Saturday, January 31, 2009

CPSIA Update

The Consumer Products Safety Commission has granted a stay of Testing and Certification Requirements for Certain Products for one year.

As I understand it, the CPSC is encouraging manufacturers large and small to comply with the regulations for lead levels and pthalates, but will spend the next year examining testing procedures, exemptions and all the rest and make rulings as the year progresses. There are some products that are not exempt and are clearly outlined in the announcement.

These are my own interpretations--so please, do read the announcement yourselves. This comes directly from the CPSC. Here's the link:

In any event, it does appear that we have some breathing room in terms of adapting our products (where necessary) and meeting the requirements of this law.


Friday, January 30, 2009

What Are ACEOs?

New to ACEOs? Me, too. I only learned about them a year or so ago...and now am totally intrigued by these little works of art.

ACEO stands for Art Cards, Editions and Originals. Think baseball cards, only instead of teams and players, each card represents a piece of art. Many ACEOs are originals. That is, what you purchase or receive as a gift is the original piece of artwork and not a copy. There are some prints of intricate works that come as ACEOs...also lovely in their own right.

What makes an ACEO an ACEO is the size of the piece: 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches (6.4 centimeters by 8.9 centimeters). Until I started working with this format, I never realized how much space is actually on a card this size. There is plenty of room to explore and I find it a good venue to experiment with designs, colors and techniques.

ACEOs have grown in popularity over the past few years. They come in all kinds of mediums: oils, acrylics, watercolors, fabrics, clay, wood and other materials. Most of them are thin and can easily fit into a plastic protective pocket, but this is up to individual artists. I have seen ACEOs with buttons or beads and other embellishments. ACEOs can also be mounted and framed--just like traditional artwork.

Lately, I have fiddled with sewing cardstock with thread and love the texture. Samples are provided in the photos (above). I do, also, love little fabric art scenes and have gone on a ladybug jag. Upside down ladybugs. They make me laugh.

Oh...and one more thing about ACEOs. I think of them as "accessible" art. Though they can sell anywhere from $1 to over $200 (yup, there is some really intricate, imaginative and wonderful small art out there), most ACEOs are within the $5 to $25 range. Accessible to most budgets. Collectible. And Fun!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So Warm! So Cool! Treasury

This is a treasury I curated featuring the works of select sellers from I hope you enjoy these picks as much as I do!

Here are the descriptions and links to sellers' shops:

Row 1: Bunting by Geninne, Set of 5 Fridge Magnets by Miss Pottery, Tillie by PapierDog, Bloomers One of a Kind Earrings by Wild Woman Jewelry;

Row 2: Magic Fairy Tree on Hammered Brass by Star Creations, Snowball Trio Ring by She Dreams In Metal, Crappie Fishing Jigs by Fish Jig Maker, The Quilt Sagged on the Line by Golden Tea Room;

Row 3: Organic Kimono Baby Booties by Harvest Textiles, The Garden Through Windows by Emberatia, Heirloom Baby Quilt Classic Hearts and Feathers by Lashonne Abel Designs, Letterpress Bowl by Alma Pottery;

Row 4: Hand-blown Green and Transparent Glass Vase by Sean Kennedy Glass Man, Organic Cotton T-Shirt/Tunic PDF Knitting Pattern by On The Round, Blue Wren Silk Painting by Sally's Original Art, Quirky Owls Painting by Scowling Owl


Friday, January 23, 2009

CPSIA Meeting with Etsy Admin

I just sat through an online discussion with one of the administrators of In case you do not know, is an online host of thousands of individual shops targeted to handmade and vintage items. A large category of is children's products, so the administrators have done a lot of reading about and discussing this is. Administration has met directly with people from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). Etsy admin has made it part of their mission to help educate their clients (the sellers as well as buyers) and implement an action plan.

There were technical difficulties during the discussion, so a summary of what the administrator had to say is going to be posted on Etsy Monday. I will post a link to the written text once it is available.

These are my notes about the person's understanding of the regulations based on reading the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and talking directly with CPSC). Here are some highlights:

The lead and labeling laws under consideration affect all products (not just toys) for children 12 and under.

Even if a manufacturer (large or small) knows the component parts of their product to be lead free, the final product (once put together) still needs to be tested again. In effect, the individual items become something new when put together in a piece of clothing, book, toy or what have you--and that final piece needs to be tested.

Exemptions that were publicized in the news have been put on hold by Obama's administration (pending review). So, the law goes into effect on February 10, but the exemptions for untreated fabric, wool, wood and some other items (I do not have a complete list) are, at the moment, not "legitimate" exemptions. It is likely these will pass after review. Once these "exempt" items are treated in any way (dyed, painted, etc), they will require testing.

Although resellers and sellers of vintage items are not responsible for testing products, should a product they sell be found to contain lead, then they will be held responsible. The fines for each item (in a civil suit) range from $100,000 to $15 million per item. If people sell items that are inherently low in lead, then, for some, this might be a "reasonable" risk to take.

Etsy, at this point, will not be pulling items starting February 10, but they will expect sellers to comply with new regulations. (My impression: This is subject to change if Etsy's lawyers hear from the CPSC they need to do differently. Remember, you, as the manufacturer/seller of the product will be held responsible...not Etsy, who is just a host site).

It is clear from what Admin and others said during the meeting--and from what I have read--that the CPSC is still figuring all this out. There is continuing (and pretty consistent) pressure for the CPSC to create clear guidelines. The nature of the meeting was not to stop lead testing...again, people, as a whole want safer products for children...the emphasis will be on how to implement safety regulations without putting an undo burden on the small manufacturers (worldwide, since these law affect people from outside the country just as much as it does within the US). The other area of focus is the component testing issue which the administrator seemed to think "was an area on which they seem willing to bend."

