Monday, 26 September 2011

How to make a brooch

Technical ability
Handmade felt.
Hand dyed silk velvet
Machine threads
Liberty cotton lawn
Fabric glue
brooch pin


  • For the technical ability

Spend five years studying C&G creative studies and learning skills. Join Felt group and learn technical skills of feltmaking. Join International Feltmakers asscociation and Embroiderers guild.
  • For the inspiration
Study, draw, visit exhibitions, read books, look at pattern and colour...for years.
  • For the felt:
First drive 60 miles to Wingham wool works and buy merino wool tops. Drive home.
Spend a while on the internet choosing colours and ordering.

Then spend a few days laying out the fibres, wetting, soaping rubbing and rolling the wool tops until you have felt.
Next spend a day letting it dry. If its winter and central heating is on, or if its a sunny summer day, but if its a grey damp humid summers day it will probably take 2 or 3 days to dry.

  • For the velvet:

Buy three metres of silk viscose velvet from Whaleys Bradford at  minimum £18 a metre plus P&P.
Buy a selection of Kemtex cold water dyes plus soda ash, urea and syringes. Mix up several pots of dye mix. Prepare plastic bags for dyed fabric.
Spend a day tearing the velvet into small pieces and space dyeing them. Leave them  overnight and next day rinse several times until the water runs clear. Dry then finish  in tumble dryer to preserve the pile.

  • For the threads:
Order Natesh threads from Silken Strands , pay and wait for the delivery next day.
  • Bondaweb: phone Freudenberg non-wovens and order a 25 m roll of bondaweb .
  • Find Bfnt online and choose the three hole brooch backs . Order and wait for delivery.
  • Liberty cotton lawn: Find a market stall, friend with offcuts and buy or beg.
  • Make a room in your house to sew in.
  • Fabric glue:find some on ebay and order.

Prepare the room for sewing. (Electricity, sewing machine, lights, chair, iron,ironing board) and have a lot of fun for about 10 minutes applique-ing velvet to felt and drawing with the needle to produce a little patterned piece of art.

Repeat ad nauseum  infinitum or until creativity dries up.

Trim .
Glue the brooch back to the back of each piece. 
Cover back
Trim the excess fabric away.
Finish with a coating of dilute PVA to prevent fuzzing of the surface, and leave to dry.

To sell:
Photograph from all sides and upload photos.
Compose description and add tags on Etsy. 
Promote shop by twitter, blog, Flickr and Facebook.
Wait for a lovely person to buy. 
Leave feedback.
Print card labels.
Wrap in cello bag, tissue, jiffy bag.
Print address labels and 'thank you' label.
Walk down to the post office and pay for postage. If its a Wednesday (half day closing)drive to the next village 
Keep proof of posting for accountant. 
Pay Etsy fee. Pay paypal fee.

Apply to several craft fairs and accept rejection from some and ensuing depression. Pa fee.
Drag yourself along to one with all your stock, set it out and stand there for two days or so selling or not.

If you are very lucky send items to lovely Galleries who have asked you for goods usually at a reduced rate. Not always!

Submit accounts to accountant.
Pay accountant.

How much do they cost? 

Is it really too much?

UPDATE: several commenters have asked if this is in response to something that has happened. No it isn't in particular but its something I've been thinking about for some time. 


Kathleen said...

Love this Jackie. People always think "I can do that." However they don't always realize that it takes time. Things don't just happen over night. You must learn to crawl before you can walk and some things do take years of experience and learning to achieve.

Carol Q said...

well, there's a good analysis of what's involved which non-crafters will never appreciate. trouble is... after I read it I thought "ooh I'd love to have a go" lol

Heather said...

Definitely not too much, and probably not enough. Your brooches are quality tested items. I carried out my unintentional test by putting my cotton jacket into the washing machine and only when the cycle had finished and I took it out did I realise I had forgotten to unpin your brooch. I was horrified but it survived the ordeal perfectly. That's the difference between craft and Craft!

Karen said...

no it's not too much it is actually NOT ENOUGH. I get so tired and weary of price questioning by people who think it takes a nano second to create anything....they make me sick. You have put it so well here....good for you!

Daisie said...

Not at all!!! x

Fiona said...

It is SO difficult for some people to understand just what goes in to creating a hand-crafted piece of work, Jackie. I have been following your blog for around 12 months, and find your pieces so intriguing. Keep smiling Jackie - there will always be negative people out there - don't let them stop you from doing what you do :)

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. People have no idea. It doesn't help that there are people out there who sell at less than cost because they haven't worked out how much it costs them to make something!

