The character of the washerwoman, immortalised by Beatriz Costa in the film Aldeia da Roupa Branca [White Linen Village] in 1938, has disappeared from our daily life, like other professions made unnecessary by advances in technology. A bundle of clothes on the head, hand on hip and a practised cry at the ready, they were the ones who soaped, scrubbed, bleached in the sun, rinsed, dried and finally ironed the garments, at a time when not all houses had running water.
In the villages, it was at the communal laundry tank or on the banks of streams that the women gathered to wash clothes. They always chose a suitably shaped stone to rest the soap on, letting the water drain off, but stopping the soap from falling into the tank or being carried away by the river. The sculptor was inspired to make this giant soap dish by a stone soap dish found in Barroca village. The pieces are crafted from a block of stone cut to size with diamond tools and then cut to the desired shape. The pieces are then sanded down and polished. Measurements: 45x17x7 cm and 40x21x8 cm.
It was in the garden that Idálio Days became inspired to create these symbolic pieces, decorative or useful, whose profiles conjure up the shape of turnips, pumpkins, cabbages and other vegetables. This set of differently sized bowls was prompted by the traditional containers of the countryside. They were turned on a VB36 lathe from a block of oak wood, once the dominant tree in the Portuguese forests of the Minho, Douro Litoral and Beiras. One of the cups retains the natural edge and a darker, rougher strip can be seen.
The wood is still green when it is carved, and the piece will change shape as it dries, as part of the creative process, as if nature itself is contributing to the final result. As for the finish, the craftsman opted for shellac, a 100% natural product consisting of a resin secreted by an insect originally from Asia and traditionally used in carpentry in Portugal.