Teixits Vicens is one of three finalists for this year’s National Artisan Awards, which are given by the Spanish ministry for industry, trade and tourism. Vicens is not just one of Pollensa’s best-known businesses, it acts as a landmark, being located right by the Can Berenguer roundabout at the entrance to Pollensa. Everyone knows Vicens and mostly everyone - I suspect - will have bought something from Vicens at some point. To the fabulous range of fabrics are added bags, shoes, towels and more. Shop and workshop, there are guided visits that have also made Vicens part of the tourism fabric - so to speak.
Dating from 1854, it is renowned for being one of a very few textile producers that use the ikat dyeing technique. Introduced to the family business by Martí Vicens, his experimentations with colours came to characterise the products. The technique gave rise to the “roba de llengües” (cloth of tongues), which refers to the fabric rather than to the technique.
Ikat is an Indonesian word. It was popularised in Europe as a result of Dutch research into textile traditions in the former East Indies. The chief characteristic of the technique is a blurry pattern which apparently came about because of difficulties with lining up dyed yarns during the weaving process. Finer yarns and greater skills have reduced this blurry appearance, but it of course remains essential to the products.
The commonly held view is that ikat in Mallorca came about because of the old Silk Road, but it would seem that it didn’t take root on the island until the early nineteenth century. It was used elsewhere in Europe, but it is believed to now be unique to Mallorca and to be almost unique to Vicens, given the very small number of textile producers who deploy the technique.
The awards are due to be given in December.