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A Very Expensive Bridge

July 10, 2015

Just about this time last year, I wrote a blog post about why I don't make quilts to sell.

I currently have three projects that are "due" this fall. One each in September, October and November. The October one is a wedding gift. The November one is a miniature (with all the pieces and techniques of a big quilt, but in teeny tiny pieces) and the September one... That's the one I'm here to talk about.

The September quilt is an art piece to be entered into a local-ish quilt show. The size must be 20x28", the theme is "Build a Bridge". The prize is a pretty ribbon and bragging rights. That's all.

I had a lot of problems finding my inspiration in the theme; I spent hours/days looking at pictures of bridges - trestle, suspension, fairy, natural... then branching out into other media - stained glass, shadows, linework (it's okay if you don't know what they are). I asked for suggestions from people I trust and read poetry and short fiction and went down many, many rabbit holes.

Okay, I was being ingenuous when I said I spent hours/days. I spent WEEKS looking for inspiration, and then trying to mold that inspiration into something that could be rendered in fabric. Once I finally found the right fit for my creative brain and capabilities, the REAL work began.

(Hint) I'm not drawing a bridge.

I had to do a basic drawing, both with pencil on paper and mouse on screen. A whole lot of math was involved. What size should this section be? How can I get 17 motifs evenly and pleasantly distributed? (that answer is, I can't)

From first drawing to where I am now - hand-drawn finalised real-sized drawing and an accurate reverse image - it has taken me approximately 12 hours. 12 hours of drawing, measuring, moving, erasing, printing, taping, drawing some more.

And I haven't even touched fabric yet.

I'm not creating this as a pattern for sale or a class to teach. I'm creating is because it interests me and stretches my brain.

But if I were planning to sell the pattern or if I were designing this as a finished piece to be sold... At this stage already I have spent (conservatively) 30 hours. At $10/hour (not much above minimum wage in my state) that's $300. And, as I mentioned before, I am a skilled, experienced quilter. My hourly rate should be higher than 'just above minimum wage'.

Wait. I shouldn't be counting the hours of looking at bridge pictures and doodling on paper and reading poetry and... ? It's research, isn't it? It's something that I am doing specifically for this project, so it should count, I say. A journalist gets paid for research, not just a story. Scientific-types get paid for research, not just the cure for cancer. If this were a paying gig, yes. I get paid.

Yesterday, while cutting fabric for a customer at the fabric store, she mentioned that someone had asked her to make two king-sized Seahawks quilts. She told them, okay, but it'll cost at least $150 each.

I nearly jumped over the cutting counter. I explained to her what I've just laid out for you, dear readers. When I got to the part about minimum wage, I asked her if she could get a king-sized quilt done from design to binding in 15 hours. (of course, the answer was NO!)

Hopefully I got the little hamsters running on the wheel in her head and she begins to value her work more realistically.

I'm sure trying to be more mindful of my time and value.

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permalink 1 Comments:
At 7/11/2015 6:32 AM, Blogger Unknown Babbled Back:  

Nicely done! People do not pay for quality. They want the cheaper items that big box stores offer. They want it fast. They no longer value the time and energy that goes into creating art. It is very sag, indeed!

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