I stumbled across this post yesterday. it is a brilliant discussion about how we value handcrafts, follow the linky here Please read first!
I found it really interesting. When I was in the shop, I made a decision not to take crochet commissions, I would make sample of crochet (or occasionally knitting) to show off a new yarn, or if I was going to a show, to exhibit. People would ask if I would sell these samples, which of course I didn’t while I had the yarn in stock. I did make some small things, the flower brooches above, were relatively quick and easy to make, sold at £7 (not minimum wage, and not including the cost of materials!)
When I closed the shop, I did sell off quite a few samples, but only at a cost that was just above what the yarn would sell for – the reason being I didn’t want to have all these samples hanging around at home, where they would not have a use.
However back to the first point – I wouldn’t take commissions because generally people would not see the worth in the time/skill that it takes to make the item.
So how much are we worth – should we think about minimum wage, about the standard of the crochet (or other craft) that we can produce? How quickly can we produce that item? Then we have people who just knit and crochet ‘for fun’ this is great if you are giving away your items, but if you then sell them at really low price – ‘just so that I can buy more yarn’ then are you devaluing other peoples work? I have seen baby granny blankets being sold for £5 or less on ebay, but on etsy (which is an e-commerce website focused on handmade items) they are £25 – £40.
I think it is also down to the perception of the craft – if you are a sculptor or painter does that make you more of an artist?
I feel that I am an artisan (definition: a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand)
but I also design the things that I make, so am I a designer (def: A person who plans the look or workings of something prior to it being made, by preparing drawings or plans)
or an artist? (Def: A person skilled at a particular task or occupation)
I guess that relies on your definition of skilled…experienced, trained, qualified, proficient, practised, accomplished, expert, skilful, talented, gifted, adept, adroit, deft, dexterous , good, competent.
So as a skilled Artisan/designer, could I receive the minimum wage? I have been crocheting for years, I constantly look to ways to improve my technique, and I practice (A LOT!) not qualified in crochet, but have studied textiles, including weaving, dyeing, and taken physical and online courses.
I don’t usually time myself crocheting, but recently have started. The first item I did a calculation of time on was this blanket.
So given that this is a finely worked blanket in 4 ply yarn which is mostly wool with a little nylon in, with a repeating motif, how much would you pay? £10, £25, £50? In Marks and Spencer a (machine) knitted throw in one colour is £69. In Harrods a baby shawl (machine knitted) £79.95. So a handmade but professional blanket, should be worth more – £100 maybe?
If I tell you that the yarn cost approx £40, and that it took me over 100 hours to make – at minimum wage (£6.50) that should be £690! Would anyone pay that much for a blanket – however good it is?
If it was an artwork – painting or similar, would it be worth more? and this is controversial is it because there is less value attached to something made in a female dominated art/craft? Is there more skill in a painting than a crochet blanket – or is it a perceived difference in skill?
Maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle – I know there are many more questions than answers here, so what do you think?