Old quilt, old friend


This morning an old quilt was offered to the local upcycle goddess (me), by the local hoarder (my husband).  I had been eyeing the old gal for a while, knowing her finest years were long passed.   His grandmother made the quilt, so it was his choice, of course.  Once the decision was made, I moved quickly, lest he grow nostalgic and change his mind.

Made with no regard to style, art, or even color, my grandmother-in-law stitched the scraps from the shirt factory floor where she worked by day, into large patch work quilts. She did the cutting, and pieced in the evening, listening to the radio, or television.  Once or twice a year, she would gather with other quilters to quilt a few tops as a group, but mainly she worked alone.  In the case of this quilt, she cut hundreds of narrow strips from factory remnants and flour sacks, stitched the strips together into blocks, then the blocks into a top.  Using a thin cotton batting and a linen sheet, she quilted the three layers together in a utilitarian grid, on a homemade wooden quilting rack set up in the back bedroom.  As I examine this one, I believe it to be all hand stitched by Granny Margie. We guess its age at 60-65 years.  It is worn to rags.  Around the outer edges are some salvageable areas.  I have to work up to cutting into it, for several hours, even though I am ecstatic at the possibilities.

It is a heady moment, as an upcycler, to have the living breathing work of an upcycler from two generations ago in my studio.  It is a rare privilege to take that handcraft forward with dignity, paying homage to the original maker. Vintage and antique fibers are delicate. Vintage quilts frequently have large unusable areas.   I spend some time examining the piece, planning some repairs, seeking vision, artistic inspiration.  I think about Granny Margie and other, finer quilts she made: the one for our wedding,  the Little Dutch Boy from my husband’s childhood bed, the beautiful pink double wedding ring made for our oldest.  Her artistry is still honored in our home.

From this quilt I believe some angels will arise.  Primitive angels with simple cotton faces, country angels with honeysuckle halos. Christmas angels for gracing tree tops. Nursery Angels for watching over cribs.  Heirlooms re-created for another generation or two.


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Yoga Pants to Dye for!


Yoga Pants, Lorraine Cook, 2014

front and back views

It is a great pleasure to introduce a guest blogger to share with us some of her marvelous wearable art.  Lorraine Cook lives, works, and plays in Interlachen, Florida in the USA.  TieDyedHippy.com is the place to view and purchase her wares.  After several years of learning the basics, Lorraine has developed her own personal style of tie dyeing unlike any other.  She was gracious enough to photograph her process, documenting the magic to share here at Up and Dyed.  Friends, prepare to be inspired!

In her words:


 I start with a pair of white cotton  yoga pants that have been soaked overnight in soda ash water, spun out in the spin cycle of my washing machine to get all the excess water out, and then hung on a hanger until they have completely air dried.

I lay them out flat and draw areas where I want the stars, peace sign, hip and lower right leg designs to be. Then I use a 3 lb coffee container lid to trace the half and full circles on the right leg.


Beginning with the 8-point star at the top of the wearer’s left leg, I fold and tie that, working my way down to the next star, and finally the peace sign.




Moving to the right leg, I fold the leg in half, with the inside and outside seams meeting and clip the edges together in a couple places to keep the fold in place.[editor’s note: Lorraine is using paper binder clips to secure her work. Clothes pins, or any similar clamp will work fine.]  Starting with the top half circle I pleat along the drawn line and then band it tight with sinew on the line and then tie 4 sections making the sinew tight. I work my way down the leg doing the other half circles the same way.


I unfold the bottom section of the right leg, below the half circles, and lay that out flat so I can see the “V” lines that I’ve drawn. I pleat along each line, starting at the top one and working my way down. Keep the line straight when you pleat, pulling it around the corner when you get to it. Band each of those lines loosely, not tight like the circles. When you pull the sinew tight it leaves white lines.


