Discover Mallorca

the rugged north

 

One of the many ways to learn about the culture & history of the island is to follow La Ruta de Piedra en Seca (Route of the Dry Stones). 

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

This famous walk runs from Port d'Andratx in the southwest of the island, all the way to Pollença in the northwest, following ancient cobbled paths through the Tramuntana mountain range. The 135km hike generally takes eight days and while we haven't done the entire thing, we've chiseled away at parts of it on our trips to Mallorca.

 espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

The path is lined with dry stone terraces where olive trees have been grown for centuries. It's fascinating to think that Mallorcans dating back to Roman & Arab times excavated these stones by hand to build terraces. The entire island is literally covered with them, bisecting the countryside to allow farming & other agricultural activities.

 espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

One of the best parts of this hike in particular was our friend Lluis's drone. Check out this video of the breathtaking landscape.

And of course no hike would be complete without a dip in the Mediterranean afterward.

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

 

mallorca's caves

Hidden under Mallorca is one of Europe's largest cave systems. Discovered only recently, the caves have existed for millions of years and are formed by run-off rain water dripping through fissures in the earth. The limestone builds up and forms breathtaking stalactites and stalagmites, which are both awe-inspiring and a bit mysterious.

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

On a recent trip to Mallorca, we ventured to Porto Cristo to check out these caves. While filled with tour buses and throngs of people, the property is quite pretty and worth the trip. We descended 25 m underground and my hair started to stand on end from the extreme humidity.

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

After walking just a little over 1 km through the caves we ended up at Lake Martel, Europe's largest underground lake.

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

We sat in an amphitheater carved out of the rock formations and became silent. Music from a string quartet echoed across the stalactites, and bounced off the water until it reached where we were sitting. The 4 were in a dimly lit rowboat and paddled their way across the lake while we watched & listened. The acoustics in the caves were haunting....but what an interesting way to show the uniqueness of this underground wonder.

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

 

 

ca na toneta

Have you ever experienced a place that captured the ethos of a culture so intensely? Spain is that place for me. The smells of hiking through pine forests of the Tramuntana and the taste of the local countryside do it for me. This is why we were so thrilled to learn about the restaurant Ca Na Toneta.

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

The first time we ate at Ca Na Toneta was a treat because it was with new American friends who introduced us to the place. That night was an eclectic mix of Catalan poetry reading and of 'zero kilometer' local fare from the Caimari countryside. We were taken by the intimacy of the space & the attention to every single detail of the meal. The night was planned out beautifully, with each course arriving at the right time & with the perfect complement to the wine and the previous course. What we fell in love with, in particular, was that each course was served on its own set of unique ceramic plates & boards. Details.

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

There is absolutely no pretense to this place. Sisters Maria, Teresa & Cati Solivellas have created a cozy spot where the food is simple, honest & feminine. It's different than what we're seen throughout the rest of Mallorca and are accustomed to at home in Brooklyn & Berlin. It's 'rustic chic' but it tries hard at nothing. It has no tagline, no schtick, no obvious push to become famous...it's authentic & real & humble, and every detail plunges us deeper into a respect for the history & culture of this island, its people & traditions.

 espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

The restaurant & its accompanying cocktail bar/shop are humble little spaces that have been in the Solivellas family in the small village of Caimari for generations. While waiting for dinner, it's a delight to browse all the handmade goods from the Solivellas sisters' mother and local artisans (us included!). It's refreshing to see the eccentricities of the island manifest in some of the quirky things they sell in the store from felted animal heads (see Animal Farm) to crocheted window decor. Always a little treasure to bring back home for our own table.

 espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

 espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

 espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

bàlitx d'avall

We discovered more of Mallorca this weekend by hiking 35+ kilometers through the Serra Tramontana and staying overnight at Bàlitx d'Avall in the Torrent de na Mora. The agroturismo finca & its anchoring tower were built in 1200 AD and are nestled into the olive trees and the tranquil valley where the family farms & tends the land.

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

On day 1, we hiked from Mirador Ses Barques to Bàlitx d'Avall and then through the coll to crest the top for a stunning sea view. We were rewarded with a dinner of local lamb braised all day in the oven with local Macia Batle wine and then followed by hierbas de Mallorca

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

The four of us (plus a cute pup) slept in the tower, which dates back to 1200 AD. A wood burning fireplace kept us warm all night, and the sounds of the finca's chickens & sheep woke us up early enough to see the fog lifting out of the valley. We continued back through the mountains on to Port de Soller where we finished out our weekend of hiking, exhausted but content.

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

 

 

almond blossoms

 

'Every year, long before the snowcapped peaks mull the thaw, a blanket of almond blossoms rolls across the great plateau to the east—the “snow of Mallorca,” as poetic locals put it.

Almond trees grow all over the island, but from January to early March this is the jaw-dropping region to visit.

On sunny days, the delicate hues of pink, purple, and white melt into the sugarcoated backdrop of the mountainous tableau. The spectacle has inspired countless painters and photographers and turns a simple walk into a wildly romantic experience.

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

Copy & photo credit: Sa Cova Fornalutx

cúber reservoir

The Cúber is situated in the Serra Tramuntana, and is a lake located at the intersection of Puig Major and Morro de Cúber valleys. Wintertime run-off collects here and supplies Palma's drinking water, but it's also a natural park full of short & long hikes. Springtime called us back to Mallorca once again, and we made our way up north to enjoy the blue sky, fresh air & goat shenanigans.

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

espanyolet | cloth & clay | handcrafted in Mallorca | one-of-a-kind vintage linens | hand-formed ceramics

weaving meditation

In our continued quest to connect with other artists who make things by hand in Mallorca, we were so happy to meet Cloë Collette, weaver of beautiful mandalas.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

We were initially drawn to Cloë's work for obvious reasons: the rich textures, her handwoven fibers and her rich color combinations. As a knitter who developed a deep appreciation for yarns years ago, I recognized materials in Cloë's mandalas that I had seen in my mom's beautiful knitting. Cloë sources yarns that are hand loomed in far corners of the world and then hand dyed to achieve unique & rich variegated textures. She pairs these wool, silk & cashmere fibers in complementary & contrasting patterns to achieve a really striking result.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

But what exactly is a mandala, and why were we drawn to its beauty? The story of how Cloë discovered mandalas in Nepal felt strangely similar to how Thomas & I came to the world of textile design: it all started with a creative awakening during travel.  A woodworker & textile artist by trade, Cloë left her 3 shops in Amsterdam to travel the world. It was in Nepal that she saw simple stick crosses joined by yarn and asked what they were. Locals taught her how to string yarn around tree bits to make these small symbols of protection, and the rhythmical movement felt meditative. Throughout the next 2.5 years of her travel, Cloë wove hundreds of small mandalas and gifted them to other travelers and locals. 

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

Nowadays, Cloë introduces a modern interpretation into this traditional weaving practice. She may take a traditional 8-point mandala and adapt it to include 12 points. The new design pays homage to the original Mexican & Tibetan symbolism: protection from evil spirits. The Buddhists believe a mandala is a way to give answers on life. Either way, Cloë's creations are a blend of ancient handcraft and modern beauty. And of course, an powerful inspiration for the work we do with our hands too.

 

animal farm

We discovered baby goat, curly sheep and obstinate donkey heads at a beautiful shop in Caimari, and were anxious to meet their maker. So on a recent visit to the island, we once again found ourselves on gravel country road, winding our way around the campo of Mallorca to find the studio of Sabine Alpers, artisan behind Faux Fauna

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

Tucked away on a farmland in an old stone finca, Sabine has set up a studio for construction of these adorable creatures. She calls them 'the vegetarian answer to hunting trophies,' which is a pretty funny application for these sweet animal heads.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

Many of the materials come from the local countryside for Sabine's critter construction. She makes each piece by hand, starting with small felted rectangles which are carefully placed to make each eye, nose & mouth detail. Small poufs of alpaca are also sometimes used to provide the fur fluff. Sabine does all of this by hand and all in the spirit of slow design & craftsmanship, a theme that keeps emerging on this beautiful island. 

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique vintage linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

 

wanderings

The Mediterranean's colors are unexpected. To an American whose reference point was the Caribbean, this island's color palette is different than I would have imagined. The landscape is craggy, rough & dry and as a result, colors are muted and have more gray-tones than vibrant ones.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

On a recent visit, we wandered out of S'Arraco to discover the far western part of Mallorca. The colors we encountered along this route felt, yet again, like a discovery. While we love the brilliant colors of the sea, we're also drawn to these imperfectly uneven tones of the rough Mediterranean landscape.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

I guess it's no surprise faded greens & grays continue to show up in our collection.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

vineyard by the sea

February in Mallorca was forecast to be spring-like, so we hopped on down to the island to get out to the trails. We started in the miniature seaside town of Port de Canonge where wooden fishing boats were anchored close to the pebble beach. This small village was all but shut down for winter and we seemed to be the only people looking for a pre-hike cortado (efforts failed).

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

We headed west along the old postman's route which hugs the Serra Tramuntana and drops steeply into the Mediterranean. Peeking out behind the pine trees were the turquoise-colored coves that are only accessible by boat. Looking backwards, we could see the stunning coastline and Sa Foradada in the distance.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

After some time, we found ourselves in Banyalbufar, a small village of 500 people founded by the Moors. Some say its Arabic name means 'vineyard by the sea.' Its terraces (mar jades) were historically used for growing Malvasia wine and until recently, it was the custom for each generation to add a further tier. 

