Friday, May 17, 2013

Can We Charge For Value Added to Purchased Crafts?

For years now, and I have the products to prove it, I haunt the craft stores usually after a holiday or event has passed. You never know who will have what, be it Michaels, JoAnn's and now Hobby Lobby here in SoCal. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween items come and go for the next season.

The problem is that while they are crafts clearly designed for the less crafty among us, can we charge additional value to them if we do so much more? And, if we do that, charge how much more for them?

I know that many of the same birdhouses I paint are used by many other crafters and sold on store sites like Etsy, or Artfire. However, what I do with them is very different and each of us, in our own way decorate them in often wildly different ways. In some respects I would say a blank wooden birdhouse or tray is no different than painting on a blank canvas. Of course, the crafter in me is saying that.

The line begins to blur though when we buy and decorate items (such as shown on the right) that are a bit more detailed. The amount of time needed to decorate each of these items is almost as much as anything that I might paint on a small canvas up to a 20" x 20" canvas.

Take, for example, the stacked three up pumpkins shown here. To dress it up a bit I picked up three variations of orange working from light to dark. Then added the black for the "carved" mouth and eyes. A trim of black goes along edges, front and back I should add so that no matter how it will be viewed, it looks complete. Next will come the painting of the hat, then various shades of green and brown shading to give the pumpkin depth and finally, when that is done a flash of a shocking color along the edges.

How much time to complete? It would be measured in hours, about the same amount of time as it takes to do a painting, often more, much more! Yet, as we crafters all know, it is rare that we can charge the same for an item such as this, three decorative Halloween pumpkins, that may have cost as little as a dollar marked down. The time it took was the same as creating a painting but for some reason, we have a skewed view of crafts opposed to "fine" art. We value them less.

For the buyer, they get quite a deal while the crafter ends up with little to show for the time and effort they have spent. I believe though, that for some of us, that isn't totally the point. We create because there is something in us that wants to create. If we can sell some of it, it is an affirmation of our vision and skill. The more we create, the more skilled we get. Of course, we all hope that someone, someway will "discover" us and that we may yet hit the big time! In the crafting world, you are never too old to be discovered. Ask Grandma Moses!

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