100% Organic Cotton Fabrics
For home sewers, businesses, retailers, and anyone who gives a scrap!
For years I have wondered why is it that we require that infant and children sleepwear be treated with flame retardants. It has puzzled and perplexed me that to avoid a rare occasion of a burning house fire we would subject every child to the slow release of known toxic chemicals. Save a few by poisoning everyone? It made no sense.
Well, now I know. The Chicago Tribune Watchdog report recently came out with a 4 part series on Flame Retardants. FINALLY, my questions have been answered. Sadly the answers are pretty infuriating. I HIGHLY recommend taking the time to read this entire 4 part series. But in a nut shell, here's the rub:
PART 1: Dr. David Heimbach, a burn expert was paid for his testimony in front of the California state Senate on a bill that could have reduced the use of flame retardant chemicals in furniture. He testified about treating children with burns. Problem is the dramatic stories are lies. He made them up:
"Records show there was no dangerous pillow or candle fire. The baby he described didn't exist.
Neither did the 9-week-old patient who Heimbach told California legislators died in a candle fire in 2009. Nor did the 6-week-old patient who he told Alaska lawmakers was fatally burned in her crib in 2010.
Heimbach is not just a prominent burn doctor. He is a star witness for the manufacturers of flame retardants."
PART 2: How and why did we start adding fire retardants to furniture and other items? It can be traced back to cigarette companies. Yep. Cigarettes were starting fires and instead of addressing the problem at the cigarette level they decided to shift focus to furniture and blame it. Cigarette companies targeted fire departments around the country and began funneling money and influence to get the firefighter community to support their agenda.
"The fire marshals organization continued promoting flame retardant products even after it was clear that the chemicals inside were escaping, settling in dust and winding up in the bodies of babies and adults worldwide.
The marshals continued even after flame retardants were linked to cancer, neurological deficits, developmental problems and impaired fertility."
If that weren't infuriating enough . . .
"The marshals just last year helped defeat a crucial bill in California that would have reduced flame retardants in products nationwide. The association's president at the time wrote a letter opposing the legislation. A lobbyist for the Citizens for Fire Safety Institute, a front group for the largest makers of flame retardants, read excerpts of the letter at the hearing where the bill was voted down.
And who remains a financial sponsor of the fire marshals, with its logo on the group's home page?
Chemtura, one of the world's largest producers of flame retardants."
PART 3: The science is grossly flawed. The statistics use to promote chemicals being put in everything from couches, to electronics, to children's sleepwear is based on manipulated and distorted science. Science that claims it is safe and effective.
"The main basis for these broad claims? A report so obscure it is available only in Swedish.
When the Tribune obtained a copy and translated it, the report revealed that many of industry's wide-ranging claims can be traced to information regarding just eight TV fires in western Stockholm more than 15 years ago."
To add insult to injury, the author of the most often used report says this:
"Vytenis Babrauskas says chemical manufacturers have "grossly distorted" his research to promote their fire retardants. The amount of chemicals in household furniture is often enough to pose health threats but not enough to stem fires; "the worst of both possible worlds," he says. (Kevin P. Casey, For Chicago Tribune / April 6, 2012)"
PART 4: Toxic roulette. They keep coming out with better/safer fire retardant chemicals but are they really safe? The latest "safe" chemical is Firemaster 550. The chemical makers claim it is safe, but is it?
"Documents obtained by the Tribune show that scientists within the agency were deeply skeptical about the safety of Firemaster 550, predicting that its chemical ingredients would escape into the environment and break down into byproducts that would pose lasting health hazards.
The manufacturer's own health studies, obtained by the Tribune, add to that troubling picture. They found that exposing rats to high doses of Firemaster 550 can lower birth weight, alter female genitalia and cause skeletal malformations such as fused ribs and vertebrae."
Sigh. Double sigh. Greed is a strange thing. At least I no longer have to wonder why we have such nonsensical laws. Now I just wonder how the people who work and promote such known toxic chemicals sleep at night. I am extra grateful today that my life's work is something that helps rather than hurts people and planet.
