[Clayart] Pricing, why, and worth

Deborah Thuman debthuman at zianet.com
Mon Jul 31 11:51:17 EDT 2017

Why is easy. I have to create things. If I don’t, I become spiritually and emotionally constipated. Creating things is as critical to me as water. 

The pricing part is sort of easy. It’s a function of cost of materials and time necessary to make the item. This is fairly easy with regard to beads. A piece that was quick to make but I used semi-precious stones is going to be priced higher than a piece that took me several hours but is comprised of glass beads. 

Translating that to clay….. There’s the cost of the clay (pre-made or DIY), the cost of glaze (pre-made or DIY), the cost of propane to fire the kiln and overhead. In my case, the overhead is the cost of the kiln, the cost of tools, the cost of my website, annual dues to the Farmers & Craft Market and the $10 fee to set up each time I set up. My studio is at my home, so there’s no studio rent to consider. 

Worth is difficult. A friend has reminded me that not everyone can make what I make. Not everyone has the knack, the talent or the desire. If you come to me for legal advice and help, you’re buying my knowledge and experience. When I have my dental checkup, I’m paying for my dentist’s knowledge and experience. 

If you buy something I make, you are paying for my knowledge (I had to learn how to do it) and experience (next week’s pots will always be better than last week’s pots). 

Is my legal knowledge and experience worth more than my artistic knowledge and experience? It will cost you more for my legal assistance than for anything I make. But is the legal assistance worth more? Is staying out of prison worth more than a lidded container? It depends on who you ask. If you’re looking at potentially 9 years in prison for something you didn’t do (and there truly are a good number of innocent people in prison), my legal expertise is worth a whole lot more to you than my ability to make a nice mug. If you’re the victim of my client, you probably wish I would stick to art. 

Worth and value are different. Worth is what I paid for a bowl and mug. Value is the contentment I get when I use that bowl and mug. A piece of the maker’s soul is in that bowl and mug and I can feel that piece each time I use the bowl and mug. (Tracy Shea made the bowl and mug in case you were wondering.)

We each decide the intrinsic value of our pieces when we price our pieces. When we price our work lower than the cost of materials, that’s when we hurt others. That’s what has to be avoided. 

Deb Thuman
debthuman at zianet.com

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. 
Scott Adams

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