Discover Mallorca

mallorca's caves

Hidden under our island 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

We have a lot of visitors who are curious to see all corners of the island, so we recently 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

 

 

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 since first coming 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

 

ca na toneta

Have you ever experienced a place that captured the ethos of a culture so intensely? Spain is that place for me. It happened the first time I visited Andalucía in 2001 and then again more recently when we decided to set up studio espanyolet here. 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 back home in New York. 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 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 here on the island, 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 several months ago, and were anxious to meet their maker. So we once again found ourselves on yet another 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 of ours. 

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

We wandered out of S'Arraco with friends 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's weather has been spring-like this year, so we've been playing a bit of hooky and getting 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