Should I Sell Puppet Craft Kits In My Etsy Store???


Blue Puppet Critter

I need to decide what to do and I would like your help.  It’s about my sock puppet critters.

People liked my puppet critters at shows.  They are cute and entertaining, they use recycled milk jugs for the mouth pieces, they’re good for story time, they make you smile.
What’s not to love?

(If you’d like to learn more about how I came to make these, it involves school plays and a young man suffering from leukemia.  You can read the back story on my Flickr page here.)

However, there are several factors involved.  Which has caused me to hold off making more and putting them in my store.

The puppet critters are really time-consuming to put together, which increases the cost involved.  Plus, ping-pong balls make the eyes work so well, but they are not easy to use or make.  Not to mention they are difficult (and dangerous) to cut for use as puppet eyes.  I need to build a jig just to help prevent injury.  Additionally, they are hard to find without a logo printed on them (I learned the hard way logos don’t come off without melting the ball).  AND, I can’t in good conscience sell these as toys someone might get for a toddler, because although ping-pong balls look really great as puppet eyes, they are not safety eyes.  Not to mention there’s glue involved.  Round ball-shaped safety eyes are not only expensive, but they are heavy, don’t look as good or work as well in this kind of application (on sock puppets).  That kind of safety eye expects you are using the eye in a stuffed animal kind of shape, with plenty of puppet flesh to embed the eyeball into.  Not a sock that needs to float over your hand, devoid of pointy uncomfortable parts inside.  Ping-pong balls are lightweight and look great.

Pink Puppet Critter

Sooooo, with all that rolling around in my head: though people on the one hand really liked them at shows, my thoughts were to sell the puppets in kits that people can put together on their own.  The kit would contain the ready-made yarn sock, ping-pong ball already cut for use, stuffing, mouth form and stencils for the pupils.  This would also allow customer to make the pupils whatever color they want and stare in any direction they want.

Offering kits instead of selling ready-made would save construction time on my end that I’d have to charge for.  It would take care of the any danger involved with making the puppet eyes, for instance, because they’d come to the customer already done.  They would just need to assemble them.  Plus I could label the craft kit for above a certain age group, saving me heartache over whether a customer would buy the puppet for a baby or not.  And it would also give the customer more freedom to customize the puppet as they like and save them some money.  Kits would be easier to ship too.

But would people buy them?  What do you think?  Would a kit to make a puppet critter be worth it to a customer at about $18?  Thanks for helping me out with your thoughts!  The poll will be open until July 31st midnight.  There’s even a place to type your own answer.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Should I Sell Puppet Craft Kits In My Etsy Store???

  1. One idea might be to sell the kits but then also offer custom made ones for people who want to spend more.

    Ultimately you just need to listen to your heart. What will you most enjoy doing? That’s what’s going to work!

    • I’d enjoy either, it’s the safety/legal thoughts in my head, and if I do pursue some legal advice, I probably need to figure out if the idea is even financially viable first. I wonder if I should write up a pattern with instructions instead.

      Thanks as always Kathryn for stopping by and sharing your views.

      Blessings,
      Julia

      Kathryn is the personality behind http://www.crochetconcupiscence.com/, a daily blog that brings you a variety of news from the far reaches of the crochet world.

  2. They are darling. Having said that, I’m not crafty at all & I have small kids so I get the eye concern. Are there safety guidelines for “toys” vs “crafts” ? I worry that even if you no longer have responsibility, if some child choked, you would be somehow held responsible. I’d hope not but that’s the world we live in. I suggest a legal opinion, doll.

    • Thanks so much for looking Rachel. There are actually. And if I did this, it would have to fall under the guidelines of age 14 and up, instead of a typical younger age, because hand-crafters like me can’t afford the required lead testing. (No fabric or yarn has ever tested positive for lead and they’ve finally been exempted from the new laws, but the ping-pong ball, even though it’s already had to be tested to sell to me, would be required to be tested again. The age cut-off is 14 for that one. Even motorcycle companies have had to pay the fine for their dirt bike gears since preteens ride dirt bikes. Even though they should be over oral fixation enough not to put bike gears in their mouths by that time, that’s how the new law was written.)

      Anyway the thing is, the people most interested in the puppets would probably use them at schools and libraries for story time, not as toys. Certainly, nothing my kids were required to make for their school play projects would pass the muster. Every single puppet I saw made by those 4th/6th graders were safety violations. But when you are selling something, it’s a whole different ball game. Everyone says, sell them! And like you, I’m thinking I don’t know, there’s more to the issue. I don’t know if it’s worth doing. If everyone told me I’m silly, that’s one thing. But yours is the first input echoing my own concerns. Thanks so much for taking the time!

      Blessings, Julia

      Rachel is Author of the book “A Walk in the Snark” and the blogging personality behind http://www.rachelintheoc.com/. Check her out y’all, she’s insightful and funny.

  3. mamas2hands

    Hey luv, I say first off do your due diligence regarding legalities so that you are comfortable. Then there are a number of options. A PDF pattern with great tutes on creating a sock puppet would be fab.

    As to those problematic ping pong ball eyes, would a crocheted covering over the ping pong ball be an option? Then it could be sewn more firmly to the the sock “body” Or even use crocheted “domes” for the eyeballs…sans ping pong ball interior.

    I also love to create eyes for my critters using poly fleece fabric. Might not work quite as well for a dimensional eyeball, but there is some “stretch” so I have been able to use it in soft sculptural work. It is very light weight as well.

    As far as kits vs. fully made. Etsy is an affordable venue for a small start experiment. Maybe try a little of each, say 5 kits and 2 finished puppets. Then see what happens.

    • Aw thanks Andee, I appreciate the insight. I have been thinking about a pattern, but your idea about covering the eyes with crochet gave me a visual I couldn’t get before. I’m going to think on it and see what I can come up with. Of course, I need to decide soon if I’m going to reap benefits this year. Show season is around the corner!

      Can’t wait to see you! Can you believe the retreat is in 3.5 months!!!

      Love, Jules

      Andee is a crochet designer and expert in ergonomics of crocheting. We are also both October babies! Anyway, you can find her blog at: http://mamas2hands.wordpress.com/