Monday, April 30, 2012

A word about pricing...

Creature holding creature.
As many of you may have noticed, abbydid has been scaling back since last summer.  I had been hitting the craft show scene pretty hard, and the balance with family life was getting a bit out of whack.  It was becoming too much, I wasn't enjoying my work, and changes needed to be made.

The result was to drastically cut back on craft shows.  Today you can find abbydid plush in one of two places; my etsy shop and Fabricate, a brick and mortar shop in Northside of Cincinnati.

The next step is to raise my prices to better compensate me for my work.  This is the part of the job I hate the most.  It's difficult for me to price my work, I'm constantly under-valuing what I do.  I took a long, hard look at my price list recently and determined I needed to be more realistic about what I charge.

I've often joked I get paid in compliments.  Some of my shows I've participated because I consider it community outreach, a way to support neighborhoods I love and want to support, despite the knowledge the sales may not be very high.  After four years, however, abbydid needs to be more profitable to be sustainable.

This has had me pondering, probably for the 1,000th time, about the prices we pay for things, and how what we pay is too often unrealistic in relation to what an item actually costs to be made.  There's nothing quite like making something yourself to quickly bring home how spoiled we've become having inexpensive goods at our beck and call, not to mention the short cuts that are made to achieve these rock bottom prices.  Ethical work practices,  quality materials, workmanship, these arewhat are often sacrificed so we can save a few bucks.

In my personal life I strive to be a conscientious shopper.  I try to be a localvore.  I consider how the animals were raised when shopping for meat.  I consider the origin and growing season of the produce I'm buying.  I support handmade whenever and wherever I can.  If I'm going to talk the talk I had damn well better walk the walk.  But the reality of the situation of living outside of the city and raising kids makes this hard work.  Work worth doing, absolutely, but I'm not beyond taking a lazy shortcut here and there to keep things running smoothly.  I'm in Target at least once a week.  I know that's not ideal.  The majority of the clothes we are all wearing are mass produced over seas.  My biggest confession here - sometimes I just don't care.  Sometimes I get tired of trying to do the right thing and say to hell with it.  But this doesn't last long, I know better, and these aren't issues I can readily ignore.

Those are my personal choices.  This is how I believe my life should be led, and these are the ethics I want to pass on to my children.  The flip side of that is to be sure I'm compensated fairly, as well.  My kids need to see I value myself and my work.  I need to see that, too, honestly.

Now, I know all too well there are indie crafters out there over-charging.  Not every handmade item is an artisan, one-of-a-kind creation worth it's weight in gold.  But by and large this is not the norm, the vast majority of crafters and artists are struggling to strike a balance between making a profit and maintain a price that is attainable to their target audience.  It's tricky.  We, as a community, need to keep this in mind. Before we loudly complain at someone's booth when shopping at a craft show that this is so outrageously expensive, I challenge us all to stop and truly think about what it takes to dream up the idea, create the piece, make adjustments and perfect the design, photograph the piece, market it, list it online, haul in displays and tear them down again at a show, pay booth fees, take a 40% cut when selling through a store, shop for materials, and the zillion other things it takes to run a craft business.

Most of us are in it because of our passion for what we do.  We are crazy to do it, quite often, so it's the love of it that keeps us going.  To see a little profit at the end of the day certainly helps keep that fire stoked.

All this is to say, kittens, my prices have gone up a bit.  Thanks for your support and love.  Carry on.

Whipper Slappers, monster slap bracelets 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Joy-ridden, a little art show by yours truly

I've been making plush for 4 years now.  Hard to believe, isn't it?  In some regards it feels like I've done it forever, in others it feels like I just started yesterday.  It is not unlike parenting in that regard.  Oh, how time flies/crawls simultaneously!

A close-up of "Emerging," a needle-worked photograph by Abby Langdon

And as much as I love what I do, I was feeling a little burned out.  A little stagnant.  It was time to shake things up a bit and try something new.  Enter my first ever SOLO ART SHOW!
A shot of the 14 pieces in the show just before the opening.
Yes, indeed-y, my friends, I took that extra, wobbly step across the threshold, crossing officially over from Craftworld to Artworld.  And, as it turns out, it isn't such a leap after all.  I mean, I consider plush-making to be art, absolutely.  I've had plush pieces show up in galleries here and there, and it's been a thrill each and every time.  But this was different.  This was a personal challenge, an introspective journey.  Some people have New Year's Resolution?  I had an art show.  From the moment 2012 heralded in I began working on these pieces to explore my creativity, my consciousness of my path through life, and my view of the world around me.

