Who can resist tasting an exquisite payoyo cheese accompanied by a serrano wine, sweets, honey, traditionally made olive oil after buying a handmade handbag or a unique piece of pottery?
These are only a few samples of the crafts that can be found at the First Market of Local Product and Crafts that will take place in hotel Fuerte Grazalema (Cadiz, Spain) every weekend from 25th May to 1st July (from Friday to Sunday). In this market of local and traditionally made products from Sierra de Grazalema, the visitor will able to see, smell and taste high-quality products such as goat and sheep cheese from the area, homemade sweets, honey, olive oil and wine produced using ancestral techniques. Besides, pottery made in ceramic furnaces or 100% handmade handbags with unique designs could be seen and purchased.
We would like to introduce to one of these craftsmen, Fernado García, an artist, who just behind the counter of La Tienda Chica (the Small Shop) in the marvellous white village of Grazalema, shows us its “unique masterpieces”: 100% handmade handbags. Fernando has been making and selling his leather crafts for more than 15 years: unique handmade handbags with an exclusive design, for he only makes one sample of each design.
Fernando comes from Madrid, where he used to work as an airplane mechanic, while he practiced his true passion, design. Weary of city life, he came to live in Andalucía and with his uncle’s saddlery tools resumed the leather production and design. Fortunately, he had arrived to a place that is well-known for his leather workshops, so he found it very easy to find high-quality leathers and furs. He started off selling products at home and in crafts fairs, but soon he was able to establish himself in the touristic Grazalema village, where he now has a successful business. We interview the craftsman:
Don’t you get tired of doing the same thing during for so many years?
It is impossible to get tired, I never do the same thing twice! I never repeat a design. I go down to Ubrique to buy the leathers. Once I find the right leather, I study it, I touch it and smell it. In these very first moments, the first ideas come to my mind, because each leather is different and suggests something different and that’s why there are never two identical designs. Each handbag is a unique product. After using the patter, I throw it away. I love living in Grazalema, family life and my true passion is making handbags. That’s why design is not very hard for me. Everything starts from leathers and once they are bought, the ideas grow vigorously, usually at home while having a beer in the evenings. For me it is easy to create new designs because the ideas come to my mind and flow without problems”.
Fernando has made thousands of handbags during all these years and people from all over the world have bought them when they travel to Grazalema. I think his success is based in the “100% handmade” label of all his products.
“Unfortunately, in leather crafts in this area the term “100% handmade” is wrongly and widely used. Sometimes, they should say “I have used my hands in the production of this craft while using a sewing machine. But I am so proud to say my products are truly handmade…”
Fernando says goodbye to us with an interesting calling: “I invite anyone interested to visit my workshop to see there is not a single machine in it!”. From Fuerte Hoteles we invite you to come and discover Fernando’s work as well as the numerous stories that are behind the small-scale producers and craftsmen and women who earn their livings working hard and carefully in the region.
This is the philosophy behind Fuerte Hoteles and Fundación Fuerte, which organize this type of cultural and local events in Andalucía. For that reason, we suggest that you discover the beauty and the charm of Grazalema and of one of the most beautiful Spanish fir forests in Europe at Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park with its hiking trails, the perfect spot for a family trip or a romantic getaway.
Fuerte Grazalema is situated in the middle of an oak tree forest with views over the Guadalete Valley. Crafts and local products in an incomparable location, anything better for a getaway?