It was by absolute chance that I started in the handycraft business, i lived in Graça (Lisbon) and worked in a publicity agency. A lot of foreign people used to come by my house, and one of those friends (German) made silver wire jewelry. I remember i really appreciated the way he worked with all those materials. Briefly after he travelled to his country, but left all his stuff at home (three pliers, a silver wire roll and some beads and semi-precious stones). He told me “if one day you need to use it, go ahead”.
I was amused because to hammer a nail first i hited on all the fingers… But life goes on a lot, and after a while I was in the subway selling earrings and bracelets, (all very crooked, but …). As I already knew how to do macramé and works on loom (taffeta) the lines was one of the subjects that I added. The streets of Lisbon (and also Costa da Caparica and Algarve in the summer) gave me a lot of knowledge, and I learned a lot with many good craftsmen (Brazilians, Spaniards, Argentines etc).
As I used to sell near Palácio Foz, one day I was invited to do a Handicraft Exhibition there, by the hand of Dr. Margarida from Caritas (It was my first exhibition experience, back in 1982.) I also exhibited in “Estufa Fria” in the same year and in the year after. I also started doing art schools in Lisbon, at the “Cidade Universitária” campus.
One day I went to try out the Flea Market (Feira da Ladra) at Lisbon and I met a craftsman who worked on leather. After some time I went to live with my family for Lexim (Mafra), and worked for him. This was my first contact with leather, making sandals, belts, purses etc. He also dismissed me a part of the house until I had my own home there.
It was thanks to Vilar de Mouros festival and a subsidy that Caritas gave me (30.000 Escudos – About 150 euros) that I created my independence (from home) and made my first workshop. I bought tools and raw material and started doing only the Flea Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I also started to provide handicraft for some shops in the Cascais, Sintra and Lisbon area.
The earrings began to be brass and alpaca wire because the silver had been finished and was very expensive, macrame panels, leather handbags, leather bracelets, boxes and bamboo earrings, etc.
It was normal to exist trade between us, often craftsmen from the north came to sell to the south and vice versa. In 1983 I went to Porto for the first time at Christmas and I had my first experience selling at Rua de Santa Catarina. In 1984 I returned for another week, which extended to the present day, turning this visit into a complete stay, including a new family, a new atelier, etc.
Being a Urban artisan, I did not have (and do not have) an obligation to work only with one raw material, just as I do not have any traditional craft, I started in the city as an artisan, and whether or not I did get inspired by a little of everything. It is time and experience that makes us give our personal stamp to the products we manufacture and also the way we make them. All I do is made on my own initiative or by exchanging ideas with street colleagues who, like me, started this way. Over the years, I have gained more practice and experience in the consultations I continue to make, first in the national libraries, and now through the Internet, to which I belong to various groups of national and international interests linked to handicrafts.
In 1999 I returned to the national handicraft fairs, and my participation in them was extended until 2017.
Valeriano Cousas em Couro is born thanks to my participation in medieval fairs and markets from 2002 to 2017 throughout country. This experience enriched my activity in various ways, making me create new products based on the medieval theme.
Between the year 2004/2005 in Felgueiras I gave professional training in the course “The Art of working the Leather”.
Valeriano is a Unipersonal craft company. All the pieces are drawn, cut, punched and sewn manually or with the help of manual machines. Man-made fur thread or shoemaker’s yarn is used in its manufacture. A great percentage of the skins which i work with is treated with vegetal origin products, being thus environmentally friendly. I only work with bovine, goat and ovine skins.
In the present day I continue to work with skins but new raw materials were introduced, such as cork, printed fabric and wood. I seek a current and rejuvenated approach to the old craft that I embraced and that with great pleasure, love and honor I continue to do.
Buying something handmade is to buy something made by someone who cares. Each piece is as unique as you are!