Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Traditional Portuguese Handicrafts

Portugal has a great tradition of handicrafts. Each region of Portugal have their own crafts for example Alentejo where my family originates from, is best known for its hand painted pottery, wooden chairs and cork products and the world famous Arraiolos rugs. The Portuguese are proud of their traditional crafts that are readily available to buy up and down the country. These crafts are not just for the tourist, the Portuguese themselves support their heritage. Summer fairs are packed with handicraft stalls run by families who've been handed down techniques through the generations. My own Paternal Grandmother was taught the art of weaving rush seats for the Alentejano hand painted chairs, sadly that skill stayed with her and was not passed down any further.

The Portuguese have always found ways of using their natural resources, cork being a good example. They were the biggest producers of corks supplying the world's leading wine countries, but with the arrival of the screw top and plastic corks, this industry was dealt a severe blow. Undeterred, cork is now employed in the making of shoes, handbags and purses and sold the world over.

Contemporary Artists and Crafters are moving with the times and developing their own modern take on traditional crafts, mostly selling online or through their blogs thereby reaching a far wider audience. In the back streets of Lisbon you can find their work showcased in trendy boutiques and galleries such as one of my favourites Nobre Povo.

On one of our drives over the Christmas break we stopped off at one such small fair beside the beach, and found these lovely things. I particularly loved the warm sheepskin slippers, kind of regret not taking the plunge and buying myself some, blow Easyjet and their strict luggage restrictions...next time.


Beautifully embroidered bread holder.

My favourite blue and white pottery.

The famous Portuguese Cockerel in all it's colourful glory.



Purses and handbags made from cork.