Linking your favorite traveling artists across the globe
Here I will "TRY" to detail the way I price my work and why some pieces seem to be priced the same or more then pieces that are larger. I will also be showing size comparisons as well as thickness and how these relate to pricing.
Sizing of pieces is kind of difficult for me. The smaller pieces actually take as much or more time then the large ones. People don't like to pay $80.00 for a two inch set of brooches when they can get a three inch set for the same price. This is why we artisans have to tinker with pricing to come up with pricing everyone can live with and hopefully still make a little profit on them to pay our bills.
As you can see in the first attached file just a half inch difference is a major size jump. A one inch difference almost looks like it is half the size!
Then you have your oval to round comparison...A three inch by two inch brooch sounds bigger then a two and a half inch diameter round brooch, until you look at them side by side.
When you get into funky shapes, like trefoils or even my hawk/dragon claw rings, sizing gets really interesting!
So now you have your sizing chart and realize the customer wants it domed or a torc they want a certain twist on. Everything you do to shape the metal changes the size of the overall piece. This is why a fully domed piece looks like it is less metal then a piece domed in a round swage block. It looks smaller yet then the flat piece.
Some of my more ornate wire twists take up almost double the metal used by others.
With my large fully domed brooches I hand carved a piece of oak to get the shape I wanted. I have used it for about 2 years with my metal brooches eating at it the whole time. It is just about time to make a new one. I have yet to find an oval doming block that is the size and shape I want without making them myself. Of course handmade is never as perfect as machine made so the doming process can also get interesting!
Here we go...This is a pretty big one! When I am designing a piece I want it to be sturdy enough to be knocked around a little but still light enough to use for what it is designed for. Back to the brooches...Turtle brooches need to be sturdy enough to hold together an apron dress but still light enough that they can hang beads and other small trinkets from them. How do I do this? The pin...on my brooches the pin holds most of the weight so I can use thinner, lighter metal for the main piece. No maybe my pins are not totally period but if I did them period style I would have to also make them thicker and heavier. They will get heavy enough when things are hung from them.
Because I live in a small town that has absolutely no jewelry or metal suppliers I have to order online. Usually this means I have to have metal and other supplies/tools shipped to me from the other side of the United States. This can get expensive! Every gauge you go up adds weight to the package adding extra cost to me and my customers! I use to make these belts, the buckles for them were made from 8 gauge nickel sheet. The only place I found to buy the sheet was in Washington State. The 12 x 12 inch sheet cost $75.00 the shipping on that sheet cost me another $60.00 because of weight. Of course the company has a store in Ohio but they don't stock that gauge in the store here. Oh but because they have said store here they had to also charge me sales tax! I ended up paying double the price for the piece. After cutting and shaping the pieces, which I did all by hand, I had to charge around $50-$75 each buckle just to make it worth doing.
Shape of the piece:
This is quite different then shaping the piece. In attached file number two you can see what I mean. Not only do I have to spend hours cutting out the intricate edge of the piece but then I have to get into tight corners with a file and sandpaper to clean the edges. I also have to hope none of those edges will catch on my polishing wheel ripping the piece from my hand and tossing it across the concrete floor of my garage.
Type of Metal:
At the moment the metals I can work in include brass, nickel, red brass, bronze and copper. Each are slightly different prices for me but I try to keep them at the same prices for my customers. I can work in Silver also but a piece of sterling silver that once cost me $45.00 is now $145.00. And that is if the prices stay the same as they are today! That mixed with my time and the supplies to make them a set of 3" x 3" brooches etched in sterling would have to sell for (at least) $500.
Although I do not charge extra for intricacy on my own etched designs some can take up to 8 hours of work to get them right. So when it comes to custom orders I have to charge a small fee for design work. Although if it is a pretty easy design or one the customer is ok with me reproducing I tend not to charge.
And back to sizing...Some of the really intricate designs can only be done in larger pieces. I just started doing semi intricate work on a smaller scale. Even some of those are so intricate they just look like scratches on the metal. with my tools and equipment it is pretty hard to make the smaller pieces effectively and consistently.
Cost of Sales:
Sometimes people don't realize the costs associated with being a handmade artisan...or for that matter any type of merchant. First there is time and upkeep. I have spent a whole week doing nothing but polishing pieces before a show. Then I load it all in the vehicle and drive several hours to get to an event. Instead of repolishing jewelry I could have been blacksmithing or making more jewelry stock. Then I would just get there with a whole lot of jewelry with fingerprints or oxidation on them and you would just walk by my booth! It may take me a day...or two, to drive to the event and set up my tent. At this point in time a 2 hour drive costs me around $20.00 then I pay for event fees, insurance, food, I usually give a piece to be raffled for the event, and finally taxes. I add my taxes into the price of the piece and round to the nearest dollar as I hate dealing with change. Especially when I am in the middle of a demo with a piece of hot steel in my hand! If I am not demoing I am trying to lure you into my shop to see all the pretty things I made just for you.
I don't add extra on for all of the above 'cept taxes. Even fees to Etsy, paypal, consignment. A few of my pieces have been on etsy for years, let alone if I do an event I don't make any money on. I have had to wholesale to other merchants, at what it cost me to make the pieces, just get enough to get home. That is what we call a loss because now you don't have the money to replace the pieces you just "gave" away!
Equipment, Supplies and Upkeep:
If only tools and equipment lasted forever! Unfortunately they do not, I have a bunch of worthless stuff in my garage that shows this. You buy a tool or piece of equipment and either it breaks down after a few years or you find a new technique that makes it worthless. Maybe you run out of belts for your grinder or propane for your forge and don't have the money to get more. You are stuck with half finished pieces that can't be sold. Sometimes a lot of them! What do I do if my vehicle breaks down or my computer stops working...or both. I would pretty much be finished if this happens. What if something happens to my $2000.00 period tent
Only part of these costs are added in.
And I am positive I am missing things so check back once in a while to see if anything has been added. Please take this into consideration when you are looking at anyone's handmade artwork or if you see there prices go up a bit. Maybe they remember what I have yet to!