Fair Trade Peruvian "Gourdaments" & Nativities

What we call our "gourdaments" (gourd ornaments) and nativities from Lucuma Design that you will find here at Plowshare Fair Trade Marketplace are a time honored Peruvian tradition. Both have been a popular favorite amongst our customers over the years, and many have gone on to start amazing collections. 

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Gourds are vegetables related to pumpkins, squash and cucumbers that grow in a variety of shapes and sizes. This fun variety of size allows the gourd artist to create a wide range of decorative ornaments. After harvest the process starts by selecting and โ€œgreen-scrapingโ€ each gourd using a dull knife to shed the outer green skin. The gourds then dry naturally in the sun of the coastal desert. Next the artist creatively draws the design with a pencil adapting to the shape of their gourd. A skillful carver then carefully etches the fine lines with a simple hand chisel.

Using a technique called pyrography, fire adds the rich shades of brown and black. Sometimes after the carving and burning, a white paste is applied and washed off to further highlight the intricate carving. Finally the outside is waxed and polished, presenting you with a one-of-a-kind piece to treasure for generations.

In Peru, storytelling through gourd carving has a long history, as does storytelling through nativities. In the city of Arequipa is a small family owned ceramic workshop specializing in original ethnic nativities. With a passion for promoting Peruvian culture and the cultures of others, they research and capture in their nativities the personality of several cultural groups such as the Amazon and Characato; they even have an indigenous North American collection, which features an igloo, polar bear and penguin!

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This here is our newest miniature nativity this year - Hawaiian - and itโ€™s become a quick favorite with baby Jesus sleeping in half a pineapple, and a teeny-tiny rooster and turtle at Mary and Joseph's side.

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This workshop takes advantage of the sunny climate of Arequipa for natural light to sun dry their clay. Each ceramic piece is poured into a mold to dry out in the sun. Then they are unmolded and have their edges trimmed off. Another artist then carefully grinds and sands each piece smooth while the clay is still somewhat damp. Pieces are then baked in the kiln before the painters finish each character, bringing them to life with colorful details.

Ceramic nativities and gourdaments carry the spirit of fair trade and make the perfect gift. It is certainly a Christmas present that will bring joy to their home for years to come, and to the artist who created it.

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Info via Lucuma Designs

Thank you for shopping fair trade this holiday season!

Happy Holidays,

Jacqueline & Plowshare Fair Trade Marketplace

Fair Trade Summer Fun: Pocket Discs & Hackey Sacks

Itโ€™s time for summertime fun & games! Time for camping, hiking, tailgating, picnics, and days hanging out by the lake. If youโ€™d like to throw some cool, handmade, fair trade fun into the mix, you CAN, as we have some really wonderful, interactive gaming items that are small, lightweight, and easy to take on such trips.

One fair trade favorite we have in the shop are hand crochet Pocket Discs. Crafted in Guatemala from cotton, each Pocket Disc comes in a variety of fun colors and designs, and make a great gift for not just guys and gals, but dogs too! Just toss the pocket disc as you would a frisbee and watch it glide through air!

The story of how Pocket Disc came into creation is quite cute, too. It was basically a young girlโ€™s crochet doily โ€œgone wrong,โ€ which went on to prove that sometimes mistakes can lead to something great - like a flying doily that likes outdoor adventures!

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Another fun, fair trade toy we have at Plowshare thatโ€™s perfect for playing outside is the classic Hackey Sack! Also crochet handmade in Guatemala, we have a cool assortment of hackey sacks (or โ€œfootbagsโ€), that you can get in either a large or small size. And, if you wonโ€™t be having much time for outdoor sports due to a summer full of work, they also can be used as a stress ball. But we highly recommend making some time for a fun game of hackey sack with friends & family - itโ€™s such a beautiful time of year, it would be a shame not to get out there & have some fun!

Waukesha's Friday Night Live

Thousands of people like youcome to Waukeshaโ€™s Friday Night Live
every year. What started out over 15 years ago with a couple of musicians
playing and singing under a single tent, has blossomed into a great event
in the greatest city in Wisconsin โ€“ Waukesha!

This year Waukesha Friday Night Live will run every Friday from
June 2nd through September 15th. Over the course of this 16 week event,
Friday Night Live will host 8+ stages of entertainment, over 70 musicians
and entertainers, and dozens of downtown businesses are open to
offer food, candies, drinks, artwork, and much more!

Acknowledgement

Waukeshaโ€™s Friday Night Live is only made possible through the work of the
Waukesha Downtown Business Association (WDBA),
and the generous support of downtown businesses, sponsors, musicians,
and thousands of people like you that attend this weekly summer event.

How it Started

Waukesha Friday Night Live began over 15 years ago as
Freeman Friday Night Live when citizens and downtown business owners
gathered to discuss the fact that the city of Waukesha was abandoned and
looked like a ghost town by 7 pm on Friday nights.  Businesses were closed
due to a lack of customers, and the only sound that filled the streets
was wind and muffled music from local taverns. 

A couple of local musicians, local business owners, and organization
officials decided that sponsoring musicians to entertain on various
stage locationsthroughout downtown Waukesha each Friday would
wake the sleeping city and bring her back to life.

It didnโ€™t take long before Friday Night Live as you now know it was born
in Waukesha, and Fridayโ€™s were back to the way they used to be
in the historical days of the city.

Check out the website for โ€œspecialโ€ stage locations
due to current construction and street closures.
www.waukeshafridaynightlive.com