Monday, 16 November 2009
Well just in case you thought I'd gone AWOL, here's some stuff I've been making since we got back from Scotland and the Australian returned to her home down under.
I've been felting and sewing away like crazy for a while, trying to get some things together for a couple of craft fairs that I said I would do. One for a local infant school and another for the county Women's Institute.
The infant school was a fair success, despite the fact that I had a table between the pink tutus and a very popular brand of greeting cards! The WI, however, didn't go quite as I thought. There was a large influx of elderly ladies quite early on in proceedings, but they were mainly there for a cup of tea, a slice of home-made cake and a natter with their friends. Nothing wrong with that! But a large number of stalls were not 'craft' at all: imported socks, hessian shoppers with naff sayings printed on them, jewellery made in goodness-knows-what-sweatshop, that kind of thing.
My lovely talented friend had brought along some beautiful quilted items that she had made during the year and I tried not to be too strident and bossy in pointing out to her that her prices were ridiculously low - but I could hardly get a word in because she was so busy selling her wonderful wares to hordes of purchasers eager to snap up truly great bargains! She did agree that her husband had said the same thing to her, but she just felt she 'didn't want to go home with them'. Her prices would barely have covered the cost of the materials - no thought of pricing her time into the equation. And there's the rub, the age-old argument about crafters not being able to charge a realistic price for their handiwork, because people can't then afford to buy it.
I do try and stick to my guns a bit with my prices - after all, it's not just a hobby for me, I do want to try and make some money from it. If I didn't, there are so many other things I could sensibly be spending my time doing (e.g. the ironing). I've been thinking a lot about this since yesterday, particularly because one excited group of ladies were billing-and-cooing over some of my lavender bags until they saw the price tag. Said one, "Oh £4, not cheap, then". So why would it be 'cheap'? Did she just mean, "Oh that's more than I really want to pay for a hand-made, linen and vintage lace, organic English lavender bag with lovely old button and ribbon". Or was it, "You're having a laugh at my expense, expecting me to pay this vastly inflated price for your old tat, when I can get one in poundland".
So I have been pondering these things in my heart and will continue to do so. I need to take a step back and examine why I'm doing it - do I need the money? am I actually making any money?! am I just fulfilling a creative need? do I need the affirmation that what I'm making is saleable? should I carry on, but on a smaller scale, i.e. no Etsy shop? scale up and do more self-promotion? Oooh er, what a headache! I'm sure you've all had more-or-less the same thoughts from time to time - care to share them?!
In the meantime I need to clear up the almighty mess in my workroom. We're having a new heating boiler installed very soon and they have to take up the floorboards right underneath my storage shelving, which has now extended several feet into the room with a rat's nest of detritus piled up against it. When things are a mess, I always say, "It looks like the Wreck of the Hesperus" - no idea what it means, but I get a mental picture of an old sailing ship dashed against the rocks and its cargo bobbing around on its way to rest on the shore. Oh, just looked it up on Wikipedia, now I'm not at all sure I have the right expression ...!