Spoon pics

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Spoon pics

Postby timbadger » Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:44 am

Having just finished a batch of spoons i thought i would see what folks think.
Strictly they werent all made green, the spated alder came out of the logpile but after burning a bit decide to try a spoon and rather liked it, so now put some of these bits aside for future spooning.

Before oiling;

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Finished;

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Side views,
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Sorry for the squiffy angles!

Woods are mainly alder, but with one beech a couple of juniper and a sycamore or two as well, and i have to confess to a 'little' sanding in the bowl.
Nearly finished a curved, ofset handled knife which might help with that although thats really more bowl sized...

So thoughts and ideas appreciated. One i just noticed from another post was that i do my spoons backwards, the bowl facing the middle of the log (when using roundwood) larger logs are just orientated how they are split down.

I thought i had found an outlett for a few sales but it turns they wanted to add a 100% commision, and while i dont mind not making much on them related to time this just made them too expensive. I get the comisions but this seems a bit high, does anyone else sell through a 3rd party and have a reasonable arangement. I would have thought 20% was more than ample...maybe wishfull thinking though?
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Re: Spoon pics

Postby nic » Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:48 am

Nice looking spoons, I like the ones with the pronounced curve in profile the best.

As to selling- 100% is pretty standard; I used to supply a gallery that added 50% but that was the lowest I have ever encountered, and he went bust. I would try it but only at the price you want for them; if they can sell them at double that it is good news for you as it means that you if you come to sell face to face with the public you can either sell at that price, and get all the money or point out that in the gallery they sell for X but you can give some sort of discount ( but not as much as the shop takes so you are still winning)

I think 100% always comes as a bit of a shock to a maker (some shops in GB work on x 2.40 to take into acount VAT)
But once you get used to it it can work in your favour.
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Re: Spoon pics

Postby timbadger » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:48 pm

Cheers Nic,
Looks like i was being very nieve about it all then, i had expected to pay them for selling my stuff of course but had not considdered it'd be the same amount i would be taking!
Suppose its an old story, with the markup i just dont think they will sell and it does frustrate to decide on a modest cost and then just for selling it someone makes the same amount, but i do like your positive way of looking at it!

Seeing them here though I reckon i need to work on my photography skills as the pics could probably show them better.
Anyhow i was going to move onto bowls and knives this week but i cant help but wonder if its worth it in terms of hourly rate. At the mo i am happy selling for less than is sensible on the basis that i am always improving etc but you do have to make something at some point.

Probable the same things many people here have considdered and got over, i suspect niche markets may be the way forwards. That or it all has to be purely a hobby for 20 years until you can make everything in the blink of an eye!

;-)
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Re: Spoon pics

Postby ToneWood » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:05 pm

I like your spoons, you have managed to make them interesting while maintaining a consistent, good quality finish (how do you get/keep the top of the bowls so even and level?). The designs have elegant "clean" lines - which I tend to associate with Scandinavian design, nice. I too like the curved-profile spoons but also the large serving spoons that are slim but widen towards flatter ends, with either a tapered-round end or a "crown"/peaked end.

Yes, sadly, I think 100% mark-up by retailers in general is fairly commonplace, more if they can get away with it, less if they can't. They have costs: payroll, local taxes, VAT, rent, heating, insurance, advertising. Taxes in the UK keep putting upward pressure on prices -> inflation. As long as you get the price you need, the end price need not concern you too much *if* the store buys them from you but I suppose they sell them on commission - so they might just end up decorating the store; an old school friend made walking sticks which sat unsold in a local leather shop for years on that basis :(. Look at it this way, with a 100% mark-up, they have the same motivation to sell your spoons as you do ;) (the Americans sometimes call that WIFM - "what's in it for me").

In Tescos, mass produced, round-handled wooden spoons currently sell 3 for £2 (various sizes). As my brother said on seeing my first spoon "brilliant, you'll make a fortune selling these for 50p each at the local market" :( (the local market is tiny). Fortunately I don't have to sell mine. You can't compete with industrial production, labour rates in China and impoverished third world countries - your market will have to be different, higher end, quality, handcrafted goods. A tough sell at the moment perhaps.

Perhaps best to attend various festivals and make and sell your spoons there, so that you get the sales commission. Demonstrating your skills could be part of the sales pitch. A maker's mark (e.g. carved or branded) is a nice touch I think. Who knows, it might become collectable one day.
Last edited by ToneWood on Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Spoon pics

Postby gavin » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:14 am

ToneWood wrote:Perhaps best to attend various festivals and make and sell your spoons there, so that you get the sales commission. Demonstrating your skills could be part of the sales pitch. A maker's mark (e.g. carved or branded) is a nice touch I think. Who knows, it might become collectable one day.


