Beating and moulding metal artistically
Forging iron and beating copper are traditional activities in the Algarve. There are also tinsmiths who mould copper with skill and imagination reminiscent of the Arab craftsmen of North Africa, and blacksmiths (rare nowadays) who make gates and balcony railings to decorate well-endowed homes.
In the art of copper beating, craftsmen produce various items which are of practical use in daily life, such as the famous “cataplanas”, copper pans in which mussels are cooked with pork. Tin work produces vinegar cruets, jugs, pitchers, funnels, and weather-vanes. Utensils arising from this male-dominated craft work can still be seen in Silves, Portimão, Tavira and Loulé.
In Lagos, Portimão and Faro, wrought ironwork can be seen in the weather-vanes, gates and gratings of some houses which, in former times, were signs of an owner’s wealth and status.
Other examples are farm tools, instruments adapted to the traditional way of life but which, for the most part, have become defunct with the advent of industry, although they can still be seen in rural Algarve.