 After doing the legs move up to the hip area, laying that out flat and banding it (not tight) as you pleat along the curved lines. Once you’re done with that, lay the pants out, and, beginning at the bottom of one leg, gather the material  in sections, wrap with the sinew, pulling it tight, until you’ve got the entire thing banded up.





I use the rainbow for my color selection but you can use whatever colors you like. I like to start with the stars when I begin dyeing. When I’m done with each of those I wrap them up good in plastic wrap using a rubber band to keep them in place.


The plastic wrap keeps each area from touching other areas and transferring one color onto another, which ALWAYS happens to me when I don’t wrap them. After dyeing the 2 stars and peace sign I finish up that leg and move on to the other one, doing the half-circles the same way, wrapping them in plastic as soon as I’m done dyeing each one.


19 .
Since most of the pants have been tied tight with the sinew it will take MUCH time and patience to add the dye to each section. I use a syringe and literally drip the dye, one drop at a time, onto the cotton. It can take upwards of 3 hours for me to finish dyeing a pair.

Have fun and change up your colors and design placement to create your look!!



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Tied Together Reunion 2014


Most artists and artisans spend many hours working alone.  We draw creative energy from within ourselves.  Affirmation comes from our patrons when our work is admired and purchased.  As more and more commerce transpires over the Internet, there is less interaction between artist and patron, less provision for artistic encouragement.   In the early days of my career, the fiber artists in my region were secretive about their methods, even about where supplies could be purchased.  Again,  the Internet for research, marketing, and social media has changed those circumstances, and whole online communities of artists now support, inspire, and encourage one another.

It was indeed a privilege to spend a few days apart from the routine of creating to be in the presence of others who create.  From an online tie dyeing community, 32 people from 8 states gathered in Tennessee at Natchez Trace State Park in mid-October.   David Childers at Custom Colours, Inc donated enough color swatch booklets for each artist to take one home.  Mr. Childers also graciously facilitated donations of 50 lbs. of sodium carbonate from Surrey Freight and 49 lbs of dye from Standard Dyes in High Point NC.  Prism Magic Clothing and Imports in Reno, NV donated more blanks than I could count.  Seasoned dyers brought equipment to share, and willingly demonstrated techniques.  Everyone generously pitched in consumable supplies.

Campers brought all kinds of items to tie dye, sheets, pants, tapestries, skirts, socks, and, of course, shirts. Bandannas and caps were tie dyed for Grateful Heads, an organization supplying headcoverings for cancer patients coping with hair loss.  We did not have enough time to do all the activities we had planned, but we did learn and share a wealth of information.  It was an enriching experience for all involved.  We were surrounded by tapestries made by some of the Masters in our midst.



So how do 30+ folks create dyeing art in the woods with  no laundry facilities?  Volunteers brought tubs and buckets and garden hoses.  A portable, 20-gallon laundry sink outfitted with a wringer allowed us to presoak many items simultaneously.  After two passes through the wringer, it was on to the clothesline to await tie up.

wringer at Reunion




 Artificial sinew, rubber bands, plastic twine, cotton twine, dental floss, plastic ties, hemostats, and who knows what else were used to bind the material after it was manipulated into patterns, scenes and designs.

michael C


Dye solution was mixed using spring water in one gallon buckets, using a submersible blender.  From a selection of 25 colors provided by Standard Dyes, we sampled about 11 colors, using around 25 gallons of liquid dye. Since we had substantial leftovers, Participants were free to take unused dye powder home, and most did gather samples for later use.  Sacks of sodium carbonate were great door prizes, too.

  a dye mixin' fool

Dye was applied using syringes, squeeze bottles, injectors, droppers, pipettes, sponges, brushes, and sprayed on.

Dyeing at Reunion





On Saturday afternoon, our lesson in arashi shibori was fun and informative.


Several folks tried the pole wrapping technique.




Beautiful results!



Sunday morning a demonstration of dye removal, discharging, was received with enthusiasm.  SoftScrub cleanser was used to discharge the color from black garments.

