The eight “miracles” of craftsmanship
Text: Romina Xyda
The walls are lined with ceramics and archaic forms. There is a wooden bench carved with patterns and motifs, a shop filled with exquisite, handcrafted creations and a lush garden which plays host to no less than eight different workshops. Together they embody craftsmanship in its most unified form. This is the Cyprus Handicraft Centre and it is the ultimate revival venue for Cypriot folk art. Here visitors can witness the creation of a variety of folk art objects by the skilled hands of the local artisans, peruse and purchase authentic items of traditional craftsmanship and participate in workshops.
First in line is the Embroidery workshop. Original templates made here serve as the basis for the types of embroidery on offer, such as the “Athienitika”, “Moditika”, lace and examples of cross stitching and the renowned “Lefkaritika”, which impress in variety and design. Just after at the Weaving workshop, experienced weavers spin on traditional looms, reviving all types of woven textiles such as the brightly coloured “Karpasitika” and the geometric motifs of the “Fithkiotika”. The next stop is the Wood carving workshop, where woodcarvers skilfully recreate shapes of birds, flowers, plants and animals in pine and walnut. Following is the Ceramics and Pottery workshop where artists shape clay into forms and vessels incorporating unique designs.
Fifth in line is the Metal workshop where smiths rhythmically hammer engravings onto plates, the images recreated from examples on vases displayed in the Archeological Museum, as well as mosaics from Kourion and Pafos. It’s certainly not a coincidence that Cyprus was once called Halkoessa (“halkos” meaning copper). Adjacent sits the Wickerwork and General Handicrafts workshop where one can admire baskets of various designs and colours made from branches of a special variety of wheat, as well as batik, macramé, mosaics, frames with silk cocoons and other bits and bobs. The seventh stop is the Leather workshop where everyday accessories such as bags, wallets and eyeglass cases are finely crafted in a combination of quality leather and embroidery or even woven textiles. The eighth and last stop is the Costume design workshop. Here traditional women’s and men’s costumes are sewn, such as the “Karpasitiki”, the “Pafitiki”, the vraka and the zibouni (large breeches, waistcoats), while dolls dressed in traditional outfits can also be found.
The revival of traditional arts takes place on 186, Athalassas Avenue in Nicosia.