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What's a Wreck?

A Cake Wreck is any cake that is unintentionally sad, silly, creepy, inappropriate - you name it. A Wreck is not necessarily a poorly-made cake; it's simply one I find funny, for any of a number of reasons. Anyone who has ever smeared frosting on a baked good has made a Wreck at one time or another, so I'm not here to vilify decorators: Cake Wrecks is just about finding the funny in unexpected, sugar-filled places.

Now, don't you have a photo you want to send me? ;)

- Jen
Saturday
Jan172009

It's Just a LITTLE Soap Box, I Promise

Sorry, sorry - I promise I almost never do this, but I just learned something that I think will interest/concern a lot of you Wreckies out there. If you enjoy supporting local artists and makers of hand-made goods, please keep reading.

Here's the deal:

In August the Congress passed the CPSIA, a law making it tougher to sell toys and other childrens items that contain lead - so obviously that's a good thing. However, as a result of this law any crafter or stay-at-home artisan who makes items for kids under 12-- from clothing to toys to school supplies - must have their items tested to the tune of $400-$4000 per item. Since most crafters cannot afford those kinds of fees, this means tens of thousands of stay-at-home moms and small home-based businesses may be forced out of business come February 10, the official "mandatory compliance" date set by the law.

As a small business owner and indie-art-lover I was distressed to hear of this from reader Laurel, especially considering it's an easy fix: all that's needed is a simple amendment excluding micro-businesses, similar to the exemptions granted by the FDA for small producers under the food labeling laws.

So, if you want to help save Etsy sellers, stay-at-home crafters, and countless other small businesses, please visit the Handmade Toy Alliance. There you'll find a sample letter you can send to your congressman and an online petition you can sign, in addition to lots more info and links. Remember, the deadline is February 10th, so please act now if you're going to.

And that's it! We now return you to your regularly scheduled Wreckage.

UPDATE: A few of you have referenced Snopes (an urban legend/rumor fact-checker) in the comments, saying they called this law a false rumor. However, what Snopes was addressing was the resale of USED children's items and clothing, which will in fact still be legal after 2/10. (Click here to read the article.) All new items are still affected by the law.

UPDATE FROM JOHN: Um hi. The comments on this are done. It's all very interesting and I strongly suggest y'all read up on it further. And if you are desperate to make your voice heard, please send a letter to your representative, write about it on your personal blog or even e-mail your friends but I would ask that you not comment on other posts about this one. The only reason I am not taking this down is that Jen really does care about small businesses and she was trying to do a good thing by letting all of our awesome readers know about something that concerned her. That's it. Wreck On and happy Martin Luther King day!

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Reader Comments (117)

sorry but no. i dont want my kids to have any lead in their toys. i dont see why you want a LOOPHOLE to exist that can be EXPLOITED causing harm to my children.

this is for their safety not your profit.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Thank you for posting this -- if even a small percentage of your readers take action (readers: take action! Seriously!), that will make a difference. I stand to lose my microbusiness when the deadline comes, and as my income helps pay our mortgage, we will certainly be adversely affected in that case. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of other small businesses that will be affected.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJan Andrea

Thanks for keeping your readers informed! This is super important, but I wouldn't have known otherwise. I will get on it with the letter writing.

Karen

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Thank you for posting this!!! I don't know what I'd do if etsy went away!

And I am absolutely NOT worried about lead being in my handmade goods and toys for my children. It's the made in China, cheap, mass produced crapola that has the problem. Not the clothing and toys hand crafted by other mothers and grandmothers.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

Thanks for posting that!! If I ever have kids I hope to be able to get them creative handmade great quality toys.

Etsy will take a huge beating if it passes as written.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristie

Wouldn't it make more sense, financially and time wise, to test the products used to MAKE the homemade crafts while the products are still at the large companies? Instead of testing thousands of individual home-artisan's cookie cutters, beads, paint...you could test the supplies before they leave the manufacturer . If all the supplies used by the crafter have a seal of approval on the container...they should be safe to use.

With our dwindling economy, homemade businesses are needed.

