The process of making these brooches starts with the purchase of the white fabric. This is then printed with handmade print blocks (made by me) using a good quality fabric paint. This is left to dry before ironing to heat set the paint and then it is dyed with procion dyes, left to dry again before washing out the excess dye. This part of the process alone takes two days. The components of the brooches have to be bought and then assembled and finally the hand embroidery and the putting it all together completes the process... a pleasurable process. And no, I cannot expect a realistic price but I do expect a fair price.
So given that the materials cost more than £1 per brooch and each one probably takes about an hour to complete, what is a fair price? This is after all, part of how I earn my living and as Jackie pointed out if I sell my work at £3.50 I am earning a maximum £2.50 an hour... which is really not worth my while no matter how pleasurable the experience.
There is also the the whole design process involved which evolved from hours of research into buttons... these brooches have a story which is also an important consideration. Chrissie pointed me in the direction of an open letter from Mary Portas who address this point more eloquently than I can and she also speaks about valuing our work. These are handcrafted, unique items made with skill. We should not as artist/makers undervalue these skills or our time because not only are we undervaluing ourselves but we undervalue other artist/makers too. I don't really want to enter the whole gender debate here but I do also feel it has a lot to do with undervaluing ourselves as women, especially when engaged in what is percieved to be domestic pursuits.
And so you might ask, why I wanted your opinion if I had already decided that the price I was going to ask would be nearer £10 than £5. I suppose I wanted reassurance that to charge £7-£8 wasn't unreasonable and some of you confirmed this... thank you. For those of you who felt I should be selling for under £5, well I'm sorry but I value what I do more than that so there won't be bargain brooches appearing on Etsy. And as a comparision can I share this little brooch available from one of our leading departments stores. Very pretty, but plastic and mass produced selling for £6... food for thought!
And while I am on my soap box and talking about valuing things, if you value the arts do take time to stop by this website - Save the Arts. In times of economic hardship and cuts it is understandable to want to put education, health and care for the elderly top of our priorities. Yet cuts in the arts effect us all. This is not just about opera or ballet or pickled sharks... it is about our fabulous free museums and wonderful artistic heritage. Proposed cuts of 25 - 30% could cause lasting damage. Off my soap box now... normal blogging will be resumed soon!