Hand-made manufacture is one of the most traditional sectors of local economy. There are a grand variety of handicraft trades in which, by combining traditional working methods with modern technology, a multitude of articles are produced.
The tradition of working in clay in Málaga, goes right back to the city’s very origins. Looking back through that history, the ceramist tradition in Málaga reached its height with the “gilded ceramics” of the Muslim period. In Málaga today the heritage of traditional potteries combines with the creative ceramics brought by new craftsmen. Among the characteristic articles manufactured, we can point out the renowned Málaga clay work (depicting figures and typical personalities of the locality), as well as pottery vases, planters, jugs, oil lamps, plates, etc. This sector amongst those that have achieved more development and have managed to adapt best to the new markets, producing a profusion of tiled murals, pierced pottery, designing unique pieces combined with other materials, and even introducing clothing accessories made of ceramics.
Within the woodcraft sector, Málaga’s cabinet making has always been held in great esteem. In many European cities, the first industrial revolution generated new, up-and-coming social classes who marked their rise up the social ladder by adorning their homes with an array of furniture and accessories. In this respect, at the beginning of the century, Málaga’s industrial and commercial circles boasted master cabinetmakers whose art and skills have been passed down to our day. This sector includes the manufacture and restoration of furniture and musical instruments, and the manufacture of a variety of other objects make of wood.
With the installation in Málaga, at the end of the 19th century, of the first metallurgic industry in Spain, property of the Heredia family, the city began its long tradition in metal work. Contrary to what occurred in the agricultural areas of the region, dedicated basically to manufacture of work tools and agricultural forged iron accessories, the metal work in the city specialized in artistic wrought iron work to provide grilles, gates, door-knockers and railings for the churches, palaces and mansions. The artistic lamp-making sector in Málaga, that manufactured ornate street lamps, was also extremely important. Furthermore, many of the products produced in the Málaga forges were in demand worldwide, especially by Arab sheikhs who ordered artistic wrought ironwork for their palaces in the Near East.
Glass-making in Málaga originated during the Muslim period, when these craftsmen first began to decorate glass. Nowadays there are workshops in Málaga that work both in glass engraving and sculpture and in the design and manufacture of brightly coloured stained glass. The main raw materials used are crystal, lead, bronze, and tin. Finally, the region has one of the only workshops in Andalusia that produces sculpted, hollow and flat glass.
Though carpet-making, textile manufacture and different areas of clothes-making have been present in Málaga for many years, in recent times there has been a notable increase in the number of handicraft workshops being started up in these activities, particularly in the area of exclusively designed carpet-making. Notwithstanding this, the role of the popular traditions has also had great influence in the conservation of some of those workshops. Unquestionably, Holy Week is one of the most important religious and artistic events in the city, and this long tradition resulted in the appearance of numerous handicraft workshops linked to the Holy Week Brotherhoods, including those devoted to gold embroidery. OthersOther handicraft sectors include bookbinding, jewellery, glass, wax, taxidermy, model making, artistic decoration, articles manufactured from recycled materials, miniature engravings and porcelain dolls. A diverse range of activities that demonstrates the creative and versatile character of Málaga’s craftsmen and women.