Indiana Teacher

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

thanks! What would we do without the great handmade toys we find locally and at sites like Etsy?

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSt

Thanks for posting this! I'm a crafter who makes stuffed toys for kids (quite safe- no small parts or lead, thank you very much) who will be put out of business by the CPSIA. The family plan was to have kids, and I could be a work at home mom with my craft business. Now, thanks to this over reaching legislation, my kids will miss out on time with me. That's just one personal story- the economic impact is going to be huge- devastating to an already stressed economy. Imagine how many small business people and their employees will join millions in the unemployment line when their businesses close on Feb. 10th!

We do need to keep kids safe, but we can do that without the destruction of the American dream for so many entrepreneurs!

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWren

Is this applicable only in the US? Are Canadian businesses affected?
Thanks.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeesquared

Wow, "anonymous" comes out swinging on the very first comment! I'm all for civil debate, guys, but at least have the decency to sign your own name, will ya? I'm tired of trollish remarks being made behind the mask of anonymity.

Apparently I need to clarify here that I will not profit from any "loop hole"; in fact, this law doesn't affect me at all. I only wrote about it because I believe in home-based businesses, and I think the proponents for an amendment have excellent points. I'm not going to list them all here: just check out the website and decide for yourself.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Anonymous-

I don't think anyone is asking for a loophole to allow lead-- but the law states that all items must be tested-- even ones that have never been linked to lead. We're talking books. And bibs. And handmade teddy bears. And knitted booties. Flannel baby blankets. Quilted pillows.
The irony is a whole of these businesses were started by Moms and Dads to provide a safe alternative to imported toys that aren't safe...

Lucy

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The anonymous comment is ridiculous! I have been making hair bows for about 2 years and my business is finally really getting off the ground, I don't want a loophole that can be exploited, I want it to say that the testing done by the people who make the ribbon I use is enough! I want them to ackowledge the impossibility of ribbon having lead in it! I want the man with the little you know what who wrote this bill to admit he overlooked small businesses. The problem was not with American made products, especially those made by stay at home moms like myself. The problem was with Chinese mass produced items. I would have to make and sell 500 of the exact same hairbow from the exact same spool of ribbon and raise my cost to be able to absorb the cost of testing. I typically only make 3 or 4 of a hairbow, because nobody wants their kid to have the same bow as every other little girl in her class! We can make a change, they added a exemption for the consignment and thrift stores they forgot about in the initial bill, I hope they'll make an exemption for businesses like mine too!

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChrista

"sorry but no. i dont want my kids to have any lead in their toys"

Because the Chinese manufacturers who've caused these lead scares are going to move all their employees to the US and have them make toys in their own home?

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFett101

It is important to keep an open mind regarding this subject. We are a nation built on free enterprise, this law only allows large corporations to profit. The fact is small family run businesses making handmade items rarely use products tainted with lead. I have raised two children on handmade items and toys and we do our best to stay away from the MADE IN CHINA label. Bringing handmade items home means keeping loving artisans producing unique items and enriches our lives with heirloom quality toys and clothing.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPuanani

Thank you for posting this! And to anonymous, I don't think homemade toys are the problem with lead, the problem is with toys made in Asia. The people I have met on Etsy are very particular about their materials. Many of them are mothers, as well.
In addition, I believe this measure will block the sale of clothing as well. I make fleece hats, they are absolutely lead free! And I've only sold one, so this is not an economic issue for me, but an issue of freedom and choice.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMari

I think they should lower the fee for testing for small businesses. These toys still need to be tested for lead. Maybe someone can work on that.

Trish

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpatricia

Hey Anonymous....

No one is forcing you to buy anything, so I don't see how it would cause harm to your children.

Sheesh, some people.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnother Jen

Anonymous, first, you are a troll. Second, that is completely unfair. As Cake Wrecks quite eloquently put it, this will punish all the stay at home moms who are trying to make a bit of cash when times are tight. There are a LOT of handmade toys sold online. How in hell would lead get into most of them? This is insane.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

I don't think anybody is asking for a loophole -- if you're an artist using domestic materials already certified as non-toxic paint, etc., then why should you have to get the resulting item separately tested?

