Last week I had a bit of an epiphany and it concerns something that I think a lot of artists have to deal with. An elderly friend of mine had shown me two pieces of jewellery that needed repairing. There was no value to the pieces in terms of materials - one was a brooch made of glass beads threaded onto a brass backing and the other a brooch of shell pieces glued to a backing of mystery metal. However they were of significant sentimental value to her. I don't like doing repairs on jewellery other than my own and try and avoid it but it always seems to be friends that I can't say no to.
So I went ahead and fiddled around for ever with glue (which I hate using) and nylon thread and so on until they were done. If I had charged my normal hourly rate it would have been hundreds of dollars, so what do I do? Charge a nominal $10 or $15 or what? In the end I went over to her apartment, had tea and gave her the pieces and said not to worry about paying, basically because it was easier for me that way. Anyway she suggested that she make me a cake as payment - she loves to bake, so I said okay that would be nice.
So the epiphany happened when I went back to her apartment to collect the cake a few days later. She had made a huge apple cake, carefully wrapped up. As I put it on the seat beside me in my car and drove away I was suddenly full of a strange warm glow and I realised that it was because I felt genuinely good at the transaction we had done, not just a fake kind of feeling good that you tell yourself to feel. I felt like it was the antithesis of a Walmart type of transaction and I felt good about that because I don't like Walmart and what it stands for.
Anyway this is not to say that I am going to search out things that need repairing and offer to do it for free! But I am happy about how it worked out in this case, and you can imagine the look on my husband's face when I walked in with the cake!