17 Jul 2013

Ten ways to give your home a Canarian touch

Published in Living in Gran Canaria

Whether you live in Gran Canaria or just want to take a memento of your visit back home with you,  here are ten ideas for giving your house a Gran Canaria touch.

Home is where your hat is

Every Canarian home has a battered straw hat on a window sill or on the back of a chair. The older and more faded it is the better. For an authentic Canarian touch in your home wear you hat on holiday and then leave it lying around once you get back. Your tan may fade but the memories will come back every time you see it.

Sea glass

Walk along any Gran Canaria beach and you find pieces of glass worn smooth by the sand and the waves. Most are green or amber because that’s the colour of local beer bottles. Spend a few hours collecting pretty bits and then put them in glass jars or vases. The south end of Las Canteras beach in Las Palmas is a great place to pick up sea glass.

Canarian plants

There are over 600 species of plants found only in the Canary Islands, including the giant dragon tree and the Canary palm. You can grow both from the seeds under the trees. They make great indoor pot plants when small although the palm gets a bit spiky as it grows.

Local crafts

Gran Canaria has a long tradition of basket weaving and potting and the best local crafts are still sold at local markets and romerias (fiestas). Look out for pottery and leather with traditional Canarii designs based on spirals and triangles. As well as traditional designs many craftspeople now make modern decorative items using heritage techniques.

Canarian knives

Once made from steel recovered from wrecked Model T Fords Canarian knives, known as nifes, are beautiful works of art. They were used on banana farms to prune the trees and cut down the fruit. The ornate handles were designed to last even as the blades wore down. Nowadays several master craftsmen still make nifes with ornate handles decorated with bronze, stone and goat horn.

Local art

There are dozens of talented artists in Gran Canaria, many working out of villages like Fataga. Look in markets and even in restaurants and bars for local artwork and take a one-of-a-kind souvenir back home. Also keep an eye open for prints from local artist Pepe Dámaso, a native of Agaete, and clay tiles by famous Lanzarote artist César Manrique.

Make your own art

Pick up anything pretty you find on the beach like bits of driftwood, old rope, seashells, etc and create your own piece of artwork that reminds you of Gran Canaria. Even a few pebbles arranged in a stack make a great decorative item.

Gran Canaria produce

Bring the taste of Gran Canaria into your home with tasty island treats like rum, olive oil, honey or mojo sauce. You can even buy jam and liqueur made from cactus fruit in local shops. Once the good stuff is gone you can use the bottles as vases.

Recipe books

Pick up a Canarian recipe book in Gran Canaria and you’ll always have the great flavours of our food at hand. Remember to take back enough of your favourite ingredients to last.

Weird and wacky

What about a pair of giant cactus fruit picking tongs, a vintage birdcage, or a old copper goat bell. Little shops in the hill towns often have beautiful and authentic Canarian items for sale behind the counter.

Do you have a favourite item from Gran Canaria in your home?