It sounds like there will be at least some exceptions for natural fibers (fabric) and wood, gems, etc...
http://www.etsy.com/storque/craftivism/cpsia-exemption-announcement-resources-action-items-3188/

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter7Seas

I believe there is already a loophole that if the materials you use to make the product are tested, then the product itself doesn't have to be tested.

Ben Williams

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBen Williams

I understand their points, but in the end I'm not sure there should be exemptions, either. Bottom line is toys should be safe, and such a loophole could be exploited. It's a shame that big corporations had to ruin it for everyone by their actions. I do feel for those who will be negatively impacted by this. Perhaps the answer is to make testing procedures more accessible to smaller companies, instead? I would fully support that. But, no. I can't support exemptions, either. These are laws that should have existed in the first place.

My name is Dawn. I can never get my name to show up as anything other than anonymous on these posts. It won't take my password I set up, for some reason.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Hold your horses! Wasn't this on Snopes as a fake?

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCyndi

This law is indeed ridiculous!

It's going to affect libraries as well, since books have previously been exempt and thousands of them dwell in children's sections. Until all of them are test, children may be unable to check out books!

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBlackwell

There are kits sold by hardware stores $8 - $20. I don't know if those count as having "officially tested". Those are good for testing childrens lunchboxes and older houses for lead paint.

Of course now that I've said that I found an article in the search results saying these aren't reliable: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml08/08038.html

I would think at home crafters are more like "assemblers" rather than "manufacturers" and if the supplies are guaranteed to be free then wouldn't the whole item be by default? I'm naive about these things sorry.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

THANKS SO MUCH for posting this! I'm an Etsy childrens' clothing seller who will most likely be making and attempting to sell purses and pouches like every other seller after Feb 10.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdani'

I was really bummed about this law. There are alot of products online that I love and they come from businesses who will be shut down by this law.

They had the right idea, but didn't think it through very well and I hope they continue to make changes to this law so that they are truly helping and not making everything worse.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlexia

Thankyou! I have no doubt the highest amount of lead found in homemade toys and crafts here is still lower than the amount found in the crap we buy from China. I have been looking for a link like this. We trust a bunch of foreign sweat-shop workers, but not the mom next door? Give me a break!

I strongly agree with the poster who talked about testing all those products used in making the items, instead of the finished product. Really, I do believe that they want to eliminate small businesses. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but the pattern speaks for itself. Big government thrives on dependent people.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFreedomFirst

Jen,
Thank you for the info. This is just another "take-away" for the American entreprenure. I think it as actually fairly difficult to get lead-based paints(the primary source of lead) here in this country as there are laws in many states prohibiting its sale, along with other unsafe chemicals.

Hand-made and homemade items are the best alternative to imported, often unsafe products. The lead is most often added to the paints to speed drying time and increase production levels.

I am often saddened by lawmakers who think they are doing a good thing, but haven't really thought through the ramifications of the the laws they create. We definitly need to send in those letters, which will be even more effective than online petitions, which don't actually carry much weight.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwolfmom
January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Thanks for the post. Action is certainly needed and each of us can make a difference.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTexas Slowpoke

Thank you for posting this! I wrote to my reps.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSummersfam

I don't have an Etsy shop right now, but I do sell a lot of like brand new childrens clothing on eBay. So you could call that a small business.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Thank you for posting this. I will definitely be writing a letter and spreading the word.

