Sunday, 26 February 2012

Telling stories

It’s clear from the comments I received on my last post that pricing is an issue that we have all agonised over.   Regardless of whether the money we generate from the sale of our work is our sole or a supplementary source of income, I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that our work has value and we should not feel guilty about putting a price on it.   As Vera puts it “These are all hours of your life that cannot be replaced, so don`t be afraid to charge accordingly!”   It’s important to keep in mind that our work is a reflection of us and like us is completely unique.  Our pieces communicate, tell stories and draw on skills (and I don’t mean just our technical expertise) that we have spent our lives building.  

On a completely different note - I’d like to thank Etsian and blogger Palimpalim ( for bestowing a ‘Versatile Blogger Award’ nomination on me this week.   Rather than just being a pat on the back, the Versatile Blogger Award is also something of a round robin.  It’s a great way to promote other bloggers, whilst letting our bloggees know a little bit more about ourselves.   

One of the conditions of acceptance is to blog seven random things about me so here goes:  (1) I love gadgets – my iPad is one of my most favourite things in the world (2) I hate housework (3) one of my guilty pleasures is the cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer – I have all seven seasons on DVD and have watched them more times than I can count (4) If you hadn't already picked this up from the previous revelation, I’m kind of a nerd  (5)  I love my children more than life itself (6) I believe that we should always try to find the good in people – although I accept that sometimes it’s pretty hard when faced with a particularly obnoxious individual (7) I swear a lot.

Another condition of acceptance is to share the love and bestow the Versatile Blogger Award on 15 others. Below are the awesome blogs from some of my favourites for you to visit:

I found some more information on the Awesome Blogger at

Now just a little caveat from me –ideas like the Awesome Blogger are generally great but sometimes they, for a number of reasons, become the equivalent of one of those ‘chain’ emails that do the rounds and where you end up feeling all guilty and burdened.  So, I did want to say to all of those people whose blogs I’ve listed  above– if you have the time and the inclination to follow the criteria for the Versatile Blogger Award that’s super but please don’t feel obliged and don’t feel in the least bit guilty if you don't wish to. 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

There's more to art than ...

I’m putting a photo of my latest piece here – it has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of this post.

I have always enjoyed making things. Knitting, and to a lesser extent crochet, came first, I started making jewelry a few years ago.  Jewelry has allowed me a much higher degree of creative exploration and expression than I have found in other crafty endeavors.

It was only last year that I started selling my pieces with any serious intent. Putting a price on my work has forced me to re-evaluate my relationship with creativity (at least in respect of making jewelry).  Whilst before I made simply for pleasure now there is an element of financial gain (actually it’s more a case of trying to offset financial loss given my addiction to supplies, books, tools etc etc). 

How to price things is one of the first challenges to be faced. There’s plenty of helpful advice for sellers - most of which suggest coming up with a reasonable hourly rate of pay for your time, calculating the amount of time a piece takes to make and then adding the cost of materials. This all makes sense but occasionally my pieces will take many many hours (even a few days) to complete and there is no way I could realistically reflect this in the price.  As a seller (and let's be clear here I do want to sell my work) I understand that, in order to be vaguely competitive, I have to not only benchmark my prices against what others are charging, I also need to have some kind of price consistency across my range.  Sometimes this means selling a piece for less than I ‘should’.   Having been involved with a local art show (and having an artist husband) I know how agonising the question of what to charge can be.

Did you see I used the word ‘competitive above?  I hate the idea of competing with other sellers and I have found, at least on etsy, the seller community to be incredibly warm and supportive.  But, if we are honest about it we are, at least at some level, competing with each other.  After all, there are only so many customers out there.  This doesn't mean being all cutthroat and nasty but it does mean taking some proactive steps - etsy is a huge marketplace and getting yourself noticed is the next challenge.  Unless you are selling something super rare the chances are that an average buyer will get hundreds if not thousands of results when they do a search for, well pretty much anything. So, sellers will need to explore a range of marketing and promotional options including etsy based features like showcase and/or search ads (both of which I have tried and found pretty useless by the way – maybe I’m using them wrong), using supporting social media like twitter and facebook and low tech options like cold calling and handing out good old fashioned business cards.

I surely don’t mean to moan about this – after all no one is forcing me to do this and, in fact, a lot of this additional stuff can be good fun.  I love listing something and then seeing how long it takes to get views and hearts. But I guess I am trying to point out that, in addition to the making, there is a boatload of additional ‘stuff’ that goes on in the background and that, even for the most successful sellers, the financial rewards are likely to be, comparatively speaking, relatively small. No wonder then that the joy of making something beautiful can get lost sometimes.

I'm sorry to rant on about things as unpalatable as marketing and money. But, I think it's important to reflect on the fact that these issues do play some kind of a role in the creative process and are, to a greater or lesser extent, a part of the process (if you intend to  try your hand at selling  that is - if not you can just skip right on by this post).

Nowadays when I look at the work of my fellow etsians I have some inkling of what sits behind a piece of work and I marvel not just at the artist’s creative talent but also at their ability to keep on bringing it.

‘til next time.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Slightly obsessed

Well, I've finished Sheila Paine's book on amulets and talismans which has led to me becoming ever so slightly obsessed.  Regardless of whether or not you believe in the power of these objects to perform the tasks they claim to - and as I said in my previous post I'm a skeptic - amulets and talismans are fascinating from an anthropological perspective.   The rich stories that accompany them have a great deal to tell us about the situation of the people who created them - their hopes, fears, beliefs and the threats they face in their everyday lives both real and  imagined. They are also, many of them,  incredibly beautiful.  

I noticed that triangles are a common amuletic motif and, for my latest piece I have borrowed from this tradition.   I have a beautiful old Persian salt bag - along it's side runs an eclectic fringe of plastic and metal buttons, keys, tassels and pom poms.  This inspired me to similarly embellish a piece of salvaged kilim.  Whilst I don't think I could hope to capture the raw beauty of some of the talismans on display in Sheila Paine's book I am rather pleased with the result.

I'm really looking forward to receiving Melinda's package of materials (she has made some lovely things with the bits and pieces I sent her - check out her gorgeous etsy shop at and her blog at  I know Melinda's worried that the package hasn't arrived yet but I am sure it will get here eventually (it's probably been delayed in customs) and it's rather nice having something to look forward to.

'til next time.