Time, Money, How do You Evaluate art/craft?


How much time does it take to make art? Is time a factor in equating value? When trying to sell products for a profit, isn’t it true “time is money?” These questions have always been a conundrum to me.

The logical answer to how much time does it take to make art is: AS MUCH TIME AS IT TAKES, to do the job. But when making things to sell, the cost of labor is a part of the formula for calculating profit.

When creating a painting, I know it is finished when I can no longer add one more brush stroke without changing the whole painting, and that could take months or a number of hours. But with a felting project, goodness, I could embellish forever. But I would not receive the necessary compensation for the time I put into it. Maybe there is a happy medium.

This quandary was recently put to the test in this latest endeavor of mine -experimenting with fingerless gloves.

wet felted embellished sleeveless gloves

Personally I never quite understood why people liked these gloves. Nevertheless, I wanted to try to make them. Upon completing them I now see their point. You can text in them, they are perfect inside the house, especially if you keep the thermostat at 65  like we do and they are good to drive in and hunt in. In fact a custom camo pair could be yours.

I made 3 different patterns until I finally had the one that would work best for me,  and it took 7 finished pairs until I had a grasp of what I needed to do to achieve this.  I probably need to make 2 more pair to finesse the fine details.

Can you guess in what order I made the gloves? I always liked to see when an artist painted his pieces to see the changes in style and how he developed over time.

So back to one of my original question — the value of art. Now I have seen these wet felted gloves on Etsy selling from anywhere from 25$ a pair to $91 a pair.  I have also seen them for $380 a pair, made by a master felter. So what is the deal?  Is it you get what you pay for ( i.e. lower/ higher quality of finished felt, design and detail)? Or, does each artist/craftsman value their time so much differently? Is it differences in economic expectations of artists in other countries? Is it artistic merit and do people know how to judge artistic merit?

I know that these gloves took me varying amounts of time depending on the level of detailing that I employed and I would price them accordingly. However none of them were done in less time than 5 hours and that does not include the time to dye the wool or silk.

I have always been baffled by the prices of things. I mean you can buy a blouse for $10 or one for $1000. Do you buy the best that you can afford to buy? Do you buy because you know about workmanship? Or buy because you just like the way it looks or feels?

I was recently in an apartment in NYC with an original Picasso, Braque and  Miro and honestly while they were great paintings by the great masters I don’t think I am any less content with the works of art I have in my house.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but I think it helps to know what you’re paying for.

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