Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This dumb new law commonly called CPSIA is a serious threat to all who make and sell handmade, one-of-a-kind, and other small operations of that sort. I have reprinted below the letter about it by the folks at ETSY. They invited everyone to participate in a BLOG-IN today and spread the word. So here 'tis.

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, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

Pepper here again. So, what to do? Another dollmaker says:

Everyone should contact their legislators and representatives through out the year. You can find your state and federal representatives and ways to contact them via:

They need to know the thoughts of the people they represent, otherwise they have nothing to go on when voting, drawing up or creating new bills, and laws. Do not forget your local people either, that is where it all starts and stems from.

Friday, January 9, 2009

I recently did 7 acrylic paintings for a pediatric doctor's office. They were all scenes from fairy tales and rather large. Hansel and Gretl is 25x36" - the smallest one, Three Little Pigs, is 18x24".

I hand lettered a bit of text on each one to assure identification of the story. H&G is my favorite.

Before I got the job, I did one of the Pied Piper as a sample. They loved it, but considering what happens to children at the end, decided not to use it. Luckily, the doctors liked the handmade quality of my lettering. (I HATE lettering! Why do I do these things to myself?)

We did all love the little mice observing the scene from atop the stone wall, so I included the pair in every painting. I made them both violet in all the rest of the paintings. The doctors got a kick out of spotting them in each painting. I figured the kid patients would like that, too.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Greetings, Mortals.

Okay, here I am, joining the world of blogging. And as I tend to be both long-winded and philosophical, good luck! I warn you now, I will talk about art, art and more art. Fortunately, I have a rather broad definition of art so maybe I won't dig too narrow a rut.

But maybe you want to know who I am. Or not, in which case goodbye.

Still here? Hello!

I am an artist. This should make everything else about me make sense. I wish it did. I deal in pictures and words. Do not trust me with numbers. I think pictorially, in three, sometimes four, dimensions. I have had to learn to use words to interpret myself. In this sense I have been preparing to write all my life.

Although I consider myself an Oklahoman, I will admit to being born in Independence, the same town in southeast Kansas as the great playwright, William Inge. I grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and Coffeyville, Kansas, both near the state line. With its short and glamorous Indian Territory history, I find greater cachet in saying I'm from Oklahoma.

I fell in love with books at a very early age. Someone loaned me a series of children’s books called Book Trails. I can still see several of the wonderful illustrations quite vividly in my mind. I believe the influence of those books made me the artist I became. Thanks to ebay, I now own a full set in the very same edition I cherished as a child.

While still in high school I discovered theatre. After seeing a play in the local community theatre, I won a role in the next one. During rehearsals I found myself fascinated by the development of the scenery. I apprenticed myself to the set designer on the next play and knew that this was where I belonged. Some artists work in clay, some in oil paint - theatre design was obviously the medium for me. I earned a BFA in Theatre Design from the University of Kansas and - 21 years later - an MFA in Scenery Design from the University of Oklahoma. I was a costume designer for most of those intervening years in Chicago. I have designed costumes and/or scenery professionally for hundreds of plays in Chicago, New York, Oklahoma, Alabama, Texas, Maine, Rhode Island... Along the way, I was an assistant professor and taught costuming and makeup at several universities.

Once retired from theatre, I took up art doll making and writing, mostly short stories and essays, some of which have been published. I found my fellow writers in the Woodlands Writers Guild (The Woodlands, Texas) not only lacked my knowledge of historical clothing, few knew how to find it. Having long been aware that costume histories were notoriously sparse on twentieth century clothing, I now realized such books were equally short to nonexistent on verbal description. My critique group challenged me to do something about it. I am currently shopping for a publisher for the result, Dressing America in the 20th Century.

Reading continues to be my addictive hobby. Otherwise, I’ve been supremely lucky to get paid to do things other people do as hobbies. Thanks to a music teacher uncle I am also addicted to classical music. I adore the verbal/conversational dynamics of music. Some day I shall write a story that exactly matches the dynamics of Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand.