Geppetto in Peril

Help Save Handmade

Help Save Handmade

CPSIA Legislation May Put Crafters Out of Business 

The CPSIA(Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008) states that even a simple wooden toy maker will be required to have a third-party lead test every different variation of marionette he makes, costing upwards of $2000 a pop. While well intentioned in the wake of numerous recalls of imported products for lead and toxic chemical content,  CPSIA ignores the financial constraints and mostly excellent track records of domestic toy manufacturers. It means that as of February 10th, 2009, if you offer for sale any items marketed to, or for use by children under age 12 that have not gone through an expensive beaurucratic rigmarole, then my friend, you are a criminal.  

While we’re on the subject, regulations in the FDA Globalization Act of 2008 will put makers of indie beauty products at a financial disadvantage to the tune of a $2000 registration fee every year. I fear my skin might shrivel up like a prune if I use anything but my favorite handmade soaps.

These laws essentially disenfranchise merchandise that is not mass produced at a significant financial gain. It will drastically reduce the variety of ethically produced domestic products, or cause an increase in their prices, making them unable to compete. A better solution would be to have an inexpensive speedy device, like Xray fluorescence scanners, to screen an item’s lead and chemical content at the point of purchase, or for home use. Could said technology be widely implemented over the next couple years (as the CPSIA is planned to be) at a cost not exceeding the current price tag? If so, why are we burdening creative entrepreneurs when we could instead be empowering consumers with technology?

I’ve heard Barack Obama fondly mention inventors who work out of their garages making contributions to our technological advances. But you know, there are many other rooms in a home where brilliant creativity is taking place. If you place a choke-hold on domestic product innovation, then it will be driven purely by profit. I can see why large corporations might give these bills an enthusiastic nod. By the way, they passed with little to no opposition in congress.

The absence of handmade toys, children’s clothes and decor, and beauty products will leave a gaping hole in the indie craft community. Just imagine a Wal-mart without those catagories of items.

Get informed and involved. We need this to go viral:

The Handmade Toy Alliance has posted links and a sample letter to write your congressman

The war room at Fashion Incubator’s message forum. Check out the “Activism CPSIA:Media” post for the latest iin spreading the word

The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild is mobilizing to alter the FDA Globalization Act

The CPSIA Central Social Network

National Bankrupcty Day (when the CPSIA takes effect) is February 10th

Join the Help Save Handmade Toys from the CPSIA Facebook Group

Vote up this issue on

Please bump any posts regarding these issues on message forums also!

(Image courtesy of Hasenpfeffer Incorporated on Flickr)

Written by Autumn Wiggins

This 2008 interview pretty much sums it up:

1. How would you describe yourself?
An oddly situated performer of thought experiments

2. Do you have any anecdotes about your work (how you got started, frustrating moments, or funny stories)?
At this year's Maker Faire in San Mateo, I gave a presentation on how the trend of green crafting can ultimately address the problem of consumption and waste. Dale Dougherty,the publisher of Make and Craft, later had a gift delivered to me, a staple bound book of poetry: Music Like Dirt by Frank Bidart. This is the last thing one would expect to take home from an event so focused on renegade technology. To my surprise, it was an existential reflection on the human need to make things that I now find myself going back to whenever I need some inspiration to look beyond the materials and processes of crafting.

3. What kinds of things do you do for fun?
In my spare time I enjoy amateur astronomy, outdoor adventures, collecting domain names, and hanging out at coffee shops.

4. What interesting projects are you working on right now?
I'm working to organize community involvement in upcycling, and have a few top-secret website projects up my sleeves!

5. Where do you live? Kids, pets, spouse, occupation?
O'Fallon, IL, a suburb (and I mean a totally typical suburb) of St. Louis, MO. Rather than moving to the more culture friendly urban environment, I am staying put and annoying the heck out of Wal-Mart by throwing a massive indie craft show(Strange Folk) in their backyard. I have a husband, Doug, and two sons: a 7 year old mad scientist named Jack, and 6 year old Max, who we think is an aspiring tattoo artist since he's so fond of drawing all over himself with markers. To pay the bills, I do freelance writing, mural painting, and website design, sell my handmade crafts, teach art classes for kids, and work part -time at a local coffee shop.

6. What new idea (in or outside of your field) has excited you most recently?
The concept known as "Cradle-to-Cradle" is a blueprint for sustainability that states everything we manufacture should be either biodegrable, infinitely recyclable, or intended to be upcycled. This is the basis for many of my ideas of how the crafting community can be more widely involved in solving the environmental crisis.

7. What is your favorite food/color/tool?
granola/green/sewing machine!


Leave a Reply
  1. This is a case of “be careful what you wish for” in action. While I want the large corporation’s toys and beauty products to be tested by their manufacturers more carefully, I also want to be able to buy indie toys and beauty products too. With our current economic woes, the last thing we need is to inact legistation that discourages people to start and maintain to stay in small business. Why is the answer to everything a throw the baby out with the bathwater approach?

  2. The reason the baby so often gets thrown out with the bathwater is that we have become a society that relies on the government to make laws on pretty much everything. Common sense, self-reliance and personal responsibility don’t seem to be things people want to deal with any more.

  3. There are 5 houses in five different colors
    In each house lives a different nationality.
    These 5 owners drink a certain beverage, smoke a certain brand of cigar and keep a certain pet.
    No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar, or drink the same beverage.

    The CLUES:

    The Brit lives in the Red house.
    The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
    The Dane Drinks tea.
    The Green House is on the left of the White House.
    The Green House’s owner drinks coffee.
    The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
    The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
    The man in the center house drinks milk.
    The Norwegian lives in the first house.
    The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats
    The man who keeps horses lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
    The man who smokes Blue Master drinks beer.
    The German smokes Prince.
    The Norwegian lives next to the Blue House.
    The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.

    Who owns the fish?

  4. The government always seems to get the opposite of what they are trying to legislate. They are trying to get safer toys but instead there will be no toys – well except for the mass produced ones by the big companies who probably push this legislation.

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