Discharge demo 1

discharge demo 2

Several garments were ice dyed with spectacular results.  Dry dye powder is sprinkled on a ice-topped, tied item.  Or dry dye powder is sprinkled on a pre-soaked tied item, then ice is piled on top of the dye.  As the ice melts, the dye is slowly distributed through the folds of the material, creating a unique, water colored appearance.   A future guest blogger will describe this process and its variables in great detail. Stay tuned!  Pictured is a denim jacket iced dyed using several shades of red dye.



Stars were popular designs among the campers.





A sample of techniques, from spirals to pleats, and beyond.


Wash out was a big challenge without the use of laundry facilities.  Using a garden hose and sprayer for rinsing, and that handy sink and wringer, a washing method was  established that was clumsy and labor intensive.  We used about 200 feet of clothes line strung between the trees as a dryer.  There were many joyous moments at the hose.

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Three days in the company of kindred spirits in the beautiful woods was a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.  Friendships were forged, inspiring art was created, and a blending of artistic expression celebrated.  Let’s do it again!


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Sticks and Stones


Kanoko Shibori

When tie dye first became popular in the US, it was a much less complex art form than it is today.  Artists have developed modern techniques that  have transported tie dyeing into a highly sophisticated artistic endeavor.  Looking back at those early tie dyes, as well as the methods used to produce them, has been an assignment for my apprentices and textiles students each year.  They get a real kick out of those 1960s and 1970s fashions and hair styles.  They also gain a first-hand view of how far the art form has evolved.

Modern tie dye is heavily influenced by an ancient  Japanese resist dyeing method known as Kanoko Shibori.  There are numerous different styles of shibori dyeing techniques, all traditionally using silk fabric as the base for surface designs.  In Kanoko Shibori, tiny puffs of material are tightly bound with  thread, making circles. Sometimes the circles are placed in an irregular fashion, sometimes they create an image, or more frequently, the fabric is folded into layers to create a repeating pattern.  The bound fabric is then dyed by immersion.  It is a time-consuming, painstaking process with beautiful, monochromatic results.


Silk bound into hundreds of tiny puffs, tied with thread.


 The elaborate floral result of the tiny puffs after dyeing.

When tie dyeing first came to the US, the fabric of choice became cotton. It was common to place small objects, known as inclusions, inside the fabric then tie around the object to mimic Kanoko Shibori.  Coins, dried beans, pebbles, marbles, and all sorts of items were used.  My personal favorites were checkers, or gambling chips.  The dyeing was still generally done by immersion.  A clever alternative was to use inflated balloons as the inclusions. Since the balloons would float at the top of the dye bath, the possibility of using different colors of dye was conceived.  Eventually, direct dye application became popular, opening the doors to even greater creativity.


Glass marbles bound in silk.

Recently, several dyeing artists  have been  melding  the old techniques with the more modern style of tie dyeing with some astounding results.  Nashville, Tennessee area tie dyers Mollie Martin and Jonathon Dixon, of Pieceful World Clothing, incorporate inclusions with pleating and spiraling into stunning creations of wearable art.  Mollie and Jonathon were kind enough to allow the use of their work as an illustration.


 Cotton tapestry, bound and stabilized.

Several different sized inclusions can be used as shown in the above photograph.  By binding tightly, a  fabric bubble is formed around the inclusion, making a perfect circle on the cotton fabric.  Notice how they have stabilized using bamboo skewers to prevent the risk of the  bound garment from buckling and to make handling easier. The coloration visible is washable marker the artists use to plan for dyeing by direct application.


 Cotton bound with inclusions, pleated, and spiraled, and dyed.


Cotton Sundress by Pieceful World Clothing, 2014

By combining spirals and pleats with the inclusions a whole galaxy can be represented in a single piece of stunning wearable art.

