Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What do You buy when You Buy a Lampwork Bead

Let's talk about lampwork beads and their cost.
This is a set of spacer beads that I currently have listed in my Artfire store. I call them Outrageous Orange Spacers. I priced these spacers at $18.
There are 12 beads in this set. All of these beads are handmade.

Where does the cost come from. What are you buying when you buy this set of beads?

1. My first class cost me $110 for two hours. I have since learned that there are better beginner classes for less money.

2. I have taken 2 other classes taught by professional bead makers at $200 and $400 each. I am scheduled to take two more classes in 3 weeks at $285 each.

3. My first torch was a Hot Head, which I loved, but I have since upgraded to a mini cc which had been used in a class. The Hot Head cost me $40 and the mini cost me $225.

In order to run my mini cc, I need, not only propane, but a source for oxygen. When I bought my mini I also bought an oxygen concentrator. I have since added a second one because I mini does work better with 2 oxycons than with one.

I got a good deal on the oxycons. I paid around $280 for each one. That did include the shipping costs.

I also had to buy the hoses and the regulator for my propane and oxygen. That cost was an additional $70.

A small, but good addition, is my holding tank. I paid about $25 for that. I should actually upgrade to a bigger holding tank because of the extra oxycon, but I haven't done that yet.

I also bought a used kiln. That cost me $450. I love my digital kiln, and it's clearly needed, but it's an additional cost.

Whew! All right, what else do you need?

Now, you need mandrels and bead release. I save money on mandrels by purchasing tig rods from the welding store. If I could make my own bead release, I would. I do buy the bead release in bulk, so that saves on expense. Without bead release, a person would never be able to take their beads off of the mandrels.

Lastly, you need tools and glass. Glass can cost as little as $3.75 for a quarter pound to $22 for a quarter pound. Depending on which tools you need, they can range in price from $7 to $80 per tool. And don't forget the electricity you need for the oxycons, the light switch, the kiln, and the IPod. (I do need to listen to music when I work.) There are also books and tutorials that help a beadmaker develop new skills and techniques.

I'm afraid to add all of this up, and, please remember, I didn't buy all of these items all at once. I bought them over time. That helps with the cost. So, when you buy a lampwork bead or a glass sculpture, think of what you are buying. It's a lot more than the cost of the beads.


Louise said...

Mallory, what an excellent post!! Even I tend to forget some of these expenses when I'm pricing my beads!

Your spacers are a STEAL :oD

angelinabeadalina said...

Mallory, this is a good, solid explanation of the costs involved in making a set of beads. You give pictures, back them up with pertinent details, and you don't waste words on other issues. It's explanatory, not defensive, and I think customers who happen to read it will appreciate the straightforward explanation.

Ricky took some of my sculptures to work with him the week before Mother's Day, and I wished afterward that I had included some sort of explanation with them. I've always pooh-poohed the idea that you shouldn't underprice your work, thinking that the market should set value. In fact, as long as someone who knows what it takes to make a sculpture buys one of mine for $25 or $50, my main reward comes from knowing how much it is appreciated. When Rick got home, he'd sold one sculpture for $50 and told me he could've sold them all if I'd only wanted $25 each. . .and for probably the first time in three years, I was miffed at myself for not asking higher prices. Did any of those accountants understand how hard I've worked to get to the point where I can make those sculptures? Not very likely. Did any one of them, except my hubby who does do things like lug my oxygen tank inside, really have a clue what it takes to physically make a glass bead or sculpture? Nope, BUT it sure isn't their fault that they don't know or understand. Sure has given me a lot to think about and attempt to understand!

kelleysbeads said...

ooooh, I saw a picnic table & grass in the background of one pic. looks like you have a nice view out while you're working. any plans to show the big picture of your studio & not just the components? I always love looking at other lampworker's studios :)

rosebud101 said...

There were a couple of other necessary expenses that I forgot to add.
1) the dydidium glases that we all need.
2) a good ventilation system. That cost me a little over $400 to install. I didn't do it myself, but I had an electrician come in to do the job right. That did include the cost of the fan which was $200.

Lauren said...

Great post, Mallory! I hope lots of people see it -- it explains a lot!

Love those spacers - don't forget the silver on those!

-- Lauren