Money, Travel, Pricing

Oh, dear. I knew tapestry technique would be slow to weave, but tt takes so long to unpick! I'll show some pictures when I make some progress, but the bigger, color-coded treadling plan print out helped. A little.

I wished I could tell you I got back to weaving after being struck by lightening, or Melbourne/Vincent/Matisse/[insert_almost_anything] did the trick, but my life rarely includes that kind of filmic moments. It's actually because: a) I wanted money to: i) replace what I spent during the April Auckland trip; ii) help pay for the Melbourne trip; ii) let me to go to Japan later this year or Feb next year; and iv) help pay for our Otago/Southland, (bottom of the South Island,) road trip in November; b) I got tired of being unproductive; and c) while exploring the various mixed-media techniques, I remembered how familiar loom-weaving is to me, albeit nowhere near as free or spontaneous, and I wanted to it back in my life. It's like returning to another van Gogh book every so often; I know the cast of characters and the basic plot, so I have room to appreciate the nuances and enjoy different authors' spin.

Earlier in the year Mom asked me when I'm coming home next, (a first,) and when I said Feb, she complained we couldn't travel in Feb. I was slightly taken aback, because she's never made demands on my trips and Feb is, if the trains keep running, the least crowded and nice. I was sure she'd forget the conversation and indeed she had. It was, however, on Ben's mind and after Melbourne he reminded me several times about Air New Zealand's Asia sale.

So, I'll be going home for a few weeks in Oct/Nov. (Coincidentally, in time for "van Gogh and Japan" at Tokyo Met Art Museum, who latet last year hosted "van Gogh and Gauguin" when I was keenly reading up on the subject. Just down the road National Western Art Museum will be showing "Hokusai and Japonism" at the same time. Don't you just love it when folks work collaboratively?) As regards going somewhere with Mom, I'm thinking of something different from her usual travels, like a few days in Osaka, best city in Japan for foodies. We shall see!

And this is why I'm having another look at my selling strategy, for want of a better word. Suter is the only outlet now, and it'd be nice to develop another, but I also enjoy the occasional online-sale, even though it's labor-intensive; practice does make it easier. Since April 1, I sold three during the cashmere sale, plus another at the Suter, income total almost reaching a quarter of Auckland flight/accom+Melbourne flight/accom+Japan flight.

Small cashmere scarves sell the best at the Suter; I think it's the price, size, and the fact over half of those who buy my things at the Suter are overseas visitors, and the tiny scarves make handy mementos of a trip to Nelson. Also in the new Suter shop, my wider pieces are folded so narrow they aren't shown to their best advantage.

The smaller scarves are fast to make, unless I insist on many weft colors in tapestry technique. And they are cost-effective. (I hope I'm using that term correctly.) Of all cashmere and cashmere-mix pieces, the small, 6-8 inch width scarves allow me make the most profit in relation to the cost of yarns, excluding taxes and shipping to bring the yarn over here, whereas some wider pieces allow me to recover less than 150% of the cost. I learned this by weighing the cashmere pieces in the last sale; all these years I imagined my endeavours were slightly more profitable. (But wider cashmere pieces are scrumptious.)

Merino yarns are less expensive but those I tend to put on the 16-shaft, making them more time-consuming and labor-intensive; I haven't looked into merino cost/price ratio but now I'm interested. Mixing silks and wool from Mom's stash sure help.

I've never took art-pricing flormulae seriously, as I'm so slow everything I make will end up ridiculously expensive. Very early on I wanted to generate enough income to pay for material/equipment/a few books and one or two workshops a year, (so optimistic!) but this side of 2008, (or 2009 when it really started to affect me,) I've only aimed to recover yarn cost and postage. Which I've been able to some years, because I stopped buying yarns and books for the most part, only augmenting the stash to help using them up nicely. But that felt a little... sad in that it's so unambitious, almost apologetic. So this year, belatedly, I dared to aim high, to make enough to cover a big part of my Auckland/Melbourne/Japan trips.

Grand ambition! I have a few commissions which will help me reach almost half of the goal. I'll have at least one more online sale, and a bunch of different-looking small pieces at the Suter, so maybe I can get over the halfway point? LOL. You can see why I quit filing income tax returns. The business side of my weaving is ridiculous; I think it takes the fun out of weaving sometimes.

So, to the loom!

Do tell me how you price your work, what you think about them, how you manage/combat the selling side of your weaving, please??


Stephanie S said...

I am not very business minded. After trying to figure out an hourly amount for my time with no success (I like trying out new ideas, yarns, weave structures and techniques, but that takes more time to design and make the piece and then how can I change for experimentation) so I have settled on charging about 5X the cost of the yarn. I make exceptions for the occasional beautiful expensive yarn I splurged on just to try out. But for the most part that's what it works out in the end. Hand dyed pieces really makes it difficult but I have finally settled on charging about $10.00 more for hand dyed or sometimes I don't charge more at all. It depends on how the piece comes out. So I've pretty much given up on hand dying except for rare instances when I just can't find what I need.
After reviewing what I have written I am laughing - I think the underlying theme is that I am reluctant to charge too much for weaving that was fun!
Hope you sell a ton of your work!
Stephanie S

Meg said...

5x would be wonderful, but I doubt I can sell at even 2x. And I realized this morning that I'm talking about the retail price, OK if I sell directly, but when selling from the gallery, I'm not even covering that. Yikes. I have mixed cashmere with merino or merino mix yarns to bring down the cost marginally, and they feel nice, but of course not the same. I feel so conflicted!!! :-D