- Restaurant Nogues
- C/ Palangres n 1
- Can Pastilla - Illes Balears
- Palma De Mallorca - Spain
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The special characteristics of leather (flexibility, elasticity, durability and excellence) as regards its preparation and use have turned it into the essential material for many objects for personal use, decorative objects of great artistic value or for the equipment of animals used for transport, drawing or riding.
The wide range of the demand justifies the use of all kinds of leather as raw material, from mammals -calf, pig, peccary, boar, goat, etc.- to the skin of reptiles -crocodiles, serpents, lizards, etc.- for fantasy objects and skins from fish and birds. There is a great variety of specialities in working leather, depending on the techniques used and the objects produced.
The region of Ubrique (Cádiz) is the main Spanish Moroccan leather centre. Its production is concerned with small-sized articles (wallets, cases, bags, cigarette cases, purses, attach cases, etc.) Alicante, the Balearics, Málaga, Barcelona, Valencia and Prado del Rey (Cádiz) are other interesting production centres in this sense.
The preparation of leather has been -and still is- a great artistic and creative challenge, includes embossing, polychromy, openwork, carving, chiselling, hammering, etc. Especially noteworthy is the production of saddlebags or Cordovan leather which is tooled and many coloured and of Muslim origin. By themselves, they are highly decorative, although they are also used in conjunction with furniture. In Córdoba their production is kept alive, but there are also other interesting centres for tooled leather: Granada, Ubrique (Cádiz), Salamanca and Cáceres.
Despite the progressive disappearance of the saddler's craft (saddles, packsaddles) as a result of mechanising farm labour and the replacement of the animal for pulling (horses, mules, oxen, etc.) by mechanical means, there are still a large number of workshops which supply saddles, harness and everything else required of animals used for transport, pulling and riding.
In many Andalusian villages as well as in the Provinces of Toledo, Salamanca, Segovia, Burgos, La Rioja, Badajoz and Coruña, there are workshops of this kind, but their production is slowly changing towards making equipment for hunting and riding.
Another, but less widely found craft using leather as a raw material is that of making boots (botos). It can still be found in Valverde del Camino (Huelva) and in several villages of the Province of Salamanca.
The craft known as botería or the making of leather containers for keeping and transporting wine is a speciality typical of Pamplona, Bilbao and Burgos. There are, however, interesting workshops in other Spanish wine-growing centres, such as Valdepeñas (Ciudad Real), Noblejas (Toledo), Calatayud (Zaragoza), Barbastro (Huesca), etc.
Spinning and weaving
The special geographical features of Spain are responsible for the fact that until fairly recently a large number of family-run looms were still in operation in the rural areas to supply the local market.
In a simplified manner, it may be said that the weaving technique with a traditional loom consists of crossing the warp threads, ie, the horizontal ones stretched between two beams, and the weft thread which unwinds from the bobbin as the shuttle shoots backwards and forwards between the horizontal threads, according to the use of the treadles and the previous preparation of the warp threads.
The different movement of the shuttle and the heddles with the horizontal or warp threads, the change of the thread (especially to a different colour) used as the weft thread as well as the material used for both types of thread (cotton, linen, wool, cloth remains, silk, etc.) produce different kinds of cloth with patterns typical of each area or region (plain, worked, woollen blankets, silk cloth, curtains, etc.)
Looms can still be found in villages of Lugo, Orense, Albacete, Zamora, León (Val de San Lorenzo), La Alpujarra (Granada; eg, Ugijar, etc.), Extremadura and Grazalema (Cádiz). The village of El Paso on La Palma Island (Tenerife) is the only one where silk cloth is still being made. The curtains called jarapas where the weft thread consists of different types of cloth remains are still widely made everywhere, especially in Galicia, Andalucía and La Gomera (Tenerife).
Embroidery is one of the most popular crafts in Spain. It is generally practised in the family or domestic environment in rural areas and it is fortunate that every region still preserves its own characteristics as regards the technique, colour and patterns used. Most typical is the embroidery from the Province of Toledo (Lagartera, Oropesa, Navalcán and Talavera), Segovia, Zamora (Carbajales), Salamanca (La Alberca), Mallorca, Cáceres and the Canarias.
Especially outstanding is the embroidery of the ceremonial robes and processional platforms used in Holy Week or that of bullfighting costumes, while there are workshops in Sevilla, Madrid, Barcelona, Camariñas (Coruña), Almagro (Ciudad Real), the Canary Islands and Cataluña specializing in the production of lace, using bobbins, or needlepoint.
Hand-made woollen carpets are still made in Madrid, Granada, Almería (Níjar), Casasimarro (Cuenca) and some other villages in the Provinces of Zamora, Cuenca and Albacete.
Traditional tapestries are only made in Madrid today (especially at the historic Real Fábrica or Royal Factory).
Basket making and vegetable fibres
Before man learned how to mould clay, he without doubt used baskets made of vegetable fibre to transport and store food, liquids and other objects. Basically, the techniques used have hardly changed since then because in general only two elements are required in the process: the raw material and the skilled hands of the craftsman. The different Spanish regions produce a great variety of objects, depending on the raw material used and the final destination of the objects. The range covers big and small baskets made of reed, esparto, wicker, olivetree rods, chestnut or birch strips, among other material, as well as cane and wicker furniture of the most modern design.
Today the competition coming from plastics and other synthetic fibres and from the imports from countries with a cheap labour force has caused a noticeable decline of the craft, if not the complete disappearance of some of its specialities. Grouped by the objects produced, the most important crafts centres are the following:
Wicker: L'Ollería (Valencia) and Gata de Gorgos (Alicante) as well as Los Villares (Jaén); La Estrada (Pontevedra); in the region of Galicia, hazel, chestnut and wicker is used for basket making; in Ibiza, straw and esparto; in Baños de Montemayor (Cáceres) and Pravia (Asturias), chestnut, and in the Canary Islands (Ingenio and Teror), palm leaves.
Outstanding as regards wicker and reed are: Villoruelo (Salamanca), Priego (Cuenca), L'Ollería (Valencia), Gata de Gorgos (Alicante) and Valle del Oro (Pontevedra). La Gineta (Albacete) and Tortellá (Girona) specialize in rush-bottomed chairs.
Blanca (Murcia) and Jaén still produce straw and esparto carpets, while Montehermoso (Cáceres), Olla (Galicia), Ibiza and the Canarias are of special interest as regards the production of hats made with vegetable fibres.
Ibiza, Mallorca and Vall d'Uxó (CasteIIón) still make esparto- and rope-soled shoes, while Jódar (Jaén) and L'Ollería (Valencia) produce a large variety of different objects made of straw, esparto and other fibres.