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Handicrafts Route's in Majorca

In pretouristic Majorca, the authenticity of the Balearic products was invaded by the people who arrived on the islands from the four corners of the globe. Evidently, the arrival of between fifteen and thirty million visitors a year have developed an extremely important industry of economic power all over the island. But the local manufacturers who still remain, the shoemakers, the glass blowers, ceramics, artificial pearls, carved olive wood, copper plating, hand sewn borders, etc make up the autochthonous island catalogue. The shoe industry, one of the big industries on the island, situated in the municipality of Inca, is steaming ahead with prestigious local brands such as Camper, Yanko, Lottusse, Farrutx, Barrats, Bestard, etc...Inca, capital of the Es Raiguer area, right in the centre of Majorca, is home to important shoe and leather goods industries which is why it is known as la ciutat de la pell (city of leather). Both the leather and shoe industries have marked the productive growth throughout the centuries.

The first shoemakers guild in Inca was founded in the XVIII century, but it was in 1875 the city underwent an economic boom which tripled its population. Today the fame of the internationally well known shoemakers goes unargued because the shoes are hand made in a historically traditional way, which have evolved in their designs to become world leaders.

In Manacor, on the other hand, pearls are main industry, the famous Majorica Pearls. Many different personalities have walked through their establishment, from American presidents to famous actors and musicians, who as a souvenir have taken pearls away with them. The creation of the Majorica Pearls starts with the preparation of the interior nucleus and from there they undergo a similar process to the one inside an oyster. The nucleus is coated layer by layer with a substance obtained from organic sea products which give the pearl its exceptional shine which awards it the title of being the best imitation of a natural pearl. They are therefore high quality costume jewellry.

Another very interesting product, is glass blowing at the famous Gordiola or Lafiore glassworks, which still exist in Valldemossa and Algaida respectively. The glass is moulded under lung pressure by turning it while the molten glass is still liquid. The same glass which was blown in Venice and which appears in Punic digs is still produced in the same way in these glassworks. The art of glass blowing, the wonderful ability and the skill while working on it makes up one of the most precious values of our artistic traditions. The origin of glass blowing in Majorca goes back to the year 1719, where it came from the Aragon kingdom. A young man moved to the island and asked the Cort (Palma Town Hall) for permission to make a glass oven. The favourable report, dated 1719 gave Don Gaspar de Puigdorfila the necessary authorisation. The oven was financed by a Catalonian-Aragonese merchant called Gordiola, where the name comes from. It must be said that the Phoenicians were the first settlers to install ovens to manufacture glass in Majorca. Silica, soda and lime along with a temperature of 1,100 degrees centigrade and the main ingredients. Jugs, bottles, candelabras, gourds, figures, fruti bowls, glasses, stained glass windows... each piece unique and different is born in the knowledge of the Majorcan craftsmen. Even today we can observe a live demonstration of what comes out of the imagination and experience.

Another of the most important memories of the island, and doubtless the oldest becase of the fact that it dates back to prehistoric times, are the siurells. Siruells are small baked clay figures which express an ancient traditional handy craft. They are small totemic figures, painted with lime and with red and green swathes which captivated Joan Mir who included them in some of his sculptures and paintings. They represent the telluric expression of the mythological past of cultures. Firstly, the siurell; modest baked clay whistle, whitened and moulded into many shapes and forms: animals, demons, people, horeses, etc. It seems that the first settlers used clay from Puig Blanc for their ceramic works, mainly in Portol which has a long tradition of ceramics, known as the Terra del fang (land of clay). Clay is still worked as it was many years ago.

In Majorca there is a long tradition of hand crafts and a demanding hand craft market. Hand emboidery is also very important (for example Casa Bonet), olive wood carving, wrought iron, the palma and raffia manufacturing (above all in Capdepera) among many other crafts as well as the ones we have listed above.

More information:
Museum of the Clay in Portol
Visits of interest in Manacor
A stroll by the urban nucleus of Inca

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