Grassroots works again!

9:14 AM Posted In Edit This 0 Comments »
This just in from the Etsy News Blog - CPISA commissioners have issues a one year hold on the testing requirements for most goods while they hammer out the difficulties posed by the original legislation. I'm so glad that so many spoke out and that our political process is working the way it is suppossed to in this instance. Let's hope it is a sign of better dialogue to come - on this issue and many others that plauge our nation.

To read Etsy's news release - look here:

Etsy-The Storque-Craftivism

I've got more photos coming later today or tomorrow of recent work. I painted the most beautiful scarf of my career so far last night for a friend's Artist Sister-In-Law. It is sooo grovy - I hope she loves it.

Our House is Cursed

10:29 AM Posted In Edit This 2 Comments »
In most modern homes, one would expect a few simple things of the plumbing. One would expect that clean water would come into the house through the pipes, powered by the pump. One would expect that water to then move to places like the kitchen or bathroom sink, tub, toilet or washer on demand. One then expects the used water to exit the house either to the septic or gray water drainage as appropriate.

These are things that most homeowners simply take for granted. The physics and mechanics of plumbing are not very complicated and our family all of the necessary equipment in place for these processes to happen smoothly. But in our home, this rarely happens, despite all of Bryan's expertise and hard work at trying to coerce the system to function properly.

So, after living here for 8 years, am convinced that our home is cursed. It is a very intricate, specific and powerful curse. Here is what I have been able to determine about the 'rules' of the curse:

-The basic rule seems to be that most, but not all, of the components of the system may function properly at any given time.

-All components of the system may function properly after a major repair or event, but for no longer than 45 days.

-The longer it has been since a disruption and subsequent repair, the more expensive and difficult the next repair must be.

-All family vacations or long weekends must be accompanied by a major break down in the system requiring either a repair, a contamination event or dry well. Specifically, sumer vacation must include the well running dry at least once. Winter break must include frozen pipes.

-Luna must not be allowed to use the Claw Foot bathtub more than two times a year. This is assured by low water levels during the warm months and arctic temperatures in the bathroom during the cold months.

-At least 40% of all plumbing events must happen during times of major stress and/or require late night repairs - like the recent MLK day fiasco when the washer pipes burst just as Bry was leaving to chaperone a youth activity.

-60% of all repairs must involve neighbors or Home Teachers helping by climbing down into the well, staying up with Bry until 2:00 am, or taking apart some part of the septic system - as in the 2nd half of the MLK day fiasco when Ken had to take our toilet apart to remove a truly horrible, nasty clog while Bry was reparing the washer pipes.

-30% of all failures must be completely inexplicable - like the trap on the kitchen sink suddenly & mysteriously coming completely unscrewed just when the sink is draining.

So - I need to find a way to break this curse since moving does not sem to be an option at present. Anyone know andy powerful witches?

CIPSA reminder!

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I'm participating in a nationwide Blog-in to continue to call attention to CIPSA legislation , slated to go into effect in about 13 days. This is very poorly legislation, crafted in reaction to lead laden toys from China. If this legisaltion is not changed it will have terrible consequences for business, families and the national economy. I can't explain it any better than Holly at Winklepots put it:

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.

Our nation can do beter than this.

January Stitch Explorer

10:09 AM Posted In , , Edit This 6 Comments »
I'm so glad that I'm participating in this challenge!

Yesterday was a miserable day. I'm struggling with long term exhaustion, Seasonal Blues, an overwhelming list of tasks that I'm consistently not getting done, a recalcitrant homeschooler and a constant level of domestic stress caused by the cold, this old house and my husband's job & church calling demands. All of that peaked yesterday and I was feeling like I just didn't have anything left for anyone or anything.

So I played with January's Stitch explorer stitch yesterday and today I feel a bit renewed.

I really need to get my hands on a copy of
Lifting Depression, a book by neuroscientist, Kelly Lambert. Lambet's work shows that there is a direct correlation between our state of happiness and performing physical labor to accomplish a task. The labor may be something as small and detail oriented as stitching, knitting or beading or as large and vigorous as stacking wood or tending a garden. Regardless of the exertion required, the act of working with our bodies in these ways triggers a series of chemical processes in the brain that lead to a natural state of happiness. Brilliant!

I got to take part in a little of that yesterday. This month's stitch is Chicken Scratch. I played with two variations. I did not have any gingham, which is the traditional backing fabric for Chicken Scratch, but I did have a red and white checked fabric with large red squares and teeny white squares.

I worked large stars & tiny circles in both black and white.

Then I worked lage circles (squares) and tiny stars in blue. I love them both. The stitch works up quickly and easily into a vintage look pattern. Check out Sharon's January Stitch Explorer challenge post for links to instructions.

Ongoing Projects

8:24 PM Posted In , , Edit This 2 Comments »

Here are a few photos of two projects I'm currently working on.

I love these jet black picasso seed beads! I'm working
on a beaded vessel pendant in them. They have brass filigree caps for the ends, beaded tassels, and a peyote stitch strap. The vessel is based on the Dustin Wedekind's Square Stitch Tubes from November 2007 Beadwork magazine.

It looks a little
naked at the point where the vessel dangles from the peyote strap. I left the cord unembellished so that the vessel can open. I will probably add some dangly fringe from the main strap to fill that empty space with.

contemplating putting together a kit for this project but I'm not sure that I'm up to all of the illustration necessary!

The second piece is a lariat style necklace inspired by the fantabulous blue mix of beads and perals I put together for my store a few months ago. I posted some photos of the beads I planned to use back in November but the design has morphed substantially since that post. It was originally going to be a regular pendant with a large focal bead but I decided that a lariat style necklace would be more interesting and versatile.

I love the brass filigree circle that works as the 'clasp' for the lariat. the beads slide through nicely and it is heavy and substantial. I will have to order some more of these but they are quite expensive and I have to get them by the gross so they will have to wait a few months.

The cord is my hand dyed
rolled cord in Helmsman colorway. I twisted the cord and sewed the ends together with silk thread (the same thread I am using to add the encrustation embellishments). The end of the cord is held together with the small oval filigree bead/wraps. They open up and cose again to enclose the end of the cord, efectively covering the stitching to sew the ends of the cord together.

Check back in in a few months - maybe I'll have these finished by then!

9:05 AM Posted In , , Edit This 0 Comments »
Another post with no photos - this just in from St. Lawrence County Arts Council:

We're telling all our friends in the arts that Governor Patterson is still planning to cut $7 million dollars from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) from the remainder of the 2008/09 budget. This proposed cut is located in the "Deficit Reduction Plan", attached to the '09/10 budget.

If this cut goes through it will have a severe effect on the SLC Arts Council and many other arts organizations around the North Country. This cut would slash the remainder of NYSCA's funds for the 08/09 year, so organizations that were waiting for decisions on grants would receive
zero funding for those grants. This will severely hurt many arts projects, programs, and operating budgets across NY State in 2009.

Over 600 organizations statewide will be hurt by this decision. In the North Country fifteen organizations were expecting funding decisions in October or December. (See list below).

In the case of the St. Lawrence County Arts Council our request for $39,000 for a general operating support grant for 2009 is in jeopardy. Without these funds we will have a very difficult year and may have to limit the services and programs we are able to provide. This, in turn, will have a negative effect on all the artists, organizations, and individuals we serve.

We are asking everyone who cares about the arts in New York and in the North Country to Speak up for the Arts! Tell your legislators that arts organizations and cultural services in our region are an essential part of our daily life. The arts are key to the economic development and vitality of our communities. The Governor's proposed cut to NYSCA would have immediate and profound negative effects on jobs and services here in the North Country.

Please speak up for the arts! We need your voice.

Hilary Oak
Executive Director
SLC Arts Council

From my letter to Gov. Patterson in October:

Dear Governor Paterson and staff,

Thank you for providing a simple way to contact you regarding this issue.
I am writing because I am very distressed to learn about the proposed budget cuts to NYSCA this year. If this proposal goes through, it will directly and negatively affect my family's ability to get by financially and will have a tremendous negative effect on many people in our region.
I work one day a week at the SLC Arts Council as the class coordinator. My income is quite small but very important as my husband's position at BOCES was cut last year and he is now working part time as a pre-GED instructor. If NYSCA's budget is cut, our organization will lose valuable funding that allows us to pay support staff and run community programs, like the arts classes that I schedule. I will lose my job.

