Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Crafty Something from my Past

Once upon a time, about 25 years ago, I got the chance to work with a woman who made marionettes. It was part of a project through my county's gifted education program. I wrote a little script, and then we created the marionettes to go along with it. My script featured two girls who were going on a picnic and kept running into problems, like a skunk and a snake. Every Saturday, for several weeks, my mom drove me out to this woman's house, and I and another girl worked on our puppets.

It really was an amazing experience. I'd never worked with papier mache before, let alone made a cast of marionettes. It was fascinating to see these characters emerge from a bit of newspaper, fabric and wood. My favorite part was making the hair. We wound yarn onto knitting needles, got it wet and then baked them. It created absolutely perfect spiral curls.

My mom made the dresses for my girls, and my snake was made from a tube stuffed with empty thread spools. The skunk is made from faux fur, and I have to admit, he's definitely the scariest creation of the lot!

This afternoon, I was thinking about making plushies and other projects, and I remembered these four characters. I went down to my very scary basement and brought them up. I was amazed at the condition they are in! They look much like they did when I made them, other than a few broken strings. I was also kind of impressed with the fact that as a child I managed to create the faces on those girls. I'm not an artist and can't draw, but these little marionettes actually look like people!

Anyway, just thought I'd share a little something from my crafty past!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What I bought...

You know that little coupon code in my last post? Well, I couldn't resist taking a peek at their clearance section to see what appeared. And I found a treasure! Lil' Kay is a shark fanatic. We own more plastic and plush sharks than anyone I know. I snapped up eight yards of this stuff. My mom is going to make him a quilt with it, and I'm going to do a pillow case and who knows what else! Can't you see curtains and pillows and pajamas and toy bags? I have to admit, it was tempting to call them and see what an entire bolt would cost me! I'm sure Mr. Kay is grateful that I refrained.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I've mentioned before that is my most favorite on-line source for fabric. Well, they very kindly have offered a $5 coupon code to my blog readers! The code is blogbec This is a one time coupon, but there is NO minimum order. How nice is that?

Go buy some fabric!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Save Handmade Children's Products

I have been agonizing over this post for a very long time. I wasn't sure how to phrase my concerns and my thoughts, and, quite honestly, I still don't know what I'm going to say. I'm just going to throw some stuff out there and tell you how I feel.

CPSIA are five small letters that have me raving mad and frustrated these days. Of course, you all remember the recalls of last year. Millions of toys were recalled because they contained high levels of lead making them completely unsuitable for children to play with. The vast majority of these dangerous toys were made in China. As parents, we were peering anxiously at the bottoms of our children's toys matching code numbers with lists of recalled toys. In response to this, many parents chose to stop buying mass produced toys and sought out toys handmade by independent artists and crafters.

It was apparent that something needed to be done to protect our children from unsafe toys. So, our government passed the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act or CPSIA. The law goes into effect on February 10, 2009, and requires the makers of products for children, 12 and under, to have their items tested by a third party testing facility to insure that those items do not contain dangerous lead levels. Now, that sounds all well and good on the surface, but we all know that surface appearances can be very deceiving.

This law affects ALL makers of ALL products for children 12 and under. That means those handmade toys and dresses and other cuteness made by the stay-at-home mom in Michigan or the woodcarver in New York state who makes those fabulous wooden cars. Testing can run from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars per item! Let me assure you that most independent artists and crafters cannot afford that. Even if they could, that cost would certainly be passed on to the consumer. Can you imagine going to a craft show and not finding a single handmade item for your children? No toys, no clothes, nothing. And, keep in mind, it wasn't toys made by crafters in the United States, Canada and Europe that created the problem in the first place.

It gets worse. Ever shop at a second hand children's store? Buy books from a thrift store? Do you sell your kids' used clothes on Ebay? Technically, those items are all hazardous substances as of February 10.

What we have is a case of the government throwing out the baby with the bath water. And let's face it. Our economy is in the toilet at the moment. Families are already struggling. This law makes it even more difficult for them to find affordable quality products for their children. And, it even manages to take away part or all of the independent artist and crafter's income.

The stupidity of it all makes me want to bash my head against my keyboard everytime I think about it. I strongly encourage you to contact your state representatives and voice your concern about this law. Our hope is that they will make drastic changes to it before February 10.

Here is a fabulous pamphlet in a pdf format that you can print and distribute to anyone you know who may be concerned about this law. (And that should be everyone!) Send it to your entire email address list. Drop it off at the local children's boutiques. Wherever they'll let you!

A wonderful editorial in today's Wall Street Journal

And, if you're really brave, here' s the law itself!

Above all, I beg and implore you to go to and vote to save handmade toys! This is so important!

As exciting as it sounds to open my own handmade toy speakeasy, it also sounds a bit exhausting. I'd much prefer to be able to sell and purchase handmade toys without the passwords, hand signals, trench coats and mechanisms to dump the goods when the toy police show up.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Welcome to a New Year at purse-onality

Long time, no blog, huh? I've been busy. Busy with family, Christmas, stuff... Okay, those are excuses. I'm just plain lazy. Which is also the reason my Christmas tree is still up which wouldn't be so bad, if Lil' Kay didn't insist on turning on the lights every evening...

We got Lil' Kay a great gift for Christmas this year. A medium sized hermit crab whom he named Pinchy. Because I find it entertaining to put the cart before the horse (the horse gets the most confused look on his face!), I bought the hermit crab, before I did any research on hermit crabs. Once I started looking into them, I discovered they are fascinating little buggers! And, I found out the pet store gave me all sorts of misinformation.

After visiting and The Hermit Crab Association and The Crabbage Patch, I discovered that Pinchy needed a bigger tank, more sand, different food and FRIENDS!!! I was totally hooked. As soon as Christmas was over, I went to work to give Pinchy a better home.

Now, I know some of you are looking at that picture and thinking, "Huh, looks like a shell." That's bascially what my Dad said the last time he visited. Let me assure you that hermit crabs are a hoot. They dig and climb and knock stuff over. They're really interesting to watch.

This may be Lil' Kay's pet, but it's my obsession. And, Pinchy has been joined by Godzilla who totally lived up to his name by kicking Pinchy out of the house and terrorizing the tank before he settled in. And, then there's Mothra who is tiny and immediately dug under the sand and hasn't been seen since. My hope is that she's molting. I've never even seen her. She was underground before I even got home the day Mr. Kay brought them home.
So, you see, I've been spending my non-blogging period educating myself about another species. Completely valuable.