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PLEASE READ if you make and sell puppets (or other handmade items) in the US  (Read 4475 times)
Ron G.
« on: January 10, 2009, 11:25:28 pm »

"Fines of $100,000 per violation."

I don't think that I've seen this discussed here yet, though maybe I just missed it.

The US has recently passed a new law called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in response to complaints over the last couple of years about children's products which contain toxic materials. Most of these products discussed in the news came from China, and contained lead and other materials which were mostly all already illegal in children's products. This new law mandates anyone who manufactures products in the US for use by children must have their products tested by an independent, third-party lab which will certify that they contain no harmful chemicals. If retailers have stocks of materials that were manufactured before the law went into effect then they, and not the manufacturers, could be responsible for testing. At least that is how it is explained in some news articles.

After many complaints sellers of secondhand items, like thrift shops and consignment shops, have persuaded Congress to modify the law, and the last thing that I heard is that there is now an exemption for used items. Craftspeople, like sellers on Etsy, makers of handmade toys, etc., have also complained, and some exemptions will probably also be made for natural materials like cotton and unfinished wood. Those changes may have already been made as well.

There are still a lot of materials that puppet builders use which are not natural, however, so it will be up to each person to decide how to handle things. Hopefully all handmade toys will become exempt eventually, but don't bet on it. In the meantime inform yourself, and give some thought to describing your puppets for sale as "Not a toy: Not intended for use by children," or something like that - which most of them aren't.

This has probably been discussed extensively on Etsy.com's forums, and possibly on the Puptcrit list as well, though I haven't been keeping up with either group lately. The following news articles emphasize lead paint in toys, but the law itself, (see third and fourth links), extends to other materials.






I hope that this all blows over, and that exemptions are made for small scale craft operations, but it would really be best to stay informed if you make puppets or other items which would fall under the auspices of this new law. I'm not an expert on any of this, and I'm trying not to sound like an alarmist, but it is a subject which has been featured in the news for a few months now and may have direct bearing on some of our members.


Ron G.
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2009, 07:47:58 am »

Thanks for posting about this development, Ron.  My puppets are not really toys so they shouldn't pose a problem.  On the other hand I had considered designing building some glove or sock style hand puppets of my bug characters  that I could sell to children in conjunction with shows I perform.  I guess to be safe I would need to make these out of natural materials.  This could be tricky for parts like eyes.

Ahhh well.  Just forces us to be a bit more creative.  I think we're up to the challenge.

Thanks again.
Billy D. Fuller
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2009, 08:47:32 am »

I had been thinking about this but did not know quite how to approach it. Thanks for posting it Ron.

Billy D.
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2009, 09:20:50 am »

Here are a few things that may put puppet makers minds at ease. Smiley Remember this new applies to "Children's products".  I also found this in the FAQ.
Does the CPSIA envision stuffed animals falling within the scope of the CPSIA’s lead limits or phthalate limits?

    Most stuffed animals would be considered to be children’s products and presumably toys. A manufacturer would need to determine whether the design of the stuffed animals is such that it is subject to the lead paint limits, the lead content limits or the phthalate limits.

As Ron mentioned it looks as if natural materials like silk, cotton, in short fabric, have are already being looked at as being exempt.  Aside from perhaps the type of eyes you might use on a child's puppet, it would be made up of those exempt fabrics.

Also remember that this law has been passed in order to try and control the big companies that are making toys. I don't think that big government really cares what an individual puppet maker is doing in his small workshop or that they are going to wast resources trying to collect $100,000 fine from a person that does not have it. Wink ... then again...  Undecided
Billy D. Fuller
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2009, 10:02:19 am »

I did see that they were targeting EBay sellers ex-specially power sellers that sell small toys that may have lead. If I'm building a puppet for children I try to use safe materials like eyes with back fasteners, hair that is sewn on the head. and don't use eyelashes or anything that can be pulled off. Kids will be kids though. My great niece just visited me last week and her doll has no hair lol she cut it off. Then the dog chewed the hands and feet off.............. So what is safe anymore.

As far as puppetry like Ron said as long as you have in the description of the item what its intentions are for you have nothing to worry about.

Billy D.

« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2009, 11:11:12 am »

Brainstorm  umbrella ....Edible puppets made out of fruit rollups, Skittles and cotton candy...or for you cowboy cowboy puppeteers, beef jerky, black peas and steel wool.

...and sell dental insurance with it.  Undecided

In all honesty, thank you Ron for the heads up on this. You really have to watch what you use. I still have questions about Glow-in-the-Dark paint.
Ron G.
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2009, 02:26:40 pm »

I really wasn't trying to be alarmist about the situation, and I honestly don't think that it will cause problems for any of our puppet makers. I just wanted to make sure that people were aware of what was going on. I know that many puppet builders already make a point of using the safest materials that they can for their own health, as well as that of the end-users. This legal situation seems to be in a state of flux, and modifications and clarifications are being made on an ongoing basis. One method we have to protect ourselves is to educate people that not all puppets are toys, intended for use by children.


Ron G.
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