Friday, 8 January 2021

Weekly Wrap UP 1/8/21-- I had my first commissioned stain glass piece!

 I have been sitting on this news for several months because the item I made was a Christmas gift.  I am often asked to make piece for people but then when I tell how much it will cost most people back out because they can buy it cheaper on WISH or in a store that gets most of its things from CHINA.  While that is true they don't realized the item they are buying is of poor quality (sometimes not even real glass),  is not reinforced and will likely fall apart in a few years.  It can be very frustrating!  People often tell me to sell my work but it is for these reason I won't.  I hear horror stories of glass artist trying to sell things on esty or at craft fairs and getting rude comments about the cost of their work or people trying to renege on the agreed upon price once the piece is made. 

I recently spoke to a friend who complained after going to a craft fair that the price of a hand woven basket that she felt was ridiculous pricey.  I  kindly but firmly told her that her reaction was the reason I have never tried to sell my work, which she often suggests I do.   The lack of appreciation of the cost of the materials and then the time it took the artist to make the basket was not being taken into her consideration.  Her other comment of "I could have made that myself" also irritated me because realistically she probably couldn't.  Sometimes if an acquaintance asks I will teach them to make their own stain glass, but that too has proven to be troubling!  I take them to the glass store and they purchase all the supplies (most are quite shock at the cost of supplies) and then come to my home studio where I will instruct them, allow them to borrow all my tools, and give hints on how to construct their window.  Most people finish the project but aren't happy with it as it is not perfect (that is where experience comes in) or they get frustrated and quit and I end up with unfinished pieces in my glass room.  Currently I have had one project sitting for over a year in my glass studio still waiting for the person to finish it up.  She has sort of hinted that she wouldn't mind if I finished it for her, but I won't do that as it is not my project.  This might sound a little mean but I often feel like people take advantage and not once has anyone offered to reimburse me for my time.  I willingly give up my time to teach, at no charge, but I am not doing the work for them.  It is a very fine line to walk.  I often have to remind people that if I hadn't taught them they would have had to pay for a class which can range over $100 and still have the cost of supplies, depending on the project they want to do.

I thought I would show you the process and break down the price of what it cost to make a stain glass piece:). These prices won't include the hours I spent working on the piece just the supply cost!

I was contacted by a friend to make a stain glass window for her partner.  She wanted it to be a picture of their dog, Toby, who is about 14 years old.  I asked her to send me several pictures of their dog so I could find someone to do a pattern (this is not my strongest area). 


Next I contacted a person in one of my stain glass groups and had her come up with a pattern.  Working from the pictures above she put together two different patterns to submit to the client.  I paid her for the patterns she came up with.

After reviewing the two patterns, the client selected the bottom pattern as the one that she thought captured their dog the best.  

Pattern cost $15 plus an additional $1 to go to a store to enlarge the pattern and get two copies of it so that I could begin.

Next we needed to go to the local glass shop to find glass colors that I thought  (consulting with the client) would work the best for the colors.  I sent several different photos of glass to the client to see what she like. 

 This is often the hardest part of designing a window as glass colors do not always come in the colors you want to match exactly the coloring of what ever you are aiming for.  The hardest part was finding the right color for the brown and gray of the dog.  Once all the glass were selected, I also needed to purchase copper foil, solder and zinc framing.

Total cost $ 100 approx for all supplies. Later I had to order hanging hooks at $ 5 a set

Next comes the best part putting it all together.  Every glass artist does it differently but this is my way.

I always color in my pattern before starting and tweaked the design of the pattern 
began cutting out all the pieces -- I decided I didn't like one part I colored in so changed it.  I do this this a lot which is why coloring the pattern for me is important.
Soldering  the piece 
cleaning the piece and checking to make sure everything was correct before framing -- also checking for any glass cracks which can happen occasionally.

added patina to darken the silver lines 
added the zinc frame and painted the eyes and added the T to the collar tag

All told I spent about 10 hours working on this project.  This is the tricky part what is my time worth.  Artist are rarely ever paid for their time properly.  If you think about it people have to pay plumbers, electrician over $20 an hour but if I were to charge that people bulk at the price.  Charging minimum wage at $7.50 is saying that an artist doesn't have a skill and is an entry level worker, which is usually never the case, as artist spend many years perfecting their art and the tools we need to make the art are usually extremely expensive!  So there is a real dilemma for artists and most simply never get the $ they should and under price their work.  It is why most artists are never very rich!  Since this was a family friend I did not charge for my time on this piece, so maybe I can't really say I sold any art yet?

But this is not where the costs stop.  I needed to ship this item to another state.  I have heard of horror stories from other artist about their pieces being broken in the shipping process.  I consulted lots of people and figured out the best and safest way to ship a glass panel.  

I had brown paper and bubble wrap at home so I wrapped the piece well first 
Then my husband assisted me in making a hard wooden case to put the glass panel in.  Again deciding on the thickness of the wood was an issue as some artist have used thinner wood in order to try to keep the cost down and then after shipping found the piece arrived broken.  Because of this we used 1/2 thick wood.  The spacers were 2 inches thick

Completed casing
Once the glass was installed my husband screwed all the wood down so it was secure and no movement was detected and then because I was extra nervous I wrapped it all in tape

Cost of wood $20 approx.

The final process was to ship the item.  After again asking for the best shipping company used by other artists, I went to the local UPS store and had them box the wooden case in two separate boxes.  A smaller box to hold just the wooden case and then it was added to a larger box with packing supplies.  This is to make sure that if the outside box is somehow damage the inside box is still secure.  

Cost of shipping the item with insurance approximately $65

So all told for this 15X15 glass panels the total cost was approximately $205 and that is not including the time and skill that I put into it.  Since this was for a very dear family friend I made the piece for the cost of supplies only and I was pleased to do so because I knew they would appreciate it!

The piece arrived safely and without a scratch and given to her partner as a Christmas gift.  They loved it! It is nice to know it was appreciated. :)

I often make special pieces for people I love without charge but I usually pick the design and use the glass I have in my shop and give as gifts.  But mostly I make glass for myself because I enjoy it!


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