The best evidence of the importance of crafts in Castilla La Mancha is the craft fair held every year in Toledo.
Farcama is the largest and one of the best craft fairs in Spain. It is a promotional showcase for regional crafts, which displays the best work of our artisans. The most representative sectors in the exhibition are ceramics, leather, furniture, forged iron and textiles, having a place for both traditional styles and new trends. Handicraft workshops are making their way into society little by little, covering a range of needs increasingly demanded, through the development of custom and attractive items, able to improve our quality of life.
We will introduce now the crafts that is produced in our region.
BOBBIN LACE: ALMAGRO
Bobbin lace, present throughout the Western culture, came to Almagro in 16th century with the arrival in Spain of Charles I and his Flemish court. Bobbin lace as paid work existed in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in La Mancha as it is mentioned by Cervantes in Don Quixote. The use of lace on clothing had its heyday in the seventeenth century, as seen in some works by Velázquez. An important development in the use of lace shawls took place in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Until the twentieth century bobbin lace has been present in rural women´s daily lives. Their learning was transmitted from mother to daughter, inheriting the skills, patterns and designs, besides being a financial supplement for the family income. Bobbin lace, also called pillow lace, is a handmade lace worked on a pillow with threads wound on bobbins; the pattern is marked out on the pillow by pins.
Rarely the image of a community is so much connected to an art product as the city of Albacete is connected to its cutlery industry. The knives making tradition was inherited from Muslims. Knives from Albacete are decorated with very beautiful filigrees. Knives have had a major presence in our history for centuries and not only as domestic utensils, but also as valuable defensive weapons. Currently the weapons used in movies such as "Gladiator" are made by artisans in Albacete.
Toledois the world's largest center of Damascene production. Damascene is the art of decorating non-precious metals with gold. It has its roots in the Middle Ages and originates from the oriental-style artisan work done in Damascus, Syria.
Damascene items generally reflect two distinct traditional types of patterns; the Arabesque or geometric designs, and the Renaissance motifs, displaying variations of birds and flowers. These patterns are obtained by engraving deep, patterned cuts into steel and then placing a gold foil into the lines of the design. This foil is hammered until the gold penetrates into the cuts, forming the design. Each piece is treated with a bluing solution to obtain oxidation and a black background is created. The back of all Damascene pieces are finished with gold metal. Damascene is no longer handmade, it is an industrialized process, nowadays, given the high number of products on demand, but there are also some traditional workshops producing high quality items. Damascene industry in Toledo, along with knives and swords industry, supplies this art craft to all the shops in Spain where it is sold as a souvenir.
CERAMICS: TALAVERA DE LA REINA AND PUENTE DEL ARZOBISPO
Two towns lie along the banks of the TajoRiver, near Toledo with a rich legacy on artisan ceramics. Talavera de la Reina and El Puente de Arzobispo have been using the clay from the river to fabricate ceramics since pre-historic times. With a Roman basis, and Moroccan influence, ceramics from Talavera and Puente have international renown and have gained fame for the works that adorn places so famous, such as El Escorial in Spain.
The village of Lagartera is renowned for its centuries-old tradition in embroidery, needlework and lace making. Lagartera embroidery is a fascinating technique using simple satin stitch and double running stitch to create geometric patterns and elegant scrolls.
From the 15th to 17th century, Toledo flourished with an exceptional blade making industry, surpassing other Spanish cities. Toledo was considered as the standard of excellence for European blade production, only a few places surpassed Toledo in terms of production volume. Blade production in Toledo was the responsibility of individual smiths, associated in a guild. It was a rather disperse and personal activity, although the guild was in charge of keeping production quality at a high level.
Kings from all parts of the world have had swords and sabers forged in Toledo. Even Japanese Samurai were aware of the existence of Toledo´s steel as it had been introduced by the Spanish merchants, they even came to Toledo to have their katana forged there.The swords appearing in films such as The Lord of the Rings or Conan the Barbarian were made in Toledo.
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