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Thread: Gripe: Shoddy Turnings for Sale

  1. #31
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    Perception of value is complicated, so is perception of quality.

    I honestly don't think most people know the difference between good and bad (quality or lack thereof) for most items they buy. There are probably a lot of causes for this, but at least some of is lack of knowledge (never seen anything better - looks pretty good). This leads to some pretty interesting developments on both the supply and consumer side of things I think in a lot of cases people us price as a proxy for quality - if its expensive it must be good...

    Sometimes its slightly awkward for me, especially if someone has paid a lot for something that you don't see as very well done and you're like "uh huh" and trying to pick out the good parts (especially difficult when there don't seem to be any ).

    This is true in all sorts of areas though so don't feel alone, I've been served beer at pubs that I'd have dumped down the drain as a homebrewer.

  2. #32
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    Well Ryan you take this thread in a different direction when you use the word quality.

    The value engineering guys i have met would argue its a case of "fit for purpose" .

    Now a bowl is a bowl is a bowl. If its not going to be used to hold a liquid the gaps Vaughn referred to in his original post is not relevant.

    But i would suggest that the purpose of a segmented turned bowl is to serve as a piece of decorative art. That being the case applying the logic of fit for purpose has one asking how do the defects Vaughn observed affect fit for purpose.
    This is where in my opinion Vaughns point fits in. To have the focus of attention for artistic purposes any art critic would surely expect form to play a role, then surface finish and design.

    I dont see this post of Vaughns in the light of anything to do with newbies selling their work.

    I think Vaughns point relates more to this issue of what is the criteria of quality for a turned piece of art. That we might make practical use of the object say to hold fruit, its still the main attraction of its artistic element that got it to this point.

    Given that a segment turning surely has as one of its primary objectives the intent to create the appearance of a single solid piece of wood with unique pattern and design turned into a artistic form, then surely having gaps and severe scratches detracts from this "fit for purpose" and therefore fits a less than acceptable quality for the category of a turned segmented bowl.
    I would then suggest that given Vaughns established reputation and demonstrated skill in the sphere of wood turnings he surely then qualifies to serve as a critic of the form, this to me is the only grey element in his comment because there may be the purest view of flowing form and the lay persons view of what looks good. Even the ugly duckling has a mother that believes the duckling to be beautiful.

    I still maintain if woodworkers wish to get their price for an object they need to do some educating missionary work when selling their work to assist the buyer in their education. Failing which they leave it to perception grounded in elements that were unintended.



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  3. #33
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    A long time back I posted a comment on AAW about a guy at the street fair where I live that was selling some hand carved bowls and vessel type things that he used the Lancelot hand chain saw tool to make. They were rough cut outs and sanded rough with a spay finish on them. I picked up one of his pc's and looked closely and thought that the workmanship was kinda poor.
    The vessels were very thick and heavy as he only drilled a hole in them with a forestner bit and called it done. I suppose he was only shooting for the look of a vessel or did not have the tooling to truly hollow it out. The sanding was to 80 or may at best 120 in some areas at a guess which when you looked close you could really see the scratches and the finish just highlighted them more. I asked about the finish and he told me it was can spray on lacquer - several coats and nothing else was done after the few spray coats.
    The bowls were the same but looked fine as they were supposed to have the rough look of a carving. He had prices from $60 to $175 on his stuff that were all made out of madrone from Oregon.

    When I posted the comment on AAW I got several angry people who thought it was to critical and he should be praised for having the courage to set up a stand and sell his work.

    The part of my comment then that was missed was that we talked for a bit about how he does his work and finishes them - I explained to him about the forums out there where others talk and post........ and different things I do when it comes to sanding and finish work.......we exchanged ideas and information with eachother and I would like to think we both walked away with a bit more helpful information. I never sad a unkind word about his work............

    I have self taught myself from postings and talking with others the same way.............
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  4. #34
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    you done good Dan, you passed on the same baton that you had been handed some time ago..!!
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  5. #35
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    Yep.......but look at the nice finish on it.....................

    Actually, I ran into the same guy awhile after the street fair and he invited me to come and watch a demo of the Lancelot Tool (Im sure he gets a kcikback on the sale of these tools)..........He thanked me for my suggestions and he was going to follow up and read some of the forums. I have not had the time to stop by and talk with him lately but im sure I will in the near future............

    Truthfully - Ok, Ill stop by because I like to see the woodworking but I do not think much of the tool - I think its dangerous
    First you have to learn the rules - Beginner
    Then you have to learn advanced rules - Professional
    Then you disregard the rules - This takes you to the master level................

  6. #36
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    Having learned from a professional (Vaughn) turner, I remember a talk we were having aout finishing. One of the funniest and most factual things I ever heard was him look at something and say "Dude...did your sandpaper break?" At $2.50 for a pack of 25...really?
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  7. #37
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    One thing popped into my head so I'll add it for food for thought. What if this turner is in 9 grade or handy capped? Is it still a bad job or a great first attempt?
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  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Burr View Post
    Having learned from a professional (Vaughn) turner, I remember a talk we were having aout finishing. One of the funniest and most factual things I ever heard was him look at something and say "Dude...did your sandpaper break?" At $2.50 for a pack of 25...really?
    Ha! I vaguely remember that. I'm a mid-level turner, but an expert sander.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Thoits View Post
    One thing popped into my head so I'll add it for food for thought. What if this turner is in 9 grade or handy capped? Is it still a bad job or a great first attempt?
    Best I can tell with Google, he's an intermediate-level turner in the local AAW club., so I doubt he's a youngster. I have no idea about his physical capabilities, though.

