Monday, July 21, 2014

Hey, Why Do Lampwork Glass Beads Cost So Much? My Guest Blogger, Holly Dare, tells us Why.

As makers and sellers of glass beads, we hear it all the time...Why are glass beads so expensive? Well, I'm glad you asked!

Let's take a look at why:

Torch - While a beginner torch costs as little as $50... most glassers quickly move on from the hothead as it's loud and the ability to control the oxy flow is intimidating! Oxygen flow is used to develop colors in pricey silver laden glass and controlling that on a hot head involved grabbing the head of the torch with expensive welding gloves!
The next torch up is $188... but depending on model and features (heat and the ability to control it from big and bushy to pin point accuracy), the price can go into the thousands!
Cost of Glass - The average big hole donut weighs about a gram. Some larger focals, such as a 1.3" lentil, can weigh 36 grams. The cheapest glass is around 9.60 a pound.  9.60/ 453(grams / pound) = .02 per gram. Add in the breakage / popping to be generous and for a single big hole donut, our beadmaker has invested about glass.
But...that's plain glass. Did you know that most glass gets it's color from some type of metal? The price of gold, silver and copper has been on a steady increase for years. And premium glass that we all find so mesmerizing... costs $80 to $100 a pound!  So that same one gram donut made out of premium glass is now around .33... in glass.

Kiln Cost - So many don't even calculate this in...but they should! A small 6 x 6 kiln uses 1.4 kilowatts / hour  and runs for 12 hour cycle for a total of 16.8 kilowatts. Your electric bill tells you the cost of kilowatts...Mine is 13.3 cents per kilowatt hour + a 10% surcharge from my city.  That come so 14.63 cents x 16.8 kilowatts =  $2.46 per session to run the kiln. 
Fuel Costs - Most of us use propane and oxygen mix torches. A tank of propane can last from a few weeks to a few months depending on output. Prices vary per state but can run from $16 to $26 per five gallon tank.
Oxygen comes in the form of an oxygen concentrator or in a tank. A small oxy con burns about .46 kilowatts an hour. So lets say our beadmaker torches a full eight hours / 5 days a week: .46 x 8 x 5 =  18.4 kilowatt hours x 13.3 cents = $2.25 spent every 40 hours on the oxy con... And this is a small one. Many lampworkers use a large one or have two networked ones... Meaning that number could be four times higher for some glassers!

 Tanked oxy is $35 per  300 cubic cylinder (about a five foot tall tank) but there are also deposits on tanks ($50) and delivery fees. Again, overall costs vary with size of torch, whether the artist works hot or cold and how many hours a day they work.

Cleaning: Once cool, the beads are soaked in warm water and cleaned with an electric dremel with a diamond bit. Let's just say the electricity and water cost is negligible.. 2 cents
Giveaway Money: Etsy takes 20 cents to list plus a percentage. Ebay takes around 10%. Paypal steals 30 cents plus almost 3%. Yes these are the cost of "doing business" but all selling costs must be factored into the price of the bead! And many bead makers often host giveaways and promotions on their fan pages...trying to get your attention!
 Overhead: Yet another thing many artisans never think about. 
Tools... Glass tools are VERY pricey but I'm going with the bare minimum here to make those beads.  Granted, they can be used over and over but they still have to be bought and often replaced!
 Protective eyewear to see in the flame... $60 and up
Mandrels: 1.66 per mandrel. This makes the bead hole and you use one per bead or maybe two beads if you rock your heat control.
Kiln - digital kilns start at $700
Tweezers  $10 To move glass around when you have a little too much on one side and not enough on the other.
Special molding tools- $60 each shape  Ensures consistency in sets.
Decent camera - at least $200
I'm not including a computer since that seems to be a given for selling online but... what about photo editing software??   We've got close to a thousand dollar investment in those beads and it seems only fair to say a buck of those beads should go into "overhead."

 Time: This is my favorite category because so many of us never pay ourselves a decent wage!  Let's say we're making a set of five of those big hole beads:
Making the beads 5 x 5 - 7 minutes each. Let's say six. 30 minutes

Cleaning:  8 minutes

Photography: 10 minutes

Editing: 10 minutes

Description Writing: 10 minutes

Promoting: 20 minutes to an hour

That's an hour and eight minutes assuming everything goes according to plan... An hourly wage MUST be attached to this time! And with fast food workers and other unskilled labor demanding $10 an hour, should the time, skill, cost of educating ourselves AND the fact we play with FIRE all demand a decent wage???

