The Sydney Woodcarving Group

How To - I

Text Box: Woodcarving is our passion.
We do it because we love it. We take a piece of wood and turn it into our own work of art that not only we get pleasure and satisfaction from but also those with whom we share it with. Whether we are beginners or experts we love what we create, we keep it, we pass it on to friends or family, donate it for raffles or to our church or favourite charity or we sell it. This article is about selling our work. Very few of us become competent enough to become professional carvers, but many of us become competent enough to produce art that someone will be happy to pay for. 

But what about the price?
Many of us get upset when we see a well executed piece, which has obviously taken many dedicated hour to produce, sold for far below its value, as that in turn brings down the value of other peoples work.
When a person buys a woodcarving of yours they are also buying a piece which includes your reputation, your style of carving and, even more importantly, your name. Yes, you are a woodcarver, but not just that, you are also a Craftsman, a Designer and an Artist. Woodcarving is an exacting discipline.  It takes many months and even years to acquire the knowledge, attain competence; to deftly wield a chisel to execute your idea and portray your design.  
It is important that some thought is put into your pricing that reflects all of the above, by pricing low it raises a question - why is it so cheap? what's wrong with it. Yes, of course, someone will always buy at bargain prices, and Yeah!! you have sold your work - but have you?? Or did you just pay someone to buy it from you??  

You just made a few dollars, but did it cover the cost of the wood, your preparation, your finishing and the time you spent?? Maybe you have all the time and money in the world, but does it bring your reputation respect when you have literally given a piece away to a stranger?
It is misleading to project to prospective buyers that this dedication is not of value.  By pricing your work too cheaply you devalue the perception of the craft to the general public (whether they buy or just look) and this affects all woodcarvers, in fact, all artisans of any discipline, adversely.
There are plenty of opinions on how to price, but logically setting an hourly rate is one of the better ways. Pricing per sq cm doesn't work, for example, if you carve netsuke / miniature works as they can take just as long to carve as a large piece, if not longer.

If you decide to choose the hourly rate way to price log your hours. Right from the start - before you start carving that is. 
Your design? 
Procuring the wood, preparing the wood, i.e., cutting it to size, laying on the pattern.
Working on the actual carving, from roughing out the initial design to the sanding at the finish
Did you add the time for pyrography if you enhance with that, or paint, how about sealing and waxing?
Add up these hours and then multiply by $10an hour, for a basic minimum
Then add the miscellaneous extras: e.g., the price of the wood, freight, electricity, band/scroll saw blades, etc.
Now add 10% for profit.

Just doing a rough estimate on the above, how many times have you, as mentioned before, paid some stranger to buy your work? They paid you $150 when you spent $350?
Now, to be honest $20 -$45 an hour would be a more reasonable estimate but few of us would really feel comfortable with those prices, but IF you are doubtful that your pricing is right or that you are charging too high, you are not, in fact, INCREASE YOUR CHARGE. Believe it or not, you will more than likely get the sale.
If you are invited to sell your work at a local market - you must have heard the comment - "Oh do you sell at the market?" - establish whether the particular market will get you the price you expect. If it is a low end market, it won't. Go and find yourself another market. Do not change your price to fit the market.

To quote American Master Carver Joe Dillett : "Putting the proper value on your art is a matter of respect. If you treat your art with the utmost respect and discipline it will take you to new levels of creativity".

Angela Johnson

Pricing Your Work


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