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I am a fairly new weaver with ambitions to improve my weaving skills, to exhibit and, hopefully, to sell my tapestries. I appreciate immensely that if I am stuck on something technical I can usually find an answer via the excellent resources available to me on tapestry weavers’ websites, on online tutorials; and in books and magazines. But there is one question I have trouble in finding an answer to: how much should I sell my tapestries for? 
I am lucky enough to rent a studio at Westbury Arts Centre in Milton Keynes, which houses an artists’ collective who regularly hold open days and sales. So far I have joined in with the open days but not the sales; I wouldn't know where to start setting prices for my tapestries.
If I were making craft items and looking to sell them, there is lot of information out there about how to set retail prices. This is usually some sort of variation on: 
(Cost of materials + cost of labour at £/hr = cost price) x 1.5 (or x 2, or x 3) = retail price.
But can this calculation be used as a basis to price tapestries? I am not so sure. The main problem is that tapestries take so long to complete! I am aware that, as a relative beginner, I weave much more slowly than an experienced weaver, but even taking that into account, if I incorporated all my labour costs on a basis of £/hr into my retail price, then all my tapestries would be prohibitively expensive, even the small ones. As an example, my current tapestry will be 30cm x 60m in size. I have just spent two days warping up and selecting colours. At a living wage rate of £9.50/hr (from 1st April 2022), that is a labour cost of £152 – and I haven’t even started weaving yet!
So perhaps using the craft pricing model isn’t the best idea. Perhaps the best way is to see how other weavers price their tapestries. But this is difficult: most tapestry weavers don’t list the prices of their tapestries on their websites. Plus, physical exhibitions have been curtailed over the last couple of years; but even then, exhibited works for sale are not always visibly priced.
Eleonora Budden, of the British Tapestry Group, kindly pointed me to a section on Joan Baxter’s website, called ‘Commissioning a Tapestry,’ where Joan clearly states her pricing policy, which is based on pounds (£) per area of tapestry. Joan costs her works at £5,000 per square metre (or 50p per square centimetre), and Eleonora suggested that a skilled but not professional weaver might quote half that or less. Eleonora also observed that pricing depends on so many variables: not just the cost of materials, nor the time it takes to weave, but also the design and planning phases and whether the weaver is a professional or not. This is all sound advice indeed and gratefully received. Now, how do I translate this into setting an actual retail price for my tapestries?



Jane Kirby, 8th Apr 2022
Thanks Barbara Burns for posting the links to your research - very interesting and helpful. As someone who is interested in buying tapestries, I have found it frustrating that very few well-known weavers have prices on their websites. To be honest, one doesn't want to approach someone to ask about a price without any foreknowledge of roughly what it might be. You might say 'if you have to ask you can't afford to buy', and perhaps that's true, but there may be some surprises out there! Very few weavers seem to publish details of galleries who represent them. We have a space we would love to fill with a tapestry, but it is very hard to get a general idea of which pieces of suitable size and quality might still be available, and it feels odd to send out lots of enquiries without any means of narrowing down our search beforehand.

Jane Kirby, 8th Apr 2022
The Tapestry Weaver editorial team would love to run an article on this topic in the next issue, so please do add your thoughts, or send them to Personally, I think the public generally have very little idea how long it takes to create a tapestry, and therefore do need educating as to why prices might seem high compared with other woven textiles.

Karen Hiser, 8th Apr 2022
Thank you so much for your comments and advice. There's really lots to think about here. Barbara; the articles are really helpful, and hugely comprehensive, so that's great, especially as there are actual prices listed next to the tapestry images! Michael; the notion of an item only being worth what someone will pay is an interesting one, because I think it can be flipped and looked at the other way around. What I mean is, the perception of an item's worth can be influenced by the price itself. For some reason, I am more able to visualise this in vase form(!). Consider an artisan vase for £50. Now consider the same vase for £250. If you're anything like me, your perception of the worth of the vase is influenced by the price: £50 is reasonable, but the £250 vase must be something special, even though it is actually the same vase.

Barbara Burns, 31st Mar 2022
So many of us have had trouble pricing our work for various reasons. When I was writing a blog on marketing and promoting tapestry for ATA I tackled this issue. There are three articles on the subject, including one I wrote based on a survey of 38 tapestry artists called Grabbing The Tiger By The Tail: Pricing Tapestry. You can read the articles here: I hope they are helpful.

Michael Crompton, 31st Mar 2022
Any item is only worth what some one will pay. The main value is the gain that the artist/weaver will accrue, in terms of experience, emotion and enthusiasm. Monetary matters need to be seen in the wider context of the individual’s profile. Building up a reputation takes time, much time. Selling directly to a client is to be preferred. Galleries will add VAT , plus 100% profit margins? Think what you would be satisfied with, not necessarily aiming for a living wage!

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