Sam Hunter is trying to start a movement. (Kinda like Tom's, but think hands, not feet).
Sam wants to educate the world about the value of handmade goods - a movement she's calling "We are $ew worth it!" The whole goal is to share what goes into making a handmade good (via time and materials) and by doing so, hopefully improve the value of that good.
I get asked all the time if I ever sell my work. The answer is yes, maybe. I've put some of my quilts on Etsy, but none have sold and I don't have any expectations that they will ever sell. And that's okay, actually. You never asked me to make it - and therefore you owe me nothing. You are not responsible for my art.
Selling art has never been easy. So many great artists throughout time suffered dearly during their lifetimes, never making a cent, and that dynamic is not going to change anytime soon. But we can always try.
When it comes to quilts as art, (whether they hang on the wall or sit the bed), people think, oh I can make that, or I can get something like it at one of the big box stores for a fraction of the price. Yes, you can. People do it everyday. Go for it.
But a few of us bring decades of expertise and talent, and spend hours and hours on our quilts, and we'd like to pursue selling quilts as art. So, how do we put a value on a piece of art? What's it worth?
Sam's movement offers a solution.
I recently heard Sam speak at the Bad Ass Quilters Society event. She shared her formula for pricing the quilts we make by hand in our homes (it can be applied to others arts as well). It is a basic time and materials formula with special consideration for quilts, fabric and the years of experience each sewer brings to a project. Sam's post last year went viral... not a surprise.
I'll recap, but you can read Sam's original post here.
1. First: cost of materials... and people, this means ALL the materials, please! For example, a typical 48 x 60 inch quilt has ~$72.00 worth of fabric (and that is fairly conservative). If you use a lot of specialty fabrics, and layer on applique, which most art quilters do, then you will invest considerably more in fabrics. The thread I use averages between $9.00-$15.00 a spool, and I use lots of thread in each quilt. Yes, I can buy it cheaper, but I want the best quality material for the job, because I care about the end product. Then you have needles (several for each project), batting, embellishment, adhesives, stabilizers, embroidery floss, etc. A sewing machine to make the thing... and you do NOT want to know how much my sewing machine cost! But hey, without it I would not be able to produce the art quilts that I am making. Then there are a myriad of other tools, which are completely not optional to make the thing. You can go on and on... Add up those bits.
2. Other half is time. I see art quilts selling at prices that I know means those artists are working for about .25 cents an hour. This is not an exaggeration! Sam's formula is a good one - check it out. She is striving for us to get to $20 / hour. Emphasis on the striving.... Yippee.
Again, all of this is not your problem and I am not laying blame at all. There is no need for blame - it is what it is.
$ew Worth It! is not about getting more money, because in reality that is not going to happen.
Rather, it is a movement to disclose what goes into a handmade good. We put it out there, and then you can decide the value.
Years ago, when we were on a vacation... we walked by a group of artists painting outside and selling their work to tourists. I wanted to purchase this lovely little water color. While I was looking, a lady came up and asked the artist if he would take $5 for the painting. The asking price was $12. He said yes and put the money in his pocket. No smile. No thrill there. Just a sale. Seriously, $5 for an original painting? I choose the one I wanted and handed him $15. I smiled and started to walk away. He stopped me and said thank you in a way that I know he meant it and that was good enough for me. That $15 dollar painting is one of my favorites - and the reason has nothing to do with price. If I can spend $15 on a hamburger and drink, I can certainly invest the same on an original work of art that will make me happy for years to come.
What's it worth? To me, it's worth plenty.
Thanks for reading. Go to Sam's blog. Share this with others if you are so inclined.
We are "$ew Worth It!"