Traditional arts

In Spanish Blossom we want to have a representation of some of the finest examples of traditional art work from Spain and Portugal. The artisans that create these pieces follow the same ways that their grandparents used, and even before. Please check out the story behind this century-old (or even millennial) traditional arts below, and the beauty of the products made using them.


Handmade embroidery from Almagro

One of the identity signs of Almagro is the handmade embroidery. Today, and as in many other manual or artisan activities, this traditional art has become less and less frequent among the general population. Almagro keeps the tradition alive, and today you still can find some women working on their embroidery labors in the warm afternoon of spring or summer, singing popular songs and talking about the latest gossip in town, with the sound of the bolillos in the background.

The bolillos embroidery work is a traditional art introduced in the XVI century by the Fucars, a family of bankers from the Netherlands, which took control of the Almaden mines in the vicinity of Almagro. The ancestral origin of this traditional art is still disputed between Netherlands, Italy and Spain (where it could have been reintroduced after the tradition was lost). During the XVI and XVII century, the bolillos embroidery tradition experienced a peak in production in all this area of Toledo, appearing even in the most famous book in Spanish, Don Quixote, as a very well paid women labor.

In 1766 the production of these products starts to be regularized, with women communities working for certain businessmen that control the sales and shipping of the items out of Almagro. It is during that time that the area specializes in producing the mantillas that we bring you today in our collection.

In the XX century, this traditional art became less popular among the rural women, also being accompanied by a loss of population in the villages. Now the area of Calatrava specializes in luxury artisan work, as mantillas, mantones, fans and other complements.

Check out the collection here 

 

Handmade knitting items for babies

If you have ever meet a Spanish family with little kids, one of the things you will realize is that those babies are typically very well dressed in a classic style. Even they might live out of Spain, they tend to stay with the traditional classic way of dressing their little ones, specially for the big celebrations.

In the past, most part of the beautiful clothes that these Spanish babies were wearing came from one of their grandmothers, that would knit a ton of little jackets, booties and so on for their grand kid to come. They would be unique pieces of very high quality that would pass between siblings, and even among generations.

Today, most of these pieces are store bought and machine made, being the quality of the fabric and construction very much inferior to the ones made by hand.

In Spanish Blossom, we have searched for a store that still distributes this small pieces of knitted love for babies, that can keep them warm and cozy, while they also look adorable.

Check out the collection here

 

 

Esparto bags

In the southeast of Spain the weather is dry and the landscape is typically arid, so it is very easy to find large areas occupied by grassy or bushy plants as the esparto. Some of the characteristics of this type of plant are its durability, long and narrow leaves, and plume-like sprigs.

Up to the XX century, this plant was widely used in Spain and Portugal to make farm working tools, home tools, farm animals’ implements, etc.

Today, its use as a material for tools has been displaced by more modern ones such as rubber, plastic or synthetic fiber. Nevertheless, some areas in Spain and Portugal keep the traditional way of working the esparto.

The word esparto is typically used to name the leaves of the plant, while the whole plant is called Atocha or Espartera. Its use as material for tools started with the construction of strings, baskets, farming tools, etc.

The Phoenicians and the Carthaginians trade with esparto all over the Mediterranean sea, and in Roman texts from Strabo or Pliny there are references of the exploitation of this plant in the Iberian Peninsula from 500 BC It was after the Roman conquest that the esparto commerce really pushed forward, especially in the areas of Andalusia and Murcia.

The use of esparto peaked during the XIX century, when it started to be very popular in all Europe, and especially in UK. The workers would harvest the plants and then braid the leaves for basket or bags production, that would be used for transportation of goods. In latter times, it was introduced a pre-processing of the leaves to soften the material and make the braiding work much easier and the final product more attractive.

Even there are still some esparto industry, there are some artisans that keep the traditional art of working with this plant alive, and keep producing bags and baskets as their grandparents did. These products are very valued because of their durability and resistance, as well as being part of the culture of Iberian Peninsula for the last 2500 years.

Check out the collection here