With my job gone, no one will be around at the Arts Council to contact teachers, manage the classroom schedule and distribute publicity about our class offerings. Our community arts teachers will lose the income ($30.00 per teaching hour) they have been enjoying as teachers. For most of our arts teachers, this income is "extra" on top of pay from a regular job or supplement to a spouse's income but it is often the little extra that helps them get by at the end of the month.
The children and adults who attend our classes will miss out the enriching atmosphere of our classes. We have over 30 teachers who offer a tremendous variety of classes in multiple disciplines including watercolor painting, guitar, jewelry making, textile arts, drawing, harmonica, photography and a multitude of childrens' classes. These classes are much more than the crafty "make and takes" that people can participate in at a local Michael's or Joanne fabrics. These are two to three hour long sessions where students are taught and guided in a small group atmosphere by experts in their field. More than one former student has gone on to start their own successful small business based on skills and passions they discovered in our classroom.

In my own family, the results of NYSCA cuts could be devastating. With my job gone, our family may be forced to turn to government agencies to meet our financial needs this year. If the SLC Arts Council is forced to close its doors, I will lose my most important local market for my handmade wearables. The loss of that small cash flow would make it very difficult to sustain my new online venture selling my work and handmade jewelry supplies online.

I know that things are difficult everywhere but please understand that the Upstate economy is incredibly fragile. The proposed NYSCA cuts will affect 15 different arts organizations in Upstate NY in much the same way that they will affect the SLC Arts Council. Real families will lose important sources of income. Arts organizations will lose support staff that perform valuable service in their communities. Artists, teachers and performers will lose opportunities to earn their living through the performances, classes and exhibitions that these support staff manage. Children and adults in our communities will miss out on enriching and potentially profitable arts related experiences.

These jobs and these experiences are not expendable. They are essential to the social and economic well being of our region. The return within our communities on the investment for funding NYSCA is immeasurable. Please do not cut NYSCA's budget. If you do, it truly will be a cold and cheerless winter for the North Country.

Thank you.
Virginia Burnett

The following organizations in Upstate will be hurt if those funds are cut:

In Clinton county:
North Country Cultural Center for the Arts
Hill and Hollow Music
In Essex county:
Adirondack Film Society
Arts Council of the Northern Adirondacks ( Essex Arts Council),
Essex County Historical Society
In Franklin county:
Akwesasne Cultural Center
Franklin County Historical and Museum Society
Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks
In Hamilton county:
Adirondack Historical Association
Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts
In Jefferson county:
Jefferson County Historical Society
In St. Lawrence county:
St. Lawrence County Arts Council
WSLU-FM - North Country Public Radio

You can go to these sites to read more information about Gov. Paterson's Budget and to voice your opinion.

Earring Options for Luranah

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Luranah of Demeterarts has asked for some possible variations on the Ice Princess earrings so here are some options for her.

Letter A has one of the beads I convo-ed you about. The aqua faceted bead does not fit.

Letter B and C have acrylic beads. C fits firmly. B is a little sloppy in this cap. D and E are with a diferent syle of cap and a longer briolete.

Letter F and G are also acrylic beads, fit tightly into a different style of cap. Letter H fits snugly into the different cap, Letter K is the same bead in the original cap - it is a bit sloppy but could be squeezed to fit.
J is a swarovski crystal. It is a bit small for the cap.
I is oneof the new teardrop beads. They come in luster blue, turquoise and matter black picasso.

L M and N are all the longer bead cap with some other acrylic beads available.


My Goals

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I hate always failing at my New Year's Resolutions. Often I pretend not to make any but end up keeping a secret mental list of untrackable and therefore unattainable goals. This year will be different. I have just a few main goals and I'll be blogging about them so hopefully I'll be able to keep track of my progress and actually succeed at something.

#1 goal - more important than anything else - is to establish a habit of caring for my body. I am beyond the upper healthy limits of weight for my body size and I have very little energy for most physical activities. Also, I have been sick at least one week out of each month this year and this winter, one sickness has blended into the next one since mid-October. I know that regular daily exercise will change the state of my body dramatically. I intend to exercise every day that I am not incapacitated for at least half an hour. I'll log my progress each week here. This week, I exercised on Monday and then came down with the flu. I'm feeling better today so I need to spend some time with a video or the treadmill before the day ends. (I welcome anyone who wants to be part of an exercise club or support group that reports regularly here.)

My next goal is to learn how to effectively manage all aspects of my business without allowing them to overtake my life. I am working with a schedule of daily and weekly tasks that include product development, production, photography, posting items, shipping, bookwork & financial management and blogging. I hate spending most of January going through all of the previous year's receipts and categorizing everything for my books. An hour or so every other week this year should help me eliminate that problem next year. I am also developing an inventory system so that I know when to re-order and eliminate my sloppy guestimation system for tax reporting.

