Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Money vs. Art - who will win?

    I'm having a crisis of pricing. Back when I used only store-bought beads, pricing was simple. Just add up the cost of materials, add time invested, and you have a reasonable price. But now that I'm doing so much with polymer clay, it gets hugely more complicated. 
    First of all, it's a lot harder to keep track of time invested when making clay beads because there are so many different parts to the process. Mixing, forming, baking, sanding, varnishing...it doesn't all happen in a nice measurable chunk. 
    Second problem: Say I do manage to get an accurate time for a project. If I charged for my usual rate per hour, the cost would be gigantic! Sanding alone can take 5 or more hours. Then what if I put the beads in the rock-tumbler instead of sanding? That takes a lot longer, but it's not my time it's using. So do I charge for the amount of time it would have taken if I had hand-sanded the beads?
    One way to do it would be to not worry about materials or time, but evaluate the finished piece and decide what it's worth. But that kind of imprecision terrifies me! It feels like walking across a highway with my eyes closed. With my system, I always had something concrete to rest on. If someone were to ask, "why is this so expensive?" (which, come to think of it, has never actually happened), I could get out my little book of records and show them exactly why it cost that much. But if someone were to ask about a clay piece, what would I say? "Well, uh...I don't know...on the day I chose the price, I must have been in an expensive mood and I decided it was worth that much..I am as puzzled as you are at the high price. What was I thinking?"
    See what I mean? This ever-present dilemma is starting to keep me from claying and beading, which is just tragic because I love to make jewelry. The technicalities of selling are overwhelming me. I could stop selling altogether, but I already have hundreds of finished pieces and a thousand clay beads just sitting and waiting to be used. I couldn't possibly use or give away all the things I make. It would be a shame to keep them hidden away in my bead room, wishing to be appreciated.
    So, yeah. That's my issue. Money and marketing sticking their noses into my art.


  1. Have you come to any new realizations about your pricing since you posted this? Would love to hear your ideas. I know many who have the same concerns with pricing polymer clay creations. I remember something someone said not too long ago: "Don't let someone else tell you what to charge for your art. It is YOUR art, and whatever you choose to charge is fine." I try to remember that when pricing my items. Also, I try to price things, and see if they sell. If not, I can always reduce the price. My biggest wish is that someone will enjoy the pieces I create, as much as I enjoyed creating it. Best wishes on your business, and happy claying!

  2. Thanks for the advice! Unfortunately, I haven't had an epiphany about pricing. Everything I read online says not to under-charge for your work. It's hard for me to see my products from another point of view. I'm a college student, so if I price my products at a price I would buy them for, it would be way cheap! But most customers won't be college students. So I have to try to think like them. I am selling at a conference tomorrow and my current plan is to price everything a bit higher than I am comfortable with and just grit my teeth and try to make it through the day without apologizing for my prices. We'll see how that goes. Thanks for the comments; good luck to you!