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<p>We were recently featured on <a href=””>Rhode Island Homes</a>, one of the top sites for <a href=””>Providence, RI Real Estate</a>. Check out the article here: <a href=””>Sustainable Gifts at Touched by Green Help Keep Cultural Traditions Alive</a>.</p>

Sustainable Gifts at Touched by Green Help Keep Cultural Traditions Alive

By S. Mathur

Gifts from Touched by Green have the power to connect different worlds. The store carries handmade items from artisans around South America and the US, each with the intangible value of authenticity. The artisans are personally known to owner and founder Maria Patricia Duque, and she wants to ensure that each transaction benefits the artist. Duque personally curates the selection of objects, chosen on her travels to remote South American communities.

By introducing the work of these artisans to a new audience, Duque helps them to keep their cultural traditions alive.

“Touched by Green is committed to connecting our community with the rich traditions of communities that we might never otherwise have the privilege of reaching,” Duque said, “These artists pour their hearts into their work. Their art tells us their story and through it we feel an ancient quality.”

Sustainability and fair trade are the guiding principles when it comes to choosing the hand crafted items for the store.Most of the items available in the store originate in South America or the US.

“At Touched by Green we sell items that are hand-made by designers, artisans, artists and members of indigenous communities,” Duque said, “We carry wearable art as well as art, both functional and decorative, for the home. Everything in our store is fair-trade and made with sustainability in mind.”

Visitors to the store will find art, jewelry, scarves and beautiful and practical items like cutting boards and bowls. Much of the selection is also available online via the store’s website. As well as being hand made, the art is as eco-sustainable as possible. Duque is a native of Colombia and used to sell wholesale products to boutiques around New England. Opening the store on South Main Street allowed her to connect the progressive and arts-oriented community in Providence, and the rest of Rhode Island, with artists and craftsmen in remote communities.

Over time the store has built up a loyal support base of customers. Duque finds that there is a surprising demand for art and for the kinds of objects she showcases. This is a connection that benefits the people at both ends, and it is Duque’s genius to make it happen.

“When I am considering an item or collection for Touched by Green I not only think about our clientele but about the item’s environmental footprint, social impact and cultural significance,” she said “I want to be certain all items are authentic and that my business transactions support the well-being the artist and their community. We also carry work created through collaboration between modern designers and indigenous groups.”

Art Vs. Accessories

WIN_20150313_152644Consistent with our earthy approach to life, art and gifts, it has being a natural sequence for us to wonder about the fitness of the word “accessories” within our whole concept.

During several occasions,  when asked about a “matching” or “coordinating” one of our pieces within an outfit, or environment.

My first thought goes to consider that  the biggest capacity of an art piece is to stand on its own and each of ours does it very well.

So, where, under those premises may we fit the work “accessories”?.  Is definitely in the wrong place and as an equivocal concept. It does not fit us either by definition or purpose.

Everything we have at Touched by Green is Art. Popular, Cultural and often bordering that undefined gray line between art and artisan’s work,  but, never less than good stand alone art.

When you wear one of our pieces you feel pride of owning it, the attraction it provokes, the attention it awakens and the emotion that inspires.

That is what art suppose  to have you feel like. Enjoy!

Ps. Be individual: wear art, value art, look fantastic.

Colombia, the Emerald’s birth and romanticism.

makla-esmeralda-2 esmeralda-coscuezThe biggest and finest emeralds in existence: “Fura” and “Tena”, were named in honor of two Pre-Columbian  “Muiscas Princesses” The  Legend relates the tragic love story over the Andes mountains many years before the arrival of the Spanish colonists to South American Colombia.

Tena accomplished a suicidal prophesy for Fura because of  their impossible Love.

She cried her love over those mountains that converted her tears in emeralds.

It is the believe that this Emerald tears are the gift of the biggest crystalized love and dedication: The Lover’s gift.

We have beautiful samples of them now in inventory.

Cultural apropiation of the Wayuu designs in Vogue Magazine

Sophie Anderson, adventurer and expert designer,  presented her most recent designs during Paris Moda 2011 “Inspired” on the work of an indigenous community from La Guajira, Colombia: The WayuuFor the ones of us that know their work, there is absolutely no difference with the originals since this are the exact same mochilas Wayuu. Several persons protested the Vogue magazine which published in their cover page a picture of this Wayuu bags as Anderson’s own. Vogue magazine and Anderson explained a “confusion” and apologized after many protesters claimed for a retraction and respect for the Wayuu rights to their legendary work.

