The islands’ isolation created the need for the inhabitants to put their hands to work in order to overcome daily obstacles.
Over time the advent of new modes of transportation exposed the region to the exterior bringing it closer to Europe and the rest of the world. What was once considered of great necessity for the people, today represents a rich Azorean artistic technique portrayed in interesting works of ceramics, wood, weaving, wicker, and embroideries. The textile sector represented 3,4% of the Autonomous Region of the Azores’ exports between 1993 and 1995. The companys responsible for this sector offer a quality product that meets the ever increasing demands of the market. In order to guarantee the origin and quality the Azorean Arts and Crafts Seal of Guarantee was created. The qualified hands of the artisan produced notable pieces, distinct in form and colour, which collectively created original Azorean works of art.
Examples of this are the gracious and delicate flowers made from fish scales, feathers or fabric, in addition to the colourful door mats made from corn husks and fish fins found on São Miguel.
Equally, the magnificent and artistic flowers and other interesting works made from the core of the fig tree and the Hydrangea, typical of the islands of Faial and Flores, show great artistic skill.
Ceramics are also common to the islands. Examples include the hand-painted clay dishes produced in Lagoa and Vila Franca, São Miguel, the unique pottery of Santa Maria and the vases, teapots and mugs from Graciosa, These and other handicrafts will spark the attention of the tourists.
Within the area of tapestry, embroidery and lace, the following are found on the islands;
- warm sheep wool sweaters handmade in Santa Maria
- wonderful creations on old manual looms including bedspreads and blankets with pretty colour combinations in squares, diamond shapes and stripes from various islands. Of special note are the “colchas do ponto alto” (bedspreads) or “mantas de São Jorge” (blankets) and the “rendas de croché- acaseado” or “croché de arte” (crochet) from Faial. Hand crafted embroideries on white, natural and red linen from Terceira Island are always in demand. The giftedhands of the Azorean woman have always embroidered and created lacework. Better than any other handicraft, embroideries show, through their purity, their soothing colour scheme and perfection, the way of the island people.
Interesting wickerwork are also found here ranging from the creation of small baskets to elegant furniture especially made for summer homes. Iron and wood are used in the country and on fishing boats for everyday necessities. Straw is also used as raw material for the manufacturing of daily required objects and recently some exhibits in Terceira have shown interesting creations utilising cans. Many other examples of Azorean handicrafts exist as you will find on your travels through the islands.