Saturday, 18 July 2009

Are you modest about your worth?

A happy act of good timing means that this sits reasonably well with the latest challenge over at Colour Create, so I've been spurred into action that I otherwise may have put off, who knows - actually finding where I'd safely stashed the cigar boxes after last time is a miracle too, so clearly I had to settle in and make the most!

A friend who should know better asked me to repeat an idea I used for another, mutual friend's birthday present. This time, for baby Evan, who arrived this month; she feels that a box for storing little treasures will make a more enduring gift than a set of vests. I agree; after all, if you aren't a scrapper, you need somewhere to put baby's identity bands and first few bits and pieces that you fully intend to 'do something with'.

Now, I have no problem with anyone choosing to give me a hand-made/home-made gift. Perhaps, because I hand-make/home-make myself, I understand every nuance of its creation and I truly appreciate it. Whatever it is. Slipper Lady, Lady Nurse and I have discussed this in the past, but I'd like to put it out here too; after all, it's raining again, I'm fidgeting for the want of something interesting to do and this micro speck of interweb is always good for a balanced opinion.

Why has my friend asked me to paint and prettify a box as a gift for baby Evan if she feels that she also needs to buy something to go with it to make it a worthy present? I'm not hurt or bothered by her telling me that she'd add to it, it's entirely up to her of course. I've experienced it a few times - made a keepsake or an album of an event as a gift for a family member for example, only for Mr Dunnit to suggest that we should buy something anyway - note the 'anyway' not 'as well'. Slipper lady experienced the same reaction after the creation of a hugely involved and labour of love type album for a family member. Her wing man was a little shaken by her estimation that the hours and materials spent thus far probably exceeded £300 worth of presents! Do we perceive home-made gifts as somehow, not worthy? Have we, over our years of crafting, been so damn modest that we've forgotten to measure the worth of what we produce? In many ways I think we have. If you think I'm being dramatic - go browse Etsy for a few minutes. And be honest with yourself. How many times do you look at a camera strap with ribbon sewn over it, or a knitted gonk type toy, or a bunch of journalling labels or clutch bags made out of 're-purposed men's shirts' and think 'blimey, that's a lot of money for a ...blah blah'.

There are moments when I think that some of the charges being applied to hand-made anything are ludicrous. But there are also moments when I'd happily shell out for whatever it is. It's about want. You ever watch that tv programme where the house-hunters have to guess the value of property that they've viewed? They always, always over estimate the cost of the property they fall in love with. Because they want it and therefore its worth is greater. Same with cards and boxes and gifts that people ask you to make. They ask you - they want it. Look 'em in the eye and give them a price. Don't be apologetic and don't instantly explain it - that's so amateur. Just think of Etsy and the amount of neck some of those sellers have. Go for it!
Now, I'm rarely asked to do anything on a commission basis (I have to force my 'art' on people by giving it to them as a gift!) so I have no idea what to charge for the baby's gift. But you can bet your life I'll find it too hard to take my own advice!
Oh and back to 'cute' - Angie, I'll post the other 'cute' cards after the workshop. Meanwhile, how about a shot of the Doodlebug house in all it's glory: (Carmen, you may need to look away -it's a tad on the pink side)!


Chrissie said...

Hi Julia,
Thanks for the visit to my blog, I've just enjoyed quite a few minutes reading through some of your interesting posts.
I agree with the sentiment of this one entirely. I have charged for commissions, and feel a little guilty about total amounts charged, but the cost no way pays for one's devoted time!
Having said this, people are appreciative of my work, which is most gratifying!
Back to your blog, love the elephant too... might just have to get me one of those!

Sharon said...

This is a really lovely keepsake Julia. I'm so glad we spurred you on to make it. It's so nice to have somewhere to keep those momentos. Thanks for playing along with the Colour Create Challenge.
Sharon xx

allyf said...

My work colleague and I had the same conversation just yesterday. She buys an awful lot of cards from me as does another colleague. They always pay more than I ask as they appreciate the work in them and their uniqueness.
I think its not a case that we dont value our own worth but that we dont think other people will value it the same. I think what I make is pretty fab most of the time, I wouldnt do it if I didnt. I just dont think other people will agree.
I've also been around long enough to witness people at craft shows trying to get something for nothing cos after all its handmade it has to be cheap.
Love the box and house tho hun.

Ruth said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a lovely comment.I've just added another card so you'll see I don't always do "cute".
I love your little box and the "pink" house, Ruth x

Angie said...

