Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bloggers Unite for the CPSIA Blog-In

Around 300 bloggers, most with shops on Etsy, are joining forces today to blog about the madness of the CPSIA. Here is the post, written by chichiboulie, an adorable Etsy shop in France:

As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure 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

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. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together 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, read The New Law.

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react. {Download Etsy's CPSIA Action Kit for more info & ways to get involved.}

Monday, January 26, 2009

Your ♥'s Desire...

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, we become inundated with imagery of all things flowery, cupid-emblazoned, red and pink-hued, and especially those things heart-shaped. This ubiquitous symbol of love, passion, and romance is so embedded and ingrained into our minds that we seldom ponder upon its origins, so I thought I might do a bit of research.

The heart symbol very vaguely resembles a human heart, so it has been suggested that, during the Middle Ages, peoples used cows' hearts - a more readily available sight than a human heart - as a template for the creation of the heart-shaped symbol. However, a cow's heart's resemblance to the ♥ shape is also very minimal. So, on to another theory.

The folding over of the wings of doves forms a shape much in line with the heart shape we are all familiar with and doves are associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of all things lovey-dovey (sorry, I couldn't pass that pun up ;-)

However, one of the most plausible and interesting accounts of the origins of the heart symbol comes from the 7th century BC Greek city-state of Cyrene in present-day Libya. Coins of this city clearly depict what we recognize as a heart symbol, but the depiction is actually that of the seeds of the fruit of an extinct plant called silphium. The silphium plant was widely used as an ancient herbal contraceptive and, therefore, the shape may have come to represent sexuality and love.

The result of my digging was that the there is no agreed-upon consensus regarding the origins of the heart shape we associate with Valentine's Day festiveness and love in general. Regardless, it is a beautiful symbol that has inspired art and design for centuries and one that we, as teametsyaustin crafters, frequently incorporate into our splendid designs - a few of which I have showcased below. To end, I wish you all a very lovely Valentine's day full of ♥!

information sources: and

Thursday, January 22, 2009

David Lindquist is the creator behind Craftiness. Here he illustrates his basic pen recipe for those that have wondered, 'HE Made THAT?!'

First, find a piece of wood that looks like it might be interesting inside. This particular wood is Siberian Pea shrub, also known as Caragana. Caragan is an old friend – its always has an unusual color pattern inside.

Mark your piece with a marker slightly longer than the length of your pen tube. You will do this twice since you have two pen tubes for this particular type of pen, a Euro center-twist ball point pen.

Cut your marked pieces with a chop saw. Or band saw, if you have one. I’m hoping to get one from Tina Claus for Christmas.

Drill a hole down the center of your wood piece with a drill press, using a vise to secure your piece. You now have two wood blanks with holes drilled and ready for the glue.

Rough up the surface of the tubes, then glue the outside of your tubes thickly with Gorilla Glue, which expands as it dries filling in the space nicely. Insert the tubes, still wet with glue, into your drilled blanks.

Now you have 2 nice blanks ready for the lathe. Square the ends of the blanks, so they are exactly perpendicular to the tubed blank. Mount the blanks onto your mandrel along with bushings for your particular pen kit. Bushings are spacers that have dual function. They space your items nicely on the mandrel and also serve as guide for reducing your blank to. Chisel down your pen blank to the same diameter as the bushings. Each type of pen kit usually requires bushings with different diameters. The middle of the wood can be any size but the ends need to be precise in order for the pen kit to fit your blanks.

Turn the blanks on the lathe, and shape them with turning tools: gouges, skews, etc. Turn and shape them until they have the final desired profile.
Sand your blanks while turning with different levels of sandpaper. I usually start with 150 grit, then 220, 320, 400, 600, 8-1000, and 1200-1500. Polish with the finish of your choice. David uses several different finishes for his pieces, depending on the type of material or wood used. This time he used a friction finish.

Now lay out your pen parts, and use a pressing device to assemble the pen barrels.

You end up with 2 parts, top and bottom, which are then pressed together to complete the pen. The pen can be pulled apart, in order to change the refill, in this case, a standard Cross style refill.

Or as we say in TX: damn, boy, hellfire, that’s a purty pen.!

If you are interested in being interviewed or having a tutorial published on this blog, please contact Tina at

Happy Creating!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

etsyaustin mini: the winter blues

Hi all! Kristen from Pommes Frites here to introduce a new feature for Team Etsy Austin. While we've had a few lovely treasuries and Etsy Austin round-ups made, we wanted something that constantly displayed an assortment of items from Team Etsy Austin. This feature is our Team Etsy Austin favorites mini - a rotating assembly of great items from the best little shops in Austin, often based around a theme or color. Kim from Broken Ear Productions and I will be updating this feature here twice weekly. It was also be shown (in smaller form) in the sidebar of our blog at all times.

This is also a great reminder for you guys to tag your items with the "teametsyaustin" tag, and also anything else (colors, textures, holidays your item is great for) that might help us find it.

For the first Favorites Mini, I decided to celebrate our period of mercury retrograde with an homage to the Winter Blues (and teals!)

1. Turquoise and Black Crocheted Hat from Fifty Acorns: This vintage-inspired hat makes me (almost) wish it were cold for longer in Texas!

2. Mint Green Mini Wallet from AnneMarieBeard: I love the striped mint green fabric used for this mini wallet.

3. Grapeamelon Squish Handspun Yarn from Natural Obsessions: As if you needed another reason to knit in the winter!

4. Profile Necklace from LUSTERcreations: I love this modern cameo made from a shrinky dink.

5. Peter Picket Pin Handbound Journal from Pigsey Art: Great one of a kind journal bound with the hardcover from a vintage children's book.

6. Marie Antoinette Plaques from Mariposa Luna: These unique plaques collaged with French paper dolls and text from an old book would cheer up any dreary walls.

7. Cerelia Earrings from Bowerbird Design: I love the length and the vintage lucite heart charms of these pretty earrings.

8. Awesome Tote from Paired Hearts: This silk-screened, eco-friendly tote is just totally awesome. Seriously.

If you'd like the code to feature this twice-weekly updated Etsy Mini on your blog or website, email