Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Time to Worry, Time to Act: Make Your Voice Heard on the CPSIA

My Mimi is about to become an outlaw. Or maybe just disappear from the bookshelves and the hands of children.

Huh, you say? Well, let me explain.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, scheduled to go into effect on February 10th, will make outlaws of millions of children's books, toys, clothing, school supplies, furnishings, and more, unless someone shells out big bucks to get each one tested and labeled and thus make them legal again. The CPSIA, enacted with good intentions of protecting children 12 and under from lead and pthalate exposure, will instead cause ripples of harm throughout the lives of children and adults. It is a prime example of regulation run amok. 

The CSPIA mandates expensive independent testing of every component of nearly any product made for children. The law as written (and interpreted so far) threatens handcrafters, small toy manufacturers, and children's clothing makers. If not amended in the next two weeks, it will compel booksellers and publishers to destroy millions of children's books in stores and warehouses, and force schools and libraries to remove all books intended for kids under 13 (including text books) from their shelves or else bar kids from the premises to protect them. It would force resale store owners to stop selling kids' items (thereby also hurting those shoppers who benefit from their lower priced goods) or risk liability if any component of any item they sell turns out to exceed the stringent limits on lead. In the long run, the law will hurt everyone, as consumer choice in products of all sorts will be greatly limited, small businesses will fold and their employees (and suppliers) lose their jobs, and taxpayers will have to absorb additional burdens to enforce the over-reaching law and support those left jobless. 

Sound crazy? Wonder why you haven't heard of this law before now? Can't imagine a law like this will actually go into effect or be enforced?

Well, those are all reactions I had too, but I'm becoming convinced that although this law is crazy and although it's been largely under the radar of most consumers, it is very real and it's looming. Check out this article in Forbes Magazine and this letter from the American Library Association if you think no one's worried. You can read some more bloggers' excellent comments here, here and here. And you can watch (if you don't mind gritting your teeth) the condescending and unhelpful comments of a CPS commission spokesperson here. (Apparently the spokesperson has since left her position.)
And then write to your congressman and senator - you can find contact information for them here and here. Let them know you'd like at a minimum to have the enactment date pushed back until unintended consequences can be identified and reasonable exemptions made. 

Time is running out. February 10th has already been designated National Bankruptcy Day. Please don't let that name become a reality.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Happy New Year!

This was my holiday card a few years ago, and I've decided to use the proverb as my new year's resolution this year - I'm giving up on my usual ones to lose 10 pounds and get organized, seeing as the 10 pounds have been joined by a a bunch of friends and my level of disorganization has also grown incrementally. Instead, this year I'm going to concentrate on hoping, chewing, breathing, saying and loving more. (Okay, I'm hoping I magically lose 20 pounds and get organized in the process). I'm sticking a copy of this picture on my fridge this year, and you can too by downloading the high-res pdf here. (It's not a great image, because I gave away the original and this scan was made from a copy I had - sorry.)

I love making this type of papercut, although I haven't done any for a couple years. To make one, I do a soft pencil drawing, indicating all the black areas on high quality tracing paper, and then transfer the areas that will be black to the back of a piece of silhouette paper (which you can buy from Dick Blick Art Supply here). (I use a wooden tool with a point to rub over the penciled areas.) Next I cut away all the parts I don't want to be black with a craft knife, starting with the thinnest/smallest places. I then use the tracing paper drawing again to transfer the shapes of the non-black sections onto the backs of colored papers and cut those shapes out. Finally, I carefully glue the colored papers to the wrong side of the silhouette paper. I use a toothpick to apply the glue very carefully to the black areas, which can be very thin so it's a bit painstaking; other artists glue the colored papers in position and then add the black on top. Some paper artists call this technique "paper applique,"and it's known in Japan as kiri-e

One of my favorite illustrators/fine artists, Aki Sogabe uses this technique with greater skill than I can muster. You can visit a website with samples of her art and a discussion of her technique here.

Here's one more example of my applique cut paper art. This picture was a sample of final art for a picture book I've never sold (But I Won't Share My Bear). All the black areas are connected, except the eyes, nose and the circle things on the baseball cap. My oldest son, Kyle, posed for the drawings; he turned 21 yesterday. Can't believe how quickly the years have gone!

Wishing all of you fun experimenting with new crafts and ideas, the thrill of discovering more wonderful books, and the pleasures of sharing time (and those wonderful books) with young children in 2009!