Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Why you should care about CPSIA

Unless you've been living in a cave somewhere, you've heard about the many toy recalls in the last year--toys made with lead-based paint or other hazardous materials or methods. Toys that were unsafe for our children. These recalls have led many parents to start thinking about what they buy for their children, and that has been GREAT for the handmade movement! After all, buying a handmade toy from a real person is bound to be safer than buying something machine-made in China, right?
Well, some of those same concerned parents talked to their legislators (which is good), and the legislators decided they should pass laws requiring better safety testing for all children's products (which also sounds good to me!). So they wrote the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, which requires lots of elaborate (and expensive) safety testing. Let me clarify this for you--as of Feb 10, 2009, each item I make for a child (say, a cloth diaper) must be tested by a third party. If I make a diaper with a different fabric, or a different size, or snaps instead of velcro, or even a different color of snaps, then it is considered a new item, and must also be tested. The testing costs $150-4000 per item. You see, they neglected to make an exception for handmade products, or (from what I understand) even for second-hand items. So that sweet little children's consignment shop down the street? Illegal. My etsy shop? Closed. Thousands of other small-time work-at-home-parents just like me? Out of business.

Save Handmade Toys
(clicking this image will take you to a site that is full of links and information--I highly recommend it!)

I want to clarify that I do not think this legislation is a bad idea! Not at all! I'm thrilled to see someone finally stepping in and insisting on safer products for our children! I just think that somebody needs to make some edits to the bill! ,I for one, would be completely happy to attach a card to each of my items that says "this product was made by hand and has not been tested for lead content or potential carcinogens." People who buy handmade products know what they are getting, and they are comfortable with it. They will not be deterred by a card like that, and yet I can clear myself of liability by stating that I did not do the fancy testing. It's a win-win solution, don't you think?

So what can you do?
  • Contact your senators and representatives and tell them that this legislation needs to be amended! Here is a sample letter (but please don't just cut and paste it, they pay more attention to the ones that are unique!) I hear they also pay more attention to letters than to emails, and more to phone calls than to letters...
  • Help spread the word by joining facebook groups, ning, twittering, and blogging about it!
  • Sign the petition at ipetitions
  • Sign the petition at (the causes that get the most votes will be presented to President Obama)
  • Post widgets (like the ones in this post) on your blog or webpage.
  • Submit your endangered handmade items to Endangered Whimsy (submission info on the sidebar)
Here are some more links:
Open letter from Etsy about CPSIA
The Handmade Toy Alliance

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday Tips: Make Connections

A lot of etsians offer great products, yet their shops go unnoticed. This is the final entry in a six-week series of tuesday tips about ways to improve your etsy karma... These are ways I have found to get people into my shop. And the more people go through my shop, the more likely I am to make a sale!

It's all about the personal connections. Joining teams, giving hearts, chatting, and joining BNRs or other threads in the forums can all help you connect with other etsians. Obviously you can advertise on blogs and message boards, put your shop link in your email signature, or even send out newsletters, but this post is focusing specifically on making connections within etsy. ☺
Last Friday I posted a featured etsian whom I met in chat one night, and subsequently bought some soap from. There are dozens, even hundreds, of people selling soap on etsy--so why did I choose her? Because I was sitting there, talking with her; I mentioned that I thought one of her soaps was pretty, and she offered me a deal on it. And that was that!
If you don't know how to find the forums or the live chat, just go to the etsy community (the 'community' tab at the top of the etsy homepage).

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry CHRISTmas

As a Christian, I do want to share a very special treasury today: a treasury of nativities.
(click the photo to see the listing)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I will not be making my regular posts this week. Have some happy holidays with your loved ones, and I'll see you next week!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stars and Lights of Hanukkah

ceramic menorah

Hanukkah begins on Dec 21 at sundown, so I thought it would be appropriate to share a Judica/Hanukkah-themed treasury this week.
(as always, all photos link to the actual listing)

child's knitted scarf

kitchen towel

designer kippah


charm bracelet

and for the little Jew in your life!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday Tips: Street Teams!

Sorry this post is a day late going up! It's been a wild week. ☺

A lot of etsians offer great products, yet their shops go unnoticed. This is the fifth entry in a six-week series of tuesday tips about ways to improve your etsy karma... These are ways I have found to get people into my shop. And the more people go through my shop, the more likely I am to make a sale!