An interesting variation takes a bit of color planning, but can yield pleasing results.   Dye the fabric a single color by immersion, wash out, dry, then bind using inclusions.  A second dye bath results in circles of the first color against a background of the second color.  Binding a second time and using a third dye bath is another option worth exploring.

At a workshop recently, a question arose regarding the use of irregularly shaped items as inclusions.   My experimentation was inconclusive.  Oval objects made nice ovals, and rods made oblong shapes, but the irregularly shaped objects made irregular blobs, rather than  recognizable images.  It is my intention to investigate this concept further.  Stay tuned!

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Keeping the white White


Moon Tie Dye

A big challenge for most tie dyers is leaving no white, or undyed, areas.  An even bigger challenge is deliberately leaving an area white as part of the design, or in preparation of using the white area as a canvas for an additional design element. Several of my most popular shirts, such as my Moon and Snow Folks, have large white areas.  Frequently, I combine tie dye with ‘painting’ with fiber reactive dyes.  For the dye colors to yield true, a clean, white area is needed in which to paint.

Here is how the white area is kept white in my studio.

  • Pre soak the washed and dried garment in a solution of 1.25 cups of sodium carbonate and 1 gallon of water.
  • Wring, or spin in washer, until just damp.
  • Pleat in desired pattern.
  • Bind off the portion of the design intended to remain white with rubber bands, so tightly the bands will have to be cut off to remove.  I recommend rubber bands for this technique, rather than artificial sinew.  Why?  With rubber bands a great deal of resistance can be created due to the tension of stretched elastic.  
  • Using a zip lock- style plastic sandwich bag, cover the area.
  •  Zip the bag as far shut as possible.
  •  Wrap another rubber band tightly around the bag.
  • Place the tied item on a slanted drip rack, elevating the side of the rack nearest to the area to remain white.
  • Dye the  area nearest to the bagged portion by applying the dye close to the second band, allowing the dye to wick to the first band.
  • Batch for 12 -24 hours.


  • Remove the bag from the protected region first, rinsing in cool water.
  • Rinse the entire item in cool water.
  • Unband under running cool water.  This first rinse should be thorough enough to remove all the sodium carbonate solution.
  • Soak the item(s) in hot soapy water for at least 5 minutes, but not longer than 15 minutes, with white areas sticking out of the soapy water.


  • Rinse in cool water until waste water runs nearly clear.  At this point some back coloring might be evident.  If so, continue rinsing until the white is white again.


  • Machine wash and line or tumble dry.


Now the white area can be left white, or is available for further embellishment.

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Dyeing Arts Retreat Spring 2014


“Painted” with thickened dyes

It has been a while since I have had time to do any blogging, and this one is quite brief.  Learning the different forms of resist dyeing is best accomplished by DOING rather than reading.  All the text books, videos,  manufacturers’ instructions, and blogs can not compare with hands-on instruction and personal experience.  That is why I train apprentices and offer workshops.  It gives those new to the art form an opportunity to gain basic skills.  It also allows the more advanced practitioner the opportunity to sharpen techniques under the guidance of an experienced Master Dyer.  The third Saturday of each month I host a Beginners and an Advanced workshop in a classroom at one of my retail outlets in Cookeville, TN, USA.  These 2 hour workshops are a great way to give resist dyeing a brief try.  But my patrons have demanded more in depth learning experiences.

Therefore it is my distinct pleasure to invite you to attend a Retreat Workshop in the hills of Tennessee near my home.  I have reserved a rustic lodge at Standing Stone State Park at Hilham, Tennessee for the evening of March 28, 2014 through the morning of March 31, 2014.  We will  explore several resist dyeing techniques, including three methods of Batik, Shibori, Tie Dyeing,  Discharging, and the use of thickening agents to paint with dyes.


