Columbus Monthly

Shibori dyed and pleated scarfWhat an honor! I was one of the Etsy folks from around Columbus featured on page 59 of Columbus Monthly Magazine. I am so thrilled! If you came here from Columbus Monthly, here are a few links for you:

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Textiles: Perception and Pricing

This post is not to complain or to whine. It is not to get you to buy one if my scarves on Etsy (but if you want to, that would be AWESOME). It is an observation of the public perception of textiles, clothing, pricing and value.

I have just lowered my prices again. I am asking the same or less than Macy’s mass produced scarves for a one of a kind piece. And I am getting the vibe that I am too expensive.

It was not long ago that clothing was included in wills. Fabric was precious and every scrap was used. Clothing was patched. Socks were darned. And this was not so long ago. Textiles for home and for apparel were made in Massachusetts or in North Carolina or Minnesota. The weavers were trained workers who worked hard perfecting their skills. The fabrics they produced lasted a long time. Their colors did not run. Clothing was made to last with finished seams. You wore a classic suit for years.

Then something happened. I don’t know what it was but Americans began to devalue their clothes. The life cycle of a shirt has become months and not years. To respond, the clothing industry has had to offshore weaving, dyeing and sewing. I cannot get silk manufactured in the US anymore. Clothing is made to last a season, if that. I used to get pants at Kohls but I had to stop as the seams came apart in less than 4 wearings.

Apparel has become cheap. And the expectation of consumers is that handcrafted textiles should compare in price to that found in WalMart and Macy’s.

The silks I use for my scarves is only manufactured in China. And they are expensive because they are silk-an agriculture-based product that fluctuates in price with the season. Yarn is expensive, particularly weaving yarn as there are few wholesalers for the handweaver and you need so much of it (thousands of yards at a time). Offshore companies use cheaper materials and mass produce scarves on a huge scale. And I have to price to compete.

Compared to other crafts, textiles don’t get that much respect. I have the same investment in looms as a woodworker in tools. If our material costs are the same and we each spend the same time on a piece, he can charge 2-3 times what I can. Weaving is as time intensive as woodcraft (I did take shop in school so I know how much work it is to plane, cut, sand, sand again, finish and assemble). Weaving involves measuring a warp, putting the warp on the loom, threading each piece of yarn (hundreds of them) one at a time through heddles, threading the reed, tying and tensioning the front beam, winding bobbins, weaving, hem stitching, cutting, washing, dyeing, calendaring, and pressing. It is a lot of work. But the public doesn’t think it has the same value as the woodworkers product.

Knitting, crochet, shibori, felting, spinning and weaving take insane amounts of time. Maybe it is the “I can make that myself” perception or the male verses female crafts thing. But textiles are worthy of the same respect as ceramics, wood and metal craft.

Maybe more.

Etsy: Keeping Your Listings Straight

You know how it is. You love that purple fabric and you just made 2 bags with it. Or those earrings you just finished look so similar to the ones you listed last week. Then you get a sale. Is it the red scarf with orange and pink or the red one with pink and orange?

As a fiber artist I have a limited palette of dyes and sometimes have scarves that look similar in photographs. I would have to really look at my photos to make sure I was sending my customer the right one.

Recently I was looking at the URLs for my listings and I found the secret to keeping organized. Every item on Etsy has a unique identifier, an ID, that keeps track of your item in Etsy’s database. This ID is your Listing Number. Etsy uses this number to keep track of all the details about your listing allowing you to make changes to the title of your bracelet and still have the link to your bracelet function.

This ID can be found in the URL. Look for a 9-digit number in your listing’s address. For example, here is a listing address: https://www.etsy.com/listing/124846996/scarf-silk-hand-dyed-and-pleated-emerald. After “listing/” you will see 124846996. That is the unique identifier also known as your Listing Number.

After I list an item, I write that number on a tag attached to that item. When I have a sale, I click on the image of the sold piece which will take me to the listing. On the right side of the page I look for “Listing #” in the Item panel. I match the tag number to the Listing Number and then I know I am sending the right scarf.