What it was, in point of fact, was an answer in the form of a photo-narrative to a question I ask myself from time to time - should I make crafts to sell?
The question was motivated by a purchase I made last week of four cushions from a lovely shop called Bounty in Thames (mentioned a couple of posts ago).
The cushions were made by a Coromandel crafter and they retailed for $39.00 each. I was admiring them when I got home, but then I started to think about the work that had gone into making each cushion, not to mention the cost of materials. I was suddenly beset by a feeling of guilt about how little I had paid for the cushions. One thing led to another and I found myself mulling over the dilemma of the viability of selling beautifully handcrafted goods like these. I reasoned that a good way to work it out, once and for all, was simply by 'doing the maths.' So I set myself the task of sewing a replica cushion, which I worked through methodically this morning until it was completed. This is how the cushion costs out:
vintage polkadot 0.5 metre = $2.00
floral upholstery fabric 0.5 metre @ $15.00 per metre = $7.50
Polyester stuffing 400 gms = $8.00
Vintage buttons x 2 = 50c
Materials total: $18.00
Labour:2 hours at NZ minimum wage of $13.00 per hour = $26.00
and that figure is before the retailer mark-up has been added, which is usually between 25% - 40%.
So, I don't know about you, but I don't think the $39.00 cushions are a viable economic option for the Coromandel crafter in question. I think she should assign greater 'value' to her handcrafts, as well as the skill required to produce them, and she should calculate a realistic price accordingly. That being said, however, would I have bought four of her cushions if they had been $90.00 each? Probably not, and I guess that's why crafting tends to be done for love rather than money.
For now then, I am very content to craft for love, and to make and give lovely things to the people I care about.