What am I on about?
It seems to me that more and more I've become aware of a disconnect between pricing and practicality. For example, people would balk at the cost of my hand embroidered pillows that I had in my shop. $100.00. The hundred dollar pillows in question take anywhere from thirty to fifty hours to make. Do the math on the hourly wage. That's not including materials. It's not pretty. Which is why they are no longer in my shop.
But, if I had done those pieces as stand alones framed in their hoops, $100.00 would be reasonable even ridiculously inexpensive. I can (and have) sold woodblock prints of the same designs for several hundred dollars.
Why? People say, Hey! I'm not paying a hundred bucks on a pillow. Something I'll use every day. However, these same people will pay six hundred dollars on shoes they wear three times a year, or fourteen hundred on a painting that hangs in their hallway.
Why are we willing to pay obscene amounts of money on art, but the second the art becomes useable, it's somehow devalued?
I've seen this play out over my entire adult career. My first job ever was as a custom bookbinder. Everything was done by hand. Later I worked under a woman who was trained in Library of Congress archival standards of bookbinding. I learned how to make rabbit hide glue, use ox gall, scything knives. I could name types of paper by touch alone. And then people would come in and want to order a custom scrap book, or a photo album, or a guest book but become indignant that the piece would cost more than a hundred dollars.
A few weeks ago, I received an email on Etsy. It read something like this. "I love your embroideries and I wanted to see if you would make an embroidered panel quilt, queen size. I'd be willing to go up to $130.00"
I get it, I really do. I shop at Target, and I understand that very few people have ever made anything by hand, or know people that do. They can hardly be blamed for their ignorance. But guess what? That quilt your Granny made you? She did it because she loves you. And I bet she wouldn't dream of selling one for no hundred sad dollars. And I'm not your grandma.
I also understand that I have a luddite way of doing things. I use hand cards, not mills. I use a drop spindle, not a wheel, and I use needles, not a Viking Emerald. That that takes a tremendous amount of time. But no less time than oils and underpainting.
So I want to hear from you. Knitters, I know that sweater took like, 1000 yards of yarn and your hands ached when you were finished. Potters? Come on. You built that Raku kiln in your back yard and kept a steady eye on it the whole time. Hand quilters? You guys are saints. I want to know what your experience is with buyers and pricing. Is this disconnect something you've noticed too?