Monday, October 08, 2007

Pricing and Production

My artist brother Mad Max, the one who works with wood, has been playing with making wine stoppers. I loved the one he made for me so much that I've bartered with him for more. I've spotted a few similar ones here and there, ones that look like afterthoughts, bargain priced and set out next to the more expensive bowls and vases. I could envision the wood worker with scraps left over, and like the waste-not-want-not mentality of quilters, deciding to make something of them rather than toss them out. They impressed me as very cheesy, the lovely wood tops, usually all the same, attached to plastic or cork stoppers. No heft, no weight, no class. These shown here with the metal stopper have substance and a streamline elegance the others lack. These are wine stoppers for the discriminating wine connoisseur.

So the question is, would these sell for what my brother feels he'd need to price them to cover his time and materials? Their simplicity is deceiving. They are time consuming to make. And like me, as much as he'd like to sell his work, my brother doesn't want to end up in the production business. Each one he makes is slightly different, unique. He chooses the wood carefully, matching exotics to the recipient, experiments with grainlines. It would ruin the pleasure of the making if he suddenly had to churn out dozens of these at a time, possibly to someone else's specs. It would take away from the other pieces, the real pieces he wants to make.

Yet, he still toys with the idea of making small quantities of these on a limited basis to sell.

Sound familiar? Starve or sell your soul, are those the only two alternatives for artists? Dip your toe in the market and risk losing control or keep your day job and your independence?

If you are interested in more information on these wine stoppers with a mind to placing an order, e-mail me at, and I will forward your request. Yeah, the mercenary in him couldn't resist!

1 comment:

katelnorth said...

They are beautiful - not interesting in buying one at present, as I actually have several handcrafted ones I received as a gift, but just wanted to say how much I liked them.