Daughter of Portuguese parents but born in Venezuela, Sónia came to Portugal when she was 8 years old and began to learn how to work with palm with her grandmother. At around the age of 17, she made this art her profession and, until today, she defines her work as "Handmade, made with the Heart." Sónia creates modern pieces without forgetting ancestral techniques, valuing the finest materials.
She creates modern pieces without forgetting ancestral techniques and valuing the finest materials. Sónia learned how to work with palm from her maternal grandmother between the ages of 8 and 15 and later, around the age of 17, she made this art her profession until today. Another passion is painting, which she does in different ways and on different materials, of which she likes to highlight painting on tiles, as well as painting on ceramics. Over the years, Sónia has trained in various areas of decorative arts, including porcelain painting, in which she was a trainer for around 7 years. More recently, she’s also combining clay and palm to create decorative and utilitarian pieces.
Sónia also works at Casa da Empreita, where she chose to be photographed, and where people can visit her and buy her work.
Casa da Empreita recreates what more than a century ago were the “empreita” houses that then existed all over the Algarve, exclusively dedicated to the production and sales of works in palm. Located in an old building at the heart of the city's historic center, it is made up of a collective of artisans, on a rotational basis, who work and sell what they produce.
The “empreita” consists of the production of long “ribbons” made from braided strips. Each ribbon is arranged on a roll as it is produced. Traditionally, the ribbons are sewn with the thinner lateral leaves that were saved during the picking process, or with strips of palm, to give the shape of the object, creating a continuous fabric with a diagonal weave.
The other technique Sonia uses is the palm mesh, which consists of intertwining a palm cord with the plant's own leaves, forming an open net. This work is done only with hands. The rope, twisted with the remains of the leaves, is used to make the handles of flat baskets, finishings, or to sew pieces that need to become more resistant
Although her best-selling products are simple lampshades, she creates carrycots and flat baskets, handbags, placemats, key holders, sculptural nativity scenes, and personalized pieces on demand – many of which for hotels and restaurants that value more and more original, handmade decorative and utilitarian pieces. Within the array of works she has challenged herself to, we can highlight the hanging fish she made for a restaurant in the Algarve and sets of lampshades formed by “nachos” for a Mexican restaurant in Lisbon.