I fell in love with these simple little button hair clips when I saw them at Anthology in Madison, WI. I purchased one at their store and then tracked down the maker, dainty daisies and contracted her to make me my own set of Harmony Art organic cotton button hair clips. I sent her swatches of the fabric to use and this is what came back!
Aren't they lovely! They came packed in this sweet little box.
Michelle normally uses scraps from the clothing she creates to make these button clips but she made an exception for me. (THANK YOU!) I'd call that upcycling - turning a scrap into a colorful hair clip.
Dainty daisies has a brick and mortar location of their own in Appleton, Wisconsin. They also have a blog you might like to check out.
I just love all the crafty, creative, beautiful women & mother entrepreneurs. Three cheers for small independent designers!
In late March I had the pleasure of speaking in Madison, Wisconsin. I had never been to Madison before and I was blown away by how lovely the city is. I thought I would share some of my favorite things about Madison:
The PEOPLE! Here are two of the three people responsible for bringing me to Madison. On the left is Misty Lohrentz, Community Events Coordinator, Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center and on the right is Carolyn Kallenborn, artist, filmmaker and professor at University of Madison, Wisconsin. (Not picture is the super talented and busy Jennifer Angus.)
Owners (and sisters) of my favorite store in Madison, Anthology (store front photo below). I am not a shopper at heart so the fact that I bought 2 things there is truly noteworthy. (An organic cotton t-shirt and a hair clip. My next post is going to be all about the hair clip!) I honestly liked just about everything in their store. They are super cute and thoughtful with what they select for their store.
Cool photo taken my husband in the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Museum is FREE. We checked out the Houdini exhibition while we were there and also had a snack at the roof top restaurant. Additionally, there was a FREE movie that night at the Museum in one of the downstairs rooms. The movie was:
If a Tree Falls. I highly recommend it. Warning: it is pretty heavy.
One of the highlights of the trip was seeing the home my mother grew up in. Here it is! Next time I get to Madison I am going to bring my mother with me! I definitely want to go back. We saw a lot but there are still plenty of things we didn't have time to experience.
Thanks Madison! We'll be back.
Recycled Sketchbook Tutorial
One of my goals for the year is to do one quick sketch every day. Instead of buying a sketch book, I decide to make one out of things I had around the house. First thing I did was find some paper that was blank on one side and a thin cardboard box. We have plenty of both. I started by cutting the side of the box off.
The side panel seemed like a good width so I just chopped along the seams.
Next I cut the paper so that it would be slightly thinner than the width of the cardboard strip. In my case that ended up being 3.66" wide.
By cutting those strips in half I was able to use the entire piece of paper with no waste. I ended up with a stack of paper all the same size. In my case the pages are 4.25" x 3.66" but you could make your pages any size you like. By cutting them this way I was able to get 6 pages per 8.5" x 11" piece of recycled paper.
Next, I stapled my stack of paper to the center of the cardboard strip. I used the existing fold line since I knew I wanted to create a cover that would fold over the paper. I debated which side of the paper to staple but ended up going with parallel to the cut edge of the cardboard. I stapled 2 corners of the paper stack. I have a pretty strong stapler so I was able to go through all the sheets + the cover.
Next, I knew I wanted to have a way to close the book so I decided to sew on a rubber band. Honestly, the hardest part of the project was picking what colored rubber band to use. As you can see I ended up opting for red. I simply used a needle and thread to sew the rubber band to the cardboard.
Here it is finished and closed. I am happy to report that 4 months into the year and I am still doing a sketch most days. The size is small enough to fit in my back pocket and the cardboard cover keeps the pages from getting mangled as I tote it around. I love the way the organic label and text ended up on the cover. It was kismet.
You can make them as fancy or utilitarian as you like. Here are a few more photos of other more fancy recycled sketchbooks that my friend Nancy and I made. In these examples (below) instead of cutting and stapling we folded the paper and Nancy used a heavy needle and thread to hold the pages in. The possibilities are endless!
Founder of Harmony Art organic design.