Mmmm .... that was a post, provoking thought on an interesting subject. I must say I tend to buy a gift to go with a hand made one. This is because the recipients are usually not crafters and I feel they will think I'm a cheap skate lol ... they will not think about how many hours it took and how much love went into it ... or that if it was bought in a craft shop, it would cost the earth.The funny thing is that if the item looked shop bought, then I wouldn't feel I needed to buy anything else!!!!!
I too look at things on etsy and think must be joking ... but I sometimes forget that they have to charge for the work and I agree that the more an item is wanted, the more they can charge.I'd find it very hard to do anything on commission as I would be struggling to ask for what it was worth and be worrying that it was not good enough to be paid for.I also feel that the fun of creating disappears when you are paid for making the item. When I was young, I made cakes for friends but when their friends started asking and stipulating what they wanted ... the fun went. I also made jewelery and the same thing happened.

I think your box is brilliant and is ideal for keepsakes .... but i'd probably buy the vests too lol. xx

Claireliz said...

I've left you an award on my blog.

Minxy said...

huuummmmm, now that is a question, i am useless at valuing my own worth, i guess because there are so many people out there that just don't recognise the time effort and well blood sweat and tears that go into some pieces, and i must admit i too am guilty of seeing some things on esty and saying HOW MUCH, but i think its more to do with me, again not knowing or having the confidance in my own work, so i wouldn't dream of charging that much for the same piece...
As for buying a gift as well as giving something hand made, i use to do that, but i'm slowly just making the gifts and if the person thinks i'm cheap then so be it.. they wont be getting anything the following year lol
Both your box and the house are fab and priceless :O)

CoventryAnn said...

Point 1... Love the Doodlebug house!
Point 2... I only spend a lot of time making things for those i think will really appreciate them now, i do know people who equate 'hand-made' with 'home-made' and therefore cheap, they don't get a look in any more!
Point 3... It is very tricky to put a price on things i've made, i rarely make them for money, and have been disappointed at how much people are willing to pay. I don't think many (except for other crafters) are aware of the cost in time and materials of a lot of items, and some even expect to pay less as it's not shop bought.
Solution... i mainly make for me and my family :)

Dena said...

Oh this little box is darling and I love the house too! Great way to store things! Thanks so much for playing along with Colour Create this week! Hugs, Dena

Anonymous said...

Beautiful work. Love little Evan's blue box.

Carmen said...

LOL! It is very pink but it is quite lovely too.

Craig and I have been having this exact discussion. He thinks I should try selling stuff on Etsy - especially my ducks. But when I said well what would you sell them for he said at LEAST £7.00!! I love making them and am making one now for a giveaway as some people suggested but I balked at that price so what would other people do? And that's like you say only just covering materials and time if they are quite elaborate. On the other hand I'm chuffed to bits that he seems to think they would sell.

My sister is very handy and into her woodwork and sewing. We used to get a handmade gift every year and this was the present I looked forward to the most. The last couple of years we've received a bought gift because she has simply run out of time and I have to admit after saving her present till last each time having a huge deflating moment when I see it's a gift she's bought - how ungrateful am I? But no way would I ever expect her to make me something AND buy me something. Though if I made something I probably would buy something to go with it myself... it's an interesting question.

scrappyjan said...

Very nice litte box and that doodle house is so cute too! Thank you for joining us at Colour Create Challenge. janny

lisa said...

You certainly know how to get the old grey matter working on a dull Sunday afternoon.
I think your treasure box is just lovely and the recepient will just love it. I wish someone had made something like this for us when our daughter was born. They soon grow out of the baby suits and toys people buy but a treasure box can be kept forever. I did make one but it was only a cardbox covered in wrapping paper, with a new baby you don't have time for anything else.
People so appreciate things we have made ourselves, but I don't think we always know that. I made scrapbook albums for both Grandmas and a friend last Christmas and they were all absolutely delighted with them. They are still on display 6 months later when all other xmas pressies are long since forgotten.
We need to give ourselves more credit for what we do and stop feeling the need to also give a bought present with a homemade one, there is really no need.
I hope you don't get this comment twice. My first attempt disappeared into the ether!!!!


my5bratz said...

hmmm..Ive done both..added an "extra" and just my gift...I know the "older generation" appreciate the time and effort put in to making something...

that said, I hope you still have my address to send the house

Anonymous said...

I love homemade gifts, and am really thrilled with them, but agree no one wants to pay the cost plus your time. Everyone has commented on Emma's baby cot and hought they would sell for a fiver/tenner when they cost nearer £20 to make. Loe the pink house but does it have a use yet????
lady Nurse