Quiet Hours is Closed

November 25, 2010

To our old friends and the new families who may be stumbling upon our shop’s little corner of cyberspace for the very first time, Quiet Hours is currently closed for business with no plans to re-open. We thank all of you who have welcomed our toys, and the artists who make them, into your homes and children’s lives over the years. However, we will not be processing or shipping orders during the 2010 holiday season.

Please visit some of these other fine online shops if you are looking for toys similar to ours:

Nova Natural Toys

The Wooden Wagon

Mahar Drygoods (in its final season on the web)

Imagine Childhood

Friendly Mantis

Craftsbury Kids

Stubby Pencil Studio (eco arts and crafts supplies)

The Play Store

Seasons Natural Toys

 The Puppenstube

Camden Rose

Lilly Bean Play Food

Etsy

Friends,

Quiet Hours was founded as a part-time business, meant to be a small, welcoming place just like those old-fashioned shops we so seldom encounter any more. The intent was to support hand-crafters and small-scale makers who produce the kinds of toys that provide a respite from the noise and commercialism we are surrounded by today. People who make things with care and attention, and the families who appreciate them, are celebrated here. However, this endeavor was also designed to be manageable for a mother (and a few helpers) with young children and other projects under way.

Over the past few years as the shop has grown, I’ve found that those “side” projects have become an increasing part of my life, and maintaining a balance between them, family and a business that requires tending is more difficult. So, like a lot of parents trying to find a workable solution to the question of how much is too much – too many commitments, too many demands – I’ve realized that the solution for me lies in scaling back one area of my life in order to more fully pursue another.

The shop will close in late 2010.

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It’s been a while since I visited these pages. I’ve been involved with a passionate, committed group of families working to start an environmental charter school in our area. After a 2-year journey, the school was finally approved in mid May, and now we’re on a whirlwind path to opening the doors in Fall 2009. Even though I haven’t been checking in at the shop blog of late, and likely will have little free time over the summer, rest assured that we are still working behind the scenes to keep Quiet Hours humming along and continuing our search for new handcrafted items for your family.

Just as the blog has seemed a little neglected of late, so too has our run of Giveaways. As serendipity would have it, I was contacted by Amy Thompson of Progressive Pioneer  shortly after I learned about her blog over at Design Mom. I had just visited her site – an ode to urban homesteading, bee keeping, whole food cooking and natural family living in Salt Lake City, Utah –  thoroughly enjoyed her posts and decided maybe it was time to get some backyard chickens after all…when she got in touch.

I’m so glad she did, because now we’re hosting an “almost summer” giveaway over at her place. On offer are: your choice of a set of nesting birds from Apple & Eve or a Sock-a-phant, a set of Cheryl Smith’s springtime finger puppets (gnome included) and a bag of Camden Rose’s fantastic, more-bang-for-your-buck Building Sticks (images above).  You have until the end of the week to post a comment at Amy’s site and enter. Treat yourself to some free goodies before school lets out, and indulge in a little vicarious living through the pages of her blog!

David Palhegyi

April 3, 2009

If you’ve browsed the shop lately, I imagine you’ve noticed a miniature woodland’s worth of new carved animals and tiny wooden houses. These come to us from David Palhegyi, a most talented and inventive woodworker, musician and father of 5 based in Hungary. David’s pieces are unlike anything out there at the moment – one-of-a-kind rustic toy sculptures that incorporate the grains and markings of native woods into fantastical, imaginative structures and folk-like figures.

His work is increasingly appearing on our shores but remains in limited supply because he produces each piece himself. Take a look below at some of his sets and figures (photos are David’s). Many are actually toys within toys, composed of multiple interlocking pieces and accessories that combine into playful vignettes.  As you might expect, the larger more intricate sets come with matching price tags, but these are the kinds of splurge-worthy pieces that will become part of your family’s play time for years to come.

 If you are interested in information on pricing or availability please feel free to send us an e-mail, especially if you are considering a set for a special gift or holiday.

