Finding ‘Artesanía Yuste’ in itself feels like stepping back in time, tiny winding streets crowned with balconies overflowing with potted plants. Small, independent shops and restaurants hidden away from the eyes of tourists. A place that does not exist online, Artesanía Yuste does not have a website, it does not use social media but instead chooses to operate solely in person. Taking orders and requests face-to-face, the good traditional way.
Enrique Yuste (junior) is the one with the name on the door, but it is the whole family who work together to make Artesanía Yuste the hidden gem it is today. Enrique’s wife, Elena, is a warm and friendly lady who was more than happy to answer our questions, her passion for the business was evident as she led me around the store and told me their history.
Enrique Yuste (senior) was a builder in the 1960s; he began collecting ceramics from the ruins of the buildings he was working on. At home he reworked these pieces into new, beautiful things and taught himself until 1974 when he became a full-time artisan and opened shop. Enrique Yuste (junior) now runs the shop with the help of his wife.
Elena tells me how Enrique fell in love with woodwork and uses a mixture of wood and ceramics to create unique pieces, these take months to complete in comparison to the Socarrat tiles Enrique’s mother creates. Socarrat is a type of pottery made from fired mud bricks, hand-painted with handmade paints to tell different stories. Elena explained how this type of ceramic is only available in Valencia. The imagery varies but has a lot of focus on goddess creation and animals. Elena shows me how the animal imagery focuses on traditional portrayal and how the cats depicted look more like those painted by Egyptians. Elena picks a favourite piece from the store to show me -a woman sailing under moonlight.
Elena has a fantastic eye for detail and picks up a restoration piece, she can point out what paint is the original and what has been restored, to my unknowing eyes the piece all looks seamless and cohesive. When asked what her favourite part of working at Artesanía Yuste is, she replies: “we enjoy most when people recognise the work that we make.”
She tells me how they have two types of customers, the tourists who are drawn to vibrant & bright colours and the locals who take their time and take in every piece before coming to a decision.
When asked what is next for Artesanía Yuste, Elena gives an answer that contrasts most modern-day views. She answers that they do not want to expand, they do not want to grow online, and they do not want to be on any social media … “we enjoy today.”
She says that that for each piece they could make ten to sell but they make one, they would rather do what they do and do it well. Artesanía Yuste’s ethos is “infinidad de cosas curiosas…” (lots and lots of interesting things). From the moment you walk through their doors, you can see why.
Report by Elizabeth Williams
Article & photo copyright 24/7 Valencia
Plaça del Miracle de Mocadoret, 5
Tel: 630 37 36 03
Hours: Monday to Friday (10h-14h / 16:30h – 19:30h)
Saturday 10h – 12h