Friday, March 09, 2007

You Should Make Those to Sell!

When you make crafts, people are always saying to you "Oh you should sell those!" but when you ask them how much they'd pay, their offers are usually less than the cost of materials.

Case in point - I made a shopping bag out of old carrier bags cut into strips and knitted together. And as usual people said "You should sell those. I'd buy one". It's true the materials cost me nothing, but it took me about ten hours to cut the strips and knit it together. At minimum wage, that's £53.50 just for the labour. So I offered to sell them the bag for that price. They all declined.

I think a skilled craftsperson is worth a lot more than minimum wage. And if I was making crafts as a business I'd also have to pay tax, bank fees, public liability insurance and all kinds of other expenses. If I seriously wanted to make hand-made recycled shopping bags as a profitable business I probably couldn't afford do it for less than about £100 per bag. But people only pay that much for fashionable designer items, not recycled home-made chic.

When you buy the materials it comes to even more. The yarn for a hand-made woollen sweater costs in the region of £50, and they take more than ten hours to knit so the labour costs are astronomical. The materials for a hand-made quilt are many times more than that but shhh, don't tell Ed, my husband. The labour for a quilt is also measured in many tens of hours.

That's why I don't make crafts to sell. I don't even make them as gifts because I know people often think "Hand made gift. Cheapskate. Second-rate". I only make gifts for people who appreciate what they're worth, usually other craftspeople.

14 comments:

MrBrownThumb said...

Hey that's really neat. If people around you won't pay that price how about selling on ebay or trendy boutiques in your area.

There's also a website (I'm not sure of it's in the UK) where people who make crafts sell them. I can't think of the name right now but if I come across it I'll try to remember your blog and pass on the info to you.

Bill of Ballaugh said...

I, for one, treasure anything anyone makes for me. I was going to say "even the drawings, cards, boxes, etc. that my grandchildren make for me" but then I realised the implications of the "even" at the start of the thought and so dismissed it. The effort and love they put into their presents is as worthy as that of the adult's gifts. I treasure all these gifts and show them off to all my friends here in Ireland. Thankyou, all of you, for the deep and lasting pleasure you have given me.

Vashti said...

It's a side-effect of mass-production, isn't it. We're raised with expectations regarding material value and what things are worth, and by correlation our cost of living is (usually) tailored to how much things are supposed to cost. The time when you'd spend a significant portion of your income on buying something of really superb quality that would last *and not need replacing* is in the past. Thank you, consumer society.

Like lots of hand-crafted things, I think your bag is gorgeous - but I simply wouldn't have 55 pounds to spend on a shopping bag! But now ask me if I'd make one myself... I probably would make them for friends too, and if they didn't like them, that's their hard cheddar.

Nerd in the Country said...

Being an inate do-it-yourself type person, I have had to study the economics of the situation quite a bit. Most things can't be built for less than you can buy them -- and that's just the materials.

My grandfather makes some wonderful wood items that take hours to craft. His house is full of them as are the houses of his children and grandchildren. I treasure each item.

One of my favorites is a checker, chess, and backgammon board complete with hand made checkers, chessmen, and stones.

I used to make a game of giving him some kind of exotic wood (plantaton grown, according to the business that sold them) for Christmas. He would open a corner of the package and identify the wood. He never got one wrong.

lilymarlene said...

I am with you on the making crafts for money thing! I will do them for lve....but not for money. Two reasons....one of which you have explained perfectly....the other...when people are paying they like to decide the design....whereas I am enough of a temperamental artist to want to do my own thing. When I do quilts for wedding presents I judge just how much work to do on them based on how well I think they'll be cared for and appreciated. I am foing a close (hand)quilted one at the moment for someone who makes curtains for a living.....so I know that'll be treasured.
I made a real beauty for my son's wedding present.....£150 of materials and over 500 hours of work. His marriage folded and the quilt is now in a bin bag in a storage facility....probably dirty. I have no idea what state it will be in when he gets round to getting it out! I'd ask for it back but he's not speaking to me at the moment....!
BTW I love the bag....I've only ever seen themdone in the bags from one s'market, but the random effect is superbe....a real work of art!

MrBrownThumb said...

Hi again.

I can't believe I actually found your blog again but I saw you commenting on another blog I came across.

The website I was talking about is called etsy.com. Seems like a lot of people who make things like yourself sell on that site.

Is Craigslist a popular site in your country? Here in the states it's very popular and they just added a section under their "For Sale" for Farm+Garden and Arts+Crafts. If you're not familiar with Craigslist it's a free site where you can post things (once a week) to buy or sell. Think of it like ebay instead you deal only with people locally and for cash.

Good luck with your crafts I think they're pretty cool.

Isabella said...

Melanie, that's so true. I recently crocheted a blanket as a gift for my daughter. It's a lovely soft, warm blanket and my daughter and her family do appreciate it. (The grandchildren now want their own and I'm busy crocheting again.) My daughter does appreciate the effort that went into making it, but I am sure she has no idea how much the wool cost!!! Nowadays handmade items tend to be a 'labour of love'.

Stephanie said...

I personally appreciate hand made gifts!:)

Anastacia said...

That's why I mainly knit/crochet for charity now. I did do a lot of selling & I've done some commission & some design work -- and made lots of stuff as gifts. But I try to really just stick with charity work now -- as the poor, cold kids I knit for are greatful & so appreciate of what I put into anything I make. The only other person I regularly knit for is my husband, and the only thing I knit for him is socks - it's the only thing he wants, so it's the only thing I make. I've tried making things for other people and I usually end up so frustrated, it's really not worth it in the end. Of course - there are always exceptions to every rule!

topazsfp said...

I know exactly what you mean about only crafting for other crafters. I spent a lot of time working on baby stuff for my sister's new baby, only to find all of it in the back of the bottom drawer when I came to visit, since none of it looked like stuff you'd get from the Gap. I don't think people realize that the time spent is part of the gift (and that yes, the materials are often considerably more expensive).

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