Saturday, September 28, 2013

Boozey jelly making

Today's challenge - can I turn all these bottles of adult beverages into jelly?

Grown up jelly making

I scored 35 half-pint jars at the thrift store this week.  I have a couple dozen pint jars too.  I may have to make a sugar run.

Alcohol jelly
  • 3 1/2 cups wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (2 ounce) package dry pectin
  • 4 1/2 cups white sugar
  1. Combine wine, lemon juice, and pectin in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam off top, if necessary.
  2. Ladle hot jelly into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Tighten 2 piece lids. Process for 5 minutes in boiling water bath.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Cost of Handmade, revisited

This happens with great regularity.  Someone will find one of my sold parasols through a search engine. They'll message me. "Oh, I love this!  It'll go perfectly with this outfit I have!"  Or "I need six of these for my bridesmaids!"  And then they ask "How much are they?" because the selling price isn't listed for sold items on sites like Etsy and Artfire.  (There's a good reason for this - costs go up and eventually, even though they don't want to, artists have to raise their prices occasionally.  But it is possible to browse through an artist's shop and see what similar items cost.  Most people don't bother, though.)

When I respond and tell them what the price is, I never hear back from them.  Maybe 1 person in 20 will give me an "outside my budget" reply.  Maybe.  When selling in person, it's common for people to make comments like "Oh, I didn't realize they were so expensive!" after they look at the price tags.

Why do I charge so much for my parasols?  Here's why:

anatomy of a parasol

This is one of my more popular styles.  I start out with a modern umbrella covered in costume satin. There's a ruffle that goes around the center at the top, and one that goes around the outside edge.  I cover each of the 8 panels in lace and ribbon combinations, then add lace trim to the outside edges of the ruffle and finish it all with braid along each rib and each edge of the ruffle.  Every piece is individually hand-sewn.  That means I go once around the ruffle for the lace trim and another time when I sew the braid on top of it.

Now let's look at the math.  For the panels, I've used about 1/8 of a yard of fabric and around 3 yards of ribbon.  The diameter of the center ruffle is 30".  It doesn't look like it is, but there's lots of gathering there.  If I put lace on both the inside and outside edge, that brings me to almost three and a half yards of trim and lace just for this small part.  Each rib is 11", and there are 8 of them.  The bottom ruffle is 128" in diameter.  That's 3.5 yards.  Multiply that by 3 or 4, and then total everything up and you end up with anywhere from 15-20 yards of lace and trim on every one of these parasols.  And remember - every single piece of fabric and row of trim is hand-sewn.  A parasol like this can take me 8-10 hours to complete.

So that's why my parasols are "so expensive."  Except they aren't really, when you really look at the materials and labor.  They aren't mass produced at a factory.  Every one is individual and unique.  Isn't that worth a little more?