Batik using soy wax and fiber reactive dyes

All lodging, meals, supplies, and materials are included as a package for only $350 per person.  Due to the intensity of our curriculum, the workshop is limited to six participants.  A $100 non- refundable deposit is required by Dec. 31, 2013, with the remaining $250 due by March 1, 2014.  Interested individuals may seek more information, and registration procedure at the Events section on my Facebook page–link at upper right of this page.

In all likelihood, I will offer more Retreat-style Workshops in the future, perhaps covering different topics. In the event that this time it is not feasible for you to participate, Fear Not, other opportunities will arise!


“Painted” using thickened fiber reactive dyes on cotton


Discharged with household cleanser, then re-dyed using thickened fiber reactive dyes

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Shibori Dyeing


  Arashi shibori is a type of Japanese resist dyeing where fabric, usually silk, is wound around a pole or pipe, then bound, then dyed by immersing the fabric wrapped pole in a dye bath.  The end result is a beautiful diagonal ripple stripe.   A few modern adaptations of arashi shibori include wrapping and dyeing fully made garments, direct application of the dyes and the use of pvc pipe for the wrapping pole.  Sheer cotton, rayon, gauze, and other light weight fabrics of plant origin can be successfully used for this form of resist dyeing along with fiber reactive dyes. For intense multicolored shibori, my preference is for direct application, rather than immersion dyeing.

Supplies needed:

  • Sodium carbonate pre-soak solution:  one cup of sodium carbonate dissolved in one gallon of water.
  • Fiber reactive dyes in squeeze bottles, or small cups.
  • Cylinder– I often use a large clear food canister, so I can see both sides of the bound fabric.  Wine bottles, plastic tubes, PVC pipe, two liter soda bottles, 5 gallon buckets, are all cylinders that can be used successfully.
  • Cord,  elastic, or sinew for binding.
  • 1 yard or more of white or pastel light weight rayon or cotton fabric 45 inches wide, or a light weight garment, washed and dried omitting fabric softeners and dryer sheets.
  • Masking tape.
  1. Soak the item to be dyed in a solution of 1 cup of sodium carbonate dissolved into 1 gallon of warm water for about 30 minutes.
  2. Wearing gloves, wring the fabric or garment out over the pre-soak bucket until just damp. Spinning in a washing machine is recommended.
  3. The cloth is wrapped on a diagonal around a cylinder.  Depending on the size of the cylinder, the fabric can folded, or over lap several times.  The cloth can be secured with tape at one end and the cylinder turned to wrap. GE DIGITAL CAMERA
  4. This is a XXL Tee shirt folded diagonally.
  5. The cloth is very tightly bound by wrapping thread, or cord or sinew up and down the cylinder.  Here the binding cord  is a rubber band at one end.  
  7. Usually at this point the bindings are wrapped around the fabric.  My Tee shirt is so thick and damp, it will cling to itself with only binding either end with a rubber band  to hold the shape of the pleats, once scrunched.
  8. Next, the cloth is scrunched on the pole.  It should be a snug fit.   The result is a tightly pleated cloth with a design on a diagonal.
  10. Dye is applied with squeeze bottles, or sponges, or brushes.
  12. Batch for 12-24 hours.
  14. Unband, washing out excess dye in hot soapy water.
  15. Machine launder.



Cotton fabric is 36 inches wide  by 108 inches long, dyed in four colors.  The above photo is from the middle layers.


The outermost layers have the darkest, least distinctive dye pattern,


 while the inner most layers have the tightest and lightest dye patterns.


The two ends compared.

A technique frequently used in shibori is over dyeing with black or other very dark color.  This can be accomplished by over dyeing the first dye application 20 minutes into the batching process.  Or, more commonly, the entire binding and dyeing process is completed twice.  The first time the dyeing is done in pastel or light colors.  The second time the dyeing is done in dark colors or black, sometimes going in different direction.


Twice dyed using shibori technique, 36 x 36 linen, 2011, by Ruth Cooper

Another fun variation is reverse shibori, where dark fabric is wound around a cylinder, bound, scrunched, then treated with a discharging agent for about an hour.  The fabric is then unbanded and the discharging agent is neutralized.  Work in a well ventilated area when discharging, please.

