....for every time someone said "Oh, what pretty stones!", or "Wow, these are cool, how long do you have to bake them?", or "So you blow glass?", I could put all three of my kids through college without a second thought.
I did a craft show this past weekend, and as always I was amazed, bemused and sometimes appalled at the things people say. Over the course of the two-day show I heard all three of the comments above, plus several others. Many were complimentary, some were curious, a few were ignorant and one was just insulting. It's interesting how people seem to feel that they can say anything they want about someone's work at an event like this. Apparently being in the fresh air loosens folks' tongues to the point that basic restraint and common courtesty are forgotten.
One nice lady commented on how beautiful my rocks (lampwork beads) were, and how did I get them so shiny? I explained that they were glass, and I make them in my workshop. "Oh, do you have one of those tumbler thingies? I guess you couldn't take them all to Lake Michigan and wait for them to get smooth!" No, dear, I couldn't.
Another older woman and her daughter were looking through the beads, and the woman picked up one of my vessel beads. Now, vessels aren't necessarily easy to make. They're fiddly and time-consuming and therefore cost a bit more. This woman looked at the price, exclaimed "You want that for this? It isn't even pretty!" and plopped it back down. The daughter was appalled - "MOM!" - and I was proud of myself for not saying anything in return except "Those are all handmade, by ME, in my workshop. They take a long time to make." The woman at least had the grace to appear ashamed of herself, and left very quickly. Sigh.
Of course, as I chatted with other vendors, I learned that lampworkers aren't alone in dealing with such comments. The fellow on my left made very nice steel plant hooks, banner poles, etc. - good quality, heavy, much nicer than anything you'd find in the stores, and for a better price. He said that most people assumed his pieces were iron (because they were black), wanted to know where he bought them, or casually informed him that they could "make one themselves". Yeah, because skilled welding and metalworking are things everyone does in their spare time, right?
The woman on the other side of me had some luscious handmade soaps, lotions, and air fresheners. People wanted to know if she made them herself (yes); where she bought the soap (she MADE it); how did she make it (how long do you have? it's a lengthy process!); are those edible? (air fresheners....pretty, but NOT food!); and so on and so forth. We vendors were all considering charging for stupid questions by the end of the second day.
I do realize that many people ask such questions out of a genuine curiousity and desire to learn, and that things like glassworking aren't exactly common hobbies. What gets to me are the ones who ask the questions but don't listen to the answers, or who insult your work without any knowledge of what's involved in the process. Those are the ones you want to charge just for breathing. Petty? I suppose, but this poor lampworker can only take so much. Someday I'll be able to just let it all roll off my back, but until then...."You like the pretty rocks? $5 handling charge, lady!"