Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A Deeper Understanding About Hand Crafted Items And Their Cost

Hello Dear Tree Friends
    It has been a while since I updated my blog. A lot of things and thinking have happened till now and off course a lot of crafting in the process.. Those of you who follow me on Facebook know what I mean ;)

    Lets talk today about something I find important. When I was starting with my craft, (3 years ago), I made a bit of research of online shops that sell handmade items. Though I absolutely loved the items themselves and the work of a lot of artists still I had some questions that I couldnt answer. Those questions were mostly about prices and shipping costs. The other day I was wandering how many people that search for a special gift have had similar thoughts. Now after 3 years in the crafting business I am able to answer my questions and I would like to share them with you all. These questions and thoughts that you will read are quite normal. Especially if you are not in the crafting business and you just want one special gift, but nevertheless, even if you don't plan on putting handmade into your life on a regular basis, still some things need to be clear. In order for people to support handmade they have to understand first.  So lets have a cup of coffee or tea and check some mistakes people make about handmade items..

1. If I Had The Time, I Could Make This In 30min

    Things are not as easy as they appear to be. All handcrafted items take time to create. It takes vision, imagination, love and experience. A pice of jewelry that someone might think it took 30 or 10 minutes to create has a lot more time behind it.
First of all, there is the time when the artist visualizes how that piece of jewelry should be. Colors, type of beads, technique. Then comes the research for materials. From personal experience, for my jewelry, I had to search for the right kind of wire, the right kind of beads (and trust me there are so many beads out there!)
Amber Tree Of Life Brooch
 the right kind of connectors, settings, and of course the right kind of wood, lacquer and paint for my handpainted jewelry. the hours of research are never paid. It is one task that most of us enjoy doing. We create with love and from the heart, so I never regret the hours I spend in searching for that right bead.

    After the visualization and the research, comes the actual crafting. The primary tools of every artist are the hands and soul. Apart from that every artist works with a specific technique, which evolves with experience. I learn every single day, with every single tree and every single wire twist I make. The one who says that has found the perfect recipe for sucess and just stays to what he/she knows is severely deluded. Crafting is a way of life, crafting is a humble life, I would never say that I don't have anything else to learn. There is still plenty and I am enjoying every minute of it.
Have you ever thought the reversed process of creating one of my trees? I will tell you exactly the items I would have gathered on my table. This would be the image of a disassembled tree ;)

    For one of my simple trees, on my desk there would be a spool of wire, beads, a log of wood, a saw, a lot of sandpaper (2 kinds usually), lacquer and pliers. Depending on how complicated a tree is you can add more materials and tools. So, as you can see it does take more than 30 min for most of us to create what you see as a final product.

2. All Materials Are Cheap
    This  is partially true. Yes, some materials are cheap. For example wire in general is cheap. You can go to a hardware store and buy some, no problem, right? Wrong... This wire is cheap for a reason. First of all it's not high quality and that reflects on handmade. If you ask the opinion of a lot of crafters who work with wire, they will tell you that cheap wire, is very stiff and impossible to shape. Secondly there is no variety in color. You get colors by buying artistic wire, which is of excellent quality and so much fun to work with. Finally it's the amount of a certain material used. Sure 1 meter of wire is cheap, but what about 50 or 100meters? One swarovski crystal is cheap what about 60 or 80 pieces? I m sure you know what I mean ;)
     That counts for other materials as well. It all ends up to what you want. A woolen scarf is different than an acrylic one, plastic looks different than glass and so on. Quality supplies cost. It is very simple.
Take a closer look at the description of the item you like. Every artist mentions the materials he used (if not you can always send him/her a message and ask). And you can judge by yourself. Does it have crystal beads, swarovski, glass, plastic beads? Is it made of garden wire, copper, bronze, gold, silver plated wire? Is it made of acrylic wool, icelandic wool, merino wool? Educate yourself, research materials after all you are willing to buy something special, it is worth the time spending searching and in the process you learn some interesting stuff.
    A huge mistake that is made is that people rarely read about the materials used to make an item and they dismiss it as too expensive, which is fine, I mean no one will force you to spend a lot of money. We all have out budget, but we all need to pay attention and understand why this item costs what it costs.

3. This Handmade Item Costs The Same (Or More) Than A Premium Brand Item
    Lets say you wanted something special for a loved one or yourself. You are thinking of spending a generous amoun of money since it is a special occasion. And lets assume that you can actually contact a designer who works for a premium brand and ask to make something unique and special for you. How much do you think an item like that would cost you?
    On the other hand, if you don't want something unique. If you wanted to buy a bag for example, have you ever considered what it is you pay for? Most labels on those premium brands have tags that say made in China or Taiwan. How much percentage of your money go to the people who actually made this item?
When you buy handmade have in mind that the crafter will be the designer, the maker, the promoter, the seller, while at the same time will listen to you, search for you and make suggestions so that you can have a special perfect and unique item. The artist will give you the best customer service he /she can.

4. This Shipping Cost Is Ridiculous
    First of all before any purchase you have to read the policies. This is very important. Check what the artist is offering you for the shipping price that is being asked. I promise all the policies of crafters/artists are in simple words. They are short and to the point. So don't worry that you might find yourselves lost in a sea of words that only lawyers understand.
    Once you read them and still you have the opinion that it is ridiculously high, you can always send an email inquiring other shipping options that might be cheaper.
Another thing we all have to keep in mind is size. A ring that weighs 20gr and a wire tree sculpture that weighs 500gr will have a huge difference in postage. 
The Whomping Willow
Also check the location of the artist. Where will the item be shipped from? The postage costs are very different from country to country. I have lived in 3 different cities in Europe, Greece, Denmark and now Norway and I can tell you with certainty that the shipping costs are dramatically different in these countries.
    If you still feel cheated, you can do your own research. All countries have websites of their postal services that are translated into english too and you can actually see the shipping costs there. Just make sure to check the dimensions of the item first on the description of the item. You will see then that most artists shipping costs are quite reasonable, after you take into consideration how much they charge at the post office.

    Once we understand these points things do look clearer. Bottom line is that all artists love what they do. All artists will create with their hands and souls, forever searching shops and the internet for that something which will make their creation special and filled with life. That is what make our pieces priceless. I urge all people to give handmade a chance. You will see that the items are of excellent quality and you will be having something completely unique filled with life and love.

Take care dear friends and see you next time xx


  1. Thanks so much for writing and sharing this!

  2. You are welcome :) I m glad you found it interesting