What is a street team? Oh I'm so glad you asked!!
A street team is a group of etsians who have something in common--location, type of craft (eg: jewelers or web designers), lifestyle (eg: religious groups or parents), business practices (eco-friendly), or shared market (eg: baby items or knitting supplies).
Different teams do different things and require different levels of involvment. Some teams will add you to their link list and that's all there is to it...other teams require regular participation in blog carnivals or posting to team threads. So be sure to read the team profile before joining, and make sure that 1--you are qualified to join, and 2--that you are willing to do whatever is required for that team.
Why be on a team? Well, one person can only advertise so many places, and can only make so many contacts...but twenty people can reach twenty times as many people and places, and eighty people can reach...well, you get the idea!
Additionally, many team members prefer to buy from their fellow team members if they can; they often will feature each other in treasuries and blogs; and, oh yeah, they just get to know each other, and give each other ♥s!!!

I am on several teams, so I thought I'd share a little about each one (see my sidebar for links!)

  • Etsy Cloth Diaper team (for etsians who sell cloth diapers). It's pretty self explanatory really! We all sell cloth diapers! We have a team blog and along with featuring our products, many of us are contributing to an ongoing series of posts with a wealth of cloth diapering information. We also have a separate website with and a team forum for members.
  • Mothering team (for members of forums). is a natural parenting forum, so many of us have products that pertain to that group, however some of us carry mainstream items too. We have a blog and a yahoo group, and are currently working on doing a team banner ad on the mothering forums--expensive for one person, but affordable when shared by a whole team!
  • Team Eco Etsy (for etsians who are green in their business practices). I just joined this team this month, so I haven't had a chance to do much with them yet. I like that they have a lot of great ideas on the blog for how to run a greener business through things like recycled packaging and minimal paper usage.
  • EtsyBloggers (for etsians who blog). This team requires regular participation--at least two posts per month have to relate back to the team, and there are regular team threads, blog carnivals, featured members, and team-wide sales.There is a team message board and flickr group, as well as groups on facebook, twitter, ning, and a public blog.
  • the Alaskan Team (for any etsian in Alaska) goes in together to buy tables at craft fairs, but since I'm rural I have not been able to participate with them in any of that yet. So I'm listed as a team member (so other Alaskans can find a more 'local' seller and save on shipping), but otherwise it's a very laid back team.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Heathen's Hearth

Hmm, it's been a soapy week!

A few weeks ago I was in the etsy chat, trying to promote my shop and make some personal connections with people... I was looking through the shops of the other chatters and found Heathen's Hearth. What a neat shop--and even more, what neat ladies running it! Misty and Amy run the shop and have a fun blog too. I'm actually not sure which of them I talked with on chat that night, but she helped me figure out which soaps would be perfect for my family with our skin types and scent preferences. For example, I really liked the look of "Yuletide" (which I posted in a treasury earlier this week), but upon discussion realized that it would be too strong a scent for me. So I got peppermint frosting instead...and oooo do I love the peppermint frosting! (It smells good enough to eat, really!)
She made a special custom listing for me with reduced shipping for my multi-soap order (so kind of her!) They also put in some cute little samples--not just little cuts, but darling molded mini-soaps! This is the kind of service that makes life-long customers. ☺
(just like with my treasuries, you can click on any picture to go see that specific listing)

This is Chocolate Mousse whipped body frosting (doesn't that just sound awesome!) It's shea butter lotion that's positively luxurious (on the blog she said she wanted to lick herself after putting some on!) If even the maker is that impressed, well, I'm sure you will be too! There's a whole series of body frostings

Here are a couple of other soaps from the shop: Lemongrass Thyme Goat's Milk soap and Blueberry Cobbler Creamy Goat's Milk Soap (with oatmeal! I adore oatmeal!)

And I just have to finish up with what I think may be the coolest soap I've ever ever seen: Christmas Candy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Northern Lights

Aurora Borealis necklace

As an Alaskan, the northern lights remind me of two things: the long dark nights, and the solstice (which of course signals the returning light). With the dark nights upon us, and solstice just around the corner, I thought I'd share a treasury of the Northern Lights...
(as always, click on the photo to see the listing!)

Aurora Beauty necklace

droplets stitch markers

Midnight Stars quilt

Northern Lights neon diaper duo
(yes, it's one of my own listings...but it's the reason I thought to do a Northern Lights treasury in the first place!)

Northern Lights earrings

felted scarf

In my searching, I found an artist who has numerous lovely paintings of the I wanted to make a special link right to his shop: Hayward Art
Here are a couple of my favorites of his pieces:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Seasonal Soaps!