Short answer: Do shows and get paid for attending/ demonsrating/ running have-a-go sessions - do not do them unpaid, and do look to your insurance.
If you cannot be paid, do not go. No payment from promoter means they do not trust you to deliver value. If you cannot command trust, then there is something fundamentally wrong with your product or your communication. If you are paid, you are then not so anxious to flog stuff.

Skilled makers like Sean Hellman will pay to attend shows. He knows what he is doing and can make products he knows will sell, and he is motivated not by demonstrating as much as selling to cover his transport and pitch fee. Unless you already know you have a stream of sale-able products, don't pay to attend shows.
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Re: Spoon pics

Postby ToneWood » Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:21 am

gavin wrote:
ToneWood wrote:...Short answer: Do shows and get paid for attending/ demonsrating/ running have-a-go sessions - do not do them unpaid, and do look to your insurance....
Good point, didn't realise that is how it works but it makes sense.

Another thought occurred to me after I posted the above: find a cheap way to sell on the web (e.g. using a webstore/ebay/amazon/...). Make it easy for people to buy your products. I believe Paypal offer a relatively simple checkout option for websites (they take a percentage/fee of course). But it might take some effort to find the best/most cost-effective way to do this (perhaps others can provide tips on this?). Then get some business cards that you can give to customers & potential customers, and signage for your stall/vehicle, that include ways to purchase, e.g. website URL and email address - ideally choose these so that they are easy to remember and such you don't have to change them when you switch broadband/hosting providers (e.g. get a free Google/Hotmail email account and use it - had mine for about 15 years now) . If you use Paypal (for their checkout or for ebay), it is best/simplest to use the same (hotmail/google/etc.) email account. One more thing, folk do most of their discretionary spending for the year in the period leading up to Christmas - some retailers make a loss during other periods and depend on this critical period for all of their profits - "your mileage may vary".
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Re: Spoon pics

Postby timbadger » Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:32 pm

Thanks for the nice words, I dont really know if they are scandinavian 'type' i really just play with them and see how they come out. One of my problems perhapse ther, if i had more standard designs i might make them considerably quicker. I do try to do 3 or 4 at a time and find repeating the stages does speed things up, another topic often discussed here, if your better you make faster and can sell more for less. I do charge what seems to be a premium for them (of course not in terms of time and effort) but have not knowingly seen anyone baulk at the price once they have asked and decided they like them. I reckon there is a limited market and if theres only so many people interested in them selling cheaper might not help more people purchese.

All good ideas.

I attend a few viking and middle ages shows around the area here (only about 4 a year) helping as a volunteer with a viking ship and can sell a few things on their textile stall (which i sett up, man and take down) the fairs are great and are busy but if i sell 2 spoons i think its a day well spent, seem to trade things more often than sell and lots of the stalls are eastern european produced much cheaper, and often very well (although never only hand made). For a season i took an old crank stone sharpening wheel and sharpened knives too, but didnt find it was worth the effort to lug the thing around. I have not yet seen a show here which will pay you, except for one very well known local blacksmith, i am hoping getting pole lathe at a few might help with this in the future (also museum open days etc) as i reckon it has a good chance to end up in the local papers. On the plus side not many of the reinactment fairs charge, the others do and i havent gone there dont think i have the range of products or sett up well enough yet.
I've got the small cards with email and facebook account offering a few things (although not particularly well sett up i suspect it was on my 'to do' last winter) .
Ive got the spoons shown in a shop now for a reasonable markup, non shifted in a week but patience, virtue etc, want to get some bowls and maybe knives there too. If im quick enough I may be able to get my own little glass cased display rather than them be randomly scattered.
Theres another problem - it does seem to take a lot of time to get anything finished, so many disractions! havent sorted out the finish on the bowls, id love to do a tooled finish but think an 'abraisived sheet' finish (darent even utter the words here) might sell better, (ignoring the authenticity for now). As you can tell i am certainly still learning and trying a few related but different things which all take time.
The web shop i like the idea of but probaly need more things to make it look profesional enough.
Right what to go and do now then!
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Re: Spoon pics

Postby Ian S » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:20 pm

gavin wrote:do not do them unpaid


Aye, wise words there, Gavin.
How sharp is sharp enough?
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Re: Spoon pics

Postby SeanHellman » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:49 pm

Ian S wrote:
gavin wrote:do not do them unpaid


Aye, wise words there, Gavin.


