About Arts & Crafts in Mallorca
Mallorca has a rich tradition of arts and handicrafts, many of which can be seen and bought at the islands local markets. Glass-blowing and pottery/ceramics are well established, as are leather goods. And Mallorca is also a world-famous centre for the production of artificial pearls.
You can follow itineries to visit artisans in their workshops, or by making an appointment directly to arrange a visit. Master craftsmen & women can be found in this rather excellent download detailing Handicraft Itineries (beware, it is a large pdf file!).
Markets that feature real handicrafts made by local artisans include Arta, Pollenca and Inca. There are various craft fairs held throughout the year in Mallorca - the autumnal fairs in particular showcase traditional craft stalls, and you can check our Events Calender for these annual events.
Glass blowing has been a part of Mallorca's history since the Phoenicians visited the Balearic Islands back in the 2nd century BC. The tradition continued with new techniques being introduced by the Romans and the Moors. Commercial factories were set up during the 18th century, with the Gordiola factory being established in 1719.
The three major players in glass making on Majorca are Gordiola (nr Algaida), La Fiore (Palma-Valledemossa) and Menestralia (Campanet). Each one has a factory that you can visit to watch the glass blowers in action, alongside their showrooms of brightly coloured products. Each piece is hand finished, ensuring the quality of the final products. The style tends towards the colourful and the sturdy, with plates, vases, bowls, light fittings and ornaments - something for everyone!
You can find Mallorcan glassware on sale in Palma as well as the factories, and in some of the larger markets.
Jewellery & decorations
Mallorca craftsmen specialise in producing 18th century style jewelery, such as gold chains that sit around a woman's waist. The Mallorcan Cross is also a traditional item (a Greek cross set within a rhombus). More contemporary jewellery can also be found in Mallorca, pieces often include precious stones.
Dried flowers are also common in Mallorca and are used as table decorations and for special occasions.
Toy makers still flourish, particularly wooden toys. Musical instruments (the traditional Xeremies (bagpipes), Flabiols (Piccolos) and Tambori (small drum) continue to be made locally. Watch out for them at local fairs and fiestas.
Leather goods have been designed and manufactured on Mallorca for many centuries. The skill came from the Muslim culture over 1000 years ago. Inca is the home to world-famous shoe brand Camper, whose factories were established in 1877. And indeed, Inca is regarded as the home of leather manufacturers on Mallorca, and products such as jackets, bags and wallets can all be bought from showrooms around the town. The Inca market, held every Thursday is an ideal opportunity to peruse the selection of leather items. If you prefer not to haggle, go directly to the factory showrooms found on the main road just outside the town centre.
Those who worked in the leather industry diversified into weaving, embroidery and other fabric related products. Hemp has been grown on Mallorca for generations and its versatility has been important through the ages - it can be soft, coarse, absorbant, insulating and strong.
Another traditional fabric is Roba de Llengues (cloth of tongues). This is made from lengths of cotton (70%) and linen (30%) yarn, parts of which have been waterproofed so that when the threads are dyed, only those pieces which have not been waterproofed soak up the colour. This creates distinctive faded edges. The threads are then woven in such a way that the resulting material is reversible. The fabric is used to make a variety of products, including curtains, shoes, upholstery and bedspreads. There are three companies in Mallorca that produce this material - try Teixits Vicens in Pollenca.
You'll find many fabric products such as tablecloths, towels, cushions and hats at the local markets, in addition to sandals and espadrilles.
Painting & drawing
Artists have long been drawn to Mallorca so original paintings and drawings are widely available. Palma has many top quality private art galleries and there are around a dozen artists who live and work on the island. The traditional place for artists to settle was Deia but this has become too expensive for many of the newer artists. Palma is your better bet to discover new artists.