Zoo Setzoofarm200811

Farm Set – approximately 20″ x 14″ x 18″farmos_hazmrm_526811

Trojan Horse Settrojai_lo1

Castle Set (includes pieces not pictured)lovagvar1

Small House (approximately 20″ x 12″ x 9.5″)kis_babahaz1

Treehouse Set (approximately 11″ x 11″ x 8″)oriasfa_keszlet1

Large House (approximately 21″ x 11″ x 16″)

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Chess Set2008_0119fajc1tc9k003211

Knights on Horseback

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Woodland Cottage (2 levels) and Fence (approximately 19″ x 11″ x 16″) 

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from our friends at the Handmade Toy Alliance:

Myth vs. Fact

We’ve seen a lot of misinformation about the CPSIA and its impact on small businesses. So, we’ve put together a few clarifications to set the record straight.

Myth: The Handmade Toy Alliance is Astroturf. Fact: Well, no. The HTA was formed in November 2008 by several small businesses who were trying to find ways to comply with the CPSIA. We’ve taken no money from anyone and have built our alliance through a dynamic discussion group. We remain an ad-hoc group with no formal leadership although we may seek more formal status in the future. So who’s in charge here? Our members are. All of us make or sell children’s products because we share a passion for better quality toys and clothes. We were all shocked by the product safety problems from large manufacturers that came to light in the past year and many of us have argued for improved safety standards. We just never thought those improved standards might lead to the death of our businesses.

Myth: The CPSC’s One-Year Stay of Enforcement Makes it All Better. Fact: The stay will give the CPSC time to fully clarify the law and to finalize many proposed regulations such as exemptions for natural materials and allowing component-based testing. Mandatory testing for painted products, small parts, cribs, pacifiers, and certain other products has not been stayed, however. Nor had the standards themselves. Basically, manufacturers and retailers must now fully comply with the new standards but will have no ability to affirm compliance. As of February 10, we are now in a Twilight Zone of partial enforcement and the CPSC continues to issue new guidance almost daily. Since retailers are still required to meet the standards, they will continue to request certification. Most suppliers will still need to do testing in order to back-up this certification.

Myth: Violations of the CPSIA this year will not result in penalties. Fact: While the CPSC has issued a statement that it will not  impose penalties on anyone selling certain products (unfinished wood, books printed after 1985, textiles, etc), it has given little assurance for those selling products containing leather, vinyl, pvc, painted products, etc. Additionally, State Attorneys General have the right to enforce the law within their state, irrespective of any declaration or stay by the CPSC.

Myth: This Law is About Toys. Fact: This is the one single aspect of the CPSIA that the media continues to misrepresent. The law applies to every product intended for a child under 12, from clothing to bicycles. Toys, clothes, furniture, books, jewelry, blankets, games, CDs/DVDs, strollers, and footwear, may all be considered children’s products. Even thrift shops are required to comply with the law, although they have no means of doing so without purchasing a $40,000 x-ray testing gun.

Myth: We are Part of an “Aggressive Misinformation Campaign”. Fact: That’s a quote from CPSC Commissioner Thomas Moore. Several Congressmen have also sited misinformation as the key problem at hand and a CPSC spokeswoman said the problem was mostly caused by “Mommy Bloggers spreading misinformation”. Let’s be clear: the only information we’ve been spreading is the impact of this law on our businesses. Our statements about the costs of compliance are based on actual quotes from accredited labs and are not an exaggeration. The only misinformation we’ve seen so far is that Congress and the CPSC have been misinformed about the impact of the CPSIA on small businesses. As for the word “aggressive”–well, we think a better word would be “progressive”. We are fighting to save small family busineses and preserve local economies–not a very pernicious idea.

Myth: The HTA is Battling Consumer Groups who Helped Create the CPSIA. Fact: Here we have one of the central paradoxes of the CPSIA universe. Members and leaders of groups like US-PIRG, the National Resources Defense Fund, The Consumer Federation, and Consumer’s Union often admit that they did not intend to destroy our little businesses. Many have stated that when they buy products for their children, they buy from folks like us. Some have even argued incorrectly that we have nothing to fear and that the CPSIA contains exemptions for handmade products. We agree with these groups that lead and phthalates should be banned, but would like it done in a way that doesn’t destroy small manufacturers.

Myth: Further clarification is all that is needed. Fact: A poorly written, needlessly broad, complex, and hard-to-understand law cannot be turned into a well written, targeted, effective, and easy-to-understand law through the regulatory process. Core problems with the economics of third-party testing, administrative burdens of managing lot numbers and certificates, economics of permanent labeling on small production runs–to name just a few issues–are not solved merely by having them explained clearly.

