A greeting card from Portugal.

ARTELUSA is an exclusive Brand of ITALTEMPO, a company created in 1998 as a player in the field of research, production and marketing of gift items for museums and high profile corporate clients.

1998, the year Italtempo was founded, was also a year of Portuguese presidency of the European Union – and this presented a unique opportunity for the company to develop a new idea it had been nurturing for sometime: the promotion of Portuguese cork in a line of gift items with high quality and design, which would also enhance the role of cork as premium material for distinctive gift items identified with Portugal. ICEP, the Portuguese Government Commerce Department, did in fact select items from the range proposed by Italtempo for gifts to the distinguished UE visitors and members of the international press.

In 2000 we were invited to make cork merchandising  for the Portuguese pavilion at the HANOVER’S EXPO.
Member of the prestigious International Museum Merchandising Group (IMMG), a major supplier of gift items for museums all over the world, Italtempo  was until April 2010 managed by Manuela Almeida Graça, the head of a small family team who have been developing contacts all over the world in order to cater to the needs of numerous museums. Among their clients are the world renowned Sintra palaces and castles and, appropriately, the famous cork-lined Capuchos Convent, and many other museums, in Portugal and abroad, as well as embassies, banks, hotels also.

The extensive international research for its novelty items, a branch of the business which has been enhanced by the recent addition of daughter PAOLA GRACA ,  second generation, who is now in charge of expansion. Exports are also increasing with a roster of clients spread out over the United States, Canada, Brazil, Luxemburg,Scandinavia, France and Spain, besides the recent introduction in a cruise line souvenir stores.

Their range of gift items is diversified but a passion for cork led Manuela and Paola to develop a special collection, ARTELUSA, for national and international clients. With much imagination and a series of partnerships with small, specialized industries, they have been launching a number of products ranging from corporate to fashion, including briefcases, pen-drives, organizers, belts, hats, handbags and even an unusual and every elegant umbrella!

The oak bark can take many forms after processing, from the soft sheen of cork-paper to the more robust belt materials or again the pliable and soft finish used for handbags, hats, etc; not forgetting the quaint decoration pieces that make use of the original rugged bark of the oak tree.

Attributing its success to the high quality of its raw material and of Portuguese traditional craftsmanship, ARTELUSA is now on the highroad to globalization proving that the circumnavigation of cork did not end with the Discoveries of the past!

The Cork

It’s a large dark green patch spreading over a vast part of the map of a very small country. 736 thousand hectares, which corresponds roughly to a third all of the oak forests of the world’s 7 great producers: Portugal, Spain. Algeria, Morocco, France, Tunisia and Italy. Beyond the Tagus river, the Mediterranean cork oak, Quercus Suber, reigns sovereign, providing Portugal with almost 190 thousand tons of harvested cork, roughly 51-54% of the world’s production.

The cork oak is atree that needs to be nurtured and cherished by successive generations. Its productive life begins only after 25 years, when the tree attains a girth of 70 cm and the nine-year cycle of growth and harvest can be initiated… to last then for 150, maybe 200 years.

For many thousands of years cork has been a companion to man’s evolution. Five thousand years ago it was already used in fishing tackle, from far China to the shores of Babylon. And in Ephesus, a amphora from I B.C. as found some years ago, with its cork stopper preserving still the wine inside!

The Portuguese, who have never been famed for a wise management of their patrimony, showed nevertheless exceptional good sense with regard to this treasure of their native land, decreeing, as early as 1209, the first agrarian laws to protect their oak forests - the “montados”. The oak also played an important role in the Portuguese voyages of discovery for the “caravela” builders soon found that the native “sôvaro” timber, as the oak was then called, was ideal for the more exposed areas of the ships, such as masts and decks, for it never showed rot.

But have really earned the oak, and cork, their international prominence was the alliance with wine. In fact, from the moment the glass container was invented, it did not take long to recognize that they were natural partners, particularly as to the preservation of the quality of wines.

Nevertheless new windows of opportunity began turning up, such as flooring and other building materials, table and kitchen accessories, more recently an extraordinary line of seats for the automobile industry and, more amazing perhaps, the use of cork as insulation in high profile undertakings such as space travel: the shuttle Columbia’s huge fuel tank had a protective lining which incorporated cork extracted from 225 Portuguese oaks!

Another industry has also come to be seduced by the charm of Cork: fashion and its innumerous accessories. It’s natural honeyed tone which can be nuanced, the satiny effect of the finishing, the versatility in applications from the ancient use for sandals to modern and attractive attaché cases, light and airy hats, purses and handbags in imaginative design, and even lightweight but robust and effective umbrellas, the way for cork is definitely forward…

At ARTELUSA we know we’re dealing with a trump card: a raw material that is natural, elegant, versatile, and obtained from a renewable source that is enhanced rather than destroyed in the process of production – the oak tree needs to be stripped of its bark in order to have a long life, interlinking centuries and generations.

Because we love Nature, we chose to work within the boundaries of its harmony and preservation. That is why our collection is so special. Be like us, at ARTELUSA.

Think green. Think Cork.



  • Address:
  • Rua João de Freitas Branco – 36 A
  • 1500-359 Lisboa – Portugal
  • Phone: +351 217 530 481 /82
  • Fax: +351 217 530 483
  • Mobile: +351 911 132 255
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