I am an Etsy seller - although not one who would be affected by this law. I absolutely believe we need to do whatever we can to protect and support those with home-based businesses. It is absolutely ridiculous that mom who is using her talents to help support her family would be included in this legislation.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

no one wants lead in toys. this law is incredibly far-reaching and flawed. it affects handmade toys, clothes and other children's items. but really, in wanting to cover things used by children 0-12 years old...it could go beyond want is typically thought of as a children's items. it also affects attempts items already in existence. they want all those items destroyed. so consignment shops, thrift stores, and even tag sales will be hit by this. no more second-hand items available anywhere...even though of ones that would pass in testing. it's not the kind of thing that will help the economy at all.

to answer deesquared, this is a US law. Canadian sellers should be exempt, but I'm not sure.

thanks so much for posting this! awareness is the first step to action.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbecca.elpy

The most insane part of this bill is that you are required to test items that have NO CHANCE of having lead in them (such as the ribbons and fleece hats mentioned above). If anyone should test, I think the suppliers should test, not the crafters.

Why don't we test for arsenic and cyanide in all the products too?

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Handmade items may not completely mean quality, but the fact is-they most usually do. I make handmade items, not toys and I check my suppliers, before I make products. while not all handmade items are tested they are most usually made by people who have families and children. I would DEFINATELY buy a handmade childrens item before I went to the store-I know buy purchasing a handmade item who made it and where they live1 You cant say that about Toys R Us-made in china doesnt quite answer the question.
Anonymous, if a childrens item comes into your house-you are the exploiter-thats your right as a parent. If you have a concern with what your children have dont let them have it.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermilk and cookeez

This law has all ready passed. It goes into EFFECT on Feb. 10th. It has already been amended so that silk and cotton fabrics are no longer on the banned list. I enjoy being able to buy my children unique items to help establish their own identity. It will be sad if we're all forced to purchase from mass merchandisers.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterValinda

Thank you for commenting on this issue, Jen. I've been keeping an eye on the evolution of the CPSIA (and contacting my Representative and Senators, etc.) for several months; while I'm sure we'd all agree that children's safety is immensely important, the legislation at hand is reactionary and unnecessarily far-reaching. It was approved due to kneejerk reactions like that of Anonymous 12:11; anyone who takes the time to review the actual act will see that it's targeting the wrong people/companies. A friend of mine recently compared it to burning down a house to get rid of a single rat in the walls.

Some of the act's definitions of what constitutes a "children's product" are vague and overreaching, leading to a lot of confusion among independent artisans and microbusinesses. Then there's the matter of one-of-a-kind items -- since testing requires the destruction of the item, there's no way to test unique items. Lots of sticky situations here.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJill Christine

Ideally ALL products should be lead-free. (seriously, is it that hard to make something lead-free?!) Then the products that small businesses make would be lead free as well.

If they (the government) still freaks out about it, can't the small businesses just put a disclaimer on their website or products saying to 'buy at your own risk'?

It just seems like a load of crap that our government would punish small businesses when we all know this law was intended for companies that make things overseas as cheaply as possible.

I love etsy. I have purchased many handmade items and they are my favorite. It would be a shame to lose this.

Amber

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

We Americans are ridiculous in our hysteria about protecting children, and use legislation instead of our brains.

When my parents were selling our 1847 farm house, one prospective buyer wanted to test for lead paint. My dad's response: "Don't waste your money; I can guarantee there's lead." (Duh, 1847!)

Imagine, my folks raised 2 kids in that house without anyone getting poisoned. I wonder how many other families did the same?

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFlartus

According to the http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-thrift9-2009jan09,0,7588285.story" REL="nofollow">LAtimes, regulators won't be applying the law to resellers such as thrift stores or consignments shops or small manufacturers who use natural materials like organic cotton or wood.

I realize this does not exempt all small manufacturers, but it doe not make it as dire as it originally sounded.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlurkitty

Regarding the snopes link. The law did originally include wording that would put children's thrift shops and consignment stores out of business. Later a group came in and "clarified" that this would not effect businesses like Goodwill. However, this STILL applies to NEW toys, books, clothing, etc. Anything for children. So I my husband goes down to Lowes and buys wood, carves it into a toy, then tries to sell it, he will be prosecuted. No matter that he didn't paint it. Not to mention all the cloth diaper businesses that will be put out. Do you really let your kids eat their diapers? Is this really a problem that should be fixed?
Big brother government needs to get out of my business and stop trading with China. Problem solved

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKim

To anonymous - as a law student I can assure you that making an exception for small businesses is not a "loophole." This law is for the protection of children, certainly, but the focus is at the big businesses manufacturing millions of toys and affecting the health of millions of children. I'm sure anyone buying from small businesses would be aware of the potential risks for lead-based materials in the item - purchasing home-made pottery, for example. Many glazes are lead-based. But people don't stop using these glazes just because of that, they're often the better glazes for decorative pieces due to the various intricacies of making pottery which I don't really need to get into right now.

