It was a gorgeous, sunny day when we visited the local artisan market of Jesus Pobre, a small village near Denia. Walking among the stalls of colorful produce and freshly baked pastries, sparkling jewelry and other handcrafted goods, we were drawn to a tent that said ‘Cuir’. Spread out in an engaging display were beautiful leather goods. There were wallets and clutches, purses and handbags, belts, journal holders and more. The various designs were distinct and creative in shape, color and pattern. Then we met the man behind it all, the leather worker, Cayetano Pidal Castellano.
A Man and His Traditional Spanish Leather Craft
With his curly silver hair, kind eyes and generous smile, Cayetano won our interest and we soon began learning about his work and products. Since then, we have become friends with him and his amazing family. They live in the village of Pedrera, which is right next to Denia and slopes up along the lower side of the majestic mountain Montgo.
Over time, we’ve continued seeing Cayetano and his wife Amparo when we visit the Jesus Pobre market on Sundays. Yet what has been the most inspiring, along with becoming friends with them, is getting to know their cuir (leather works) studio, which is in their home. It’s going to the source of the magic behind the creative beauty and quality of Cayetano’s craft.
From Cayetano, we’ve learned so much about what goes into making a leather product of this caliber. The value in handmade goods is something that can be hard to convey to many people. We all see an item for sale somewhere and what we are looking at is the end result. But do we know what went into making that item?
Step Into Cayetano’s Cuir Studio
When visiting Cayetano’s Cuir, we connected with the story behind his product. He’s demonstrated for us how he works with certain tools, the way he treats and dies the leather, and how it creates a product unique in quality, appearance and durability, which mass/commercial production can not reproduce. Also consider that going way back, leather goods have been considered items that can last almost your whole life, or even longer, and then could be passed down to others. This kind of quality is not as easily found in commercially produced goods.
The artisan craft of leather working is centuries old and a treasured skill that continues on today. While the majority of leather goods are mass produced by large commercial companies, there are those like Cayetano who continue to make them by hand, one by one. Think of the time, energy and passion that goes into such a leather good. Yet there’s even more. As Cayetano says in our video, he puts his love of what he does, his very self, into his work.
Since that first time meeting Cayetano, we’ve visited his Cuir several times to purchase a wallet and a purse. Then we hired him to make a custom clutch for Amalia, a custom sketchbook holder for Eric, and a work apron for Amalia’s brother who makes Spanish guitars by hand (another artisan skill being kept alive).
A Legacy Continues for the Artisan Craft of Spanish Leather
Cayetano has been creating Spanish leather goods for over 15 years. Or as he likes to say, “really, I’ve been doing it all my life, because I’ve always had it as a hobby“. Even as a boy, he was around those who worked with Spanish leather, his grandfather being a maker of Spanish leather shoes. It’s an artisan craft that runs through his family.
All things come with a story, wherever they may come from and however they are made. If you value artisan, handmade skills and leather goods, visiting Cayetano’s Cuir will be an inspiring visit to make when in Denia or the surrounding area. Going is more than a ‘shopping’ experience because it’s like finding a hidden treasure of the local culture that is being carried on. It’s to connect with others and a creative talent and passion that creates truly beautiful things. Whether or not you walk away with one of Cayetano’s leather goods, you will truly be gifted with the addition of another story on your journey.
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Learn more about Cayetano’s Spanish leather goods and how to find them.
Written by Amalia & Eric
Founders & Producers of Move to Traveling
We’re Amalia and Eric – a traveling couple who are living a traveling lifestyle. Do you love to travel? Perfect! Come along…