Thursday, January 29, 2009

Weather's got me down!

Let it snow , Let it snow, Let it snow--- Someplace else. Please!!!
I'm practicing mental imaging - thinking of a warm, sunny setting and remembering those great, relaxing lunches in the park The Big Guy and I were doing weekly only a few short months ago. Unfortunately, I'm not feeling any warmer yet!
Will somebody please take the proper precautions to assure us all that the groundhog won't see his shadow next week? We've had enough!!
Okay, I'm generally a little grouchy today. My cold has progressed from a slightly stuffy feeling to major congestion and I'm losing my voice. I am not a happy camper! I don't feel inspired to paint today - or to work on promotions or clean house, etc.

This week's book review:

I did read a book this past week. (That's the one thing this weather is good for - curling up with a good book!) I really enjoy a genre I call "Murder Mystery - Lite" and I've dug through the archives and found a few of my favorite authors' early works. This week I read Diane Mott Davidson's first "culinary mystery," Catering to Nobody. Diane's introductory description of the trials and tribulations of finding a publisher to buy into her concept of a "culinary" mystery was almost as entertaining as the novel itself. Anybody familiar with Diane knows of her series featuring Goldie Bear, caterer and amateur sleuth extraordinaire. In this book, we are introduced to Goldie, Arch (her son), and The Jerk (her ex). Goldie's successor, Marla (The Jerk's second wife) and one of her various love interests, the big protective Deputy Sheriff, Tom. We get a feel for her home turf, Aspen Meadows, Colorado, (It's a real Peyton Place, or for my younger followers, Wisteria Lane.) and find she's a caterer who actually shares recipes. All of the books in the series include some tasty recipes. Give one a read and cook up something special while you're at it!

Yet another blurb about the CPSIA!

In an effort to comply with the general request that all of us bloggers speak about the CPSIA yesterday, I threw together a few thoughts and published them last night without a lot of consideration, much like Congress passed the new law. I wanted it to appear I had done something constructive. (I had, after all, already written and prepared yesterday's post - a long feature article about a great crafter and her creations. That posting had been carefully researched, written and advertised to run yesterday. I really hated to take away from it by jumping back on the CPSIA soapbox.) In the light of day, last night's CPSIA comments appear rather lame. Here, I will try to improve on that.

I'm to the point where I just want Congress to say, one way or the other, if there will be revisions to the CPSIA coming soon. "Just come out and make a definitive statement, will you?" Knowing how our government generally works, I'm not holding my breath. My mind keeps flitting to a scene from Best Little Whorehouse in Texas where the governor does "a little dance" the "two step" to keep from taking an official position. Can you picture a chorus line of politicians dancing on the steps of the Capitol? Now, that might be worth a drive to D.C.! I believe our only realistic reprieve may come from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in the form of exceptions, exemptions and a new enforcement time table. This is feasible and may actually occur in our lifetime.

As a crafter, I am not asking permission to produce dangerous and hazardous products for children. MY PRODUCTS ARE SAFE !!! I am only asking that small manufacturers, like myself, be provided with practical, manageable conformity rules and regulations that will not effectively wipe out America's cottage industries.

My merchandise is produced by using ready-made, commercially available clothing, which under this law, has already been certified by it's manufacturer - companies like OshKosh, Gerber, Carters, etc. - to be lead and phthalate free. I buy my blanks (the clothing pieces which I paint) on the retail market. I then embellish that garment with certified non-toxic paints produced by two American manufacturers who have also already certified their paints as safe under this law. (I have copies of their test results.) A child could literally drink a bottle of this paint without any health repercussions. (Of course, you'd want to be sure they were wearing disposeable diapers!)
This combination of two harmless components does not trigger any chemical changes in the garment or paints but it does create a brand new product. I, as the manufacturer of that new product, will now have to have that item tested by a third-party tester. Redundent? Wasteful? Expensive? Yes!!! Reasonable? No!!! Financially possible? -- Let's just ask. "Will you pay $75.00 (or higher) for tht cotton onesie for your next baby shower gift?"

Many opponents of the law have pronounced it as the death of "cute" creations. Maybe not the end of "cute" but definitely the end of "one-of-a-kind" productions for children. The testing process itself destroys the garment requiring at least two of any lot to be made. One to be tested - one to use/sell/give, whatever. Remember watching the Jetsons, Star Trek and other futuristic shows - everyone dressed the same. I guess they'd already passed a CPSIA in their societies.

The first phase of the law, effective 2/10/09, does allow me to certify that my products are made with safe, tested components. I can do that. Therefore, I will continue to make and sell my children's products after that date. The second phase, scheduled to kick in sometime in August, 2009, requires me to do the 3rd party testing. That isn't financially feasible for me. If the law doesn't have exemptions or changes made by then, I will need to stop manufacturing those items. My business will suffer while it goes through a transformation forcing me to gear toward grown-up sales.

The impact of this new law is far reaching. It pertains to ALL children's products whether they're made by Aunt Bessie ("the crochet queen") or Mattel. OshKosh is also just another American manufacturer who will need to comply. Of course, Mattel and OshKosh and the like don't produce one-of-a-kind or few-of-a-kind lots. They can afford to test one item in order to sell 15,000 identical pieces. (I'm sure you can count on the retail price reflecting the costs of such testing.)

Aunt Bessie, on the other hand, crochets for something to do. She makes baby blankets and preemie hats for her local hospital. She goes to Walmart and buys a hank or two of baby yarn for these items and lovingly spends her afternoons stitching with love. That yarn, as a component, is safe. Now, without altering the chemical properties of that yarn, Aunt Bessie will need to do 3rd party testing before giving that item to the hospital. The CPSIA pertains to "any distribution," not just "sales for profit." Did Congress mean to shut down all of the meaningful charitable work like this being doen by America's seniors? I hope not, but as enacted, that's what this law can do!

Let's work together to get this changed -- NOW !!! Contact your Congressman. Bombard Henry Waxman, the man in power, with letters, phone calls, voice mails, e-mails, etc. Ask for revisions to this law before the American craftsman becomes just another chapter in our history books.

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