Barter: trade a weaving?

I mentioned a generous-spirited Canadian, Amy Newsomwhose shawl pins I admired in her online shop. She needed some photographs for developing her website, admired mine, and sent me three beautiful pins (of three-figure value) in exchange for some photos of her work offset agains my wool. Here are some of the first batch:

I was so touched by her gesture, and so struck by what good business sense it also made for us both to publicise our complementary products, that I’ve been seeking some more of these kinds of exchanges. I searched for some other jewellers whose pieces already had top-class and imaginative photography, and offered them some of my remnants in exchange for having them featured in their photos.

One Danish guy and one Italo-Californian offered to send me a pin in exchange-exchange, and here is what I received in the post today – a Viking- or Celtic-style recycled copper pennanula made by Marcella:

Penannula

Barter can also be really tricky: I’ve had great and not so great experiences in the past, as it can politically embroil even more than a monetary transaction, and easily become muddier. I often use currency and time as a measure or benchmark for negotiations, but you come up against questions like how one skill is valued more highly than another by our society, and that can be hard between friends.

A few weeks ago I decided that even better than heading back to the Hebrides this summer might be staying in Devon, where I’m enjoying musicmaking in a folk scene that’s possibly as rich as any anywhere. So I put out word to try and find a pitch, and have had a great offer to park by a house on highest Dartmoor in exchange for working someone’s horse a few times a week (a proper gypsy dream!). We’ve had lengthy, thoughtful and detailed email discussions to try and pave the way for a fair and clear agreement that’s as smooth as possible – it’s been a really useful discussion, and is looking highly likely.

I’ve just created a new page on my website called ‘Barter’, listing what I’d like to swap for weavings. Current ideas for business, home and music include:

  • A place to park somewhere Celtic or Dartmoorish (this is an ongoing need, short or medium term, especially over winter)
  • A small, lightweight but adult-strong, wooden bunk bed ladder
  • A supply of organic produce/local free range meat
  • A working digital SLR camera
  • A working iPhone
  • Publicity – e.g. press articles
  • A working piano accordion
  • Singing lesson(s)
  • Recording studio/production time (not that I’m quite ready yet, but I like to float ideas as they arise)
  • Other musical favours – anyone able to make a bagpipe/melodica hybrid?! (Though you might not want a lifetime’s supply of blankets – I might just have to amass some gold for this last one sometime!)

Keep an eye on that page for updates if you’re interested (and Facebook, especially, for live feeds), and get in touch – there will be far more things than I’ve listed that I haven’t thought of.

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