One of the best things about a trip to Spain is all the beautiful handicrafts you can buy. Decades ago, Spanish handicrafts were cheap and available everywhere. Nowadays, as Spain has developed, they’re more difficult to find and, of course, much more expensive. But, if you enjoy shopping for handicrafts, Spain is still the place to go and these five best Spanish handicrafts the best to buy.
Hand-Made Lace – Thirty five years ago, one of the first Spanish handicrafts my mother always bought when we holidayed in Spain was handmade lace. Gorgeous lace tablecloths, napkins, lace-bordered towels, handkerchiefs, blouses, jackets and scarves, if you appreciate beautiful handmade lace, you’ll find some of the world’s best in Spain.
Spain is particularly well known for a style of lace called Tenerife Lace, which was originally developed in the Tenerife area of the country. The lace is made in circular designs,with intricate patterns created within each circle. Absolutely gorgeous.
Some areas of Spain still have lace factories with the prerequisite factory tours, but you’re better buying Spanish lace from the lace maker themselves or from one of the many small shops or market stalls set up that specialize in lace.
Ceramics and Pottery – I’m a collector of ceramics and pottery, so the first handicraft I buy on every trip to Spain is a piece of Spanish pottery or ceramics. Every area of Spain produces different styles and designs of pottery. On our last trip to Albir last month, I bought several pieces of very brightly colored and more-primitive style ceramics made in the Alicante area of the country. The trip before, my purchases were more intricately designed yet more muted colors, as these were purchased in Andalucia.
Look for everything from plates, cups and mugs, to intricately handpainted ceramic house number plates, platters, plant pots, candlesticks, sangria pitchers, wine bottle stoppers, tiles, urns, vases – you name it they make it in pottery in Spain.
Spanish Guitars – Famous for their flamenco and folk music, Spain still produces tens of thousands of handmade Spanish guitars every year. Refusing to join the mass-produced guitar market, Spanish craftsmen and women continue to create handcarved, hand-lacquered wooden guitars that produce a completely unique sound.
You’ll find Spanish guitar shops in every Spanish town and in many small villages too. Handmade guitars are also found at craft fairs, on markets and in department stores. Oddly too, they’re usually cheaper than the mass-produced Asian guitars currently flooding the rest of the world’s marketplaces.
Leather – Spain has always been famous for its handmade leather products, starting with leather handbags and wallets, belts and shoes, to larger pieces like leather jackets and coats, and smaller items like leather and suede slippers, Spanish leather is superbly tooled, hand-colored and cut.
Look for leather handbags in every style from traditional to ultra-modern. Wallets are a good buy too, as are small items like keychain holders and lipstick carriers and, of course, the easily recognizable suede-lined-with-fur beige slippers. Shoes made in the Alicante area of Spain are also high on the list of most handicraft connoisseurs.
Spanish leather is available in department stores, specialty shops, small family-owned businesses and, of course, on Spain’s thousands of weekly markets. Prices vary so do research before buying and, on the markets, don’t forget you can bargain.
Handmade Jewelry – On any trip to Spain, avoid the mass amounts of imported Chinese jewelry and look for the handmade Spanish jewelry instead. Intricately designed modern pieces are mixed in with traditional Spanish conservative designs, in top quality gold and silver, and with everything from lapis lazuli to pearls and even hand-polished pebbles picked up on Spain’s many beaches.
Some of the best handmade Spanish jewelry is found on town markets. I picked up several beautiful pieces on markets in Albir and Altea on the Costa Blanca last month and at prices around half of what I used to pay in England. I also got to meet the jewelry artists personally this way, and ask questions about each piece.
Photo copyright – Spanish guitar by BritandBeyonce/Creative Commons