Madeira Wicker

Madeira wickerwork became an icon of the crafts produced in this Atlantic archipelago. It is an artistic work carried out with great skill and an excellent raw material. As such, its value is, nowadays, recognised at regional and national level, but also internationally.
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Madeira wicker has its origins in Camacha, a parish situated in the hinterland of the municipality of Santa Cruz. The Camacha area, due to its altitude, has land with plenty of water, an important condition for the growth of wicker trees. The abundance of these trees made it possible to develop this craft production in the region.

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This way, the Madeira wicker industry had its start in this parish in the 19th century, in 1850. It is a complex knowledge that, since then, has been passed on from generation to generation, and that, in its golden age, employed many families.
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The value of these handmade objects lies also in the long raw material treatment process. After being harvested, the wicker has to be cut, peeled and dried. The canes are boiled, which gives them the necessary elasticity to be handled more easily. It is this process that gives them the brownish colour that we can see in the finished product, instead of the original white.

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Once ready for the transformation phase, Madeira wicker is used for a great number of objects. Thus, it is used for manufacturing pieces of all shapes and sizes. These include items for everyday use, such as handbags, boxes and baskets, or pieces of furniture, such as chairs, tables, canap├ęs or furniture, to mention just a few examples.
Besides this, Madeira wicker is used in the production of some iconic items of the archipelago's life, such as the famous basket sledges of the parish of Monte, one of Madeira's most popular tourist attractions, or the farming baskets used in the grape harvests that take place all over the Autonomous Region.
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However, most of the production of these items has always been for export, mainly to the United States of America and Central European countries. Nowadays there are few artisans who dedicate themselves to wickerwork. This form of art has gradually lost its vigour and the large workshops have closed down. It is still possible to find some artisans who can make some pieces, by order, in their homes and export them, thus trying to keep alive this tradition that for centuries was one of the greatest symbols of the Region.
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