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

the alchemist

Nature has a way of creating its own art. Is it possible that delicate leaves of the myrtle tree can create even more beauty when distilled into essential oils & waters? We found the answer to be an overwhelming yes after visiting the workshop of artisan herbalist Juan Cànaves of Aigua de Terra in Caimari.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

Juan is one of only four herbalists throughout the Balearic islands, and his passion for native plants was borne from his love of the countryside. Many days of the week Juan spends his days in the forestal & torrential regions of the Serra de Tramuntana foraging for flowers, seeds, leaves & herbs. He collects these raw materials, dries them in his rustic stone workshop and then starts the process of transforming them into tinctures, tonics & essential oils.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

As with any artisanal process, this transformation takes time, patience & preciseness. Juan uses an antique alambique (still) made of copper which runs from for 12+ hours to distill flowers, fruits & leaves by way of fire. The vapors are cooled in the still & then put in an antique Florentine glass vessel for the separation of essential oil. 30 kg of plant material in the still yields roughly 10 mil of essential oil and 10 liters of floral water. The preparation of tinctures is also a long process; the plant materials are submerged in alcohol & left to macerate in the Mallorcan sun for 2+ weeks. 

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

It's difficult to capture through words & photos the uniqueness of Juan's work. The beauty of what he makes, what he creates, can best be appreciated by smell. The essence of Mallorca's natural environment is perfectly captured in the sweet smell of his mandarin floral water or rosemary essential oil. And with this trip out to Caimari to meet this talented maker, we're yet again reminded how special this island really is.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

 

 

que maravillosa

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

We love meeting makers on the island who appreciate slow design & handcrafted goods. When we met Christina Bussmann with Maravillas Bags a few months back, we were taken by the craftsmanship, color & quality of her work.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

It's true that we tend towards imperfection and some level of eccentricity. So when we discovered Christina's work, we were immediately drawn to the beauty of its naturalness. Christina has chosen to use local eco leather, made in Spain and vegetable-tanned in Spain. She sources hides that have been naturally tanned using olive leaves, oak bark and rhubarb roots, and the cowhides' original uneven wrinkles, scars and even mosquito stitches remain. The entire production, even down to the wastewater disposal, is monitored & evaluated against eco standards. And what results from all this attention to detail every step of the way, are beautifully irregular leathers handcrafted into modern & functional bags. Each one-of-a-kind piece ages gracefully with light, time & touch.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

Christina has also managed to do something that we focus on as well: blending modern design with traditional craftsmanship. Christina's workshop, situated in Palma's historic center, is a renovated space perfect for slow design. Everything happens here: the original sketches on her enormous studio table, creation of her beautiful patterns, sewing on that stunning old Pfaff (cue the jealousy) and even photography of each product on her site. It's a workshop we love to visit (and covet). Each time we are reminded yet again, what a creative place Mallorca is: full of artisans & handcrafted inspiration.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

con alma

Maria Antònia and Álvaro left lives in London & Barcelona to go back to the campo of Mallorca. It is here, in their rustic & idyllic workshop, that the work of Con Alma Design comes to life.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

Situated on hundreds of hectares of land, their family farmhouse a dream for people who are inspired by the history of Mallorca and beauty of its landscape. 

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

Using olive, pine, almond, hackberry, eucalyptus & carob tree wood from fallen trees on their property, Maria Antònia and Álvaro hand make each of their pieces. Ranging from tablets to huge pieces of furniture, the work of Con Alma is rustic, but sophisticated. Salvaged, but made new & contemporary. Perfect accompaniments to the Mediterranean finca style we love so much.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

Spending time with these two in their workshop reminds us so much of what we have grown to love about Mallorca. And we realize: what originally captured us about the Mediterranean region -- its sun and its sand -- has actually changed over time. Now, it's the makers, the creators who keep us coming back. The creative stimulation we get from people like this -- this is what further endears us to this island and ignites our passion for making.

spring hiking

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind handwoven antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

What was meant to be an easy 14 km trail turned out to be a day-long adventure, getting lost along the way but discovering some of Mallorca’s most beautiful landscapes. After ascending most of the morning, we found the entrance to the Son Pou avenc cave, which opened up to a moon-like landscape inside. This fascinating spot, discovered in 1824, was covered in dripping water, stalactites and glimmers of sunlight peeking through the chasm above.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color

We then hiked up to the spectacular Es Freu waterfall, which marked the 6-hour mark of our hike. Thankfully, we made friends with some fellow exhausted hikers who took a liking to us and fed us casera tarta de melocotón (homemade peach cake). A sweet ending to a beautiful mountain trek.

espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color
espanyolet | linen | handmade | one-of-a-kind antique Mallorquín linen | hand painted in Mallorca, Spain | vintage | texture | color