Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pricing Carvings, Whittlings, and Other Crafts

I will try to explain how I have found relief from the trials and tribulations involved with setting prices on whittled and/or carved pieces.  What I will try to explain is what I have arrived at.  It works for me, but it will not work for everyone.  First, whittling is a hobby for me.  It is therapeutic. It is relaxing.   It is inexpensive.  And it's fun.  Some times folks comment that ones whittled or carved pieces are, "good work".  I know that this is meant as a compliment.  But whittling for me is not work.  Whittling is not my job.  I do not operate a business.  It is my hobby.  It is a hobby that produces many whittled pieces over a years time.  Those of you who have read this blog over time, know that I take all of my breakfasts in a small diner in town.  With coffee each morning I whittle at least two items; mostly seasonal pins, christmas tree oraments, small animals, and/or earrings.  While I give most of these away, there are still many left.  It is from this stock of many left that I price and sell at two sales per year.  One of my main motivations to selling is too eliminate the excess whittlings, after gifting the rest of them.

Secondary to wanting to get rid of the excess whittled items are the following:
1. Too enable others to enjoy a piece of whittled or carved wood.
2.  To perhaps introduce others to the joy of whittling and carving.
3.  To provide a good hand crafted item to someone so they can in turn gift it to someone else.
4.  To enable folks to obtain a good whittled or carved piece at a very resaonable price.

Remember, I am not in business, so I do not have to make a profit.  And if I am not required to make a profit I do not have to keep track of hours spent whittling.   But just for fun, lets figure out my actual material and labor costs to whittle and finish one ornament.  A typical piece of Basswood for me is no larger than 1" X 1" X 3".  This means that for each whittled ornament I have less than 14 cents in wood.  Add to this wood cost about 5 cents for an eye piece, and you have about 19 cents in materials.  I will generousely add 6 cents for a natural wax.  Now we're up to 25 cents per piece.  Forget that I cut the 1x1x3 into two triangular pieces that when whittled on the corner lets me produce not one, but two ornaments per 1x1x3 inch pieces of Basswood.  One thing you must know is that I am a fast whittler.  I typically whittle an ornament in 15 minutes or even less.  To finish the piece, I dip the piece into wood conditioner then into a liquid stain - wax (3 cents worth), let dry then buff.  I do bunches at a time, but lets say I devote 2 minutes per piece.  Lets see, we now have 17 minutes of time invested and 28 cents in materials.  Permit me to jump ahead a bit.  I sell the finished ornaments for $8.00.   How much do I make from the sale of each ornament?  If you are so inclined; you do the math.

Lets review:

I do four ornaments per hour.
Material costs for one ornaments  $ .28
I sell an ornament for $8.00

  I do have others coming up to my table/booth space and tell me I am selling the pieces to low.  Some other carvers may even get upset, because they have similar pieces priced for more than twice as much as mine.  But I always tell them that their pieces are much better than mine.

 Snowman pins bow tie or scarf, $6.00

Simple snowman pin, $4.00

Small Gnome in the round, $10.00

Christmas tree pin, $4.00

Santa pins, $8.00

Santa tree prnament, $8.00

Small Gnome in the round, $10.00

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