Making a living

36 posts in this topic

Posted

Do any of you make and sell miniatures for a living, and can you make a good income out of it?

The reason I'm asking is that I would like to do this but I am not sure how to go about it. I was thinking of having my own internet shop on ebay or something.

What do you think?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Ive actually been looking into doing something very similar as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I've met a few professional model makers over the past few years, not dollhouses, but along the same lines. Bottom line seems to be: if you're good enough and in enough demand to say to a customer: you'll get it when it's done, it's a good way to make a living. If not, it sucks. Dealing with impatient customers, Why isn't my 655 room mansion done yet? You've had it for a week! Expected to correct THEIR mistakes on your time and with your money, I know this is the colour I asked for but I wanted it this colour instead! Of course as the pro you're supposed to know that, and get it right the first time. If your resume includes making set pieces for Blade Runner you're prolly in like Flynn, if not, sticking to your regular job will likely help keep your sanity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Custom work is soooo tricky without a good, written contract. I have a friend who makes miniature memory domes and her prices start at $300, which is conservative considering the time and effort that goes into making a memory of someone's beach house, personality, special event. The extras can add to the cost. One woman she was working with wanted two domes for her daughters, and alot of extras, when she quoted the resulting price the woman backed out. Though people moan a bit about buy and selling --they need to remember you can't really survive on custom work unless you are a Rik Pierce or a Brooke Tucker. That is why it is important to have a large variety of quality lines in your catalog--mainly to keep my sanity and mainly so I can focus on my creating the items I am known for at shows.

Another problem with custom work that doogster has pointed out is people who change their mind. If you are into custom work, I would seriously consider adding an extra hefty surcharge for deciding to change their mind after certain parts in the build process. :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Lisa. I've just had a look at Rik Pierce's website. Mmmm I see what you mean, he is pretty darn good. But hey I'll give him a run for his money :mellow:.

Brooke Tucker. I didn't think she was anything special though.

At the moment I am selling geese and chickens in 1/12 to a few people who I go to college with and they are selling very well. The only problem is that they take up alot of my time and I need to find a solution for that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Sunnyray, you are doing the best thing, getting in contact with your "warm" market (people you know as customers). They buy from you and refer you to others. I have customers who buy 1 house from me on ebay and then they have me custom make them houses afterwards and then they refer me to others and it keeps me very busy.

I started off selling to peole I knew and that circle just gets bigger because they refer me. Ebay is a good way to get to get "new" warm market. New ebayers are considered my "cold market" they don't know me and I don't know them but after a few emails and they get the merchandise, they sometimes become "warm or even hot" market.

People are picky but that comes with working with the public :mellow: Hey, where are the pictures of the things you sell? You should post in the trading area! We may be interested too!!

:wacko:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Tracey has a great point here Sunny. That's remarkable, ducks and geese, hmmm. I need some pictures........ :mellow:

Since you're starting out, and building your customer base, you have already noticed how long it takes you to create your specialty. One thing in research is look at the 'wellknown' artists and see what they charge for the same thing you're making. I would love to see items of your work...I am creating Olde Shelby Cottage and am landscaping it like an old, English cottage.

Sign up for Small Stuff digest to keep your pulse on the 'what's hot' market...and Rik Pierce and Brooke Tucker are artists, yes, but they have made most of their money teaching....since they are good, they can command those well deserved prices.

Email me--would really love to see pics of your work, I forgot to see whether you had a webshots album. PumpkinHillStudios@msn.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

If you look on my gallery, there is an album titled 1/12 scale animals. There is an Irish wolfhound on there I made and sold for £10. I can make any type of dog, cat or bird. I also do paintings, make food and make dolls. I made the two dolls in my Christmas roombox. I am now trying to make a few famous characters.

I had an offer for my christmas roombox but I wouldn't sell it with the figures because they were my first real attempt at making dolls.

I haven't sold many things because I am new to all this. I've have about 9 customers so far.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I can make any type of dog, cat or bird

how about an Italian Greyhound?

I havent seen one anywhere.

nutti :mellow:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Sunnyray,

You have done a great job, love the people in your roombox. What gallery are your animals in. Is it on webshots, it's down at the moment. I encurage you to keep on working on your creations, I am doing the same thing. Just have to keep reminding myself that i can do it. Will post some pics tommorw of some things that ive been working on. My problem is that I keep bouncing from project to project and cant seem to finish or decide what i want to work on.

Jenn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Sunnyray,

You have done a great job, love the people in your roombox. What gallery are your animals in. Is it on webshots, it's down at the moment. I encurage you to keep on working on your creations, I am doing the same thing. Just have to keep reminding myself that i can do it. Will post some pics tommorw of some things that ive been working on. My problem is that I keep bouncing from project to project and cant seem to finish or decide what i want to work on.

Jenn

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I only have a picture of an Irish wolfhousd at the moment under the album '1/12 animals' in my gallery.

Can't wait to see your pics Jenn. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I can't find the Irish Wolfhound anymore... is it just me? Or did you set the '1/12 animals'-album to "private"? :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I only have a picture of an Irish wolfhousd at the moment under the album '1/12 animals' in my gallery.

Can't wait to see your pics Jenn. :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Were is your gallery, i looked through all your gallery pics on this forum and did not find it. Is it on webshots?

Jenn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Warm bodies are a great way to start. Many people have started by making minis as a hobby, only to find warm bodies who are willing to pay for the things they've made, so they make more and more. I think part of it depends on how much time your product requires too. If you spend hours/days on 1 item, you'd have to have some sort of a market for that particular item because the cost would be prohibitive for many people.

