Due to its tranquillity, stunning surroundings and easy-going lifestyle, Barichara has been a hub for local artists for almost one hundred years – and today it’s becoming a dream destination for creatives from all over the world. From fique bag weaving to ceramic and felting workshops, here are just some of the best arty activities in Colombia’s artisan capital.
Make your own paper at Fundación San Lorenzo
The Fundación San Lorenzo, an all-female-run paper workshop, has been making paper by hand from the Andean fique plant since 2001. Their 30-minute paper-making workshops allow you to not only get a glimpse into the four-month process of producing artisanal paper, but you’ll also have the chance to make your very own sheet using a 300-year-old press. Don’t miss the beautiful stationary and other paper products, such as lampshades and animal figures, sold in their small souvenir shop.
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Take a ceramics workshop at Jimena and Jaime
For such a small town, you’ll be stunned at the amount of ceramics and embroidery workshops. The best way to get involved is to take part in a hands-on ceramics class. The Taller de Jimena and Jaime comes highly recommended, as they’ve been making and teaching ceramics in their home and studio for over 20 years. In their three hour workshop, they teach the Raku technique, where you’ll sculpt and hand glaze the clay using different application techniques. Once dry, you’ll also get tips on the firing and painting process.
Browse the many artisan shops
With so many workshops in the area, it’s hardly surprising that there are also plenty of artisan shops selling Barichara’s best crafts. Round every corner you’ll find small shops filled floor-to-ceiling with pottery, paintings, embroidery, jewellery, stationery, hand-made furniture and much, much more. Easily an afternoon worth of fun to be had for every craft lover.
Learn the art of felting at Albahaca Hospedaje y Tienda
At ever-popular homestay, shop and art workshop Albahaca Hospedaje y Tienda, you can learn the intricate art behind felting; a craft that the whole family here has been practising for years. The workshop takes place in their stunning, 200-year-old home complete with stone courtyard, animal trough and 300-year-old tobacco press. Don’t miss their home-made oils and creams sold in the on-site shop.
Sketch or paint at peaceful Parque de Las Artes
Surrounded by stunning views of the valley below, Parque de las Artes has been a peaceful escape for art-lovers since 1988. Dotted with water features and impressive statues hand-carved by local sculptors, this makes for a great place to sketch, photograph or just admire Barichara’s local craft.
Try your hand at bag weaving at Taller Centro Dia
Run by 24 senior citizens, Taller Centro Dia is a workshop dedicated to weaving bags and other artisanal products using only fique fibres and traditional looms. Come and watch the expert weavers at work or, if your skills are up to it, ask them for a go. All proceeds from products sold go directly to keeping the workshop going, so treat yourself.
Visit Barichara’s famous stone sculptors
Barichara is a town built almost entirely from stone: the pavements and houses are stone, the walls of the biggest and most stunning church, Catedral de La Inmaculada Concepcion, were masterfully carved, and parks and cemeteries are scattered with beautiful stone sculptures. This is because, ever since the town’s humble beginnings in 1702, Barichara has been home to some of the best stone sculptors in the country. The best place to see the most elaborate stone sculptures is in Barichara’s cemetery. However, if you want to delve deeper into this fabulous art, why not pay a visit to the sculptor’s workshop? This isn’t a well-established activity yet, but you’ll be able to organise a visit if you ask at one of the hostels here to put you in contact.
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