Not sure that I would agree. You have to start somewhere and no one will "trust" you until you have experience and know that the shows money is going to be well spent. Chicken and egg situation really. At first try the free pitch for a demo idea. Demonstration at shows is a way of getting an audience which you then sell too. There are and always be people that are very good at this and make a lot of money from this approach. Use the demo to draw people in and your passion, knowledge and enthusiasm should help to sell your wares.
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Re: Spoon pics

Postby gavin » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:39 pm

SeanHellman wrote:
Ian S wrote:
gavin wrote:do not do them unpaid


Aye, wise words there, Gavin.


Not sure that I would agree. You have to start somewhere and no one will "trust" you until you have experience and know that the shows money is going to be well spent. Chicken and egg situation really. At first try the free pitch for a demo idea. Demonstration at shows is a way of getting an audience which you then sell too. There are and always be people that are very good at this and make a lot of money from this approach. Use the demo to draw people in and your passion, knowledge and enthusiasm should help to sell your wares.


Fair comment Sean - you have to start somewhere. But don't stay giving away your demo for nowt for ever.
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Re: Spoon pics

Postby nic » Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:56 pm

For years I used to do shows with a company that paid a day rate and mileage for demonstrating for them but I never sold well at the shows and they were in the end a pretty depressing experience for me; There was a big group of us that used to go all round the country and demonstrate all our rustic country crafts. I remember vividly one night when we were at a showground near the centre of Leeds; we were sat round a fire as we tended to do in the evenings but this time we were behind security fencing; there was gunfire in the near distance and the night was lit up with blue police sirens. I had the distinct impression that we were exhibits that had to be protected from the real world.

I now pick the shows I want to do and generally swap a space for a demo; I have an indoor demo sorted out and for indoor events (especially over the winter) is a new experience ; to go to venue and not to have to set up the forge and marque. I sometimes pay a bit; sometimes get paid a bit, but the volume of sales makes a much bigger difference to than the arrangement with the oraganisers.

I don't think of this as giving my demos away for free- at the last show I saved £700 on the price I would have paid to attend as selling only.
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Re: Spoon pics

Postby timbadger » Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:09 pm

Good advice gents,
While this thread has moved on quite abit from the original spoons i do appreciate the advice and thoughts of those who have been down the road before.
I currently reckon its best to use one years shows to get some interest in the pole lathe, and see if this can lead to a little demoing next year. Im in touch with the museums already about other things so that could help.

I know i am asking a bit much to get my pole lathe finished and become proficient enough for demos by summer, but it isnt going to stop me from trying. Although stability, poor (tennon) joints and weak legs are holding me back at present!

Might have to come a visiting one of you next time im in blighty for a few tips! Bit late for this years Bodgers i think although that i would very much like to see.

Nic i dont fully get the swapping space for a demo, although think the fairs here might be a bit different. Was discussing last weekend with a Norwegian how much easied he thought it would be to do traditional crafts in the UK, as there were far more people to sell to. I on the other hand rather hope that with the more visable and alive heritage here generally people would be more willing to pay a sensible price. Wonder who will turn out to be right?
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Re: Spoon pics

Postby nic » Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:30 pm

timbadger wrote:
Nic i dont fully get the swapping space for a demo, although think the fairs here might be a bit different. Was discussing last weekend with a Norwegian how much easied he thought it would be to do traditional crafts in the UK, as there were far more people to sell to. I on the other hand rather hope that with the more visable and alive heritage here generally people would be more willing to pay a sensible price. Wonder who will turn out to be right?



In the UK show organisers generally recoup the costs of putting on the shows in two ways; most shows use both some one or the other.

1 They charge an entrance fee for the public.
2 They charge the stall holders rental on the space they take up.

So generally the traders that are just selling at a show will have paid at least a few hundred pounds to be there; if you can into the same space for nothing because you are demonstrating you can do very well- as others have said the demonstration should work in you favour; it will atract customers and educate them as to the hard work that goes into making your product.
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Re: Spoon pics

Postby gavin » Tue Mar 27, 2012 5:48 am

timbadger wrote:I know i am asking a bit much to get my pole lathe finished and become proficient enough for demos by summer, but it isnt going to stop me from trying. Although stability, poor (tennon) joints and weak legs are holding me back at present!

With that attitude, you will prosper! By moving your lathe to mutliple sites and setting it up on new pitches you will learn a lot. Also the public teach you by asking questions and some of them will know more than you. Some make cunning suggestions which you can use.

timbadger wrote: Was discussing last weekend with a Norwegian how much easied he thought it would be to do traditional crafts in the UK, as there were far more people to sell to. I on the other hand rather hope that with the more visable and alive heritage here generally people would be more willing to pay a sensible price. Wonder who will turn out to be right?

Your experiments will tell - go to it! You may like to keep a show diary. That way you'll know what worked and what did not.
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