    In pondering this some more, I think my main beef is that the guy was trying to sell what I'd consider to be a $60 piece for $260. I would be equally upset if someone was trying to sell a $260 piece for $60.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    In pondering this some more, I think my main beef is that the guy was trying to sell what I'd consider to be a $60 piece for $260. I would be equally upset if someone was trying to sell a $260 piece for $60.
    That's actually hard for at least some of us to know... I'd probably naturally tend more towards the $60 range even if it was "properly" worth more (although even that seems pretty high for anything I'd turn at my current skill level ), but we're not exactly swimming in professional turners in my local neck of the woods (or if we were I'd have no idea how to find them..) so I'm not sure what I'd use as a basis for comparison

    I mean I know when I'm happy with a project and I have certain standards (which are admittedly flexible in some cases).. but the actual conversion of that into a dollar value generally escapes me. I know in at least my case I couldn't use hours spent or everything would be worth THOUSANDS (granted repeats tend to be much faster.. but hobby == mostly one off specialties). I've looked at pieces others have for sale and the prices seem to vary wildly and (as you've noted here) don't seem to have an especially strong correlation to my concept of quality work (really nice stuff may be relatively cheap or vice versa), a lot of the pricing - especially for art of any sort - seems to have more to do with wishful thinking and ego (up or down in either case) than anything else (oddly enough this seems to work for most folks).

    Its mostly academic for me at this point because I can't really sell anything at the moment (its complicated) but interesting in the long term..

    A fair followup question might be: what criteria would you use for pricing a piece?

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Mooney View Post
    ...A fair followup question might be: what criteria would you use for pricing a piece?
    Pricing is the question of the ages. Like you said, it's all over the map, so everybody's mileage will vary. My experience is based on selling in the Los Angeles area. Other areas are different. As an example, Bernie in Goodland Kansas can get about twice the price for a potpourri bowl that I can in Los Angeles. Now Bernie makes a fine potpourri bowl, but I think he'd agree his aren't twice as good as mine. It's just what his market can bear. Having an inferior piece priced too high potentially hurts other turners by giving buyers the false impression that the whole turning market is overpriced. Having a quality piece priced too low potentially hurts other turners by undercutting the market.

    When I'm pricing one of my own pieces, I use several criteria. The size and the wood (rarity or figure) play a part. If the finish really stands out as being nice, I'll add some to the price. If I feel that I nailed the form, that adds to the price. Another big part is simply how much I like the piece. Sometimes things just go right and everything seems to just hit the sweet spot. The more I want to keep it, the higher the price. And then there's the venue. When I was selling at street fairs, I'd set my prices higher in the more affluent neighborhoods. I got my starting point for pricing by looking at what I considered to be comparable work in my area. In general, my prices have settled into the $100 to $350 range for most bowls and hollow forms. (Hollow forms are generally more expensive due to their uniqueness.)

    But what sets apart a $60 piece from a $260 piece? To a certain extent, I agree that ego plays a part. You have to believe your work is good enough to charge $260 for a piece of designer firewood. (Of course, it also helps if your work is actually that good.) I also think a lot of it has to do with the presentation of the seller and the perception of the buyer. If the seller is displaying a bowl on a card table at the weekly Farmer's Market, and the buyer is has the perception that he's looking at a handmade salad bowl, $60 may be a fair price. If the seller is showing the same bowl in a tasteful display at an upscale street fair, and the buyer is seeing an artistic fruit bowl to serve as a table centerpiece, the $260 price is probably more in line. In both of these case, I'd expect a graceful form and a consistent finish with no visible tool or sanding marks.

    You have to target your market correctly, too. If someone is trying to sell $260 "art" bowls at a Farmer's Market where customers are looking for salad bowls, they're probably not going to get many sales. (Keep in mind, it could be the same bowl.) Similarly, someone trying to sell $60 salad bowls at a high-end show where customers are looking for art will also likely have slow sales. And if the customers see themselves as "art connoisseurs", they might even hesitate to buy a $260 bowl from someone if they also see other, lower-priced products displayed with it. In fact, for selling to the real high-end art customers, the turner might even be better off only displaying a few pieces, and pricing the $260 bowl in the $400 to $500 range. (It better be pretty special wood at that price, though.) The appearance of exclusivity appeals to collectors. There are also some bragging rights amongst their friends involved too, I think. In the "art" price range though, the piece really needs to "speak" to the buyer. It takes some pretty serious love to prompt someone to pay a few hundred bucks on something for which they could get a functional equivalent at Ikea for $10. But those people do exist. I ran into people with that mindset last year when I was installing high-end artwork in wealthy folks' homes and offices. These are people who don't bat an eye at spending a few thousand bucks for something that'll be used as a decoration.

    Another thing that plays a part in the pricing is the maker's reputation. The upper echelon of turners have a reputation among collectors, and they can charge a premium for their pieces. Of course, one of the reasons they have lofty reputations is because they have a history of making beautiful pieces, and they often also have a "signature" style, so people can recognize the maker simply by looking looking at their work. Of course, that stage is still quite a way off for me.

    One thing I don't really use in my pricing is the degree of difficulty. Some of my $150 pieces were more difficult to make and finish than some of my $300 pieces. And my highest-priced piece (the burned manzanita wood piece Jim Bradley mentioned upthread) was one of my easiest. I just like it a lot.

    Wow...didn't mean to write a book. Good question, though. This thread has prompted some good discussion.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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