Handmade Toy Swap


Bird and Little Bird is hosting a swap of handmade toys and children’s items to raise awareness about the problems caused by the CPSIA.  If you’d like to participate, just e-mail Anne (birdmail AT gmail DOT com) and be sure to let her know if you’re willing to ship internationally.  February 10th will be the deadline.

Read her blog post here for more details.  She made Mr. Fox, pictured above, so maybe you’ll end up with something as adorable.  Have fun and support handmade!

The End of Handmade Toys?


I think not.  I am completely unqualified to weigh in on this issue, but I will anyway.  If you are unfamiliar with the controversy, Congress has passed an act called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, created to protect American consumers from lead and other harmful materials in children’s toys and clothing. It will go into effect next month and would allow the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to require rigorous testing of toys, clothing and other children’s items.

Though well intended, the Act has several flaws.  For one, the Act requires regulation of American toy manufacturers and importers, placing the financial burden on our economy when I fully believe that the pressure for regulation should be on China, since we all know who is putting lead in our toys.  In addition, the wording of the Act is incredibly vague and open to interpretation.  I think this was intentional to allow the CPSC to regulate as it sees fit.  But it’s causing mass hysteria in the handmade world.

So, how does this actually affect handmade children’s clothing and toys?   The testing required is prohibitively expensive for small toy makers.  I don’t believe that the CPSC will have the inclination or the resources to regulate your average toy maker on Etsy or at craft fairs, but this could negatively impact some smaller toy manufacturers.  And still, it would mean that toy makers are technically breaking the law if they don’t have their toys tested, so a provision should be made to the Act exempting small-scale toy makers.

The owners of thrift stores across the country protested the new requirements because they would have prohibited the selling of used toys that didn’t meet the new safety standards.  In response, the CPSC announced yesterday that thrift stores and items made of natural materials like wood and cotton would be exempt.  An article in the LA Times quotes a statement from the regulators:

“The agency intends to focus its enforcement efforts on products of greatest risk and largest exposure.”

An earlier article from the LA Times quotes Scott Wolfson, a CPSC spokesman:

“The CPSC is an agency with limited resources and tremendous responsibility to protect the safety of families. Our focus will be on those areas we can have the biggest impact and address the most dangerous products.”

To me, this means that small-scale toy makers need not worry.  As currently written, the Act overreaches its intended purpose and is unfeasible to enforce.  So it would be nice if the ninnies in our Congress would clarify the wording to reflect the way the regulations will actually work.  If you’d like to try to make a difference, you can write a letter, add a button to your blog (available at Cool Mom Picks), or visit the Handmade Toy Alliance for more information.

I’m not an alarmist.  So I don’t think anyone should panic and burn all of their handmade toy inventory.  I just feel that common sense is certain to prevail here.  Am I too optimistic to expect this from our government?  Perhaps.

Pictured above:

Maple/Walnut Stacking Toy, $26 from Little Sapling Toys.

Big Sister Sandy Sprinkles Red Hair Rag Doll, $36 from Lil Sprinkles.

Patchwork Digger, $70 from Elsie Marley.

Free Paper Toys

Great last-minute toys.  We’re all cutting back, right?  So here are some links to free paper toy downloads.   I suppose that it’s more environmentally friendly to print paper toys at home rather than buy some plastic junk from China.

I will admit that there will be a Hannah Montana microphone under our tree this year.  We’re not totally sure how our four-year-old discovered Hannah Montana, but she did and she loves her.  I guess it could be worse.  I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make my kids happy without making myself vomit. When I told my older daughter that we were going shopping for a birthday present for her sister she asked if they had plastic toys at the store (they did not).  My kids will probably grow up to have some strange plastic toy fetish.


Elves from Macula.

Vintage Lacing Cards from Bella Dia.

Paper Animals from The Toymaker.


Pink by Jules from Ready Mech.


Italian Villa from Print-n-Play Toys.

Paper Toys has a strange assortment of stuff including Wrigley Field, Bill Gates’ house and the Taj Mahal.

Plus this great vintage set from Agence Eureka on Flickr.

Handmade Toy of the Week

Tic Tac Toe Dolls, $28 from Ten Thousand Villages.  Handmade in India.

A quick word about some new legislation that may affect handmade toy production.  The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, designed to protect American consumers from harmful toys, seems to have a major oversight in its wording, leaving out the guidelines for handmade toys.  The Act requires stricter testing of imported toys and those made in the United States.  I’m no lawyer, but I would suspect that the CPSC would not have the time, money or inclination to go after small toy makers for violation of safety standards.  Nevertheless, it would be nice to have the language clarified.  Here’s a link from Cool Mom Picks about how you can help.

Handmade Toy of the Week

Felt Cupcake from Cheryl A Smith, $15.  She also has some adorable felt finger puppets in her shop that would be great stocking stuffers.

This felt cupcake is in honor of my daughter’s fourth birthday today!  I intended to make some felt cakes, but since my other daughter has a birthday coming in ten days I suppose I’ll get another chance.  Whew!  Two December babies.