Handmade Products aren’t Cheap, Here’s Why

I know some people may look at a beautiful handmade wreath or a piece of jewelry on Etsy, and wonder about the price or why prices vary so much from shop to shop.

If you are in the handmade business, it’s not very often that customers are going to flat out ask you why you charge the way you do, except for maybe the odd person at a craft show. And you may find that those people generally don’t care what your explanation is for your pricing or process, usually they’re just low key accusing you of over-charging and making things super awkward before they mutter something about making it themselves and walk away.

But when you look at a completed sign, or a craft of any sort, you see the finished project, not the time and energy that went into making it, or the cost & quality of the supplies, the difficulty there might be in obtaining the supplies, etc, and it truly is hard to see the value behind it. Only the maker or artist truly knows what goes into their work and what’s behind the dollar sign.

There have been many pieces of art that I have adored that have been out of my budget too, so trust me, I get it. I would be the person at the craft show admiring and complimenting your work and walking away sadly if I couldn’t afford it. That beautiful reclaimed wood table I’m ogling won’t be looking so great if I can’t afford to put food on it this week.

I’m sharing the attached felt flower tutorial that is time lapsed, just to give you an idea of how much work goes into ONE felt flower. ONE. Even in a time lapse, (where it completely skips the steps where she has to cut all those millions of petals btw) it’s still taking her forevvvvver to make, not to mention deterring me from ever wanting to make that style of flower or continuing to watch the video.

I don’t make the type of flower shown in the tutorial, but even the simple ones that I create still take a ridiculous amount of time. I don’t use a die cutting machine, I AM the cutting machine here, so everything is cut by hand and glued together piece by piece.

They are a labor of love, a love that I’ve thought about ending many times over how tedious they can be. But damn, they just make the signs look so much prettier sometimes, don’t you think?

When I started using felt and burlap flowers in 2013, I bought them from a friend who made them because I had no clue that I could attempt to make them myself and I also did not understand the time that went into each one. Bless her heart for charging me so little for her adorable flowers!

I loved the look of them and thought they added something unique to the signs, and this was way before I actually knew how to use Instagram or had a clue what other makers were doing with felt flowers over in the US. Turns out that they were doing some next level stuff in the states, but the felt flowers on signs were unique around here at the time.

The round signs I make with over 20 felt flowers on them that cost $80CDN? Welp, for anyone who has ever wondered why, just take a little glimpse at the attached tutorial to get an idea of the time that goes into a flower. Be forewarned though, you may want to tear your own eyeballs out after only 20 seconds of video footage.

This doesn’t factor in the cost of the board itself, which is a gorgeous and thick piece of wood that has smooth curved edges and is actually intended to be used as a tabletop, so it’s nicer quality than if we were cutting our own rounds. The rounds themselves cost about $15.

I buy all my felt online, so it’s costlier than going to Michael’s but the felt I use is a wood blend and is higher quality, easier to work with, and comes in more variety in terms of colors.

We hand sand the rounds, stain or paint the base, create a design on a software program similar to photoshop and then cut a stencil, paint the stencil on, clear coat, make all the flowers, glue them on, add hardware, and voila! Sounds easy when I sum it up like that, but it’s definitely hours and hours and hours and hours of work, not to mention tools and materials.

Add in a hand-cut shape like the unicorn or mermaid, and that tacks on even more time that my husband spends on the scroll saw, afterwards sanding all the tiny grooves and edges by hand. Then I take the shape and paint or stain it, glitter it up, seal it and glue it on the sign.

To be honest, I could charge $150 for these signs and I might feel like our time and supplies were being compensated, but I definitely wouldn’t sell any at that price, or feel right about selling them at that price, so there has to be a happy medium. I absolutely LOVE creating and coming up with my own ideas, and I want to be valuable and as unique as possible but not completely out of reach. That’s my personal approach, but everyone is different, and each artist has their own guidelines for pricing. Sometimes it’s hard to put a price tag on creativity and originality.

I know that many customers appreciate the time and effort that goes into handmade and (budget permitting ) will pay for a unique or personalized product that they won’t find in stores or on Pinterest, but this is just a bit of insight for those who are genuinely wondering what is factored in when it comes to the pricing of my handmade products. I hope it’s been helpful if you’re a customer or relatable if you’re a maker.

If I could do a timelapse video of the entire process for one sign, (or even one small $5 magnet), it would probably bore you to tears but also give you a greater idea of how much effort is involved. But ain’t nobody got time for making videos when I have a boat load of felt flowers to make! So I’mma go do that instead. See you in 400 years from now. 😉

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