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João Lourenço

The Algarve’s last tinsmith

Seventy-seven-year-old João Lourenço is the last tinsmith working in the south of the country. The business brings in next to nothing, but Ti João, as he is known, keeps working with the determination he expresses in his words: “I was born on top of tins and I want to die clutching them,” he says with satisfaction. It’s many a year since the craft of the tinsmith sustained the whole family. Since the 1970s and 80s, with the appearance of plastic and derived products, everything has changed. “Before there was enough for everyone, I had five brothers, all of them tinsmiths, just like my father. We sold bowls, watering cans and water pitchers. We went to a fair and earned enough to buy material and there was enough left over for food. Now there’s not enough for anything,” he laments, at the same time as showing his displeasure at being the last tinsmith in the region. “I’m fed up, can you imagine that there won’t be a single tinsmith from the Alentejo to the Algarve? The future of the tinsmith is doomed, no young people want to learn. I feel sorry that they are allowing this craft to die out, which is true handicraft because everything is done by hand,” he says. Despite a degree of despondency, Ti João still has a youthful sparkle in his eyes as he works the tin plate and zinc with his own hands. “Now I go to markets and handicraft fairs, I sell a watering can, a bucket or a bowl from time to time,” he says with a certain resignation, and then looks to the future. “I’ve been working with tins since I was young and I’ll be working with them until I die. When I go, they’ll have to buy material produced in the north, possibly made in factories, and that is completely different from these products.”


João Oliveira Lourenço
Rua Capitão Manuel Madeira Nobre, n.º 10
8700-090 Moncarapacho
Tel.: [+351] 927 645 742

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