Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Handmade May Cost More, But It's Worth It

La Costurera, Diego Velazquez, 1640
Here's a nice little reminder, in time for the holidays...

If you're perusing a craft faire or Etsy & you think the prices are high, consider how much labor goes into a handmade item. Somer Sherwood explains how she arrives at the price for her hand-crocheted hats on her blog post, "the true cost of handmade." Most artisans wouldn't make U.S. minimum wage at the "high" prices they charge.

Same with doing it yourself at home. I priced out how much it cost me to make a fabulous black & white necklace, which I admittedly made from pricey, high-quality materials. I owned some things like the wire, clasps, & tools already, but the raw cost was still around $32. No bargain when you make it yourself.

But paying an individual artist or DIYing does avoid the faceless, mass-produced, sweatshop labor that is reinforced by so many of our other purchases. Small victories.

Being that the hype-driven Black Friday is coming up here in the U.S., this is a good time for a plea to support buying handmade if you're shopping for holiday gifts. Or at least buy local, instead of just patronizing the big-box stores. Individual artisans & locally owned shops are part of your own community & deserve support.

My immediate family has eschewed buying Christmas gifts for many years now, & instead we give hand-crafted or charity gifts. This year, I'm making hot/cold packs from fabric in my stash (a friend made one for me & I use it tons). Plus my husband & I make updated calendars from our travel photos to give to our extended family. Time to get crackin'!



  1. We have 3 great events happening next month. I'm so excited to do some local crafty shopping! Yay , alternative Seattle!

  2. I know It's very difficult to set prices and to value my own work. I sell jewelry made of soldered china and each piece of soldered china takes over one our to make. I haven't tried to sell in a fair yet, but planning to do so. I've done so many home made christmasgifts for the family so now I'm out of ideas :)

  3. I find it cheaper to make my own clothes, when I factor in things like dissatisfaction with RTW and using my handmade stuff more....but then I'm not counting the cost of my time like a craftsperson would.

    I do participate in Black Friday, but I am buying some of our gifts from small businesses and plan to do Small Business Saturday. With children in the family, some concessions to the mass market are inevitable. I don't buy throwaway things however, even as stocking stuffers, because of the impact on the environment. Everything must have a purpose beyond being exciting on Christmas morning.

  4. I would like to get away from buying so many gifts for the holidays. It starts to feel like a grind.

    Sadly the thing that I am most expert at crafting is a lawsuit. And nobody wants one of those.