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Friday, March 9, 2012

Frozen Charlotte

Frozen Charlotte is a name used to describe a specific form of china doll made from c. 1850 to c. 1920. The name comes from the American folk ballad, which tells of a young girl called Charlotte who refused to wrap up warmly to go on a sleigh ride and froze to death during the journey.
This Frozen Charlotte was excavated from a doll factory that existed in Germany in the 1860's, and she is now in Atlanta in the House and Home show at Mudfire Gallery. This is one of my most favorite pieces I have made and I was really sad to see it go. There are still a lot of pieces available in that show, including three of mine, and this has sort of had me bummed out this week. I know that there was really bad weather for the opening but the show is also online and there is some great work in it. 
Of course, when my best work doesn't sell, the ugly doubt monster comes to visit, I start thinking people don't like me, I'm not good enough, my prices are too high, people don't get it, blah blah.
The pricing thing has really had me freaked out. Of course I make this work to sell, and this has become my chosen profession, but pricing something I love puts me in a spiral of misery and doubt. All of my friends have been telling me I need to raise my prices, Gerry says it, even when I sell a piece to a collector, they tell me they would have paid more, I am pricing my work too low. Well, having work at Mudfire and at Lark and Key has forced me to raise them. In order to cover shipping, gallery commissions, travel time, etc. I had to increase the cost just to cover my expenses and make what I normally make on them, and yes, I DO make this work to sell it.
Also, now that I am including found objects, I have to cover the cost of them. They are not cheap. I buy them from collectors, and either travel to find them up or I have to pay shipping when I find them online. And I don't buy just any old thing, it has to be just right, and usually that means $$. 
So, here is my point to all of this. The piece in the photo is priced at $385. This covers my time, materials, the frozen charlotte, Mudfire's commission and the shipping and packing person I paid at Packmail. It is a fair price, this is one of the best pieces I have made. But when I looked at the price listed there in the online shop, it FREAKED me out! It is one of the most expensive pieces in the show. Who do I think I am? That was my initial response. But then, when I simmered down, I remembered how much time I put into this thing. It took me an entire day to complete, let it dry for a week, terra sig applied in a couple of hours of work, then it gets fired in my manual gas kiln that I babysit for 12 hours, then I stain it, wax it, drive it to the packing and shipping place. Not to mention the emotional trauma of parting with it..... and hoping someone that will love it and take care of it actually buys it. So, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I have to price my work higher and hope that buyers will accept this and still want to buy it. I sold the first barns I made for $65 and they flew out of my studio. I made very little money on them and everyone told me I had to raise the price. So I raised them to $125. Now the simple ones are $150 and they go up from there to $385. I am getting more comfortable with these prices and I am able to cover my expenses and actually pay myself for my time. But this has been a huge mental struggle for me. I want people to be able to afford my work and I want to sell it. But I also want to get a fair price for all of my time and effort. When I break it all down to hours and expenses, I made about $15 an hour. Seriously, Walmart is paying their employees $12 an hour, so why should I be freaking out over selling my work for $385?!
It's still for sale, check out Mudfire's online shop if you want a really cool piece of art to love and treasure :)

9 comments:

Anna M. Branner said...

This is a conversation I think we all have with ourselves. It's all about what your goal is, the type of work you make, and what makes you happy and satisfied. But that being said its a total struggle for me as well!

Melissa Rohrer said...

It's a beautiful piece, and ditto on the first comment.

Tracey Broome said...

Anna, you are so right! My goal is to make the best work I can and have it out there, which means my prices have to increase due to the amount of time I spend on each piece and the commission I pay. Such a catch 22 isn't it?!
Hey Melissa, thanks!
A ps to the post:
As soon as I posted this, I had an email from Lark and Key that they had sold one of my houses, yay!
Peaks and valleys......

Hollis Engley said...

Brilliant piece, Tracey. And well worth the price tag. Really, lovely ...

Tracey Broome said...

Thanks Hollis! I really love this piece, and I love the photo Gerry made of it :)

Judy Abdelaziz said...

Great piece. It is a internal struggle about whether to make simpler pieces for less or more detailed work for more. This year I am hoping to go for detail over cheap.

Tracey Broome said...

Hey Judy, I have done the cheap, it's hard selling to people that buy cheap art:). I much prefer making more detailed work and spending the time making each piece great.

yolande clark said...

Good for you, Tracey! Gorgeous piece. I think all potters benefit, too, when we charge what we should for our work.

Amy said...

Geez.... this reminds me at how most pottery is worth more than it is sold for. Many will never understand these pricing conversations that we potters have within us. peace!