Friday, January 30, 2009

New Team Members for 2009

See all of the KCEtsy Street Team's work on Etsy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Future of Handmade for Children

Today supporters of children's safety and handmade products around the world are having a blog-in ... we're all blogging about the exact same topic in an effort to bring awareness to an issue that has far reaching effects locally, nationally and globally.

*As parents and concerned citizens most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all. Article from the American Library Association and The Phoenix.

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Although the CPSC recently clarified a portion of the law stating, "
Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards." Still, many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together or are simply closting their doors, to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.”

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.*

Contact your local representative and ask them to urge the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the congressional committee that sponsored the CPSIA, to hold a hearing on the CPSIA before February 10th. This Act, while well meaning - we must keep our children safe, we all agree on this point! - is, as you can plainly see, poorly written. It needs to be clarified and severely amended in order to be truly effective.

* * * * *

More Information on this Issue:

Handmade Toy Alliance
Etsy Storque Article - CPSIA Updates and Calls for Action
Reform CPSIA - An Oraganization of Reltailers and Consumers Focused on Reforming CPSIA
Fashion Incubator - Kathleen Fasanella explains the CPSIA in a straightforward and clear way - highly recommended!
Buy Handmade - The handmade consortium is keeping this blog up to date with CPSIA news and press.
Business Week Article on the Misinformation and the CPSIA
Contact your local Congressional Representative

* Written by Etsyian's Holly of Winklepots & Gretchen of Chichiboulie. Additional information provided by KCEtsy Team Member, TinyStitches.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Building A Lightbox with the funky felter

A few months ago, one of my fellow local Etsy sellers, and KCEtsy team member, Nicole of Ni-Chern Designs, posted to our Kansas City Etsy Street Team forum about having a group light box build at her home. At the time I was unable to attend, but I really, really wanted to have my own light box to take photos. Nicole posted links to a couple of different tutorials for building a light box using PVC pipe as the shell or base. You can find the instructions here and here. Also, if you search the web for "home made light box", you will find many more tutorials out there. I suggest you pick one you like and can understand well, then go from there, which is what I did.

Since I am not that savvy at building dimensions, I printed out a copy of some online light box tutorials and handed them over to my dad. The original light box size was much too small to fit my larger creations so my crafty dad did a little figuring to size the dimensions up for me. My light box ended up being approximately 40" w X 32" h X 26" d. Unfortunately, it makes my head spin a bit to think about adapting the original light box dimensions so you are on your own if you need to scale the PVC pipe up or down from the original plans. Hopefully, you or someone dear to you is savvy at building dimensions. My dad quickly finished building a much larger version of the basic PVC pipe shell as seen in the original plans. He left it unglued so that it could be taken apart and reassembled if necessary.

After the basic PVC pipe shell was built by my crafty dad, I took over with the finishing touches. First I placed the shell of the light box on an old kitchen table that I use in my basement studio and braced the legs to the table using a bit of sticky tac on their bottoms. (Since it was so large, it was going to have to be a stationary setup in by basement studio.) Then, I bought three yards of inexpensive white cotton material to cover for the top and two sides of the light box. I also purchased two yards of cotton material to use as the background which covers the back of the light box and drapes down on the table top. This material can be any color you want for your background. The lighting was obtained from a hardware store. They are simply three inexpensive workman's lamps with 100 watt bulbs placed in them. It is good to have lighting from at least three light sources to avoid shadows. You may need to adjust the angle and placement of your light sources as well as the wattage of the bulbs. This will all depend on your own light box location and setting.
As far as your photo results are concerned, you may still need to edit them slightly in a photo editing software like Photoshop. Even with my great new light box setup, I have found that I still have to tweak the photos a bit to get them just right, but I am a trained graphic designer and very picky at times about this kind of thing. You can see a examples of my latest light box photos in this post along with a photo of my actual light box. For more photos of the light box and example shots taken using it, please visit my flickr account. I hope this information is helpful to you in your crafty endeavors and photographing them!

**Originally posted at
thefunkyfelter's blog on June 24th, 2008.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Art of Blue

Browsing the latest offerings from my fellow KCEtsy Team members I was instantly drawn to handful of pieces all in this beautiful shade of blue. To go with their artfully handcrafted pieces, I thought I'd share a few fun facts about this popular primary color.
  • On the color wheel, orange is blue's complementary color.
  • "Of all the colors in the spectrum, blue is an appetite suppressant. Weight loss plans suggest putting your food on a blue plate." (Color Matters)
  • Be it a dark bold navy blue or a light and airy periwinkle, blue, in one of it's many shades, is a universally liked color by just about everyone.
  • "Blue conveys importance and confidence without being somber or sinister ... blue, especially darker blue, is associated with intelligence, stability, unity, and conservatism." (
  • Blue symbolizes: youth, spirituality, truth, peace (Emily Gems)
  • Blue gemstones promote peace and are used to calm ragged emotions. They are used to provide relief to people who have difficulty sleeping or who have nightmares. They offer inspiration and enhance the quality of communication. (Emily Gems)