All across the region, you will find artisans who make blankets, table runners, tablecloths, fine linen and rugs, using traditional materials and techniques. Palm weaving was once an important activity for many families’ budgets, as it was connected to the need to work in the fields. Today, while it may have lost some of its utilitarian importance, it has acquired ornamental qualities so that items made in this way have become not only charmingly attractive but also much sought-after. The same is true of pottery and ceramics, tiles, wooden, copper and wrought iron pieces, and magnificent decorative lace items, all of which once served merely utilitarian purposes and are now highly prized for their decorative value. The Algarve’s artisans produce unique pieces, based on deeply-rooted and longstanding traditions.
In recognition of the artistic quality of the Algarve’s handicrafts and the potential of the traditional materials used to make them, the project “Ancestral Techniques, Current Solutions”, (abbreviated as “TASA” in Portuguese), has been salvaging the skills and knowledge of the region’s traditional culture by employing innovative design and putting the materials to unexpected uses. Working with a new generation of artisans, who are helping to perpetuate tradition, new pieces are being created with more contemporary lines but which do not detract from the traditional function of handicrafts: to create attractive pieces that serve a useful purpose in the present day. Lampshades and cradles made from cork, cane paperclips, woven palm bags with pockets inside them and woven mobile phone cases are just a few examples (some of which have won awards) of this new lease of life in the traditional arts of the Algarve.
Handicrafts are like a common thread connecting us to our beginnings and which we hand down to the generations that follow us. When you discover the handicrafts of the Algarve, you discover its past, you feel its traditions and customs, and you can connect with its age-old values that embrace many different peoples and influences. Take home some of these veritable works of art which bear witness to tradition and innovation.