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Bringing Haiti Home

Mary Ragsdale will film video for itscactus

Meet Mary Ragsdale, who will be helping us bring Haiti home to you.

We’ve got an exciting few days ahead – another buying trip to Haiti! But this time, we are fortunate to have an additional intrepid traveller with us. Along with Casey and her mom Gigi and I, Mary Ragsdale will be joining us. And Mary’s got skills. I personally regard them as superpowers, for SHE does video….

Everybody knows that video tells a story that simple photos cannot. With Mary behind the camera, we will be able to share with you so much more of the Haitian experience than we’ve ever been able to before. We’ve had the “Visit Haiti” segment on our website for quite some time but now we’ll elevate the whole production, with a start-to-finish clip on how Haitian metal sculpture is made.

You will also see scenes of of Croix-des-Bouquets and daily life. We’ll do a video piece on pumping water and the women who head carry it back

Video will help bring the Haiti we love home.

Video will be another way for you to meet our artists and their families.

to their homes for washing, drinking and cooking. In a voodoo temple, we’ll take viewers on a “nickel tour” and interview practitioners on some of their rituals and observances. Another piece we’ve got in mind is on voodoo flags, how they are made and how they are sold on the “Voodoo Tree.” All in all, the newly shot videos will enable us to share our experiences and provide a glimpse into the lives and work of our artists and their families in Haiti.

It’s a pretty heady prospect! It is so helpful for people understand the art that they buy, where it comes from, what it takes to create it, and how their purchases helps the artists who produce it. Understanding takes the enthusiasm level from “I like it,” to “I love it!” And that’s just what we llke to hear!


Contributed by Linda for It’s Cactus

Letting the Skeleton Out of the Closet

I wasn't kidding about the skeleton in my closet! Sculpture by Jean Claude Soulouque

I wasn’t kidding about the skeleton in my closet! Sculpture by Jean Claude Soulouque

Labor Day has passed and suddenly, it’s fall. Of course, in the scientific sense, it is not fall until the autumnal equinox has occurred. This is when the sun shines directly on the Equator and the length of day and night are very nearly equal, happening this year on Sept. 23rd at 08:22 Universal Coordinated Time, according to timeanddate.com, just in case you were wondering. All of that is well and good – not to mention precise – but to me, fall has arrived already. The school busses are back in the neighborhhood, the temperatures are starting their blessed annual slide, and if I look very, very carefully, I can see the first signs that the leaves are starting to loosen their grip on the twigs and branches above me. That is all the proof I need.

So all of that reminds me that I have a skeleton in the closet that should come out. Maybe not right away, but at least I should start thinking about it. I might try carrying him around a little bit, give him some air, and see if if I can’t find a fresh, new spot for him to while away the hours. Yes, it is time to generate some new decorating ideas for the Day of the Dead and Halloween next month!

I have had my skeleton for a couple of years now, and I tell you, I love it. But every year it is the same. I put it on one of my two front porch pillars and there it hangs, like a macabre sentinel, guarding the Door of Dread. It looks good – great, in fact, if I may say so. But still, it’s got other possibilities. I just need to find them.

Should I dress him up? Hang him elsewhere? Use him in some other manner? The first two below are my favorites. What do you think?

IMG_9102 (640x640)IMG_9095 (640x640)IMG_9090 (640x640)IMG_9083 (640x640)



Contributed by Linda for It’s Cactus

Starfish Possibilities


Our latest design addition – this lovely set of starfish by Ybernson Excellent. Get all the details at itscactus,com

Creating designs is one of the fun aspects of working with our Haitian artists. Often, we see new and wonderful designs in their shops in Haiti and we can draw and discuss our ideas face-to-face.  In between trips, they send us photos of their work. When we see something that we particularly like, we talk about tweaks and refinements back and forth through text and emails and then we submit a sample order to the artist of half a dozen so that we can see that the quality will be consistent.

One of our latest successes has been our new starfish. Based on a photo sent to us by Ybernson Excellent, we knew they hadIMG_9048 (640x640) terrific potential. We sampled them back in June, placed a fulll order in July and now, having arrived at the docks last week, they are in our warehouse, ready to go. And look! See how beautiful they are? The contouring and beadwork is spot-on and they have so many decorative possibilities!

One such decorating opportunity occurred to me this weekend, while I was setting up for a wedding shower with an “Under the Sea” theme. Arranged on the table with a few other theme-appropriate accessories, everything combined to make a nice centerpiece. One large one looked terrific propped up against nautical lanterns on the drinks table. No nails or easels required – how great is that?

Of course it goes without saying that the starfish can be hung easily on the wall. One nail through the hole provided is all it takes. They can be arranged together or in groupings with other items, such as around a mirror or another piece of art. They also look great when paired with another of our sculptures – say a mermaid, for instance. Scatter a few underneath one of the larger pieces to ” tell the story.”

Sold in sets of three, these sea stars are well-crafted and versatile. Additionally, they are weather-proof, handmade, fair trade, and all of that good stuff. So what would YOU do with a starfish? Love to see YOUR ideas!IMG_9041 (640x637)



Contributed by Linda for “It’s Cactus”

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