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  • Commission work

    I do quite a bit of beadwork. Most of my work has been for my family (husband, myself, and our kids). I have had people ask what I would charge to do their beadwork for them.

    I am interested in helping them out, but have no idea what to charge for doing this.

    What would you all consider reasonable prices? Items such as barettes, moccasins, belts, leggins, cuffs, vests, headbands, beaded bags, and applique work..........just to name a few.

  • #2
    Would you be looking to making some good money or enough to keep up the beading habit?
    Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic

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    • #3
      Redfringe, that's a good question. Right now, I am working on rosette somebody traded a painted drum and other things for. Trade seems to be the going thing for me now. Last weekend, a trader at a festival I was at offered to make me two dresses for a pair of beaded cuffs. This works out for me since I don't know how to sew using a sewing machine yet. I have another person who asked how much I would charge to make a 4" rosette. When I got that question, I just went to a site where there was something comparable & came up with a price. If somebody has a formula for coming up with a fair price for beadwork, I would be interested in seeing it too.

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      • #4
        Pricing

        During one of my underemployed-underpaid periods (gotta love academica) when I beaded for rent money, I had a rule of thumb I used. The price was inversely proportional to the distance the gallery was from the center of Old Town in Albq. or the Plaza in Santa Fe. A 12" northern buckskin dancer, no-face doll went for $150 across the Rio Grande from Old Town and $250 in Old Town or the Plaza. (Of course the gallery's cut was larger.) Of course this completely broke down when I moved to DC and sold a pair at a little wide-spot-in-the-road gallery in northern VA for just shy of $700.

        This is slightly off-topic, but... When I was in NM, I shared a house with my old college roommate -- a talented potter. She taught me the business of art -- taught me how to call on buyers, present myself as a business woman.... She was always on me for undervaluing my work. We make the stuff and forget our labor is valuable. Also, she, quite correctly, pointed out that the dominant culture equates price with value. It was one thing to have a "Native discount" on stuff for our own people, but wasicu don't necessarily respect modesty when it comes to your price structure. And once I saw one of my pieces had been resold despite having a price tag 4 times what I had been paid, I learned. A little self-respect and careful presentation can make it harder for them to "commodify" the artist along with the art.

        Sincerely
        OLChemist

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        • #5
          I never consider my time in... when I sell things I consider my material costs and the difficulty of the item..but never my time or I would have to charge and arm and leg sometimes if I paid myself minimum wage... So I take the cost of my materials..tack on 20% usually unless that is a really low amount ..then sometimes I make it more..just so some people won't think there is something wrong with it just cause it is so cheap... personally I like trading and bartering better ...I am easy to let something go for something I want, even if the value is'nt the same.
          Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic

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          • #6
            Oh, absolutely! You never could charge anything near minimum wage. I was talking more about pricing "art" pieces for the tourists to stick on their walls, anyway. (I was a bit off topic, as I said:) ) Regalia is a whole different matter. Personally, I feel dreadfully mercenary when I try to put a value on this kind of work. Consequently, I rarely take commission work now that I have a decent job, although I still trade for supplies. Besides to be honest, it is a delight to be able to just give someone beadwork.

            What has always frosted me, tho', is to seeing a beaded buckle or the like bought from the artist for $15-25 and sold in a gallery for $75. While I don't begrudge the gallery owner's a living, it is irksome to see artists taken advantage of because they don't properly value their own work.

            Sincerely,
            OLChemist

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            • #7
              well, I was once beading sidedrops for a friend.
              he gave me the material, so I wouldn't charge him actually something for it. but when I was finished he gave me a pair of moccs.
              So when I'm asked to bead for someone, I usually take the material costs.
              Sometimes I ask them for a favour ;) but that's about all.
              Join my FB page:
              https://www.facebook.com/#!/NatamBeadwork


              Live each and every day of your life as though it would be your last!

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              • #8
                I did not really intend in making a HUGE amount of money off of my beadwork. I am like OL Chemist, where I tend to undervalue my work.

                I was just wondering what I could charge without being in the "museum" price range. But I just wasn't sure what to charge, since most of my work has been for family members. I am always up for a good trade, though.

                Suzizila, what did you end up charging for a 4" rosette?

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                • #9
                  It's difficult to charge!
                  But the price for the materials must be in!
                  ;)
                  Join my FB page:
                  https://www.facebook.com/#!/NatamBeadwork


                  Live each and every day of your life as though it would be your last!

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                  • #10
                    Here's a "for example"..........

                    A beaded vest (front panels). The cost for beads/base supplies are only going to run you about at the most $150.00.

                    Is that all you would charge to do 2 completely beaded panels is $150.00? or would that include the construction of the whole vest?

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                    • #11
                      well i am making 3 barettes now.... i bead at a pace that is like a turtle with no legs... i get in the beading mood and then i quit. so i am not very good at it but i have made a few things to sell... my dad sells on e-bay and i have made barrettes and stuff. but... yeah as soon as i get good i will sell!
                      -Kelli
                      If you lose the drum beat of the creator, you are lost in life - Aanishnabe

                      You say I don't look indian? Well you don't look stupid, but looks can be deceiving!

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                      • #12
                        What prices have you sold at???

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Redfringe
                          Here's a "for example"..........

                          A beaded vest (front panels). The cost for beads/base supplies are only going to run you about at the most $150.00.

                          Is that all you would charge to do 2 completely beaded panels is $150.00? or would that include the construction of the whole vest?

                          well, I would charge the $150 at minimum.
                          maybe a little more for the construction, depending on the difficulty.
                          Join my FB page:
                          https://www.facebook.com/#!/NatamBeadwork


                          Live each and every day of your life as though it would be your last!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by n8tivechick
                            well i am making 3 barettes now.... i bead at a pace that is like a turtle with no legs... i get in the beading mood and then i quit. so i am not very good at it but i have made a few things to sell... my dad sells on e-bay and i have made barrettes and stuff. but... yeah as soon as i get good i will sell!
                            -Kelli
                            hey n8tivechick,
                            what is the best way to make barettes?
                            Could you help me on this one??
                            thx
                            :D
                            Join my FB page:
                            https://www.facebook.com/#!/NatamBeadwork


                            Live each and every day of your life as though it would be your last!

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                            • #15
                              Redfringe

                              Many folks have given their thought on this so I might as well too...

                              Beadwork is the most difficult craft item to 'make' money on. As has been said you can never recoup your time, so doing so fully is a lost cause. What you have to keep in mind is set up a standard for what you are choosing to sell, then if you want to have a friend/family rate you can just refigure down from that (or up if you really don't want to do the project). Setting prices is a trial and error kinda thing.

                              One thing that might help you in this is to start keeping a log of materials used and the price of those materials, as well as a log of the time you spent making the piece. You will have to estimate on the amount of beads actually used, but a good way of doing this is to count the number of string (full and partial) out of your hanks you use on small projects, and hanks on large ones.

                              Now as someone else mentioned earlier where you live and sell at has an effect on the price as well. If you live on the rez or in an area with a large native population then naturally there are lots of beaders in your area and you will not be able to charge as much. If you live somewhere with only a few beaders around then you can charge more. It is simply supply and demand.

                              Now as for placing your work on commission with a vendor, you need to fully discuss how the vendor handles commission. Will they add a percentage to your price or will they simply take a percentage of your price? If it is the later then you need to add enough to cover this fee so you get what you are asking from the piece. Be sure to keep an accurate log of what said vendor is carrying of yours and set up a system by which the account is settled periodically (i.e., monthly if they travel to a lot of dances selling or have a high turn over).

                              I'm sorry I can't just give you amounts but there are too many variables to just say sell it for this, but nonetheless I hope this helps.
                              PB49

                              "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Pablo Picasso

                              "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift...that is why is it called the Present." Master Oogway - KungFu Panda


                              My comments are based on what I have been taught and my experiences over the years I have been around the circle. They should in no way be taken as gospel truths and are merely my opinions or attempts at passing on what I have learned while still learning more.

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