Cda00uk said...

Reminds me of the psychologist who was asked why she charged so much for an hours work. Her response was that it wasn't just the hour she was charging for, it was the previous 25 years training and experience.

Aileen Clarke Crafts said...

Brilliant Jackie. Just brilliant. I find out of everything I make that the brooches take the longest and yet I can't get any more than £12 each for them. Then someone can set up shop selling bought in mass produced charms simply put onto chains and get £15 a pop! I do hope this post of yours helps to educate the buying public : )

Anonymous said...

Jackie,well done;this needs to be said.
Olwyn in France

Whitney-Anne Baker said...

absolutely bloody brilliant Jackie!!!Puts it all into perspective.

Linda Vincent said...

You said it all! Brilliant!

chocolatefrog said...

It's not enough! Very well said, I heartily agree with all this. If we give in and sell at any price, the whole community of skilled makers suffers.

artymess said...

hear hear ......I am now wondering if my brooches are the right price now you've made me think about it .....doh !!....and it'll never pay off my student loan either ......xx

manomij said...

Lol this is so true, I don't know what got me to stop by but I just had to say I love your post!

Plum Cox said...

Very well put!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

If artists charged according to their time involvement, their expertise and all the angst that goes on behind the scenes there wouldn't be ANY art in the world. Fortunately there are people like you that create no matter the cost and we're all the more richer for it. Keep on doing what you do!

Wendy said...

Nope, its not too much. Your prices seem pretty damn good value to me. Your bags are cheaper than many I've seen. What happened? Who told you you were too expensive? Clearly they are peasants who should be ignored.

ferinn said...

People are so woefully clued up about the process of creating and the fact that they are getting something UNIQUE!
Have you seen Beckford Silks online?They do silk velvet for £13.40 a metre.

Marigold Jam said...

It's always the same with hand crafted things isn't it. People have no idea of the work that goes into making them and nobody ever got rich making and selling crafts I shouldn't think!

Lindy and Paul said...

Jackie, very good description/explanation/vent! Love it. I'm going to write a similar one, I have a good story as well since I raise some of the animals that my fiber comes from. Keep your prices up, your work is so very unique and beautiful and worth it and I hope to purchase one very soon :)

Twiglet said...

Oh well done Jackie - I chuckled all the way through reading this thinking, too right - your little works of art need a lifetime of artistic talent, days of crafting time and a whole load of dosh!! BUT oh my goodness what little treasures they are - well worth every bit. x Jo

Iz said...

Well said! But I could only breathe again when I read that the post wasn't in response to someone ripping off your designs or haggling over the price.

Susan said...

It's similar when making anything that is ceramic, only put in at least two full days of firing in the equation some where.

Yes definitely count the years spent studying, it all goes towards the end product.

There is an old potting story that someone watched a potter making a bowl and it took minutes to throw it. When told the price a customer remarked that it was a great deal of money for 3 minutes. The potter replied that it had been 30 years learning how to throw plus 3 minutes in the making.

French Nanny said...

Well, obviously I don't think so, as I recently bought one...

herhimnbryn said...

Thankyou for this. It is so very true.
Someone once asked me the price of a mosaic bird bath. When I told him, he exclaimed, " but I could do that for a fraction of the price." I replied, "Go on then. How would you start?". He said nowt and walked away.

PS. I sold it a day later to someone who appreciated the work involved!


Kat Campau said...

I am often asked how long it takes me to make a quilt. And none of the more than 30 years of learning is paid for in the asking price.I hear you.

jeanette, mistress of longears said...

Beautifully said! You forgot that the wait could be far longer than the next day for supplies that have to cross the ocean. And you should have included all the time spent on research and testing (of materials for things that did not turn out well) before hitting on the ones you like best! I adore the pin you made for me and think it a terrific bargain, too!

Createology said...

Very wise words and brilliantly said. Handmade individual art pieces are rarely given the proper worth by others.

Anonymous said...

oh I've had folks at art shows
wanting dollar store prices.
I can't pay for my supplies
at that price i've told them.

then the craft stores themselves
started selling things customers used to buy at craft show -at a price a person couldn't buy the supplies for in the store? they actually are part of why craft fairs are going out of vogue and artists are finding fewer venues to sell their art.

Then there's the folks assuming artists don't need to make money and insist on free art for their fundraisers? while they pay for other services like advertising or food- "they are a business" they say "you just make art! " ignoring an artist has to cover living expenses .

I think you use a sewing machine- that needs to go into the equation and the hours needed to gain such skill and control.

