Arizona Artbeat: Touvlo

More from this show

A Mesa woman has figured out a way to take her love of words and create one of a kind custom art pieces. See how Yolanda Esquer turned her home project into a flourishing business creating concrete block art.

Shana Fischer: Block by block, Yolanda Esquer has turned a simple home project into a flourishing business.

Yolanda Esquer: Initially when I started, I made a block with our last name on it. And I took it to a photo shoot and the photographer really liked it and she said, you know, you ought to make these and sell them. And I just kind of -- when you're talking to someone it just kind of sits in the back of my head.

Shana Fisccher: But it got her thinking and several years later, she took the plunge and started Touvlo.

Yolanda Esquer: The materials I use are pretty basic -- water, mortar and cement. I take that, and then I pour it into the mold and I smooth out the top of it. I'll spray water on it if I need it to get a little bit shinier and I use whatever I'm going to stamp into the concrete. It's never going to be the same because, you know, I obviously do it one at a time. And so the finishes and the textures and even the colors, even though it's always gray, is always going to vary depending on the temperature outside or if I put too much water or too much cement or too much mortar or not enough mortar, not enough cement, not enough water. It's always different. It's never the same.

Shana Fischer: Working with concrete in Arizona does present some challenges.

Yolanda Esquer: I have to work very quickly. In the sense that in Arizona, especially during the summer, the concrete cures very quickly, whereas the wintertime I have a couple of hours. If somebody says that doesn't look right or even if I don't like it, I can go back and start all over again.

Shana Fischer: Once the concrete is in the mold. Yolanda uses her stamps to create names, words, even quotes. Pretty much anything a client can dream up, Yolanda can do.

Yolanda Esquer: I really get a kick out of people when they walk up and you can just see their brain just going wow I can do this or I could do that or wait a minute, what word do I want to do?

Shana Fischer: Words have always held a special place in Yolanda's heart. A voracious reader since childhood, when it was time to name her business, she drew upon that passion.

Yolanda Esquer: Well, I have great love of words and language, and so when I was trying to think of a name for the company, I looked around like different languages and Greek is what I ended up with. So the word Touvlo in the Greek means brick.

Shana Fischer: And while Yolanda is proud she's making a living with her blocks, there's something else that fuels her, a piece of advice we can all learn from.

Shana Fischer: I'm not so much for, you know, the money or oh, you know, to be someone that's known. I think it's just very simple to me and I don't even think of myself as an artist. I think of myself as just somebody who likes to do what I do.

Ted Simons: And those blocks can be found at the Gilbert Farmer's Market. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thanks for joining us, you have a great evening.

A graphic for the Arizona PBS news show,
airs April 27

New and local

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

Earth Day Challenge graphic with the Arizona PBS logo and an illustration of the earth

Help us meet the Earth Day Challenge!

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: