Saturday, March 22, 2014

How Much Is Too Much?

How much is too much to pay for a stained glass suncatcher? 

On occasion we have been asked about stained glass suncatcher pricing.

Often a small stained glass suncatcher project may seem overpriced to consumers who are used to purchasing similar mass produced items from Wally's World or other such outlets.

If you have your eye on a hand crafted stained glass item and are wondering if you are paying too much, perhaps you should continue reading and see what it takes to make a hand crafted stained glass suncatcher.

Stained glass costs vary greatly on the type and color of glass used but in general, glass sells from $4.00 to $8.00 a square foot.

Red, leaded and iridescent colors are the most expensive.

In addition to the cost of the glass used in the project, other items such as solder, foil, flux, patina and polishes need to be included in the cost.

Even though the cost for these items is nominal, a suncatcher project with a large number of pieces can eat up some copper foil.

Time is the greatest cost in determining what a hand crafted stained glass suncatcher project is worth.

The more pieces used in the project, the more time it takes to cut out the glass, foil the pieces and solder them together.

To give you an example:
  • A simple five piece star pattern requires four straight cuts per piece. To score and break five pieces takes about 3 or 4 minutes if you don't make any mistakes.
  • You then need to grind the pieces to ease the sharp edges in preparation for foiling. This only takes about a couple of minutes.
  • Next you need to wash and dry each piece in preparation for the foiling process. This takes about two or three minutes.
  •  Foiling and burnishing each piece takes about 2 minutes per piece.
  • Next you need to tack and solder all the pieces together. The total time required for fluxing, tacking and soldering is about 5 or 6 minutes (if you're good).
  • You will need to make and solder a "hanging ring" to the center of balance of your suncatcher. This takes about a minute or so.
  • Assuming you are going to apply a patina to your project, you will need to re-wash and thoroughly dry the project. This takes another couple of minutes.
  • Applying a patina takes another couple of minutes, depending on the color and time required to attain the tone you are after.
  • Polishing and drying the finished project will eat up another couple minutes of your time. 

Roughly speaking you have just put in at least a half hour of work to create a simple five piece stained glass suncatcher project, and this does not include any bad cuts or re-cutting.

Also remember that the above example is based on performing straight cuts. Projects with curved edges require much more time for cutting and grinding to shape.

So, what is a half hour of your time worth these days?

When you consider the cost of materials, the time and the effort involved in creating a hand crafted stained glass suncatcher or wall hanging; most of the time you are getting a good deal for the price you pay.

 I'll let you be the judge of how much is too much.

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