Welcome to my blog. I am 'The Bunny Maker' - aka Anna, confuzzled mother of three boys, maker of sock bunnies for Widget and Friends, owner of The Warren Bunny Boarding and artist behind Half an Acre. Come on in and join the madness!


Wednesday, 23 June 2010

CE Testing and 'The Sock Problem' - PART ONE

Its a problem indeed and one that A LOT of you are asking about.  Could this be curtains for the bunnies?  The best way to answer all these things is to do a blog post - otherwise i'm typing the same thing 84 times whenever anyone asks!
I'm going to do a two-parter - otherwise it's too long.

So.  I will mush it all down here - in layman's terms- so don't expect any technical terms - but, who needs those anyway - that's why everyone is confused in the first place!
The following is how I understand it - Please, if I have got it wrong, or you have any other insights, please let me know, I'm still finding out about it all and need all the information I can get.

PART ONE:  SORTING OUT THE INFORMATION

The Sock Bunnies are toys.  I cannot call them 'Collectables'. Well, I can, but it won't hold much truck.  You cannot omit the title 'toy' or get away with refuting the title 'toy' if the item is displayed with, tagged or associated with toys. If you make an item that is appealing to children the it is a 'toy' and needs to be tested. Period.  Listing it under 'Accessories' on Folksy won't do either!


Stating they are 'Not suitable for children under 36 months' doesn't cover it either.  That statement is for toys that have passed the test but may have small parts which come with it.  EG. You make a teddy bear who wears a waistcoat with buttons.  The teddy passes the CE test but to cover themselves the company might choose to state - 'Please remove the waistcoat before giving to children under 36 months.'  Or they can just say 'Not suitable for under 36 months due to small parts).  The crux is that the toy still passed the test.

To sell toys, handmade or otherwise, in the UK they, legally, need to comply to DTI Production Standards UK Toys (safety) Regulations 1995 and  and pass the CE test.  This is changing in 2011 but remains pretty much the same really,

The test is pretty much as follows: Pulling all seams and bits to see if they come off. (Mechanical/physical properties).  Burning it to see if it ..er .. burns (flammawotsit test) and lastly (the problem for socks) testing it for heavy metals in the dyes.

 Hold still Widget!

 Before I carry on I need to interject; You can self-certify your toys.  To do this you need to keep a record of where all the parts of that toy have come from.  Take a photo of the label that came with the toy filling, for example.
Toy filling already complies, so you are off to a good start.
Toy fabric manufacturers tend to test their fabrics so you will be able to get documentation. Keep a record of where you sourced your fabrics from, contact the company to ask them for any documentation showing that it is safe.
A fire test certificate from a fabric manufacturer will not do as flammawotsit can also depend on the shape of the toy.  You will need to have it tested (yup you have to sacrifice a toy up for burning). Ouch!

Widget, that is NOT what I had in mind.  Put that match away!

Now, this is important:  You cannot self-certify a toy made from a sock that you have bought from a retailer - and, come on, Top Shop do have some great designs!
BECAUSE: Socks do not have to conform to any safety standards, even children's socks, because they are just that, socks. Socks are for feet and not for making into things to play with.
The sock bunnies: I can safely say that the stuffing is safe because it says so on the bag.  I cannot, however, safely say that the socks are safe.  Most high-street bought socks are manufactured abroad and the factory/company do not need to comply with toy safety regulations. The socks are probably safe but that is not enough, you need a piece of paper saying so.  Damnations.

Now is a good time to call your local Trading Standards office.  They are astoundingly helpful.  Just google your local council and there will be a link there.  Find the phone number and give them a call.
The one problem I now have is that I have 'A reference number'.  I am documented as selling un-safe rabbit.
THE PROBLEM:  The nice TS officer was relieved to hear that I wasn't shifting thousands of unsafe bunny toys.  He said that it was something I will have to sort out for the long term but for now I need to say 'Not suitable for anyone under the age of 14 years'.  This is a short-term safeguard that will not hold a lot of water in court but is better than nothing whilst I 'sort out what to do'.  The long and short of it is, if I want to sell these bunnies they are going to have to pass the CE test.
 

WHAT CAN I DO NOW?  Read Part two of my CE nightmare


17 comments:

  1. Wow, who knew it would all get so complicated! Good luck with it :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Things are never easy are they! x x

    ReplyDelete
  3. Noooo this cant happen.
    Save the sock bunnys :(

    ReplyDelete
  4. Eagerly awaiting the next installment, hope everything works out OK :(

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting post. My TS officer said that as my items are one of a kind and not retailed anywhere I am fine to self certify. I wonder if maybe your advice has been different because you make them in all the same style and are lucky enough to sell a whole lot more than I do?! Will carry on watching for updates with much interest!
    Trace x

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very interesting, though scary information. I will await the next installment and coontact my local Trading standards officer in the meantime. Thanks for being so thorough.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I started down this route with my sock monkeys. It is a nightmare I cannot see how we can get over it I use so many different places to buy socks and as you say the retailers do not have safety confirmation. When you think of all the crafters now making toys from socks something needs to be sorted out if they want us to comply. There was somebody the other day said that she had self certified her Sock animals but I cannot remember where I saw it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is sad news for sock creatures :(

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yeah I looked into making fabric / knitted toys but mainly make them as gifts now cause I can't keep up with all that legislation. Do the changes coming next year make it at all easier? x

    ReplyDelete
  10. oh dear......not looking good....hurry up with part two please...:)

    ReplyDelete
  11. You have taken that box of matches away from widget haven't you?

    noodleBubble

    ReplyDelete
  12. I can say they are collectibles... I have 12 Sock Bunnies now ;)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Please tell us noooowwww I can not stand the wait and not knowing.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh isn't it a nightmare nowadays? As a parent you need to check toys yourself regularly anyway, why all this safety stuff when a sock cannot do any damage anyway. It kills creativity and lulls us into a false sense of security where we do not check the safety of anything ourselves. I say long live the sock bunnies, call them curiosities and I would be happy to give one to my child!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hmmmm...let me think. Do I want to give my child a sock toy handmade with attention to workmanship, creativity and fun or do I want to get a mass-produced clone tainted with anti-freeze and lead which hasn't really passed any tests but says it has until someone catches it causing toxic warfare? Geesh! This is more proof that everything is backwards anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  16. thank you so much for sharing this info. it seems such a shame that nothing is simple anymore. who would have thought that wanting to make something fun and cute from socks could be so stressful when you have to think about all the red tape. i am going to ring my local trading standards and see what they can suggest.

    ReplyDelete