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.

José Cárdenas: A Mesa woman has figured out a way to create custom art pieces out of concrete. Shana Fischer and photographer Ed Kishel have the story.

Voice-Over: Block by block, she's 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 ought to make these and sell them. And I just kind of -- It's one of those things when you're talking to someone, it just sat in the back of my head.

Voice-Over: But it got her thinking, and several years later she took the plunge and started Touvlo.

Yolanda Esquer: Materials I use are basic. Water, mortar, and cement. I take that and then I pour it into -- I hand 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 shinier and I go ahead and use whatever I'm going to stamp into the concrete. And it's never going to be the same, because I obviously do it one at a time. So the finishes and the textures 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. So it's always different.

Voice-Over: Working with concrete in Arizona, does present 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 it's the winter time, I have a couple of hours, or somebody says, wait, that doesn't look right, even if I don't like it, I can go back and start over again.

Voice-Over: Once the concrete is in the mold, she uses her stamps to create names. Words. Even quotes. Pretty much anything a client can dream up, Yolanda can do.

Yolanda Esquer: I get a kick out of people when they walk up, you can see their brain gag, wow, I can do this, or I can do that. Wait, what words do I want to do?

Voice-Over: Words have always held a special place in her heart. A voracious reader since childhood, when it came time to name her business, she drew upon that passion.

Yolanda Esquer: 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.

Voice-Over: And while she's 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.

Yolanda Esquer: Not so much for the money, or oh, to be someone that is known. I think it's just -- It's very simple to me, and I don't even think of myself as an artist, but just somebody who likes to do what I do.

José Cárdenas: The blocks can be found at the Gilbert farmers' market or visit the Touvlo website to make a custom order.

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

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

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 26

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Rachel Khong
May 29

Join us for PBS Books Readers Club!

Super Why characters

Join a Super Why Reading Camp to play, learn and grow

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: