A to Z 2014 Banner

A to Z 2014 Banner

Monday, April 7, 2014



(An A to Z 2014 Challenge Entry)

We are technically reaching the end of week one of the A to Z Challenge 2014. Compared to last year, I haven’t had as much issue coming up with topics and getting them posted before the clock strikes Midnight. I think "F" is where I faltered and almost gave up blogging altogether last year. Yikes, rereading that I feel some of it is still pertinent to today. Let’s see how far I get this year before succumbing to an emotional breakdown, shall we?

Last week I shared some of my crafted creations. Pieces I’m particularly proud of. Aside from those I created as gifts, I made some of these 3D Life-Counters in the attempts to start selling them. Technically, I’ve only completed one other (with two more following close behind) 3D Abacus Life-Counter.

There it is, in all it’s splendid glory. Unlike the life-counters featured last week, this one is only made up of two different cards rather than three. I like the idea of mixing at least three cards, but sometimes the art being use dictates the ability to do so. Such was the case with Forbidden Alchemy. Honestly, I was happy to find just the one additional card that could be viably intertwined with it.

This was the first 3D Abacus Life-Counter I contemplated selling. It turned out that a friend of mine was highly interested in it. This left me with a bit of a dilemma: what would I price these at? I understood the concept of adding material costs to a selling price, but when it came to time and a starting base price for quality, I was clueless.

I have habit of working on projects like these sporadically. I don’t complete them in just one sitting. I believe it would take anywhere from three to fours hours if I did so, though. Feeling a bit anxiety-bound over determining a price, I decided to ask friends and family. Surprisingly, a majority of them came to about the same price point.

How it looked mid-process
This was the price I approached my friend with, and over the course of a day (and one additional, when meeting in person to complete the transaction) we hammered out an agreement. It was an odd interaction, because I was the one trying to lower the proposed price. He explained that he felt the quality of the life-counter, especially in comparison to those already being sold, and the attention to detail was exemplary.

So going forward I will be listing these crafts relatively close to that price. Whether others (I take into account this was a friend) will be interested in purchasing these is yet to be determined. I think that fear of selling to complete strangers is what is stalling my progress.

Then there is the commission factor, which is what other designers of 3D abacus life-counters offer. Not so much quality of the finished product, but of time. I will really have to lock it down if I go the route of taking commissions.

Future Features

My next life-counter project is kind of an ambitious one. I’ve decided to make a series (5 separate pieces) consisting of four different cards each. In an attempt to be brief, in each core set of Magic: The Gathering there are basic land cards (Forest, Island, Mountain, Plains, and Swamp). Generally, there are three to four alternate arts for each of these categories of land. My goal is to intermix all four art variants (in each category) together into one life-counter. So, as you can see above, all four mountain cards are combined together to make an original collage picture.

The Mountain 3D Abacus Life-Counter is almost complete. I also began starting on the next, but I was presented with a few issues of not having enough cards for as many cuts that I need to make. I’ve allowed that to hinder me for a long time now, and I need to finish them. Need to complete these and see if I can sell them as a set. If not, then individually.

This particular mountain of the set will be my experiment for a foil 3D Abacus Life-Counter. I just feel it will layer very well and look great once complete.

So many ideas, so little time. I’m anxious to start another project:

If familiar with selling crafts, how do you go about determining your pricing? How long do you keep said price, before changing it, if it hasn’t sold over an extended period of time? If a Magic: The Gathering fan, and you happen across this blog/post, what are some cards you feel would make great 3D Abacus Life-Counters?


  1. Obviously I am speculating here, but reading about your friend's reaction and reasoning, as well as knowing how much work goes in w/ Xacto knifing, as well as understanding this is a niche collector's market, I think you can probably go well above what you think it ought to be. We tend to price ourselves way too low. Taking business classes, I've heard many many stories about things not selling until the prices were raised. Prices indicate a value to the customer-- too low and the customer will not find value in it-- these are one of a kind and much much better and more detailed and well constructed than what's out there? Go higher, my friend. That's my advice.

    Also, though I'm not one of those kinds of people who roll their eyes retract their champagne glasses as the mention of the word 'crafts', but I when selling, I'd describe them as something else. People tend to think of crafts as little cheap felted creatures with googly eyes and the they expect prices to be lower. (As a crafter and artist, I try so hard to bridge the barrier of these expectations.) But just a word of warning. "Hand-crafted life counters" is good, I think, but of course you know the work better so you'll know the perfect title if you don't already :D

    1. I believe that niche market was a strong basis for my friend's argument. I find it odd that some things won't sell until the price is raised. In my mind that is just so backwards. With specialty items, though, I can see how that may exist. Kind of...

      I think I am finally comfortable with the base price, and then it's mainly just materials added on, unless a special case, which may account for most commission work, to be honest.

      Never knew that about the whole craft thing, but I can see your point. I describe them here as that, as I don't know what else to describe them as, BUT a large part was (is) due to lack of confidence in people thinking they would be worthwhile. If that makes sense.

      Generally, I just call them 3D Abacus Life-Counters (the name of the main card featured first). Just today I was thinking I could technically make them out of anything similar if wanting (at least cardwise). In descriptions I may use hand-crafted and personally wanted to have number counts of how many of each card was used. Then I mention the plastic window used for protection.

      Hopefully, this will be enough to distance potential buyers from the mindset you mention.

      Thank you so much for all your advice! It's awesome :) I still need to find some glass bead shops on Etsy!

  2. I am excited for you to finish the two in the works and then get started on the foils. And then we gotta figure out how to sell them.

    Pricing is tricky: you have to figure in price of materials + time spent + the market. Obviously you will take a pay cut on time spent. But if you ever do commission, then I don't think that is the case.

    My suggestion is to start with a price point and see how it goes. Depending on the cards or materials (beads) you use, then adjust the prices accordingly.

    Let's get the ball a rolling!

    1. Yeah, I'm really wanting to begin work on that first foil project... Today, though, while working, I thought of a new life-counter I want to make too. Never ending!

      As mentioned above, and as I thought you knew, I think I have the base price set. The rest will build from there, pending what is required to build. Not even sure how to handle commissions to be honest.That will be a challenge for me (as if getting me to just take a chance and sell them isn't enough already). Craigslist, eBay, and Etsy seem the most obvious venues for selling. Only CList has the lack of additional fees (with the exception of your life!). Always have to consider the fees :-( uh... and your life...

      Yeah, yeah, yeah... I'm rolling...

    2. Yes, I know you have a base price set, but I just meant if there are ever time to extend beyond that, like the foils will be a bit pricier, or if heaven forbid you cut up a slightly pricier card to create one.

      I would choose the site in which you think most people will look for them there. Would it be eBay? Also remember, selecting a site now is not the permanent solution. Eventually we will get your site up!

  3. The name you're using sounds great.

    Here is my fave. bead store on Esty: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ArteBellaSurplus

    A quick look reminds me that these beads may be way too decorative and oddly shaped for your purposes. But I recently went to a physical bead store and was shocked by the prices of glass beads. If your store is similar, you'll be impressed with Bella's prices. It may be worth your while to search for what you need online price-wise.

    You can always adjust prices. Start with what you're thinking, give it a couple months. Then do a 'sale', drop it, see what happens. Then do a super special one with real agate and make it hugely expensive, see how that goes. You never know. Maybe you'll be making one with emeralds and selling it for thousands soon. :D

    1. Thank you very much for the link. I checked it out some, and while some are definitely a bit too oddly shaped to fit (or maybe they could be used with reduced numbers like five instead of nine), some definitely seem to have potential. The best part would be how more unique it would make the pieces in comparison to others of it's kind. Already eying a handful.

      We had a similar experience with a local bead shop here. Granted you could get a string of beads, but some were 35$+ and then some individual prices were high as well. I much prefer the price points of Bella lol

      I figure if there is no movement I could do that. I assume I will have to be fairly patient with it being a niche market and all. Pearls and Diamonds and Emeralds oh my!

      Thanks again! I will be stopping by soon! I'm getting behind on my own posting, need to rein it in!


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