Friday, March 1, 2013


I'm a Midwestern girl of German heritage. I've got showing humility down pat. But, actually feeling humility? Not so much. I work really hard and I usually get really good results for those efforts. That makes me proud. Apparently the universe felt I needed a smackdown of the ego. The venue? My son's preschool fundraiser this evening.

Donations for Sawyer's Preschool Fundraiser
I donated the two necklaces with gemstone clusters.
The sterling one retails for $78 and the copper one retails for $42.

Donations for Sawyer's Preschool Fundraiser
These are the three pairs of lampwork earrings I donated.
Each retails for $30.

I wrote in a post last week that I was unsure how my intended donations would be received. I mentioned that no one had commented on the blog where I asked for input, but that since I hadn't been blogging long that, perhaps, no one saw it, and that I was going to run with the assumption they were fine. This morning I helped to set up and I talked to the women there about my pieces. They all thought they were lovely, agreed that as long as people understood that they weren't getting Michael's beads, that they couldn't just pick up lampwork pendants in their choice of color and letter, or gem quality beads from a craft store, that they would understand why their retail values were what they were. That I should include a picture of myself at the torch with my artist statement, which I did. Yeah! Artist statement. Also displays, item descriptions with my logo ... I wasn't messing around with presentation. If they wanted a necklace like this, this was the only place to get it.

Well, now I have more definitive data. For the three earrings bids start at $10. Two of them went for single bids of $20. Okay. Not bad. One of those bids was from my mother, though. The black and white pair went for $12. Ouch. The minimum bid for the sterling necklace was $20. One bidder met that. My mom bid $22, some one else bid $24, and my mom (again, yes) won for $30. The copper version of the necklace opened at $12. It was going to go for a single bid of $14 when I bid on my own necklace at the last minute for $20. It COST (not retail, not even wholesale), cost more than $14 to make and I figured it was better to make a donation myself than let it go for less than cost. So, all said and done I donated $210 worth of retail product, they sold for $102, and $32 of that was from people outside my family. Yeah. If my mom and I hadn't bid? All five pieces would have sold for $70 total. Again ... that's less than cost. Yeah.

Please bear in mind that we're not talking about whether or not I feel fortunate. I do. I sincerely count my blessings daily. I know that I'm more fortunate than a lot of people in my neighborhood, let alone country or world. That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about ego. Given the resources I have at my disposal, am I able to produce a superior, desirable, highly competitive product? Apparently the majority of people who attended that fundraiser did not think that was the case ... not even to help the preschool.

I did have one woman approach me as I was carrying the displays out. She said that the initial pendants were very cute and that she bid on one ... but "didn't win. Darn it." I did, honestly, feel thankful that she liked them. I was also thankful she liked them enough to bid. I just ... don't know. Wish she had been willing and able to bid more.

The things that did go were, in general, baskets with kid-themed items, or family-themed items like like for game night or movie night. Things where people felt, both, that they were indulging their kids, and doing it for a good price. Those seemed go sell for around $5 under their retail value. So, I don't know. Maybe the economy still doesn't foster people - the average mom - indulging themselves with expensive items, regardless of their quality? Maybe people don't understand the value of lampwork? Maybe they don't understand why the beads I had on my pendants were any better than those they get at Hobby Lobby? Did most people just think they sucked? I don't know. I didn't have the stomach to stalk the people looking at my work and eavesdrop. Maybe I should have.

At this point I really don't feel like I know much. My brain feels a little jumbled. And my ego? Smackdown successful.


  1. I think that most people don't really understand or value handmade items--especially jewelry. I've had "friends" inform me that items that I made which were sterling silver or even fine silver weren't worth even the value of the silver in them. So much for my skill and labor. Those same people also think nothing of dropping $75+ on costume jewelry at Talbot's and similar stores. For some people, it's all about name brands and quality, handmade items from a no-name like me have no cachet.

    The parents in attendance at the auction may be the type who prefer to only buy for their children, may not wear jewelry, or may have any number of other reasons for not bidding or bidding high enough on the items that you donated but don't let it get you down. Your work is beautiful and the right people will recognize that beauty and make purchases.

    1. Hi Susan! Thank you! We certainly don't need "friends" that don't make the effort to understand our work before commenting on it, let alone saying negative, hurtful things about it. As artists, I think most of learn quickly that our style isn't to everyone's taste and are okay with that; i wish more consumers understood that not being to their taste does not equate to being of poor quality! I think you also have a good point about purchasing costume jewelry. I think more people are cooncerned with style ans value than quality. Not all, certainly, but more than before.

  2. Julie,
    Just wanted to give you a pat on the back. I think you are right when you say that average people don't understand the value of real lamp work. I myself have only really understood the true difference in the past year or two. Your pieces are lovely and I would encourage you not to let this experience get you down.
    I have had a similar experience with my Polymer clay. I was thinking that in the future I may put a couple of unopened bricks near my work with a sign that says "From this to this" just to show how the supplies become the finished work. Perhaps you could do the same with a rod of glass, just to emphasize the process. Don't let this one experience influence you too much. Warm Regards, Tammie

    1. Thank you, Tammie! I am so thankful for you and everyone that takes the effort to write positive and supportive comments! You have a really good suggestion! I have a bead show in a few weeks, and I will definitely bring some raw glass rods!