The tone of the meeting was one of urging people to educate themselves on this issue (there is a lot of emotion around this issue and a lot of rumor and misinformation) and trying to get people to not panic. It is not likely that CPSC will be in a position to enforce the regs come February 10. It is a serious issue, though, so people will need to decide what is best for their own businesses.

Here are a few links to articles that are pretty good indicators of the "buzz" around this issue.

Committee on Energy and Commerce Letter to CPSC

Walter Olsen of Forbes Magazine

Article One
Article Two

The CPSC is taking public comment and continues to post answers to frequently asked questions on their website.

That is it for now, I think. As I hear more, I will pass it along.

Sojourn Quilts
"A Resting Place Along Life's Journey"

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ice Crystal Landscape

Mother Nature has been doing watercolors on my windows all morning. Here is a landscape she did...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Inadvertent Self-Portrait

This is me yesterday. I startled myself. I was expecting an ACEO. Curious feeling. There are extraordinary things in ordinary life.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act

There is a new law going into effect February 10, 2009 called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Its intent is to restructure and strengthen regulations regard products designed for and marketed to children ages 12 and under.

I was made aware of this issue a few weeks ago and since then have been trying to understand how this regulation affects the products I make. Most vulnerable, I believe, are my lobsters. To people in Maine and those connected to it, the lobsters are a reminder of this beautiful state...souvenirs...collectibles for people of all ages. Most of the lobsters I sell actually go to adults for adults. To what extent the lobsters are considered "toys" by the CPSC is something I'm still trying to find out. My goal is to continue carrying the lobsters, though some changes in design and marketing may be forthcoming.

I did add to my product list "lobsters okay for babies" the end of last year. These are made from recycled fleece and come without antennae. If I am to keep offering lobsters okay for babies, they will need to meet the requirements of CPSIA.

I am in support of regulations that make our children's products safer. I am, also, confused about how CPSIA affects my business and what exactly I am to do in order to either meet the requirements or adapt my current products to be suitable for an older audience (ages 13 and up). I am not the only one confused about this. In the home-based and small business community, there is a lot of "buzz" about this issue. Some of it true, a lot of it hype and rumor. I know I am not the only person calling for clarification of this law.

After hearing nothing back from my state and federal legislators (so far), I finally received help through the Maine Women's Lobby. They are helping me sort fact from fiction and have agreed to assist me in understanding how this regulation applies to my business. From them, I received a letter dated 1/7/09, the latest action by national groups trying to get answers from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). It is a very good letter urging the CPSC to rule quickly on the regulations and provide clarification and guidance to business owners. It heartens me to know there are people and organizations working on the behalf of small businesses like mine to bring structure to this process.

I will keep you posted on what the CPSIA means for my business and the products I bring to the market place.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Colors of A Winter Walk" Etsy Treasury

This is an Etsy treasury I curated featuring the works of some of my favorite artists:

Row 1: New Robin's Egg Felt Bangles by OnTheRound, Untitled Original Mixed Media Painting by Kristina Laurendi Havens, Winter Surf Beach Painting by David Gonville, Winter Forest by Jason Morrow;

Row 2: Multicolor Fish Carving Serving Bowl by YogaGoat Pottery, Monster Fish on Wheels by Pearson Maron, Lady Winter Print by The Meadowlark, Snow White Satin Brooch by Traxa;

Row 3: Living Community by Sea Spray Blue, Pastel Blue Baby Blanket by Threaded Expressions, Snow Ma Winter Witch by Reikima, West of Moon Print by Darkling Woods;

Row 4: Sophistication Necklace by Piano Bench Designs, Little Chickadee by Nature Mandalas, Good Company by Groundwork, Petal Rim Vase by Studio Elan

I hope you enjoy these picks as much as I do!


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Journey: 2009

Today is the first day of the first month in the year 2009.

Normally, I am not particularly sentimental or excited about New Year's. Mostly, I am relieved to mark the end of the holiday season. December is too rushed and too conspicuously consumptive for my liking. I like it when things get back to a more or less predictable pace. Having said that, I did stay up last night until midnight to say good-bye to 2008--the year my beloved dog Papillon died--and welcome in 2009. Woot! Woot!

I woke this morning after not quite enough sleep feeling excited, refreshed...and ready for an early morning walk.

On a whim, I grabbed my camera as I stepped out the door. The sun was barely up and the wind had a wicked winter bite to it. I wondered what on earth compelled me to bring a camera along. It is not a day for standing around taking photographs. Still, I kind of liked the idea of taking a picture to mark the first day of this new year: something to represent "What will the New Year hold?" and all that.

I took some frozen-fingered pictures around my neighborhood. The eerie early morning light made everything sort of soft grey, tinted with winter pastels: pinks, blues, lavenders and just a touch of yellow. The streets, though, at 7am, were essentially, empty. I did see some poor creatures--dogs tied on leashes presumably for their morning pee. I passed a few cars, empty, with engines going. It was too cold to go looking for interesting things. I just snapped whatever was quickest. I did not expect much of anything in my camera.

Pleasantly, I discovered the picture I posted here. I prefer it as an abstract, so will not reveal what or where it is from. To me, this picture represents something of the delight and mystery of starting a new year fresh and unadorned. What will the New Year bring?

Almost more important than the picture itself: my first act today was a creative one.

Already, I'm lovin' the 2009 journey!

My best to you and yours--Janyce