I’ve had this hobby since I was a child, When I was three or four years old, my grandmother used to bring me miniature cookers, plates, pans, coffee sets, and ceramic plates, and other miniature objects from Manises, and I wasn’t able to develop my hobby until I could find the time. It was only in in 2003 that I was able to develop my passion, a hobby that makes me feel fulfilled.
The first house is in the ‘shabby-chic’ style, which came from the UK, and is explained here by Alison Lever, who is British.
Shabby-chic is a concept in interior design that first appeared in the UK in the 1980s. Before then, something that was ‘shabby’ was undesirable, worn out, dirty, and unfashionable. But in the context of the aggressive consumerism of the 1980s, a style that valued furniture from the past became fashionable.
It was a style that anybody could aspire to, simply by going round second-hand shops, picking up items that caught their eye, and restoring them. That meant that it was a democratic style, at a time when inequality was increasing. Fashion became accessible to everyone, not just those with ‘loadsa money’. And of course, recycling furniture saves on resources.
It was a nostalgic style, at a time when many people were losing faith in modernity, since changes in the 1980s had left many people struggling to survive. And in some incarnations, it was a very feminine style, based on the ideal of a country cottage, with plates on display, floral motifs on fabrics, and pastel colours, such as pink, and pale blue. This was in contrast to the more masculine ‘modern’ style of stainless steel kitchens, and minimalist decor, with a lot of black and white.
The term has changed over time, and in its translation to Spanish culture. Anti-consumerist fashion descriptions tend to be copied by companies seeking to market their products. So now you can buy new ‘distressed’ furniture, just as you can buy new ‘distressed’ jeans.
Spain, of course, does not have the same tradition of country cottage style as the UK, so products may be sold in Spain as ‘shabby chic’ which reflect Spanish traditions of pottery and furniture. Fatima’s ‘shabby house’ reflects the more British, and feminine tradition of pastel colours, plates on display, and floral motifs.
The miniature house that most reflects my roots is the traditional Lagarteran house.
You walk into a traditional house through a ”casapuerta”, a covered entrance that leads to an enclosed patio with plants in pots, and maybe a grape vine to give shade. Then you get to the main part of the house. The first room you go into is the ”portal”, or main hall, which has doors to the rest of the rooms in the house.
It is decorated with pottery (the plates aren’t bad considering they are made from buttons)
and copper ornaments.
Now we go to the room that I like the most in the house, the Sala de Santos.
It was people who had money and land who were well-off enough to have a whole room dedicated to religious items. This room was where families talked about how they would divide up what they had inherited. Relatives of the dead person met here to work out a distribution of goods, land and money that they could agree on. The room was quite private, and had a window that looked out onto an interior patio, rather than onto the street. That meant that people in the street couldn’t hear any comments or shouts from the inheritors.
As you can see, it is full of saints and the old paintings, altarpieces, mirrors and the precious cornucopias, the Child Jesus, which is placed on the altars of the Corpus Christi day, these altars are decorated with table linen, bedspreads and all kinds of embroidery that are made in Lagartera, it is a beautiful celebration that you should not miss because of its beauty.
You can see the “Pañomano” above the entrance door to the hall, and above almost all the doors in the house, you can see “las portelas”. They are pictures made with special fabrics, all old, with coloured frames with shades of red, green and gold. The walls are decorated with beautifully coloured fans, and on the frames of the pictures, typically, there are the pilgrim’s shells, the dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, and other religious symbols.
Here we are in the kitchen.
Kitchens were the most welcoming place in the house, where, apart from cooking meals, eating, etc., the family would gather for any event. In autumn and winter, the families and neighbours would get together and set up authentic sewing workshops by the heat of the brazier. We put on the radio, listened to soap operas and Doña Elena Francis (what memories).
When we children returned from school, we were given our tea-time snack that our mothers had already prepared, bread with Don Quixote chocolate, bread with oil, and green pepper … etc… and then we would exchange ours for something else, if we liked our friends’ snacks more than ours.
That’s why, as there was no living room or sitting room, as there is nowadays, this was the cosiest room.
Later, when television arrived, the TV was put in the kitchen and people also got together to watch it, especially the news and the bullfights.
In our kitchens, as you can see, as there was no running water, we had a clay jar and a porcelain cup with a handle to drink from. We all drank from the same water and nothing ever happened to us. We were healthier than we are now that we have running water, and we often don’t know where it comes from.
You can also see the jugs or pitchers with which we used to go to the fountain to get water and fill the ones that were empty at home (we did this after school), the milk jug on the floor… in those days our mothers told us we had to go home to get the milk jug and bring the milk from the houses where they sold it, I went to Aunt Isabel’s or Aunt Emérita’s. Then we carried on playing until it was time to go to Aunt Isabel’s or Aunt Emérita’s house. Then we would continue playing until supper time, if we had no more errands to run.
Now we move to the bedroom.
You can see a traditional Lagarteran bed, with a bedspread handmade by Pepa. The Lagarteran shoes were made by my sister Fabiola, and on a chest or boot, the pink coverlet that is also handmade by a dear friend, Dori, you can see on the bed a handmade piece of cloth called “pañomano”. This piece is a delight made by Leonor, and later was placed on the door of the room. These were wonderful gifts. As you can see, the children’s cot was dressed in the same way as the parents’.
Almost all bathrooms are the same. In the old days we know that there was no running water and buckets of water were used for washing, for the toilet and for other purposes such as washing clothes. You can see that I’ve also put in a bathtub in my bathroom. They were only seen in rich people’s houses, but they existed way back, and because of that, although my little house is for ordinary people, I have put in a bathtub.
Once I had finished the specialised items for each room, the furniture, ceramics and so on, I started with what in Lagartera we call the ”troje”.
The troje is the name we in Lagartera give to the attic, a storage room … In it we keep all the things that aren’t much used in a house. We also store cured meats there, the hams, the chorizos, the blood sausages, all the kinds of meat that come out of the pig, that animal that smells bad, but tastes like blessed glory, as well as farming tools, and other stuff.
Fátima Amor, Lagartera, October 2021.
If you would like to see more photos, click here at https://fatminis.blogspot.com/