Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Value of Our Handmade Stuff

Here are most of the crocheted and knitted veggies for my daughter's 2nd birthday present. For some reason, the corn didn't make the shot. So we have (total) 11 veggies: corn, tomato, squash, lettuce, asparagus, garlic, beet, radish, carrot, and 2 mushrooms. I made 2 mushrooms because one just seemed lonely somehow.

As I have been making all of the veg for my daughter's present, I have been thinking of how we value handmade stuff. If you are reading this blog, you probably dig handmade already, but how much do you value it?

Do you buy local handmade in support of local artisans? Do you pale at the prices charged for it? I know we can all get a pair of nifty cabled gloves at discount stores for under $20, so paying $60 or better for what could be seen as the same thing seems exorbitant. Consider that the raw materials at retail prices can cost $20 by themselves. Consider that it can take 20 hours or so to knit a pair of gloves with a complex cable pattern. If we paid ourselves fairly for our time, those gloves would cost $220. Now that $60 doesn't seem so bad, does it? Besides which, the workmanship and materials used in the handmade pair mean that those gloves will last you longer than a month or so of fairly constant use. With care, you could pass them down to your kids. Over their lifetime, handmade goods cost far less than the mass-produced equivalent due to their better workmanship. You could pay $60 for one pair of gloves every 5 years (with hard wear) or $10 twice a year or more for store-bought - so $100 for 2 pairs of $10 gloves a year for 5 years.

Do we as makers value our goods as much as we should? Do we consider that when we do our best work, we should charge accordingly? We pay retail prices for our materials (most of us.) We spend HOURS making each individual item. Why do we then devalue our work when we gift it? We say "well, I made this, so if you don't like it, I understand" or some such nonsense (of which I am guilty as well.) Why are we hesitant to charge a fair price when we sell it? Are we really trying to compete with discount store pricing?

I spent HOURS on my daughter's present. I am spending HOURS on the market bag to hold her present. I will be spending HOURS on my son's birthday present - the fabric cutting alone is in it's third day. The materials mostly came from my stash, but I paid retail for all of them. Why do I feel a little guilty for giving them only handmade for their birthdays? No idea. Even though this was a planned thing, I feel like I need to do more. Do more than 50 hours of work for each one? Spend more than I already have, even if lots of stuff came from stash? Doesn't that sound ridiculous? Even as a dedicated handmade consumer and maker, I tend to devalue my own work. How silly. I put love into every stitch, love into every cut of fabric and moment at the sewing machine, love into choosing the materials and patterns.

If you make stuff, value your time, effort, care, and work. It is more than good enough.

1 comment:

Mette Rørbech said...

Your vegetables are beautiful. I never sell or tell how much my knitting are. I usually say that it´s priceless. However, I have exhibited some shawls and had to set a price for the insurance. Expensive stuff, handmade and unique.