So, everyone knows a little bit about this place, right?
Well, even here in the Basque Country, there are many people who aren’t familiar with it. I think it’s important to remember that it was truly our ancestors’ walking stick, back in the 16th or 17th century, a time when walking was a daily necessity, not a recreational activity as it is today.
So, where does the origin of the makhila really lie?
The origin dates back to a time when it belonged to all Basques, without class distinctions. Despite its metallic and shiny appearance, some people wrongly assume it’s connected to nobility, which isn’t the case. In 1828, watercolors depict fishermen and couples with their makhilas, showing it was an everyday item accessible to all. With the evolution of transportation, it gained more symbolism and heritage value, given during special occasions and passed down through generations. For us, it’s essential to maintain its functional aspect, which is why we tailor-make it so people have the ideal size for walking.
What’s your mission here with this object?
Our mission is twofold. On one hand, we’re passing down ancestral know-how to the next generation, and on the other, we’re dedicated to preserving the object in its true essence.
And who gathers the wood for it?
When it comes to raw materials, we’re completely self-sufficient. We have a small nursery in the village. The wood requires ten years to grow and ten years to mature before it can be used. So, when the bud emerges, it takes twenty years for it to become a makhila.
The Atelier seems like a journey back in time.
Interviewee: Today, we’d have work for 20 people, but to remain in these walls with the traditional fabrication, we need to stay small. We’ve chosen to stick with our traditional manufacturing methods. We still use old tools that can’t be replicated. It’s a conscious decision to remain on a small scale.
What’s most important to you?
What truly matters to us is passing down our skills and preserving this object in the local culture. For instance, if we were to significantly raise the prices, we’d alienate the local clientele. Starting at 380 euros, we remain accessible.
How’s the atmosphere in the Atelier?
The atmosphere in the Atelier should be welcoming and relaxed. We want people to feel comfortable and welcome. Our workshop has always been open to the public, and it’s something we hold dear.