There are many variations to explore with shibori, from how the fabric is folded before wrapping, to how the wrapping is done, to how the binding and scrunching are done, to where the dye is placed.  The combinations of variables is endless! My studio was once located next door to a restaurant that received shipments of condiments in tall square 3 gallon pails.  Using those  square pails as  wrapping poles created several unusual shibori dyed fabrics.  Who says the pole must be a cylinder??

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Over Dyeing with Black


Heather models a Rainbow Spiral Black Over Dye by Up and Dyed

One of the most enduring color combinations that I have marketed over the years is the Rainbow spectrum with a black over dye spiral, and its cousin, the black over dyed rainbow fan.


Eric in a Rainbow Fan with Black Over Dye by Up and Dyed

Over Dyeing with black changes the entire dynamic of the rainbow spectrum, adding depth, contrast and motion to the eye-pleasing color sequence of the rainbow. It is common for patrons to ask if this process began with a black garment to achieve this end result.  No, it began life as a white garment. It is probably my most requested secret. If I had secrets.

Over dyeing with black is doing exactly that==  Applying black dye over fabric already dyed another color.  

  • Mix the black dye powder at the ratio of 1 Tblsp of dye powder and 1 Tblsp of table salt per 4 ounces of warm water.
  • Thickener can be added to the black dye to reduce spreading.
  • The garment is dyed to the saturation point on both sides in the 6 colors Yellow, Orange, Red, Purple, Blue, and Green.
  • Allow dyed item to batch for 10 minutes.
  • Apply a heavy over coat of black to ONE side of the garment.
  • Leave the item black side up on a drip rack.
  • Allow item to batch for 12 – 24 hours.
  • Wash out in very hot soapy water.

Another method for over dyeing with black is to dye or tie dye a garment, wash it out, re-pre-soak, then re-tie using arashi shibori resist techniques.  The over dye with black in shibori creates stunning contrast.

Recently, a patron requested an earth with a black over dye rainbow fan.  I took pictures along the way to share with you.  My camera is not the best and I am a poor photographer, but perhaps the lesson is illustrated well enough to follow.


  1. The globe was painted using thickened Turquoise and Kelly Green fiber reactive dyes on the waist of a pre-soaked tee shirt, directly below the sleeve.
  2. Shirt was allowed to batch for 48 hours or until the dye is completely dry.  
  3. Re-dampen garment with water in a spray bottle, protecting the globe image from the spray.
  4.   Accordion pleated around the globe.
  5. Place bindings about two inches a part, the length of the garment.


Dye in the rainbow spectrum repeating pattern.


Black dye covering one side.


Finished product.

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Color Blending with Procion Fiber Reactive Dyes

 color wheel

There is a point in every tie dye workshop that I ask the group to name the three primary colors.   The group members usually bumble around and eventually come up with the right answers, only mildly embarrassing themselves when someone says “pink”.   In the world of fiber reactive dye the primaries are lemon yellow, fuchsia red, and turquoise.  All the secondary and tertiary colors are blended from the three primaries.  In the Beginner Tie Dye Workshop this discussion of colors and their relationship to each other on the color wheel leads to an exercise with white paper towels.  We drip out the three primaries dyes in a triangle and observe the colors bleed together forming the three secondary colors.  Using that color wheel concept, the students dye rainbow spiral Tee shirts.  Nice lesson for the beginner.


Tie Dye Rainbow Spiral Tee Shirt in three primaries and three secondaries.

In the Advanced Level Workshop, we explore color blending in greater detail. Still using paper towels as  test palettes, we experiment by controlling the value, or depth, of color as  we blend.  Plan extra time when next you mix up a dye lot for the creation of a color mixing chart of your own.

