Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Destroying Handmade Children's Toys... One Artist At A Time

Yesterday I received an email and phone call from my mother about the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which will require lab certification that lead and phthalates are not present in toys or clothes intended for children under the age of 12. After doing about 2 hours of research I was almost in tears. I had signed this petition, and emailed both of my senators and my local representative asking them to make a few simple changes in the law so that small home businesses and the stay at home crafters could comply. In it's current for it will force many small businesses and almost ALL the home crafters who make anything intended for children under the age of 12 out of business. That'll just be great for our declining economy wont' it?

In a nutshell the law says that it is Illegal for me sell any item that has not been tested. No big deal right... wrong. Lets say that I make a piece of felt food bread. In that piece of bread I have used items that I have bought at the local fabric store. Including two colors of felt, sewing thread, and batting. To get this one type of item certified, I would have to send it to China (yep...china. There are only 14 labs in the US that can do the testing. It costs twice as much as in China to test and it takes considerable longer to have done.) and have EACH part of that item tested. That one piece of bread would end up costing me hundreds of dollars to have tested. Which means that I would need to make at least 100 pieces (and sell them) in order to break even on the cost of testing. And, remember.. I would have to be using the EXACT same materials to make all those pieces of bread. (so you better hope that you have a whole bolt of that specific fabric) Just check out how many types of felt food I make... I would need to take out a second mortgage on my home just to sell my different items legally. And, remember, that's using materials that have already been brought here to the US. So... the US must have already deemed them safe right?

The date that this becomes law is February 10th. I had no idea about this until last night. And, I would imagine that there are literally hundreds of thousands of home crafters and small US toy companies that are still in the dark about this. Just image what next summers craft fairs and state fairs will look like. No more fairy crowns for a dollar from some random vendor, no more one of a kind doll dress for your daughters Barbie or American Girl doll, no more one of a kind birthday outfit that you bought from a talented local seamstress. No more handmade wooden train sets or natural handmade baby diapers. And, good luck finding a scrap patchwork quilt for your infants bed. Unless someone can afford to make 100 duplicates of something and have it tested... your local crafter will be out of business. Me included.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am pleased that the government stepped in to introduce a law that would protect our children from the dangerous toys that were leaking lead. But, remember...those toys mostly came from China. From huge manufactures. (and now we are trusting them to also do the majority of our testing... ummm.. didn't they miss the lead the first time they tested it... who's idea was this anyways... common sense anyone?) What ever happened to making toys here in the US? The only wat to change his law in it's current for is to speak out. So please email your representatives, congressmen, and sign this petition, and do some research if you make any of the following items: cloth anything for a child (clothing, blankets, shoes, socks, hats, diapers, cloth dolls, toys etc), anything using yarn(hats, blankets, booties, sweaters, toys, etc), and anything made with wood. This isn't the whole list.

As a final thought I just wanted to mention that our children have been playing with handmade toys for centuries. It's only been fairly recently that our children have begun playing with manufactured toys. I'm not saying that I don't have manufactured toys in our home. In fact, we have many...but I've noticed that my children have always gravitated tword the more simple handmade things that I've bought or made throughout their lives. And, that's not something that I want taken away from them or any other future generation. I feel as though I've just been told that I'm a criminal trying to cause harm to the children of the US. But, who's the real criminal here?

Check out these links with more information and links to your local congressman and representaties.

So Long Natural Children's Products: A great article that gives an easy to understand explanation of the law.

Change.org: They have the petition going to try and change the law as it's written.

Handmade Toy Alliance: They have some great information and they have the links to find your local congressman and representative.

Etsy: So many crafters sell their items here. This is Etsy's take on what's happening.

CPSIA - Killing American Industry One Cottage At A Time: Another great article.


Geek Central Station said...

Hi there,
I saw all of your amazing stuff on Craftster and followed the link to your website. Let me just tell you that I am 25, with no kids, and I would totally love to play with your felt food! So it's not just for kids.

Hopefully there will be loopholes in this ridiculous law. I have a feeling that big corporations are behind this (the REAL perpetrators of dangerous toys), not a sense of responsibility towards our children. If the worst happens, you could always sell patterns--I know it's not a big consolation, but it's something.

bperry042 said...

Thanks! That's actually very reassuring to hear. I love my felt foods too.. even if my kids didn't I would want to make them. So, I'm glad to hear that an adult would like them too.

I've had a few days to "cool down" about this whole thing. And, I've done more reading. It looks reads like I could sell them as "collectibles" to adults. Though this may be a gray area. I'll have to look into it more. I've already begun to sort through my patterns, I've been wanting to make a pattern book for these for some time now. Maybe this new law will give me some incentive.