When looking at SpottedCowSoaps fun holiday soaps to write the monday post, I saw a lot of other fun things...I saw this first soap recently and was wanting to feature it anyway, so, without further ado, here are some fun seasonal soaps!

Danish Christmas Baskets

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is making woven Danish candy baskets to hang on the tree (sometimes we put candy in them, sometimes we don't). My family has a lot of Scandinavian heritage (more about other of our traditions here), and these baskets are something I've been making since early childhood.
They look elaborate, but are not really that complicated if you pay attention and have a little patience. I thought I'd make a little tutorial for you, so you can make them too!

1) Cut the two sides of your heart from two different colors of paper. Red and green are classic, but any two colors will work. Each piece should be about 3 inches wide and 9 inches long, folded in half (you can make larger or smaller of course, but this is a good size to learn on)

2) Round the unfolded ends, and cut two evenly-space slits up from the folded side--the cut should be 3 inches long (or maybe just a smidge longer) It's easy to check if you have the right length of cut by laying one piece over the other at a perpendicular angle--the length of the slits should equal the width of the other piece. (If you are feeling timid, try just one slit--so two sections. If you are feeling adventurous, try three slits--four sections!)

3) Begin weaving the two pieces together. Remember that you are not going "over-under-over" so much as "inside-outside-inside" because this is a 3-dimensional object that will need to be able to open up when you are done! (Yes, you'll have to bend things around a bit...just be gentle and keep wiggling until it works!)

4) When the two sides are woven together, you just add a little handle (tape, glue, or staple it to the basket). voila! Hang it on your tree, and put in some candy or nuts if you like.

(This is my entry for the EtsyBloggers blog carnival this month, when it posts on Dec 23, you will be able to see others by going here and following the link!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday Tips: Chat it up!

A lot of etsians offer great products, yet their shops go unnoticed. This is the fourth entry in a six-week series of tuesday tips about ways to improve your etsy karma... These are ways I have found to get people into my shop. And the more people go through my shop, the more likely I am to make a sale!

There are a lot of sellers on etsy, many of them selling similar items... so why do I buy from one shop rather than other? Well, it's usually because they drew my attention to themselves. How does one draw attention? The simplest way I know is to talk with the person! Etsy has forums where people can ask questions, promote their items, give each other advice, and even play games such as BNRs (Buy-N-Replace) or BNS (Buy-N-Stay) (both of which involve buying from someone on the list, then having your own shop added to the list as someone to be bought from). The promotions forum is specifically designed for promoting your shop, specials, or specific items--that's where the selling games happen, but if you contribute to threads such as "show off your red stuff" it can also be a good way to get your shop/items seen by people who might not otherwise see them.
Etsy also has a live chat feature. When you are in a chat room, you can not only chat with people, but there are direct links to visit each chatter's shop. While browsing each others shops, chatters often post each others items on the side of the chat (there is a box to enter the item URL, and a picture of the item will post right there where all the chatters can see it!). Chatters talk about weather, life, and other small talk of course, but they also discuss their products, offer specials and sales to fellow chatters, and frequently arrange trades or sales right there in person! Chatters make connections, mark each others shops and items as favorites (it's those ♥s again!), and they are more likely to buy from each other in the future because they remember each other.

Monday, December 8, 2008

December featured EtsyBlogger

This month's featured EtsyBlogger is SpottedCowSoaps!
I'm so excited to feature Ms Moo, because I've been drooling over these soaps ever since I first saw them. She has a whole bunch of limited edition holiday soaps, so I thought I'd just share some of those...the items speak for themselves, I don't need to say anything!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'll have a GREEN Christmas this year

I got an actual, official, real etsy treasury! It's my first one ever, and I'm pretty excited over it! You can run on over and look at it here: (It lasts until Tuesday night)

Friday, December 5, 2008

FF ~ Thyme 2 Dream

Recently I found the Thyme2Dream blog, which features two shops: Thyme2Dream and PernCirclets. I just sat and poured through the shops for ages!
Inspired by fairies, fancy, and magical things, they make circlets, tiaras, earrings, ear cuffs, bracelets, and hair jewels which delight and impress.
With the artist's permission, I feature a few items from the shops (click the photo to see the listing!):

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sweet Angels

With the Christmas season, I always get to thinking of angels...

Some are traditional:

Some are more unusual:

Some are designed to remind us of our precious little ones:

No matter the style, I think angels remind us to remember our loved ones who have gone before, and to find the angelic part inside ourselves in serving others.

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