The town of Manacor has been producing artificial pearls for around 100 years. The locals found that they could almost replicate a natural pearl using fish scales. The pearls are made by creating a crystal nucleus which is then bathed in a solution made from natural marine products and fish scales. As a layer of the solution wraps around the crystal, it is dried with a heated rotating wheel beofre another layer is added. The process is repeated until the pearl of the desired size, shape and weight is produced. The thickness of the layers relates to the quality of the finished pearl.
The pearls are subjected to many quality control checks throughout the manufacturing process, which ensures any defective pearls are eliminated. Artificial pearls tend to be more resistant to damage caused by perspiration, perfume and make-up.
There are several pearl factories that you can visit to watch the manufacturing process, and each comes with large showrooms to display their products. The main companies are Orquidea, Marjorica, Madreperla, Ondina and Crisali. The factories can be found on the main road from Montuiri to Manacor, around 30km east from Palma. For more information, please see our Shops & Boutiques Page.
Pottery & ceramics
Pottery has been a part of Mallorca's civilizations since the Neolithic age, and Roman and Moorish influences ensured the advancement of techniques. The Hispanic-Moorish pottery style was exported throughout Europe, such was its success. Palma became a major area for pottery in the 15th century, with the area of Sa Gerreria housing many pottery workshops. (and this area still contains artisan studios where you can watch the tradesmen at work).
Nowadays, the most important pottery areas are the towns of Pòrtol and sa Cabaneta of Marratxí, where there are large deposits of red clay that can be used in the workshops. The Museu des Fang (pottery museum) is located in sa Cabaneta and there are many potteries in the area that you can visit (the Ruta del Fang). There is a Pottery Fair (Fira del Fang) every March in Marratxi which is hugely popular and showcases a wide selection of pots, plates, tiles and jugs. All of Mallorca's leading potters are represented and prices here are much better than in the tourist shops.
Baleart is a Christmas craft fair held in Palma each December, with stalls selling everything from pottery and hand-made shoes to Mallorcan wines and sobrasada sausages.
The traditional ceramic piece is the siurell - ancestral earthenware figures painted in bright colours that doubles as a whistle. They come in all shapes and sizes (the most common design is a man on horseback) and are painted white with flashes of red and green. They are cheap, children love them, and the artist Joan Miro was much influenced by their brightness and simplicty. Other products include household and garden items, such as flower pots, window boxes, candelabras, coffee sets and pipes. 'Gerretes' are clay jars that are decorated with clay braids and are typical of pottery from Manacor and Felantix.
You can find pottery and ceramic shops in many towns and villages, as well as the markets that are held all over Majorca. Try Placa Major in Palma for a good selection or take a trip to Portol and follow the 'Ruta del Fang' to visit the ceramicists workshops and stores.
Mallorca has a long history of working with stone, dating back to the Talayotic culture from 2000 BC. Stone workers were also vitally important to build the dry stone walls and terraces in the Tramuntana mountaiins so that the land could be cultivated. The stones here are not held together by mortar or cement, and this is a skill which continues to be learned in Mallorca today.
Stone also features heavily in the construction of houses, fincas and huts, with many properties featuring interior stone walls too. Stone masons have today turned their attention to more decorative pieces such as fireplaces, lamps, hand basins, paving and statues. Mallorcan sandstone is the most common stone to be used.
An annual stone fair is held in May in Binissalem where the traditin of stone working is celebrated. Check our Events Calender for this year's dates (note, the dates are sometimes not released until very late in the day!).
There is a fine tradition of working in wood in Mallorca, mainly due to the need to build boats for fishing and trrading. Soller is particulary renowned fot its skill in boat building, such as the traditional xabecs and llauts which were constructed from oak, Mallorcan pine and Nordic pine.
Nowadays woodworkers create many wonderful products from tables, doors & shutters, to more decorative pieces made from olive wood such as bowls and cooking utensils. Traditionally made furniture can be found in stores in Manacor, although individual craftsmen can be found throughout Mallorca - see the Handicraft Itineries as above. Or look out at the local markets and fairs for handcrafted peices.