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

 

 

Molesey Makers

molesey-makers-signMolesey Makers November Market,   12th November 16

Saturday was the third Molesey Makers event I’ve taken part in and it was another success, despite the rain! The pop up shop, held at Refresh Cafe in Molesey, brings together a variety of makers from Molesey and surrounding areas and gives them a chance to showcase their products to local shoppers.

molesey-makers-stallholdersThere is always a great mix of handmade items with stalls over two floors selling jewellery, accessories, cards, kids clothing, homewares as well as cakes, sauces and other edible goodies. The stalls are accompanied by a pop up tea room which makes it a more than just somewhere for a spot of shopping. It’s real community event with a great atmosphere, somewhere to catch up with friends and enjoy a cuppa with some vintage tunes playing in the background.

fairplay-clothing

Thanks so much to Charlotte and Ellie for having as all and putting on another great event. The next one will be part of Magical Molesey and held upstairs at Refresh (no tea room this time, but I hear there’s wine!) It starts at 5pm on Wednesday 7th December. Come along!

Some of the Molesey Makers and where to find them:

Juliet Turnbull – Juliet is a textile artist and makes a variety of beautiful items including wall hangings, jewellery and greetings cards.

Smiley Cat Arts – Original handmade crafts by local artist Jo Head. Prints, illustrations, family art and bespoke pieces.

Off the Hook – Handmade Crochet items including cosy scarves, gloves and blankets.

Do a little dance designs – Colourful kids clothing and accessories made from a mix of modern and vintage fabrics.

Ooh La Lily – Stationery items, gift tags, cards and other handmade pretty things!

Fairplay Clothing –  Handmade kids play clothes with a conscience.

Marg Dier Embroidery – Stunning jewellery pieces hand embroidered using precious silks, printed cottons, metal threads and vintage glass beads.

Amiya Sweet Vanilla  – Homemade cakes that taste as stunning as they they look. (I’ve done the research!)

And if you visited the Shutter Jewellery stall and wanted to see any of the items, the Etsy shop is here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Craft Gallery, Merton Abbey Mills

I’ve been busy organising and delivering work to a flurry of new amazing and quirky shops and galleries recently. One with a very special story is The Craft Gallery in Merton Abbey Mills, SW19, which I visited last week.

craft-gallery-merton-abbey-mills-rs
The Craft Gallery, Merton Abbey Mills

Abbey Mills is somewhere that naturally attracts creative types, having formerly been a textile works used by William Morris and Liberty & Co. The gallery itself is situated in the building that was the old Apprentice Shop, used by Liberty to train their apprentices. Each of the buildings in the complex had it’s own job when the mills was making beautiful textiles. While it’s very easy to get distracted by the occupants now (restaurants, shops, galleries, coffee shops, theatre) it’s worth stopping to read what each part was originally used for. Even wandering around completely oblivious to all this, however, the mills is still enjoyable for just being incredibly pretty, right on the river wandle.

merton-abbey-mills-wheel-clock
The water wheel and clock
He likes his new bowl, just a little disappointed it's not full
He likes his new bowl, just a little disappointed it’s not full

The Craft Gallery is home to a diverse selection of locally made items such as cards, ceramics, glassware, jewellery and, of course, textiles plus craft making items, especially ones for those good with a needle and thread. (Sadly, I am not one of them) While I wanted to buy one of everything, as I often do with places like this, I managed to deliver more items than I left with. (Very proud!) I wasn’t, however, able to resist an adorable little pottery dog bowl by Margaret Haslam, handpainted with ‘for a very fine dog’ – a must for Socks!

shutter-jewellery-craft-gallery
Shutter Jewellery @ The Craft Gallery

A selection of Shutter Jewellery is now on show and for sale at The Craft Gallery including sterling silver drop earrings, stud earrings and necklaces as well as a selection of rhodium plated cufflink sets.

More info on The Craft Gallery here

More info on Merton Abbey Mills here

List of Shutter Jewellery stockists here