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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Soon found out, had a heart of glass

In my continuing one-woman mission* to bring the work of artisans and craftspersons to as wide an audience as it is within my ambit to influence, I wanted to share with you the details of a glass-blower and lamp-worker from Ohio whose gorgeous creations I very recently stumbled upon on eBay.

Now, if I were more IT-competent than I actually am, I might have been able to publish that photograph whilst retaining its clickable link to the store. But I am pants at stuff like that, so the link is here.

Whilst I, er, may have added one or two of this seller's items to my own eBay watching list, I can't (yet!) tell you from personal experience whether this work is as fab as it looks. But I note that the seller's feedback is 100% positive, and that in itself is no mean feat.

*If you're a regular reader, you'll already know what my philosophy behind this is. But just in case you've managed to successfully put it out of your mind since the last time I stood (somewhat precariously) on my soapbox about it and ranted, here it is again:

There are many very talented craftspeople in the world. Most of them create things just as a hobby. However, some take the huge, courageous step of setting up in business and trying to make a living from their skills. Given the nature of my own employment, I have learned immense respect for anyone who is willing to give up a secure, salaried post to follow his or her dream of making a living from what he or she loves best. Such enterprises are fraught with peril.

Professional craftspeople walk a very fine line being charging enough for their creations to keep the wolf from the door, and pricing themselves completely out of the market in comparison to the mass-produced tat which is shipped over here by the container-load from Taiwan.

If no-one buys their work, these people will have to go back to doing something mundane.

If that happens, some of these crafts will eventually disappear. Which would be a great loss.

I earn a decent living, and I am keen to spend what spare money I have with people I consider to be worthy of my financial support.

Plus, of course, I like beautiful things. And I don't have any desire to follow the herd and have the same things as everyone else has.

Despite all my sermonising on this issue, I really don't expect everyone to share my point of view. Neither do I expect people who live on very restricted incomes to be able to make the same choices about their expenditure that I can. Not everyone has a budget for fripperies. It's just that, now that I have reached an age where I have a degree of disposable income, I personally prefer to dispose of it with a good conscience.

The Editor


Blogger laughingattheslut said...

People just don't seem to understand how much time goes into making things, or how much supplies cost. Once in a while someone will ask me how much I want for something, and it doesn't happen that often, and I probably didn't make the thing with a plan of selling it, so I usually have an answer right away. So I have to think about it for a moment, how much did I spend on the supplies and how much time did it take me, etc....

Even if I only ask for about minimum wage for my time, whatever price I could up with tends to scare them away. And then the ones who are just really shocked say something like, "oh, I thought it would only be _______, like something similar I saw in a store once." But that might not even cover the cost of the materials, and why should I work for free?

What really surprised me recently was when a fellow artist suggested that I try to sell something, and she couldn't seem to grasp what I was talking about. I don't think that I could make money selling ceramic tiles. And I especially don't think I'd want to try to sell Raku tiles. The Raku is a scary thing to me, and I don't want to risk doing that for money, especially for people who think that paying me at least minimum wage is unreasonable.

Are you an artist? Cause other people just don't seem to get it.

8:12 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

No. I haven't the skill. Or the talent. The only thing of that nature which I've ever done for money was novelty cakes.

I only ever asked to be refunded the cost of the ingredients, and even then people jibbed at the price.

But I wasn't prepared to bake with nasty, seedy little currants, or margarine of greasy, dubious provenance, or battery eggs.

If I've made something for someone, I want it to be of the highest possible quality.

(I'm writing that in the present tense, but I haven't been fit enough to do cakes for people for years.)

It was just obvious straight away that there was no way anyone was going to be willing to pay me for my time as well as reimburse my costs.

So, I don't know whether it was that experience, or the fact that I've worked with business's accounts, or a combination of the two. I just accept that, if you want hand-made and original, you will have to pay someone for their time and their talent. Which seems perfectly reasonable. To me, at least...

9:09 pm  
Blogger SRR said...

I assume you have found etsy.com. I'm like a kid in a candy store.

By the way I love the beads in the link and have already purchased one!! Thanks.

11:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem of getting people to understand the concept of "overhead costs" is not, alas, unique to artists.

I have a friend who runs a pet sitting service. This is how she makes her living. Her overhead costs probably aren't that high compared to, say, the overhead costs of a restaurant. But she DOES still have them, including for example the costs of her cell phone (which she has ONLY because of the pet sitting service) and other miscellanei. And she still has to pay rent in a city where rents are sky high. And she has to spend I'm guessing as much time just traveling from one pet sitting assignment to the next as she does actually sitting, so the prices she charges HAS to account for transportation time as well as sitting time. But some people seem to think that she ought to be thrilled to receive an offer of half the minimum wage! When she states the real price, some people get shocked and say accusingly that she should be doing this business just for the love of animals. She IS doing it for the love of working with animals (and it IS work, not simply play; if you don't think so, then you haven't wrestled with a cat who needs a shot). But she ALSO needs to make a living.

She gets enough word-of-mouth business now that she can do without the people who Just Don't Get It. But, it's still a commentary on how some people seem incapable of grasping basic fiscal realities.

2:50 am  
Blogger Mary said...

My mum had this when she used to knit clothes for my sister and I and pick us up at primary school. Standing outside with the other mums, they would admire a jumper or something and say "oh, you could knit one of those in adult size for me! I'd pay you..."
Mum's response would be along the lines of "I'm happy to, the yarn costs about EepMuchLots, and you can decide how much you should give me for my time. It'll take me about X weeks at Y hours per day every day."
This did not go down well.

8:29 am  
Blogger Philip. said...

There are certainly some interesting looking pieces of glasswork shown.

Gosh, I wish I had the patience to do such things.

4:27 pm  
Blogger Jess said...

I've got a soft spot for Ohio glasswork and ceramics (I grew up in Akron, just to further complicate my geography :) )-- there are a lot of fantastic craftsmen to be found out there. I think you'd love Don Drumm Studios & Gallery in Akron-- they've got all kinds of nifty stuff by different regional artists.

8:23 pm  
Anonymous Diddums said...

Those are beautiful pieces in the picture you posted - really made me stare. You have a good point about prices - teddy bears (for collectors) are expensive as well, but for a reason.

I thought of you when I did a meme tonight, so... (cough) you were tagged. Nobody I tag is forced by me to do it, though. :-).


1:07 am  

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