Photo above...Seed bead work, a supple beaded band and hours of work.
Starving Artist! We've all heard the term before and those of us who are involved in the arts in any form or fashion may even have had a chuckle or two over the expression. But this morning in particular it struck me big, bold and blatant, the truth. Most artists do struggle to make some form of existence, many times their art ends up being a sideline while another means of employment pays the bills and puts food into their mouths. Why? Good question and one I wish I had an answer to.
Yesterday I was remorsefully viewing my etsy shop, a number of items had expired and many items that I had worked so hard to fabricate where sitting there with very little views. Disheartening yes, especially when one considers how vast the Internet is and how many tens of thousands, if not millions, of people are browsing it at any given moment.
One item in particular caught my attention, a beaded spiral rope made up of hundreds of tiny little 3 millimeter Czech glass beads and approximately 10 to 12 hours of tedious work. It was listed at $55 (for both the beaded rope and a glass pendant with my own handcrafted seed-beaded bail). How much was my time worth ? What's minimum wage ? I googled "minimum wage" to find that, at the present time, it is set at $7.25 per hour.
Okay now for the math:
I spent about 10 hours carefully constructing the beaded rope alone and another 3 or 4 hours designing and fabricating the bail made from maddeningly tiny seed beads.
So let's figure 14 hours of my time. 14 x $7.25 = $101.50
Now add to that the 6 strands of Czech glass beads that went into the making of the rope necklace 6 x $3.00 = $18
About $1.00 for the cost of yards and yards and yards and yards of Nymo beading thread.
I won't count the cost of things such as the #12 and #15 ultra fine beading needles that were used (beading needles tend to develop a cork screw curve to them and have to be tossed after a couple of projects - also they are very fine and fragile and I can't count how many I've broken).
2 sterling silver metal beads were used in the construction of my handmade clasp; worth about half a dollar each, so there's another $1.00.
The 39 mm art glass pendant cost me only $3.00 wholesale (of course I had to purchase in bulk to qualify for that discount, and a bead shop would at least double that price).
Then about another $2.00 in expensive little Japanese Delica seed beads, the best money can buy (had I purchased them in my local bead store I would have paid 3 times that amount...but bead stores have an overhead to pay for).
Final value of Beaded Rope Necklace :
$101.50 (time in labor)
$21.00 (in beads)
$3.00 (for glass pendant)
$1.00 (for Nymo)
Numbers don't lie! I should be charging $126.50 for that handcrafted beaded rope necklace.
I have it listed at $55 and I have $25 invested in it in supplies.
Etsy's take on my $55 would be $1.93 + $0.20 = $2.13
Paypal's take would be $1.66 (for necklace + S&H) + $0.30= $1.96
total etsy/paypal fees = $4.09
Shipping and Handling is listed at $2.25 (gift box for shipping necklace cost $1.00 USPS fees $1.58 = $2.58 and packaging doesn't include cost for printing out a packing slip, or for gift wrap, tape, a free Thank You Gift, etc.)
$55 minus supplies = $20 minus etsy/paypal's $4.09 = $15.91 minus S&H $2.58 = $13.33
My take for 14 hours of work is a whopping $13.33 that's less than a dollar an hour.
Suddenly Starving Artist takes on a whole new realization!