Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas in the Village

For really original and exclusive Christmas presents, look no farther than “El Pueblo Español.”

The model village on Montjuïc is of course a huge tourist attraction and if you haven’t been, you should try it because it’s really cute in a not-at-all-Disney sort of way. What’s more, all of the craftspeople who have their workshop/stores there make it a secret shopping destination.

If no one on your list has a doll house, use the miniature baskets from La Pescallunes (Mercaders 11, 93 425 1854) to trim the tree. There’s nothing cuter than their traditional baskets in tiny sizes.

If you need stocking stuffers, you’ll find all natural handmade olive oil soaps from Tules, or pom-pom key chains and hand-knotted bracelets from Taller Artesà, which works with the mentally disabled. Kiddies will love the wooden-headed, cloth dressed finger puppets from El Bagul (101 Casa Francesa 93 325 0471) and the old-schoolers will appreciate hand-embroidered handkerchiefs from Casa Otero (Palacio de los Contreras.)

Is your sister a gem? Let her know with a bauble from Can Brillant (98 Plaza Condes de San Cristóbal 93 325 5601,) where Christine Harwart turns just about anything into jewels. This German has been at the Pueblo Español for about 5 years all told and you can look to her for playful designs. She works PVC into blooms, hardens it and hammers it like silver, takes apart chandeliers and uses the crystals to make huge gem rings and knots oilcloth tableclothes into necklaces. Nothing is safe in her hands – lace turns into silver rings and she’s even turned the tiny plastic tubes children use at camp to make coasters into earrings. You won’t find her at fairs and shows so you’ll have to go to “the Village” to see her, but if you call ahead of time she’ll leave invitations at the door so that you can check out the wares.

And for all of your cold hands/warm heart friends, Flor Kanela (86 Casa Típica: Montblanc, 93 423 8349,) is a must. The workshop half of the space is lined with skeins of yarn and taken up by a loom, and there you’ll find Montse Casas making her shawls and scarves with Gloria along side, turning ribbons and yarn into fanciful bijoux. The materials are gorgeous –hand-dyed mohair, Peruvian alpaca, Chinese and Japanese silk or hand-dyed cotton and viscose ribbons, linen, cashmere and plain old wool. Montse literally weaves her magic spells right before your eyes. She’ll even create something to order.

So much for Christmas shopping in the city!

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