Myth: The CPSIA makes children’s products “safer.” Fact: While the CPSIA does increase the standards on some items and introduce new standards on other products, it is unclear that the consumer will be safer than they were a year ago. To use a blanket approach to practically all children’s products without assessing the associated risks for those individual products is highly ineffective. We know there are high risks associated with lead in paint and jewelry, and with small parts for children under 3. Appropriately strict standards and testing requirements should be in place, but to have the same testing requirements for lead in a cotton t-shirt, which scientifically poses no risk of lead contamination is not a rational approach that improves product safety. In fact, because the CPSC will be forced to enforce standards across many industries where safety has not been a concern, they will have fewer resources to devote to high-risk products.

Myth: Products Tested to European Union Standards will Satisfy New US Standards: Fact: Here we have another huge problem with the CPSIA. The EU and the US now have two very different sets of standards. The EU regulates soluble lead, which is lead that is bioavailable to a child. This same approach is used in the US for dishes and tableware. The US under the CPSIA regulates total lead in children’s products, which cannot exceed 600ppm (and later 300ppm), whether or not it is possible for a child to actually injest that lead through normal use and abuse. Materials like brass and leaded crystals may pass EU standards but will fail US standards. Because of these separate standards, companies that distribute both in the US and in Europe must pay for two separate sets of tests. Many European manufacturers, including Selecta Spielzeug and Hess, have already withdrawn from the US market for this reason.

Viola Studio

February 2, 2009

 

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Like an inspired fairy godmother who takes bits of this, combines them with bits of that and then whips everything together into one enchanting package, Viola Hale is the kind of endlessly inventive crafter who turns our heads. She may not be fashioning ballgowns or changing pumpkins into coaches, but she is making just the kind of exquisitely-crafted cloth dolls we have been searching for. Working with quality reclaimed materials like cotton, wool, leather and fleece, she crafts sweet sidekicks that show just how creative and fun upcycling can be.

Dolls are not the only thing she has up her proverbial sleeve. She also makes soft, spare plush animals that would make charming baby gifts and embellished totes.  As her stash of reclaimed natural materials grows, she is crafting more new items to unveil this spring. Lucky for us, another batch of dolls will be headed our way as the weather warms up. In the meantime, here’s a little more about Viola in her own words:

I can remember watching my mother and older sisters sew and work on many types of crafts when I was young. I live in New York City, but my husband and I have recently started to spend time in upstate New York where I have made my home studio in a small cottage. We were both wishing for a simple lifestyle and were determined to spend more time in the country. After years of making handmade gifts for friends and family, I was urged to start making some things for the public. I just opened my  business recently, and am thrilled with the response. It’s good to know there are so many great people out there that appreciate handmade crafts.

I love working with reclaimed, recycled materials. It’s amazing what one can turn up – anything from leather to paper – and how much fun it is finding it.

You can see the latest batch of Viola’s creations in our Dolls section. Custom options are also available if you would like to design a doll just for your child. 

 

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This has been quite a year at Quiet Hours. Along the way, we introduced you to new artisans working in the tradition of small-scale handcraftmanship or in a spirit of fair trade that promotes a better quality of life for families living in difficult conditions. Your children may see our toys simply as delightful playthings but, as parents, we can take a measure of satisfaction in supporting small businesses and families who have made it their life’s work to create pieces that are unique. More than just another disposable toy to be tossed onto the pile of objects that clutter our lives, each item is crafted with thought, integrity and an eye for lasting value that will charm the children of tomorrow as well as today. 

Now that the future of such cottage industries is uncertain, we are thankful to those of you who responded to the call for action regarding needed modifications to the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Without changes and clarifications, the future of the handmade/natural toy and children’s products industry in the U.S. will change drastically in February 2009. With your help spreading the word, writing letters to congressional representatives, signing petitions or notifying local media much has been accomplished in a very short time. The message is out and gaining momentum.
 
Hopefully, our requests will be noted and acted upon. Until then, we will post updates here on the shop blog. If able, we are looking forward to some new collaborations in 2009 and to refining our product selections to include more customer favorites as well as handmade, eco-friendly items produced in the U.S.
 
In the meantime, take a look at our Sale pages for discounted items. FOR MAILING LIST SUBSCRIBERS: Take advantage of 20% off your total order of in-stock inventory from December 29 through December 31st. Check our latest e-mail message for the discount code.
 *All orders will be shipped on January 5, 2009 when we return from our holiday break.
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