This kind of “plagio” keeps happening over and over and some designers expropriate traditional works without rights to them. We may see it on cultural fashion as well as in accessories.

Exposure of real indigene’s work in a global context is benefiting more this designer/merchants than the indigenes the tribes who are paid pennies under the promises of a long term commerce deal they never get.

Carriel Paisa

Carriel Paisa

During my last trip to Colombia, another of our millenaries cultural traditions “El Carriel Paisa” is displayed with “Hernan’s Sajar” mark and no proprietary allusion to the cultural tradition or the Town that have make them since the beginnings.

May be Is it time to establish an international organism to defend cultural traditions, rights of ownership and have tribal artists profit from the right to their work as musicians or designers do and defend.

Please give me your thoughts.

Molas, Kunas and a Matriarcal society

Molas IMAG00506 Mother’s day next Sunday is a good opportunity to appreciate and talk about this beautiful, very popular art from the Kuna tribe that inhabits the San Blas Islands in Panama and Colombia.

Against popular believe the Mola is not a very old Art. It is believed to have born after the European colonization and may make one of the first traces of a-culturing made around the tribe influenced by religious groups.

The most interest fact of all and what motivates our timely reference is that the Kuna was a Matriarchal society. The woman was the center of their social circles and considered of superior judgment making dominant part of the society decisions and between others, respected for her procreating powers. The heirs were passed always through a woman and even when single were considered important because of their capacity to bring man power to the group either from marriage or throughout procreation.

The Mola is worn then by the Kuna women in a perfect pair in the front and back of their blouse replacing the tattoos that were covering their bodies before the colonial time mentioned.

They are used today as décor in several forms and they are in most cases a reminder of a feminine power and value that has being present through time regardless of popular believes.

Happy mother’s day.

Molas IMAG00509 Molas IMAG00510 Molas IMAG00513

Filigree art and fine metals

 Filigree is considered the art of working with metal threads to make jewelry. When the Spanish colonization in Colombia took place, the technique was introduced to the native indigenes tribes. Excellent metal workers in their own right, they made it a delicacy when they decided to thin out the threads as much as possible to make a finer, PATRICIA-PC - WIN_20140208_142938 (2)more delicate pieces.

PATRICIA-PC - WIN_20140208_142524  Today, you see inside workshops the ones that work with magnifying lenses and the ones that work with their naked eyes in silver, gold (18K and up) and platinum.

This pieces reflect the perfection passed down throughout generations and the dexterity developed throughout many years of practice.

Come in and enjoy the beauty of this extraordinary pieces of art.

PATRICIA-PC - WIN_20140208_142522 (3)

Pre-Colombian Culture, Fascination and Processes

Peru Moda 2013 655Tumbaga  is the name the Spanish gave to a gold and cooper alloy that the metal smiths Indians of America used.

Several pre-Columbian Cultures that were exceptional at working gold and metals as the Tolima, Tayrona or Quimbaya have left behind numerous pieces of work using Tumbaga in the creation of diverse ceremonial and decorative objects.

We believe that the use of Tumbaga, the cooper and gold alloy, allowed them a better rationalization of their resources to ease the  melting of the gold. Treatments to better the metal quality by heating it at high enough temperatures  to oxidase the cooper were utilized with regularity after which they submerged the piece in cold water to accentuate the golden patina and avoid cracks. The process was finished sanding the piece to perfection.

It is believed that a few of this techniques were developed by the Muiscas and exported to the Tayronas who were good metal workers and textile experts in their own right. The Muiscas had better quality of the gold in their work, but, it was within their fascinating imagery being considered as made with low dexterity, compared with the Tayrona who’s work were technically perfect. The Muiscas soon learned the lost wax methods to polish the esthetic of their work and abandon the hammering used up until then.

The richness of their designs have being replicated for generations and we carry many of the bests replicas; the closest to the originals that you may find.

Visit us to enjoy them and for the  opportunity to own your own.

Happy Thanks Giving

Dear Friends

Thanks Giving makes a great opportunity to get ourselves back to basics and on to what really matters and I wouldn’t be able to ask for a better year:  A healthy one for my oldest (22 months) grandson Mateo, the bird of Lucas, my second grandson, in September and to top it all the birth of my granddaughter Eva in November. What else can you ask for?

I’d love to be participated of your graces this year. Would you like to comment?  please do so.

Permit me to use this occasion to thank all and every one of the people that has supported my efforts at Touched by Green for the past 5 years. May your life be filled with prosperity in every way.

Peace in our hearts, health throughout our bodies and big love at our family’s gatherings.

Happy Thanks Giving!