Thursday, June 07, 2007
or not to sell...that is the question. Well, it isn't really. How to sell is the real question of the day. I've been following Helen Suzanne's posts about selling her hand dyed fabric (which is very nice, I have to say) on ebay, and her comment on my blog. I had thought about selling hand dyed cloth on ebay, and have kept an eye on activity in the cloth section, but decided not to do it, probably for the same reasons as Helen.
My experience of selling handdyes is that it is hard work. And here, I'm talking about the UK, though dyers in the US may think the same! I seem to spend a lot of time explaining things to people. Now I don't mind that, except when it comes to justifying Why Hand Dyed Cloth Is So Expensive. The answer to that, of course, is that whilst dyeing is a joy and a pleasure, it's also time consuming, the dyes (in the UK) are expensive and there's a lot of washing and ironing (and therefore cost) involved. In its way, dyeing is as creative as the other branches of textile art. However, where traditional quilters are faced up with cheap imports from China as a reason for dropping their prices, dyers are faced up with screen printed handdyes (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one!). Neither the imports nor the screenprinted cloth has the originality of a well made quilt or piece of fabric...but it's the price that seems to count. Which is why I have rarely ever offered complex cloth for sale; it's interesting, a joy to make and work with, but extremely expensive, and nobody wants it. Or do they?
This is beginning to sound like a whine, and it's not intended as such. But opportunities for selling handdyes aren't all that common. If you do talks and workshops, there's a side opportunity to sell cloth, too. I'll be taking both lutradur and handdyed cotton to sell at Lyon, and shows like it are ideal opportunities for selling. If you have a website, like Helen, you can sell from there. Or there's Etsy. And there's mail order, too, I guess...and that seems to be about it. Am I missing something? Don't think so... So I find myself wondering about Etsy, which I thought was a US focussed business, but which seems to be attracting increasing numbers of UK traders. A straw poll seemed to produce a number of UK artists doing well.
So, what do you think about Etsy? Is it worthwhile taking on, or should we stick to the tried and tested? And Ebay, too. In the US, it seems possible to sell art through Ebay; why is it so much more difficult in the UK? Or is that just my perception? Let's talk, folks...what's your view? And those of you who aren't making to sell, but who want to buy....what do you really think about hand dyed cloth?