So really, if you're so concerned about it, don't buy from small businesses. There are inherent risks, but those of us that like to purchase from small businesses know that and make our purchases with caution anyway.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBridgete

Small businesses and microbusinesses are what drive the American economy. The right to establish your own business on your own means is incredibly powerful statement.

It's a shame that right is being taken away from some people.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKierstin

I am so glad to see this posted here. I heard about this a while ago and put it on my blog, but I am glad to see a blog with more readerships has brought it to light. This issue won a spot as One of the Top 10 Ideas for Change in America! (Change.org). Thanks for getting on your soap box for such an important issue.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNutty Brunette

I hope this isn't in a pending comment...

While I'm really glad you looked at Snopes to check the accuracy of this report (people who don't drive me nuts), the Snopes report is refering to reselling of children's items, not selling new handmade items. So it seems to still be a concern, though I think if legislators are made aware of it it will be quickly remedied.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

AS a small hand-made business owner myself I will be greatly effected by this and posted a note on my site weeks ago. We have stopped making new items as well.

I would happily do the testing if I could afford the costs and i could still sell the items with the inflated cost after testing has been done. Materials that have been exempt are untreated, undyed, unprocessed. so cotton and wool in their natural state.

My biggest seller is by far our fleece toddler slipper with non-skid soles. What portion of those could possibly have lead??

I would be required to test every size, in a batch meaning If I buy 10 yards of blue fleece and non skid. I could make as many as I could get out of that amount and have one of each size tested. Then with a new color/ batch of fabric I would need to go through the entire process again.

Even if the materials are pre-tested you still need to test them again once they have been changed/ altered/ any things added. The FINAL product has to be tested.

I do still have some hope that more exemptions will be made. We are not just talking about painted items and plastic toys!EVERYTHING. Clothing, room decor, shoes, toys, lunch boxes etc.

You will all be seeing a rise in the cost of all of those items.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBePe Baby

For those who keep insisting that snopes says this is false, please actually READ the snopes article. It only refers to the *resale* part of the law. It does not say that the whole law is false.

The law is real and actual and will cause a LOT of small businesses to have to shut down. Most etsy stores that sell items for children - hand knit items, hand sewn clothing that isn't cotton, hand carved toys out of wood ... all of those people who sell unique, hand made items will have to close up shop because they will be unable to afford the testing to receive the proper certification for their products.

No one wants lead in childrens' products, but this law is poorly written and only serves to further destroy our economy by putting small businesses out of business.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKara

I don't run a home-based biz, but I'm sending a letter to my rep and senators about this issue. Times are hard enough that eliminating the extra income families can earn to SURVIVE is ridiculous. We need these small businesses and farms, just as much as they need us as consumers.
True, most small biz owners want to earn money, but I don't think they want to jeapordize their incomes or businesses by knowingly allowing lead in their products.
My name is on the petition.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermagolla

Long time cake-wreck lover, first time attempted poster.

I highly suggest people look at the snopes article linked above. It lays out in a lot simplier terms what is actually going to happen. Thrift shops and second hand stores are safe.

As an impending first time mom I'm caught in the middle. On one hand I'd like to make sure everything is lead, and other toxins, free (mmm, bubble living) and while I trust people who hand make toys...I'm not as convinced about the truthfullness of the suppliers of their materials. On the other hand I can see where this law will affect the bottomline of people who are, generally, highly investigative and quality focused for their products.

At the end of it, the law has already passed. At this point we can only support any and all artisians who might be unfairly prosecuted and fined by this act.

~D.Banana

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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