$ PRICING YOUR STAINED GLASS WORK By Martha Hanson / Paned Expressions Stained Glass Studio
©2008 Paned Expressions Studios, Inc.
Undoubtedly, the most frequently asked question by stained glass hobbyists today who are thinking about selling their work is “How do I price my work?” The more accurate question should be
“What should I charge to make sure I’m not losing money?”
Well, there are probably as many ways to calculate pricing as there are of “doing” stained glass. In this piece, I will try to present a “cafeteria” type method from which you may pick and choose and still come up with a profit in the end.
All prices used are fictional and are for example only.
First we will examine your costs since these must be accounted for in all pricing:
•TIME / LABOR: Includes not only working on the panel but deciding on a design or designing the window, constructing the window, cleanup, and installation.
•MATERIALS: Pattern, Glass, Lead/Solder, Chemicals, Framing, Grinder Bits, Cutter Heads, Glass Saw Blades
•OVERHEAD COSTS: Utilities, Depreciation of Tools, Rent, Travel, Advertising, etc.
TIME / LABOR COST CALCULATIONS
Let us first examine the Time/Labor calculation. Simply put; how much do you want to be paid per hour to make this window? To calculate this, choose a typical panel you want to do. Start the timer from the instant you print the pattern and end the timer when you finish the installation of the window.
Only run the clock while you are actually working on the panel. Say you choose a 150 piece window.
The equation to figure time per piece, and that’s the factor we seek, is as follows:
Time it took to complete the window = minutes/piece
Number of Pieces in the window
Say it took 15 hours to complete this 150 piece panel. That’s 900 minutes divided by 150 pieces or 6 minutes/piece. If this seems to be your average time per piece calculated over both easy and difficult cuts, you may continue to use this as your calculator for the Labor portion of your costing.
Remember, this includes the entire time it took you to finish the window; from printing the pattern to installing the window and everything you did in-between these steps. Don’t leave anything out of the time factor.
Now say you get a commission for a 16 sft/1250 piece panel (78pc/sft). You would multiply your 6 minutes/piece factor by 1250 pieces = 7500 minutes or 125 hours. If you’d like to be paid $10/hour for your work you would cost the labor portion of the window at $1250. This portion of the costing, as you can see, depends totally on what you want to be paid and what you feel your time is worth. If you have employees, this becomes a set fee calculation based on what they are paid per hour + payroll taxes + benefits.
You should begin to see how important this part of your costing calculation becomes and how this, whether you are doing this for a hobby or a business, this far exceeds the costs of the materials you once may have thought to be the most expensive part of your window.
MATERIALS COST CALCULATIONS
This part of your costing should be the easiest of the three calculations as the $$ are so evident. Don’t be fooled! Sure, you know the cost of your glass. You have receipts, right? OK, how much did it cost to go get it and bring it home? To have it shipped in/to unpack it and put it away? This all becomes part of you material costs as well if you don’t want to lose money on this window. So, here we go. Let’s price the glass for that 16 sft panel commissioned in the Labor example. Remember to add in a scrap %. This is based on the amount of curves in the design and, quite literally, how good your cutting skills are. Let’s say there are lots of curves in the design and you’re pretty good at cutting glass. This fictitious window has the following glass costs and freight/handling has already been factored into the glass price/sft: Width: 32″ Height: 72″ Number of pieces: 1250 with a scrap factor = 43%
White 240 pieces 0.546 feet² x $3.50/sft = $ 1.91
Bullseye 6212 110 pieces 0.270 feet² x $7.50/sft = $ 2.02
Bullseye 1112 120 pieces 0.391 feet² x $8.50/sft = $ 3.32
Uroboros 61-701-90 470 pieces 4.706 feet² x $9.75/sft = $ 45.88
Spectrum 151SF 74 pieces 4.738 feet² x $5.50/sft = $ 26.05
Clear double rolled 98 pieces 12.086 feet² x $3.75/sft = $ 45.32
Crimson antique 138 pieces 0.140 feet² x 1.19 = $ 1.19
22.878 feet² $ 125.69
If you have software to calculate the foil/lead usage, you’re way ahead of the game. Otherwise calculate as follows:
- Average of 6” of foil/piece
- Average of 3.5” of lead came/piece
This should more than cover your cost on most windows and does not include the outer came framing.
IF FOIL CONSTRUCTION:
Inches of copper foil: 3135.294 x .027/inch = $ 84.65
Solder = $ 16.00
Total: = $ 100.65
IF LEAD CAME CONSTRUCTION:
Inches of came (24 each 6′ lengths) 1671.865 x .05/inch = $ 66.87
Solder = $ 4.00
Glazing Materials (Putty, Whiting, etc) = $ 12.00
Total: = $ 82.87
TOTAL COST CONSTRUCTION
COPPER FOIL METHOD LEAD CAME METHOD
Pattern = $ 44.00 Pattern = $ 44.00
Glass = $ 125.69 Glass = $ 125.69
Foil/Solder = $ 100.65 Came/Solder/Finishing = $ 82.87
Total = $ 270.34 Total = $ 208.56
As you can see from these calculations, you have covered the cost of the actual glass used. Yes, you buy more than you need in order to complete a panel, so there is another way to calculate this portion of the cost. If you cost in the total of what you purchased (certainly easier to calculate), this means that any subsequent panels, suncatchers, etc, you create from the remaining glass will naturally have reduced costs to construct, due to previously costing this glass into a prior panel. However, the labor and overhead need still be factored into these subsequent creations. This method can get a bit complicated when partial “scrap” and partial new glass is used for a project.
When costing in materials, don’t forget the wear and tear on your cutter head, grinder bits and, if you use one, your glass saw. These elements are used up with every piece you shape and should be added into the cost of every piece of art you produce. I’d love to give you a formula here, but everyone uses these devices at their own rate an only you can estimate this part of the material cost.
OVERHEAD COST CALCULATIONS
What the heck is this overhead stuff? Well, it’s a bit of a catch-all and includes the ongoing operating costs of running a business. The term overhead is usually used to group expenses that are necessary to the continued functioning of the business but that do not directly generate profits.
Overhead expenses are all costs on the income statement except for direct labor and direct materials. Overhead expenses include accounting, advertising, depreciation, indirect labor, insurance, interest, legal fees, rent, repairs, supplies, taxes, telephone, travel and utilities.
Questions to be answered: How big is your studio in sft? Use the following equation to determine heating/electric bills:
Total area of studio divide by total area of building (if studio is in your house) = _____%
Multiply your electric bill by that percentage to figure the proportion of the electric/heat bill that belongs to your work space. Now divide the proportioned electric bill by the number of hours in the month to get a $/hour for electric/heat./lights. (FYI: 30days = 720hours, 31days = 744 hours)
Let’s say your studio is 20% of the area covered by the electric/heat cost and your bill came to $450 for the month (yes, I know these costs are constantly going up…all the more reason to do the calculation regularly!) 20% of $450 = $90, divided by a 30 day month = $0.125/hour.
OK, that’s the first of the Overhead considerations. There are also all the other costs mentioned previously which should be fairly direct and divided over a year and by the hour if you like. So stay off the phone and don’t go anywhere and this cost will be kept lower, right?
Usually accountants use a % of cost factor when adding this in as a cost. Normal overhead is between 15 – 25% of the total cost, but this percentage changes by industry.
So we have talked about time and labor costs, materials and overhead costs, and now we get to the pricing:
METHODS OF PRICING
SQUARE FOOT AND PIECE PRICING:
After all is said and done, many studios cost their work simply by the square foot and number of pieces. Before doing this, you must know your average costs and know that they are being covered by the pricing model. Remember my earlier example of knowing how long it takes you to complete a panel divided by the number of pieces. You should now know (by all the preceding calculations) your average cost of running the studio divided by the hours it is open and operating. This cost/piece multiplied by the number of pieces in the panel should give you the cost factor of this model. Add to that the % of profit you would like to make and that should give you the price/sft.
Here’s one model used by many studios:
1-35 pc/sft = $55/sft
36-45 pc/sft = $75/sft
46-55 pc/sft = $85/sft
56-65 pc/sft = $105/sft
66-75+ pc/sft = $125/sft
Using our costing example window, this pricing structure would place our 78pc/sft, 16sft window at $2000 installed. ($125/sft x 16 sft = $2000) While it covers costs, it allows little profit. This method also falls dead when calculating a small window with high piece count.
For example, say you’re asked to do a 4 sft window with 465 pcs. This means 116 pcs/sft and the total window would be priced at $500. I’m sure you’re not interested in cutting, foiling, soldering a 465 piece panel at $1.07/pc, right? You may want to add a few more tiers to that pricing schedule.
If we use the straight costing example (with a $10/hour labor cost) + profit ratio method, we would charge
Labor = $1250.00
Materials = $270.34 (copper foil method)
Overhead = $273.66 (18% factor)
Total Cost = $1794.00
OK, now you know your costs; how much profit should you factor in. Customary is 100%, but we all know in the glass industry, we are tempered by “what the market (client) will bear.” Doesn’t it always seem that clients put tons of dollars into the house and glass is always an afterthought? Frustrating, isn’t it? So, your client is looking for a work of fine art on a zero budget? Use a lower percentage mark-up and keep them happy. There’s always those windows we’ll do just for the chance of doing them, right?
If you know your costs are $1794.00 (and you want to work at the $10/hour rate), you can begin to mark-up the price by 100% = $3588. Not a bad price for a 16 sft window. If you don’t want to work at those rates, adjust your cost and try again. This, in the end, is still a factor totally left up to you. But now, at least, you know you’re not LOSING money!
The straight costing method should also be used for fused work, beads and lamp making. In this day of foreign made lamps, however, lamp artists are pressured to keep prices low. A lamp artist today should never apologize for what it costs to make a one-of-a-kind lampshade. As piece intensive as lampshades are, the labor factor will far outweigh the material costs and will, if you earn what you’re worth, drive up the price of the shade. Never be ashamed to charge what your work is worth! If they don’t want to pay your price, they’ll go somewhere else and get what they’re willing to pay for and end up wishing they’d paid for your work. You’ve lost nothing and will find it’s those clients who are not willing to pay your price that would have ended up giving you nothing but headaches anyway.
In conclusion, if everyone started to charge what their work is worth, none of us would have to sidle into quoting a window/lamp/fused piece/original bead. You must charge fine art prices because your stained glass art IS Fine Art!
M. Hanson, CFO
Paned Expressions Studios, Inc.