I've been having fun recently making a few plate shelves. My friend .... Eileen Vernon (Vernon Pottery) .... said she could use some for her hand thrown plates. Since her display table had no walls, I also had to make a display wall for the shelves. I'm just about finished with the 6 I've made, but have put lots of time into them. Their first showing will be at the Orlando Show next month, where I act as a volunteer helper for Eileen during the sale. I'm not sure how so price them .... if they don't sell it's fine with me because she will keep them to display her plates. If they do sell, I want to make sure I get enough to make it worth my time to make more.

I'm also making some less time consuming potting benches. She's throwing a hanging pot that can be used with them ... a new hand-thrown product for her.

It should be interesting. I KNOW it's been fun!

Marcia in Fremont, OH

http://www.picturetrail.com/miniatureoma

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

My gosh I forgot to put the album on public display.

I am sorry, my fault. The old brain has not being working properly for the past few days. :D

Well you will be able to see the Irish wolfhound now if you go back onto my gallery :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

how about an Italian Greyhound?

  I havent seen one anywhere.

nutti :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Send me a picture. I'll make it :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Wow, you are very talented. I know you must have put alot of work into your creations.

Jenn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Wow, you are very talented. I know you must have put alot of work into your creations.

Jenn

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The thing is I really have to be in the mood to make anything. I'm sure you understand what I'm talking about. If you are not in the right mood all sorts of things go wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Your dog is WONDERFUL!! You have to get a website done and maybe do a lot of different things while you are in the mood.

Boy do I understand about having to be "in the mood". I can't even think stright when I am not in the mood to do something . This is why I don't care too much for commision work. Customers sometimes pick colors that don't "move" me and then I don't feel inspired which can make me work slower. That is why I now send samples of colors I think will work best on there houses and let them pick from my choices. When I did the Beacon Hill, I hated the shade of Green we used and I hated it :D.

I also hate it when they keep changing things as I build. This is why some things take longer than others for me to complete. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

It's kind of short notice, but the CIMTA show is in Las Vegas next week and most of the exhibitors there started out as avid mini enthusiast. They will be displaying their hand crafted items (items like sunnyray’s Irish wolfhound) for miniature dealers and catalog companies to consider. Most of the prospects will be looking to take items in quantity which can be reordered, but there are also dealers who carry one of kind items. Many of the more beautiful items are made in peoples homes rather than at big warehouses. This organization has two shows annually and is an asset to those of you who are interested in selling your hand crafted mini items.

It’s a big step to make any hobby your profession, but minis are like any other business... there are pluses and minuses. Having a clear understanding with your customers on a custom project is no different then if you did landscaping for a living. I think there’s a lot of good advice in this thread. I say start slow and grow at your own pace. Always pursue your dreams, regardless of how big or small :D they might be and remember, fortune favors the bold!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

If any of you are interested I have just posted a pic of my 1/12 scale cockerel in my gallery.

He is my sample model that I'll be taking to college with me on Monday. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Sign up for Small Stuff digest to keep your pulse on the 'what's hot' market
Also go to the archives there & read Tom Berkner's posts about starting a mini business.

I don't care too much for commision work.

I have made dolls on commission, the Tom Baker/ Dr Who doll I made Judith was a hoot to get to look like Tom Baker, because I only had publicity stills from his website to work with. I had much more fun with the African-American family because I had so many wonderful live models to work from :lol:

I made the Westville for a friend's DH to give her for her birthday, and he picked the colors, finished style, etc (I made sure she gave me her input, too; his color scheme suggested some possible color-blindness). It was a real learning experience for me as far as my personal taste vs. making something to someone's quite different tastes. I'd never choose to do this for a living, but it is so much fun to sell to someone who sees what I put into a house, or doll, or whatever.

Your blue peacocks put me in mind of Alice Zinn's, I can't imagine painting all those "eyes' on all those feathers! Ron's in Orlando, FL, had her peacocks, but I saw many of her lovely dogs at Miniature Memories in Charleston, SC. Your wolfhound also puts me in mind of Alice's work. There is definitely a market for your work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Sunnyray,

WOW you are very talented, keep up your amazing work. I would definatly buy your animals, i love the peacock and rooster. I just dont think i would be able to afford them if they went on ebay. I think you would do realy well. Why not try it and see what happens, its a great way to see how many people are interested in your product.

I love the cottage you are making too, love the furniture. Did you make it?

Jenn o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Sunny, your work is really great. I got a look at the cockerel --he's gorgeous.

I am like Tracey on commission work--if a customer wants something in another color in one design--it is hard to push myself to make it. I sometimes go ahead and do that piece just to get it done and over with so I don't have to worry about it, it's out of the way, and I can work on the ideas for new stuff I've come up with.

An Italian greyhound is the 'toy' version of the Greyhound--my vet owns a couple of them. They are beautiful dogs, the next size up is the Whippet(those things make the most noise--) and then the greyhound. All are considered sighthounds. I have owned two adopted retired racers, and to be able to capture their poses & the brindles, the color which is the hardest to match--would be a beautiful piece. My current greyhound, Dee Dee, is a fawn brindle, as was my previous one, Bea Bea. Let me scrounge up some pics for you --good pictures, so you can get her expression. I'll get back to you Sunny, as soon as I find the pics and scan them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now