“Obra de llatra” is an artisanal product made from the leaves of the dwarf fan palm (chamaerops humilis), the only palm native to Europe that is commonly found in the Mediterranean.
The process of treating the leaves starts with their harvest, in or around the month of July. Then they have to be dried in the sun, so that they get their characteristic white colour.
Once dry, they are crushed into finer strands, a stage that is referred to as “embrinar”.
The best quality strands or “brins” are put aside for the finest quality work, while the rest are used for the manufacture of brooms and brushes.
After retting the strands in bleach and water, the next stage is to steep them in sulphur, which whitens the material even more and at the same time makes the strands stiffer so that they are more manageable for the following step: plaiting.
What happens next is down to the skill of the artisans who plait the “brins” into different forms.
Many different types of baskets, hats, knapsacks, saddlebags, hand and shoulder bags etc. can be made in this way.
Other types of plants can be used for basket making. This is the case of the giant reed (arundo donax).
Regional Museum of Artà
This ethnological museum is highly recommended. Among the exhibits on show there is a wide range of the utensils used by palm artisans, the vast majority of whom live and work in the eastern part of the island.
There is also a selection of traditional tools and utensils used in the production of Majorcan textiles.
In Capdepera one can visit La Palma. Besides this, a medieval market, where all sorts of local handicrafts and artisanal products are on sale, is held in the middle of May.