How handmade items can be expensive, fairly priced and a complete bargain all at the same time.

People who shop small are generally nicer people
(probably a fact)

Whether in person or online, I get lots of positive comments on my jewellery. When sales are slow they help me keep on making and always brighten my day. When manning the Art Shed we get so many compliments on everyone’s work every single day.  People don’t have say anything, they just want to. (It really is a world away from the daily comments I got when I worked in the more mainstream retail world, but we won’t go there.) 

Just occasionally, the comments are not so nice. Constructive criticism from other makers and customers is always useful. Even a few people telling me they don’t like something or don’t ‘get it’ is fine, opinions differ. What bothered me recently is a group of people complaining about how expensive everything is, even to point of mocking. ‘Only £100? Oh I’ll take two then!’

It’s quite likely it took us almost as long to come up with that price as it did to make the thing…
Don’t be fooled if something looks simple either

I bet you anyone who sells their handmade work has agonised over their prices. The vast majority probably undervalued their work to begin with and has raised prices several times. The balance between making your work pay so you can keep on doing it while trying to offer value for your customers is a hard one and something we try so hard to get right.
Mocking the value we’ve put on our work hurts.

Expensive is not the same as overpriced.

I can’t really argue with the fact handmade work is expensive. Yes it costs more than mass produced items and if you take it literally, the cost of artwork contains many expenses. The problem I have is when many people use the word expensive, what they mean is overpriced.

Take a potter for example. They have done years of training to learn their craft. They’ve the cost of setting up their studio, the rent, lighting, heat. They’ve bought costly equipment and their raw materials. The pot you were gawping at the price of might have taken several days to make. This is their job. So that expensive price tag might actually be a very fair price.

Now imagine you wanted make a pot like that and forked out for the training, equipment, raw materials, bills. Even after all that you discovered you couldn’t make it quite the same anyway. Suddenly, it’s a bit of a bargain.

The other element to a handmade item of course is imagination and that is something very difficult to put a price on. As is that fact that one person can only make a finite amount of work and each piece will be slightly different. I don’t know about you, but owning an item that 500,000 other people also have just isn’t the same to me.

Why does it cost that much?

 

 

 

 

The Art Shed at The Medicine Garden

In January 2017, I joined a cooperative of 15 artists who together run The Art Shed at The Medicine Garden in Cobham, Surrey. The garden is a stunning location and perfect for such a group as there is much inspiration to be found in the grounds and surrounding countryside, which is reflected in many of the artists’ work.

There is a varied mix of work at The Art Shed, with disciplines including glasswork, photography, painting, sculpture, ceramics and textiles. Below are some of my favourite pieces.

Above : Naomi Beevers (mixed media), Joe Szabo (glass/ ceramics), Oorla Morgan (jewellery), Su Rogers (ceramics), Pratima Kramer (ceramics / mixed media), Terri Smart (ceramics), Louisa Sullivan (glass) Below: Jojo Rowley (ceramics)

The gallery is open from 10am, seven days a week, each day manned by an artist who displays their work here. You might even see some work in progress. Below: Photography by Sue Roche with ceramics and glass works by Jojo Rowley, Su Rogers and Louisa Sullivan.

Above : Linda Walsh (textiles),  Pratima Kramer,  Naomi Beevers, Stephanie Wright (ceramics),  Clare Hardwick Wilson (Painting / contemporary art) and Pratima Kramer, Jojo Rowley, Jo Mabbutt (Lace / Decorative Art ) Below: Oorla Morgan, Sophie de Taranto (Jewellery)

For more information on the Art Shed visit here. We hope to see you soon!

Above: Joe Szabo