It's been a wonderful experience.  I've learned so much about myself.  I've learned to let creativity come as it will, not to rush it or push it or enforce constraints that need not be there.  I've learned to go with the flow, and to recognize inspiration when it quietly sits down beside me.  It has been an absolute joy to create this show.
The work consists of needle-worked photography on canvas and miniature needle-worked assemblages in jars.
And so I named the show Joy-ridden, because that's exactly what I want to be - riddled with joy.  I think far too many of us know what it is to be constantly guilt-ridden and angst-ridden.  I have left that by the wayside.  I want to be joy-ridden, don't you?  So let's!  Let's be thrilled to be alive and spread that joy around.
Funky angled shot with Tree/House in the foreground.
That's what my show is about.  Looking at the things around me and seeing all of the beauty: the old, abandoned building with the out-dated stereotype painted on the side, the sleeping trees in the dead of winter, the giant robot that makes me smile every time we drive past.  None of it is mundane.
Opportune Moment and Prize Inside, two needle-worked assemblages.
The little jars are terrariums filled with the ingredients to a happy existence.  These are the things I hope to carry with me and pull out whenever I need them.  My safe place, my opportune moment, my ebb and flow, they are all part of what keep me moving in the right direction.  I hope you have those things, too.

The show opened this past Saturday, and it was wonderful.  Dear friends and family were there, as were lots of new faces.  There was so much positive feedback.  I was riding high on a cloud all night.
That's me to the left, laughing like a goon, surrounded with love.
I want to say a huge thank you to Chris and Aileen at Fabricate for this opportunity.  They've been the primary brick and mortar source of abbydid plush for the past few years, and they were gracious in their willingness to take a chance on me and my first solo show.  I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to Christina Ward Creatures who generously used her vacation time to help me hang the show (and when I say help I mean she did most of the work while I got the hell out of the way).  And lastly, I am so extraordinarily grateful to my husband Jason.  No one on this planet has a more supportive spouse, it simply isn't possible.  From hanging the show to framing to helping me determine when a piece was done to knocking out design work at my every whim, he is patient and kind and talented.

I'm sickening myself with how sappy all of this is.  I'll be back to my randy, sassy self momentarily, I promise.  Meanwhile, go see the show while it's up at Fabricate through May 6th.  You'll be glad you did, promise.  Details are available here: Joy-ridden by Abby Langdon

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hooray for presents! A guest blogger reveals her covert robin gift to me.

*Abby, here.  Today I have a GUEST BLOGGER!  Isn't that wild?  Yes, indeedy, it is.  Why you ask?  Well, because a few months ago I signed up to be part of the Covert Robin, a gift exchange between crafters on the blogosphere.  My dear, darling friend Rachael of Imagine Gnats organized it.  She's pretty rad.  And also, free stuff?  Hello!  But I digress - today Nichole shall tell you about the lovely gift she made me, which I adore and have hanging in my kitchen even as I type.  Enjoy:

Hey there abbydid readers.  My name is Nichole and I blog over at Yeung Mother Hubbard.    Back in March the lovely Rachael at imagine gnats had the awesome idea to do a handmade gift exchange.  This wasn't just any gift exchange, it was a mystery round robin gift exchange.  It was such an awesome idea that I had to participate.  

Once I received my partner and the stalking began.  I started at Abby's website, where I found her awesome plush critters!  Next I checked out her Facebook Page where I found her fabric design.   

But how could I incorporate her design into my gift? I thought about it for a long time.  And then it came to me!  A menu board!  I had recently reinvented my menu board at home and these little guys would be a perfect backdrop.  

I use my menu board all of the time, it is such a time and money saver for me!  I plan my meals on Sundays and then stock the frig with those ingredients.  When I get home from work, I just start cooking!  No more "what's for dinner" in my house!  Perfect for a busy mom, right?!

I hope that you enjoy your menu board Abby!  

This was a great experience and great idea!  Thank you to Rachael for dreaming up this great idea and thank you for having me on my blog today Abby!