The Cost of Art

My  husband asked me to make a doily for his bedside table (built by his great-grandfather), that matched one I’d made for my bedside table. My crochet basket goes with me any place I wait. Since I’ve spent some time recently in a lot of doctor offices, I got a lot of crocheting done. It’s much slower when there’s IVs in the backs of both hands.

Then my husband asked me how long it took to crochet. I had no idea so I timed myself. His piece took roughly forty hours.

Art's table

Art’s piece. Pattern: Queen Anne’s Lace

The amount of time got me thinking about how you price on art. Or in this case, crafts. Even if I charged fifty cents an hour, no one is going to pay twenty dollars for a doily. You can get them in thrift stores for fifty cents. They’re old lady things; out of fashion. Taught to me by an old lady I loved, so I crochet in her memory.

Aunty and us Easter 2

‘Aunty’ who taught me to crochet when I was nine. Plus me in the middle with siblings.

What about my friends who create beautiful works of art with glass? Or the friend who makes earrings (that I benefit from)? The friend who paints? The friend who creates amazing landscapes?

The writer?

If you charged even minimum wage your work of art would be priced out of reach for the majority of the people.

How do you price something that is a creation, something spiritual, something you’ve breathed your soul into? Granted, my crocheting isn’t anything like that; it’s simply a way to keep hands busy. But writing certainly is.

I’m a slow writer. I dally and wander and get distracted by the scenery. So it can take me years to write a book. I’d have to sell more books than I currently do, to make a poverty-level wage off of them.

We all know no one creates works of art in order to make money. And isn’t that a good thing? There are so many things I value, made by people I equally value, that would not be in my life if the artists were out to make money.

I just wish I could pay them as much as I value their work.

Steven mumps March 1965

Brother with mumps – and one of the few photos I have of Aunty’s crocheting

7 thoughts on “The Cost of Art

  1. I would shout it from the mountain tops if I could make something half so beautiful as Art’s bedside doily. In fact I’m not sure the word doily does this lovely fabric art justice.
    Glad that you are using the time that many would spend paging through last year’s people magazine to create. And that you are writing about it as well.

  2. Thank you for putting hooks to thread and thoughts to the page and sharing the art of possibility. I am inspired. Bless you.

  3. I appreciate you and your work so much. My words don’t do justice to what I feel.

    And about the cost of art: I wish we lived in the Star Trek universe where everyone is able to pursue the work that excites them, that fits them, without worrying about how to afford their next meal.

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