Doing art shows was hard, you never know who would come what people would buy or need. we argued so much afterwards! my husband would say why don't you make anything that sells?
its bad enough not having a good show with out having to justify why you even paint or do art in the first place. This was immediately for gotten when a good sale covered a new transmission instead of fees for more shows or supplies.

It just drove me crazy, now my art just collects, i just try to make sure it doesn't end up in a goat shed!

Pat said...

This is absolutely brilliant Jackie, would make a great sign on your stall to inform those people (and there are many) who think because something is handmade it should be cheap.

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Caroline said...

Hear hear, I'm in total agreement, Jackie. Loved this post - entertaining for all of us who really know, as well as making it abundantly clear for those who only think they do! Your brooches are uniquely beautiful and shouldn't be sold for a song!

Sheeprustler said...

I'm sorry but that me laugh my head off in the first instance! and then I realised that I feel similarly about the amount of effort I am putting into a couple of online shops that will probably fizzle out and I will end up making a squillion brooches to give away or cover myself in them like a Pearly Queen.

Michelle said...

At first was thinking, how to make a brooch, fantastic...then as I scrolled down I was very amused. Great job, I have been having similar thoughts myself! Well done for saying it;-)

silverpebble said...

Hear hear

Ruth said...

Very well put and I wish it would educate at least one person but it seems the world is filled with people who have "dollar store" mentality.

Gabi said...

This "tutorial" is very well done-thank you!

lynda Howells said...

well done...this is just what all we need to do to show clients.Congratrsxxlynda

Maggi said...

Unfortunately, as this post proves, you can never sell your beautiful work for what it is worth. And for those who won't pay anyway because they can do it themselves - technique they may be able to replicate but not the originality of design or colour combinations.

KATHRYN said...

It made me smile, and I don't sell! Keep up the good work, your things always look lovely. I have a birthday coming up and am thinking of asking for contributions towards buying something from your beautiful creations.

textile-alchemist said...

Amazing and very true analysis of the amount of work and passion that goes into making handmade. Love it

Anonymous said...

I think it is called living. We all have paths to follow, But boy is it great when you meet someone who appreciates your path. keep smiling keep stitching creating and blogging I would miss you in my blog tour.

Grangry said...

Oh Jackie, you did make me laugh - only I think it was probably gallows humour. I even made up some very plain spirit dolls with simple "french knot and fly stitch" faces to try and demonstrate the difference. A customer picked up a heavily embroidered and embellished one with a hand painted face, pointed to the others and said "These are much nicer, why are they so much more expensive than those, they are the same size. I like these much better?" I explained about the hand stitching and the hand beading and how much more time it takes. The answer I got was an angry "And you expect us to pay for that?"
I feel your pain..

Rosie said...

Oh boy I am with you on the craft fair front, and all the rest. However, I loved this glimpse into how you work and the pumpkins are scrumptious! Aren't they just an appealing SHAPE?

Grangry said...

I forgot to say. I did something similar a while ago on my doll blog. I plan to print it out as a leaflet to put on my table at craft fairs and include in the packaging so people know how much work goes into these little bits of lovliness that we all make!

It's here:

labelled "making the witch"

Anna said...

Oh I did laugh at this post - well done for putting lots of our thoughts into a funny post. I demonstrated lino cutting recently and wish I had £5 for every person who said "I used to do that at school" as I sat there on a cold Bank holiday in a draughty tent, wearing 4 layers and gloves!

Vivika said...

I am asked all the time "how long did that take to make" and I really hesitate answering, for the same reasons that you list. Hours and hours and hours more than the actual 10 minutes at the sewing machine... and set your price high, keep it there, and don't negotioate!

Annie and Lyn said...

This could not have been said any better.

Lorie McCown said...

Good God yes! People think this stuff just falls out of our a**! Well said, well said.

Anu said...

what a great post-thank you! Yes, we have to talk about/show the time to the people who dont have an idea about---I was thinking about taking pictures of the slow process of felting, the long way to the finish product---

SmittenBeads said...

Brilliant, just brilliant, we have been having a pricing discussion in my fb group of late, I'm going to be adding a link to this as a perfect example of why we all need to charge the RIGHT price. thank you

Jennifer Cameron said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Great job!

Lesley Lane said...

Well said!

Lesley Lane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I received one as a gift and loved it without knowing or questioning the cost because I could tell it was a treasure beyond all price selected by a friend who knows me well.

jk said...

Thanks for saying this!!! So nice to connect with others that understand.

jk said...

Thanks for saying this!!! So nice to connect with others that understand.

st of my pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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