The slogan of Yuste Artesania is “an infinity of curiosities”; and once you walk inside from the square (Plaza Milagro Mocaoret 5, just off Plaza de la Reina), you will find an old fashioned family business trying to maintain traditional artisan values while admittedly relying heavily on tourists to keep it going.
The business was started 40 years ago by Enrique Yuste and is carried on today by his son of the same name. Enrique Senior’s job consisted of decorating houses and he started to collect some of the materials being thrown out during the works, and to realise that these materials were worthy of restoration and reproduction.
The speciality of the shop is the “Socarrat”, a fired mud brick that was used to fill the spaces between wooden roof beams. These bricks are now reproduced with the original 15th century designs, ranging from human figures, mythical beasts and geometrical patterns to floral and plant motifs.
The techniques used at Yuste to produce these pieces are the same as were used 600 years ago.
Also on display are a range of hand-painted ceramics from traditional to modern designs, and it is young Emilio’s mother who has always been the painter in the family. Emilio himself concentrates largely on picture frames in his backroom workshop using the best varieties of wood, while his sister deals with customers.
They also sell tiles, tiled mirrors and a smaller range of badges, ear-rings, plates, jugs, salt and pepper sets, antique door knockers and ceramic spoons and clocks aimed largely at the tourist market.
This compromise doesn’t however cause them to forget their roots; the founder of the business was awarded the Medal of Distinguished Artisans in 1970 and exhibited in Valencia’s famous Ceramic Museum, as well as attending Trade Fairs in cities such as Munich.
As Emilio pointed out, people don’t seem to appreciate quality anymore and the artisan is a dying professional, despite which it is an attractive and creative job for those prepared to work at it.
They also take orders, the most curious of which was when someone brought in a slab from a prehistoric cave painting and asked for it to be framed!