Monday, April 27, 2009

What is the Cost of Your Art?

Discussion on pricing art abound all over the Internet. But what about the actual costs incurred by your art of choice? In this day when we are used to seeing some many cheap imports available, people have no true idea of what it really costs an independent artisan to create their goods.

Since I love to do lampwork, and have to deal with people who are used to buying cheap imports at Wal-Mart on a regular basis, I will use that as an example. I will only mention the tools and supplies you absolutely *must* have in order to create a quality lampwork bead (notice that you can't really put a cost on practice and expertise here!).

There is a beginner torch out there called a Hot Head. This torch runs on a single fuel, and is made to run on the small canisters of MAPP gas or propane you can find at hardware stores. You of course need glass rods, and stainless steel mandrels with bead release to form the bead around. And no matter what people might want you to believe, you need a kiln to anneal your beads (fiber blankets and vermiculite do *not* do the job).

So before you have even lit the torch and made a bead, you will have to spend:

  1. Hot Head Torch: $40.00
  2. Mandrels (12): $6.00
  3. Bead Release: $10.00
  4. Glass Rod Asst: $20.00
  5. Kiln: $550.00
  6. Can of Fuel: $3.00

If you chose to upgrade your torch to one that burns hotter, you will need to buy a dual fuel torch, the least expensive of which runs about $225.00. Plus, when you do this, you need to add in either bottled oxygen on a regular basis, or an oxygen concentrator which starts at $550.00 for a refurbished one.

Of the above supplies, the bead release, rods and fuel are consumed by the craft and need to be replenished regularly. Even if you decide to try to catch anneal your beads in someone else's kiln, you still need to spend nearly $80.00 before you make a bead. Now it makes a little more sense as to why those little glass treasures cost a bit more, doesn't it?

I would love to hear from artists in other fields as to what the costs associated with their area end up being. Please email me at if you would be willing to write up a short entry outlining the costs you face, so we can continue to educate our customers.


  1. You strike a cord, here. People don't realize!

  2. Just stumbled onto your blog. Love this post in particular!!! Thanks for writing it!