Bowl Pricing

Jon Lanier

Member
Messages
193
Location
Xenia, Ohio
I know this is a common question and can have some variants. But I'm really without a clue as to what to price the bowls I've been doing? I know how I rate my pen pricing, but for me that was pretty easy. I don't have a clue on the bowl market.

I'll probably have about 12 various sized Spalted Maple before my next show. Along with some Cherry and Walnut.

Any ideas would help greatly.

-Jon
 

Chuck Ellis

Member
Messages
6,605
Location
Tellico Plains, Tennessee
Jon,
I have the same problem on my bowls... in cases where I have no cost in the wood other than a little time in gathering, then the only cost is your labor and shop costs, sand paper, finish, etc... then the price becomes arbitrary... what would you pay for it if you were the customer... I had a bowl in my booth last year that was 8" x 4" deep.. I put $65 price on it and the lady that grabbed it said, "you artists never get what your work is worth"..... it was probably priced too low.
 

Lee DeRaud

Member
Messages
435
Location
33.8736N, 117.7627W
As a starting point, forget about materials, concentrate on the time/labor. Time out how long it takes you to do a typical 'standard' bowl, say 6"x3", relative to one of your pens. If it takes twice as long, it should be priced (at least) twice as high.

That gives you a base-point for pricing: price the rest of the bowls proportional to their diameter*height. Then you can apply an adjustment factor for things like exotic/purchased blanks or extra steps like segmented feature rings etc.

Finally, do some sanity checks: "Is this bowl priced correctly relative to that bowl? Would I laugh out loud if I saw that pricetag on a bowl in a store?", things like that.

And if you get to the end of the process and find yourself raising the prices on your pens, that's ok too. :thumb:
 

Vaughn McMillan

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
34,923
Location
ABQ NM
Jon, where are you planning to sell them? That will have a lot of bearing on the price. If you're selling at local art or craft shows, what are similar pieces selling for at those venues? That's often a decent starting point. I've been adjusting my prices since I started doing shows last year. I started out with things priced on the high end of what I thought they might sell for, but after seeing people pick them up, look at the price, then walk away, I started lowering my prices a little bit at a time, until I found the range at which they'd sell.

For a starting point, some people use a size-based pricing system, say $10 per inch of diameter, plus another $10 per inch of height. In this case, an 8" x 3" bowl would be priced at $110. In different markets, the "per inch" price would need to be adjusted. Also, there can be a premium added for particularly nice pieces of wood, or anything else than makes the piece special.

You have to be realistic about what the market will bear. I went to a show in my neighborhood recently (as a customer, not a vendor) and met a turner working his first show. He had apparently been seeing the prices that the "name" turners in the AAW can get for their pieces, and figured that was what he should be charging. I didn't have the heart to tell him nobody in our neighborhood was going to pay $350 for a 6" x 1 1/2" bowl. It was a nice enough bowl, but he'd be fortunate to get $50 for it here.

If you're primarily selling by word-of-mouth to friends and family, it gets a bit trickier. People will tell you that your prices are either under or over what they should be. In my experience, a few of my friends and family say my prices are a bit low, or are about right...the remainder of them can't afford to buy my work. ;)

Another factor (for me, at least) is how much want to get rid of the piece. I'll sell something I'm not real fond of for much less than some of my favorite pieces.
 

Lee DeRaud

Member
Messages
435
Location
33.8736N, 117.7627W
Another factor (for me, at least) is how much want to get rid of the piece. I'll sell something I'm not real fond of for much less than some of my favorite pieces.
Really? All things considered, I'd rather burn a piece than have one I don't like (for either quality or aesthetic reasons) floating around out there where it might be a potential customer's only exposure to my work. (E.g. I get friends asking for my "rejects" quite often, but that just doesn't happen unless they also have some of the good stuff to show their friends.)

OTOH, if I could count on customers being completely isolated from the rest of humanity, I've got a big box of "two for $10" stuff I wouldn't mind parting with. :p
 

Vaughn McMillan

Administrator
Staff member
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34,923
Location
ABQ NM
Lee, I was talking about the ones I'm not particularly fond of. The pieces that I really don't like never go out in public. ;)
 

Mark Pruitt

Member
Messages
49
Location
Leeds, AL
Really? All things considered, I'd rather burn a piece than have one I don't like (for either quality or aesthetic reasons) floating around out there where it might be a potential customer's only exposure to my work. (E.g. I get friends asking for my "rejects" quite often, but that just doesn't happen unless they also have some of the good stuff to show their friends.)

OTOH, if I could count on customers being completely isolated from the rest of humanity, I've got a big box of "two for $10" stuff I wouldn't mind parting with. :p
Lee, I suppose Vaughn could always scratch out his name and write yours.

But let's not give him any ideas.:p
 
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