And then as a "professional beadmaker" or one who is hoping to make a living selling her art, you have to contend with the "hobby beadmaker." With no commentary on skills or quality here because there are many talented hobbyists out there... but the hobby beadmaker is often content to simply "make enough to buy more glass." But in reality, that hurts the market and lowers the wage of the professional. Just as Chinese glass has hurt the pricing structure so has the hobbyists.

 Add in that it is a field dominated by women and, sadly, so many women undervalue their time. There was a time when prices were calculated at $60 / hour of time involved... a buck a minute.  Those days are long gone which is another reason there are so many fabulous glass beads out there, longing for homes.

Pricing: That thing we hate to talk about.  But bead makers all need to consider everything above in setting prices! And wholesale... many of us wholesale our beads and that price structure has to be in place before the retail structure!
A good rough formula for any artist is Materials + 25% of Materials costs for Overhead + Labor (for all aspects: making, cleaning, photographing, writing) = WHOLESALE price

Retail is usually double to three times the wholesale price.

So while those fabulous beads may seem pricey, they were made by an artist...with some very real and expensive costs to consider.

Ultimately the responsibility of educating our buyers falls to us...and to them as they must educate their customers as to why the glass bead jewelry costs so much more than  the other jewelry out there. Jewelry designers, like bead makers, are selling miniature works of art. And educating buyers and building an appreciation for the work is the key!

Thank you, Holly!

Here are the places where you can find Holly!

Holly's Beads                                         Glass Beads Daily                       Holly's Glass Beads

Life in the Foothills Blog                       Food Safe Rubber Stamps          Fan Page

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I Heart Macro!!!!

I Heart Macro!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Listing Saturday. Reasons to List

Listing is quick.

You can use short sentences or phrases.

Less editing.

You can write faster.

You still make sense.

 No one wants to read your lists.

You can make your lists long or short.

Life is all about lists.

You have more time to do other things.

You can use a notebook.

You can take a nap and then resume.

A list is easier to delete or throw away than a novel.

Even if you loose a list, you can write a new one.

Each list is unique.

You can cross off or delete items as you finish them.

If you complete your list, it does not exist.

You can keep multiple lists going at the same time.

Some lists never die, they only transform.

Instant gratification if you complete one item on your list.

If you find one list you lost, then you can start all over again.

Lists are like a mini history of your life.

Lists will never write themselves.

If you loose your pencil or pen, the list does not exist only a thought that will probably fade away quickly.

If your pen does not work, you don't need to write a list.

You can make a list with drawings.

Your list is you and no one else.

"I List, therefore, I am."
Erma Bombeck 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Three Beautiful Things This Week

Three Beautiful Things This Week was inspired by a wonderful blog that Three Beautiful Things. Everyday, Clare writes about 3 Beautiful Things that happen each day in her life. It's a wonderful blog! I can only hope to imitate her in a very small way.

1) Better late than never.  Even though I know I need to have people around me to get the work done, I'd rather be alone.  Having to work around people, in my house, throws me way off schedule.  I'm alone.  I love it!

2) Yesterday was a fun day of shopping with my dear friend, Suzanne.  She is such an enabler!  I bought some new clothes! I love them!

3) The weather has been mild, and that's good.  The humidity is returning, but it's summer!!  What can I say!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to Make Your Own Hoola Hoop, and I did!!!

My friend Cori is an amazing glass artist,
one of the most creative people I know.
Oh, look,
Here are some of Cori's beautiful pendants.
All I can say is


Isn't Cori's work AMAZING!!!!
I don't think that's an issue, but on with the story of the 
Hoola Hoop!

Last night, in a discussion on Facebook about using a Hoola Hoop to get low impact exercise, Cori posted the instructions on how to make your own Hoola Hoop.

You know how I love pink?
Well, my new Hoola Hoop is Pink.  
And yes, it does work!!!

Cori posted the link to the site where she found the instructions on how to make your own hoola hoop.
The site is called
Take a look at the link, and you'll learn how easy it is to make a
Hoola Hoop!
I followed these directions, and I covered my hoop with hot Pink Duct Tape.
Cool, huh?
Now, I feel good about getting the 
Hoola Hoop to ride my waist for a while.
What I didn't know was that there are moves, with names, that you can do using your 
Hoola Hoops.

Here's the link to all of these different moves!

And there are even more videos on the YouTube.
Just do a search on 
Deanne Love

Say thank you to 
She's quite a gal!!!