can go to any mall and pick up a necklace cheaper than what true handmade costs. Those are mass produced pieces of jewelry. They are what every housewife on the block may have in their jewelry box. They are not handmade unique pieces of art like the one above.

If you are attending an arts or crafts show, have consideration for those showing their works for sell. They are showing you a piece of themselves, even will to sell it to you for a fair wage. Please do not diminish their hard work, expertise, passion, or creativity by trying to haggle about their prices (unless you are being kind and willing to pay them more for their work), or by scoffing at their work.

Actually ask the artist about their work. You may find that they have a piece in their booth that will fit both your lifestyle and your budget. But the only way to know is to look around or ask.

Imagine if every artist quit making art, (including your young artists and artists at heart) because someone questioned the value of what they had made with their own two hands. It is a pretty depressing thought is it not? So lets show some support and work to understand the real value of handmade, and why artist actually price the way they do.


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