Monday, January 28, 2008

Craft - making the world a prettier and better place?

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" Ecclesiastes 9:10

I first discovered this quote on a cross-stitch sampler and it has always stuck with me. I have no great knowledge of the Bible or scripture, so my interpretation is personal. As an artist/crafter and former academic, the quality of "by hand" is extremely important to me. There is just so much more connection to the world and the people around us who make the products that fill our lives. Take this pair of earrings: unique, one-of-a-kind, beautiful (if I do say so myself, and I should since I made them - sorry NFS).

Components: ear wires, headpins, metal spacer beads, amazonite beads, seed beads, plastic beads and glass beads, and plastic backers since I am horrendous about only losing the earrings that I adore. Tools: needlenose pliers, chainnose pliers, wire cutters, metal file, nylon jaw pliers. Sources: garage sales, large chain craft stores-Joann's and Michaels, hardware stores -Home Depot, independent bead shops, my favorite local place is Bodacious Beads in Hillsboro, Oregon. Time: about an hour and a half, not including shopping and percolating of the idea.

As an artisan selling these as one of a kind earrings with gemstone and recycled materials, I might realistically expect $25-45, if I had an established name I might actually make a profit by asking $45-65. Of course, I do have to pay retail for my supplies which does greatly affect my material cost and admittedly I am not doing production work so I work very hard to make each piece an original which greatly increases my time.

Now. . . what if I go to the Fred Meyer, Target or the mall? What would I reasonably expect to pay for a pair of earrings? Given that the materials are wholesale, production items, with the possibility of assembly line work, most likely shipped from overseas, how much is the person who designed the earrings earning and then how much is the person physically creating the earrings earning?

I don't have the answers, seriously, I'm not an economist or whatever. But it makes me think. . . can the artisan who is making the majority of jewelry I've bought in my life be making a living wage in decent working conditions?

Do I now make most of my own jewelry so my conscience is clean or am I really helping by being part of the handmade movement? Or do I make my own jewelry so I can bliss out in the process and then revel in my sense of accomplishment? Doing it with all my might.

1 comment:

  1. Great page Deb! I love it! Keep up the great work! Don't get too good tho, I'll be jealous. ;) jk!