Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sad but True... part two

I forgot to link to the blog I am quoting from (sorry Sarah!) so HERE is the link to The Faerie Factory blog.

Reason Number 2: This is something I already knew a little about when I started making craft items because of my background in commercial toy design but even I wasn't prepared for the far reaching scope of it: "to continue to sell faeries I need to CE mark them. The ethos of the Factory was always to reuse and recycle, unfortunately CE marking would mean using only new materials, and it is also a lengthy, costly and time consuming process."

Let that one really sink in because here is the statement from the man at Trading Standards that caused that horrible realisation: “Having taken some advice on this matter it is felt that your product though decorative does have an attraction to children and would certainly have a toy element also.” 

Basically, if you live in the UK (or anywhere in the EU as the E in CE Mark stands for 'European') and make hand made items for Children then since 1995 you need to have a CE mark on them and comply to all of Trading Standards strict rules and testing regulations. You cannot use recycled materials, and you cannot make "one of a kind" items because you have to send a prototype to be tested before you can sell a new item.

I make dolls, and in my past professional life I have designed plushy dolls for companies that went on sale at High Street retailers nationwide. I made prototypes but they were mass produced in the Far East and for each new design a production sample had to be sent for testing and meet really stringent fire and safety standards. You have to be able to trace the origins of every single component used to make each item back to the original manufacturer to ensure that THEY all meet the regulations too. Then there are a whole other set of rules about the kind of labelling every product has to feature, it has to be firmly stitched into a seam so that it isn't removed or lost after purchase too.

Surely making One of a Kind dolls for the Adult Collectors market is exempt from all those rules? The answer is... kind of...and... Kind of not! My dolls are created for adult collectors and use wire and small parts which could pose a choking threat to small children. I clearly label them as such BUT if one of my dolls LOOKS AS THOUGH IT MIGHT APPEAL to a child then all bets are off.... it would need the CE mark and to comply to Trading Standard rules! That used to be easy with goth items but I imagine Monster High dolls have queered that pitch now too!

US doll and toy makers are not subject to these rules (they don't seem to have any rules for handmade OOAK toys that I know of) so I guess a lot of new UK crafters and artists look to the US for inspiration and don't realise that they have just wandered innocently into a potential minefield. What is the likelihood of getting caught? I simply don't know and hope I never find out. If you have any concerns that what you are making and selling might fall foul of these regulations then I suggest a quick phone call to your local Trading Standards Agency for a copy of those regulations. Yes, they do have LOCAl offices, yes, they are out patrolling craft venues every now and then. 

A fellow doll maker paid me the ultimate compliment the other day, she said she thought my doll's had the "loveliest adult looking faces" and I just hope Trading Standards agree. ;o)

Some links to check out if you make anything that could be considered as having play function or
would appeal to a child:


Sewing Box Designs said...

I believe when I last looked into it about 3 years ago, we do have a children's items standard in the USA, to the point where old children's toys and books are being destroyed from the second hand or collectible market for having lead paint. Basically, a great big "Not Suitable for Children" is what most crafters go for. "This is not a Toy" etc. People are expected to be responsible for their children still. Maybe not for much longer.
Perhaps that sort of labeling and declaration: "I have read and understand that this is most definitly not a children's toy and accept all responsibility for this item once it is in my possession", click here that you have read and agree to this, initial there, now you can buy it sort of thing, might be worth looking into?
After all, children will put ANYTHING into their mouths, especially when teething, parents can't sue the world for it. It could be a fine porcelain figurine, and still go in a mouth or up a little nose. Do we not marked dried beans for fear of the little nose stuffer? (why beans? O_o what is the attraction?)
Where there's a will, there's a way. ^_^

comments hate me this morning, sorry it you get duplicates >,<

Yve said...

Yeah, it's duplicating everything, don't worry ;o)

I know, it's crazy, I know that there have to be standards and manufacturers need to be responsible and make safe products, but there also comes a point where a PARENT has to be responsible about what they allow their child to play with... that just isn't how the Law seems to see it in the EU though.