Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tiger rag rug and the price of craft work.

I've always felt that in order to fully appreciate craft work one must have a go at making it even though making anything for the first time always takes longer there is at the end a better understanding of what boes into it's production in the time and effort which explains the price tag. I'm often asked how long it took to paint a particular picture
and I realise immediately that this is in order to calculate my hourly rate. Every job and skill has an hourly rate however can thios be applied to art. As artist we see it as impolite to ask much as one does not a woman her age. I do find on occasions when presented with a price ticket of several thousand pounds for a simple red Rothko style canvas or worse still a blank white canvas that I also would like to know the hourly rate for something that seems on the surface so simple. Maybe we should label our work with the time it took and leave the public to decide what that hourly rate should be, or should the price tag have a breakdown of what that very expensive looking frame cost. Last summer my indoor project, for one must always have something to do when it rains or when a damp still day on the Outer Hebrides brings the wee timorous beasties out in force and so I made from the off cuts of pattern books a platted Harris Tweed rug, which with its soft thickness proved such a delight to step out of bed each morning onto that I wondered if I couldn't perhaps make in the same way a pair of slippers to slop around the house. Finding out what is involved in making something has always fascinated me so this this summer my (no TV) project was a rag rug which even its name indicates can't be worth much. So I found an old jute sack and with a good stock of old shirts I started ripping. I discovered a small smooth pointed stick and bought the right sized crochet hook from Stornoway hobby shop. Having drawn out my design of a large prowling tiger I was off but very soon found that this was going to take forever. Perseverance is a fine attribute and while I have zero tolerance for standing in line and queuing I have thankfully a goodly amount for more creative activities. Six weeks on and the tiger was complete and I was getting quicker at it but I still had all the background and the border to do. I kept going for if once I put something like this aside it becomes one of those sad unfinished projects lying at the back of the creativity cupboard. By the time I reached the border I wondered if I shouldn't have had the entire thing stretched out on a frame as the weave became progressively tighter. Soldiering on stabbing at the jute and hooking the rag I arrived at what I saw as a satisfactory conclusion. After an estimated 125 hours I was now the proud creator of a tiger rag rug that I certainly didn't need, proof if proof is needed that we all have the right to waste our allotted time however we see fit. Given that manual craft workers are perhaps amongst the lowest paid on the planet I was left wondering just what my hourly rtae might be. I imagined a price tag of perhaps £80 in a craft6 shop that would leave me with £48 after commission was taken and an hourly rtae of around 30p per hour. Perhaps if I called it a hooked textile rug and tried for a more up market gallery it could carry a price ticket of £300 but even then I would still only be getting £1.50 per hour. So how does one value a tiger rag rug?