Stones, skin, mud and candy from Menorca? Kiko and the Artisan Crafts Centre
I have my camera prepared. I'm going to the Artisan Center of Menorca. It is very close to Son Bou, in Es Mercadal. I will get to know the Artisan Crafts they make on this island. Did you know that they have a great tradition of Artisan products here?
It's a beautiful day to stroll from the center of town towards the fairground where the Artisan Crafts Centre is. From here on, I can see Monte Toro. Can you remember the excursion I made up there where I could get a view over the whole island? It was fun wasn´t it? Well today I will discover the Typical Artisan Crafts from Menorca that are handmade. They take a long time and therefore, in the end, are unique pieces.
The first floor of the Artisan Center is a large room full of light. I can see chairs, baskets, shoes, hats, and even clay pots hanging from the ceiling.
On a visit to the market in Alaior, Cuqui and I bought some abarcas. You know, the famous sandals worn by Menorcan farmers in the past and that are now used to wear during the summer. They are made out of comfortable leather and, now, you can also find them with beautiful designs.
Here they explain us how the footwear is handmade. They use wooden frames on which they place pieces of leather to get the right measurement and size. Then they glue them, sew them, and stain them ...It takes a whole day to make just one pair of shoes.
In Menorca there were and still remain, very good shoemakers on the island that have become highly valued in Spain for its great quality and design. A few months ago I visited the factory Ria Menorca, which is one of the companies associated with our Royal Family Rewards. There I got to see how they make these famous leather braided shoes.
Silver and gold purses
Look! It is a silver coin purse. These mesh bags can be said to have been the beginning of the jewelry tradition in Menorca. They are handmade small bags woven in gold or silver. More than 100 years ago they were fashion and all the women from all over Europe wore them. They hid them between their skirts where they carried makeup.
Clay and fire
Mold with your hands a piece of clay by using a little bit of water to make it manageable and to make a shape. Then you have to leave it in the oven and after a while you have a piece of pottery that you can use to decorate your room with. In Menorca, pottery is made for sailors to carry fresh water in their boats or to use them as containers to store their cheese in to keep it fresh.
In ancient times they collected clay of a certain depth and then they removed the impurities so that it was smooth to be able to model the figure the way they wanted. It took between a week and ten days to make the whole process and have a piece painted and finished.
Have you ever sailed a llaüt?
It is a traditional Menorcan boat made of wood by specialized carpenters called "shore carpenters". They use pine wood, olive or holm oak. They pick trees that are near to the sea and that have been curved by the wind.
Once the boat was built, they took it into the sea to celebrate as it was a great day. After all, it had taken them more than a year of craftsmanship to build it.
Now most of the boats are made of fiber and the shore carpenters are dedicated, above all, to repair the wooden boats. In Menorca they continue to build llaüts with success.
Chopping for stones in the quarry
Large stones are used to build columns, steps or moldings. The material that is most used in Menorca is marés, a white and bare stone that is less hard than marble and therefore easier to mold.
In these days, buildings are made of concrete, bricks and iron but formerly they built the houses with mares to build wide walls to isolate them from the outside temperature. Surely you have seen some of these old houses on the island.
A blue chair
The esparto seat. Surely you've seen them on many occasions, but did you know that craftsmen make small braids with strands of esparto and bind them with thread to make baskets, carpets or stools?
It is a very laborious work when only using hands, specimen needles and thread. Now they make more with plastic or rubber but these are more environmentally friendly and durable.
Shall we play?
They invite me to discover the mystery of the crafts of Menorca. It's a fun game. You get to see all the stands and you need to guess what tool all craftsmen work with! There is only one tool that they all use. Do you know which one it is? You will have to visit the Center and play along yourself. It is easy! But I'm not going to tell you which one so that you too can participate in the game.
Candy? Yes please!
I see candy hanging from the ceiling. They form a curtain of colors. When talking about crafts in Menorca, we cannot forget the savories such as: Ensaimadas, crespells, and pastissets. Oh, it has made me hungry just by thinking of all of this delicious food!
I was recently at the Pastry Shop Can Pons. They invited me to make ensaimadas with them and they taught me how to make them spongy and delicious. It is another company that is also associated with our Royal Family Rewards and is very close to here.
I think I'll stop at the Craft Center store to buy some wooden puzzles that I'll give to my friends at Club Kikoland. Did you know there are also craft tradings? Here you can see some very interesting ones. Do you know how technology has affected them? Now many jobs are done with machines that save time but there are still many craftsmen who enjoy working with their hands.