  • Create a stock solution of the three primary colors of concentrated dye solution, carefully measuring or weighing the dye powder and measuring the warm water. Add salt or urea as needed. Use the dye distributor’s recommendations for yield to determine dye powder to water ratios.
  • Dilute the stock solution with water to one half strength for medium values of each color.
  • Lighten stock solution  in 4 ounce increments, making at least three values of each color, light, medium and dark.  Make cotton color swatches, or a paper towel journal.
  • Blend small amounts, 4 ounces at a time, until the desired ratio is achieved.
  • Write down the proportions!
  • Adding dye from lightest to darkest is the preferable mixing sequence when blending new colors.

 advanced color wheel

  • Adding black or weak black in small increments can deepen many dyes.  A light touch is required when adding black.

I found these color wheels by Googling “color wheel”. And you can probably find better ones, but I highly recommend you make your own, with your dyes.  Label with the formula you created.     Your own color wheel will become the corner-stone of your favorite color combinations.   Dye is too expensive to waste making mucky looking colors and odd combinations due to poor planning of color and color placement. Learn which colors provide harmony, blending well and which ones provide pleasing contrast.  Explore ‘warm’ verses ‘cool’ colors.  Practice for hours, all on the safety of  paper towels before making final selections  on a project.  A well recorded history of your dye mixing experiments provides a valuable reference for future projects and ideas.

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Marketing Wearable Art: Pricing

During the years I marketed tie dye and batik clothing at weekend festivals in the Southeast US, I met hundreds of other craft artisans.  In the Up and Dyed gallery, 12 other creators of wearable art were represented under my management.  Many of those great folks were gifted artists as well as skilled artisans.  What is the difference between an artist and an artisan?  Can you be both?  An artist is a person who creates one item of art work at a time, from their own imagination, without intending to ever make another one exactly the same. The creation is an expression of the artist’s very specific artistic thought.   An artisan is a person engaged in the creation of similar art work over and over, usually of their own design and style, but perhaps using some one else’s pattern or instruction.  I am both an artist and an artisan.

Many professional craft artists, like me are also artisans in order to make a living at their craft.  Way too often, skilled artisans and artists struggle to sell their high quality handmade products. Several factors can contribute to the struggle. One is having an appropriate venue, not just any venue, but a venue in which the products are recognized and valued by patrons and potential patrons.  Another of those primary factors is appropriate pricing. Sometimes the products are over priced by local market standards. While far too many craft artisans greatly under price their wares, not earning enough to realize a profit.  How to arrive at a fair market retail price for the items you produce by hand? There are numerous considerations when determining a retail price for any item of  wearable art.

  • Calculate every single penny of your overhead and production costs.  Leave nothing out, no matter how trivial it may seem. Arriving at this calculation will be a difficult and hellish task, but once completed will be a valuable tool in the successful pricing of your wares.
  •  When marketing at consignment shops, consider the percentage paid to the shop part of YOUR overhead, as it helps pay the shop’s overhead.
  • Consider travel expenses, costs of shipping for supplies, all expenses related to making your business function.
  • Learn to estimate time spent on production of the item by jotting down amount of time spent on each step in the process on a note pad.  Add up the time–you may be spending more time than you thought!
  • Research the competition.  Investigate the price range of similar items in similar venues.
  • Be very realistic about workmanship.  An enthusiastic beginner’s skill  level and production time will be quite different from an experienced master.
  • Use a formula to create a fair price list, such as Cost multiplied by a set percentage rate, based on the wholesale cost of the supplies used.  

Cost X 3=retail price is a common formula for beginner artisans,

 up to Cost X 6=retail price for master artisans and artists.

Art patrons are willing to pay for well made unique items.  When they are treated to fair pricing standards, they will buy more art work, from you and from other artists.  Educate your patrons in the price difference between a one-of-a-kind item verses  multiples of similar items.  Value the work you do, and others will, too.

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Filed under Marketing Wearable Art, Pricing