For this blog, I intend to post regularly, including the following topics:

- my progress with my exercising/health goal
- new tutorials for fiber and jewely arts
- new development in my shops
- Etsy Bloggers Street Team monthly topics
- My participation in Sharon Boggon's Stitch Explorer 2009

I'm not sure what the schedule for blogging will be yet and I'm sure I'll post fun stuff about my family fairly regularly, but I'm really more interested in creating a journal of my professional growth as opposed to a family travelogue. Molly Bryn is very interested in blogging, perhaps this year she will start a family blog.

One thing I am very concerned with professionally is how to keep my business moving forward without becoming simply a reseller on Etsy. I love selling beautiful beads and findings and that s certainly bringing in a beter cash flow than my jewelry and scarves but the time I've been investing on that is eating away at my time for family needs and creative time. If I can't create with the stuff, it is no fun to have thousands of beads and hundreds of yards of silk lying around!

That is part of the reson I ant to participate in Stitch Explorer this year. I really love embroidery and I have so many fond memories of atching my sweet Grandmother embroider beautiful things that i want to make it a regular part of my life, rather than just something I drag to Church conferences two or three times a year. Taking on an embroidery project like that should teach me new skills while allowing me to use my beads and silks in small amounts for embellishing my project(s). maybe some of my projects will turn into profitable product lines, otherwise, they will be portable pressure-free creative outlets.

Speaing of time for family needs - it is almost time for lunch. Scattered about the page here are some photos of my new beads and some earrings I worked on last week. They are not all up in my shops yet, but they will be by the end of next week!

CPSIA - change the Law

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No photos today, I'm afraid. My system crashed Tuesday and I've lost everything, at least temporarily. Friends assure me that thyere May be a way to recover my financial data and our photos from the hard drive. Meanwhile, I'm learning how to use Vista on our new system.

A lack of photos seems appropriate to my subject today. Can you imagine what life would be like without the millions of American handcrafters and artists like me? If CIPSA goes into efect, it could very well shut us all down.

Here's a quote from that explains the situation:

In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public's trust. They were selling toys containing dangerously high lead content, unsafe small parts, and chemicals that made kids sick.

"The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in children's products, mandates third party testing and certification, and requires manufacturers of all goods for children under the age of 12, to permanently label each item with a date and batch number.

"All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational companies to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each item have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and updating their systems to include batch labels. Small businesses however, will likely be driven out of business by the costs of mandatory testing, to the tune of as much as $4,000 or more per item. And the few larger manufacturers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.

"Anyone who produces or sells any of the following new or used items will be required to comply with the law: toys, books, clothing, art, educational supplies, materials for the learning disabled, bicycles, and more. Any uncertified item intended for children under the age of 12 will be considered contraband after February 10, 2009. It will be illegal to sell or give these items away to charities, and the government will require their destruction or permanent disposal, resulting in millions of tons of unnecessary waste, and placing an enormous strain on our landfills."

The law is already having an impact on families and communities in the U.S. This is what Dawnella of MothersMoon over on Etsy had to say yesterday:

"Today was a sad day for me... I went into the store front for the work at home moms co-op I have been a part of for two years, and picked up all my goods as the store will be closing at the end of the month. With more than half the inventory being items handmade by local moms...moms chosing to stay home with thier children to make their lives better...and the other products coming from small manufacturers (such as Sarah's Silks) there would be nothing left to sell if this law takes effect. This is/was a shop mainly of baby goods...cloth diapers, baby slings, quilts, natural soaps, nursing necklaces, handwoven bassinetts, wooden toys, creative playthings...but it was more, it was a place where moms came in to support each other. Sometimes purchasing items made by those other moms, but more than that a place to talk about their pregnancies, ask questions of other moms, take babywearing classes or cloth diapering classes...a local resource for finding breastfeeding support groups, and getting the scoop on local peditricians or midwives. Not only is the town losing a business filled with locally made goods, but the town is losing a vital community element."

So, if you want to continue to see, make, buy and sell handcrafted good of all kinds across America, please contact your legislators and visit to vote for amending CIPSA. The grassroots demands are working - CIPA has already proposed an ammendment to exclude consignment shops and resellers, but they have not yet made exceptions for American cottage industry. A reasonable ammendment might include a mandate that crafters and artists provide a list of all materials used in the manufacture of their items and any safety precautions parents should take but would remove the requirement to submit a sample of each item produced for expensive testing. We know the problems are coming from China and large industry. Most crafters I know don't mix up any lead based paint to sell to toddlers in their home studio.
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