Written by Liz, SRNB Charlottesville
Beatriz Gutierrez is a local potter who is known for her beautiful mugs, bowls, plates, and more. Originally from the Canary Islands, Beatriz now lives in an 18th century home in rural Virginia. She enjoys visiting Charlottesville to showcase her pottery, meet new people, and build connections within the community. You can see her work in person by visiting Craft Cville or the City Market on the Downtown Mall.
Have you always been interested in pottery?
No, I started a decade ago. I was staying in an ecovillage in Northeast Scotland called Findhorn. It is one of the oldest in the world. I also practiced meditation there, and through that process, I started to feel more creative and I wanted to take art classes. Pottery and clay were something that stood out for me. Everything fell into place. I started to do it and learn more, and I’ve just kept going.
Is the process a very relaxing one for you?
It is very grounding. I can say that when I’m not working, I want to be doing it. I always have the longing to come back to the studio. I’m my happiest when I feel a sense of rhythm in the studio. Pottery is about rhythm and cycles. When you really tap into it, it’s a lovely feeling. I can also say though that a frustrating day in the studio is the worst. Some days things come a little bit slower or are more difficult. It’s a challenging thing to do.
Do you feel like you have to be in a certain mindset?
Yes, but also when you get into it, it helps you get into the mindset if that makes sense. Both things feed each other.
When did you start your business, Pots for Love?
I see it more as a way of living. I feel happy when people buy my pots because I can keep making them. Of course, I’m a human being with bills to pay. I feel like since we bought our property, I’ve settled into my studio and have felt the need to have a more formal business. Before I would say it was more just about a community of friends and family. They supported my growth and learning process. I would say I’ve been selling my pots for maybe six years, and the last two years was when I started feeling like it was a business. I still hold the same ideas though—that it is more of a lifestyle. It’s not separated from the rest of my life.
What did you first start making?
Mugs and cups. At the beginning, they seemed a little bit more accessible for me and my skill level, but as I pursued my learning, I realized that they are very challenging. There are so many details I didn’t see at first.
You sell your pottery at both Craft Cville and the Charlottesville City Market. Do you enjoy going to the markets, and have you been able to meet other artisans through being a vendor?
I feel like Charlottesville is a very supportive community, and I’ve made connections through the markets. I would say that my long-term vision is to have a stronger mailing list. We live in a place with historical importance from the 1700’s, and I would hope that eventually people would come to us and that I can plan some events at my home. I live an hour and a half from Charlottesville. It’s a big deal coming here and bringing all these things—it’s not easy. I have been trying to be constant in coming here.
Do people buy your pottery online?
Yes, a little bit. But there is something about selling pots in person and connecting with people. It’s important to me, especially because I live in a secluded, rural area. Like, I remember you when you came and bought my teapot, and now you are here, and that can go even further. It’s nice to listen to people’s feedback and see their reaction to the pots. It’s a very important part of the process. Without that, it wouldn’t be complete for me.
I read on your website that you also like yoga and permaculture. Can you tell me more about that?
I started yoga when I was 18 years old. I feel like it really helps my body. As a potter, you are always leaning forward. It helps you to maintain your body longer. I would love to be making pots in my 80’s and 90’s. Yoga brings a lot of benefits for the mind as well, having a constant practice. I would say it has so many similarities to pottery, like when you are throwing a pot. You touch a moment of stillness and connection.
For permaculture, I also started very young. I took some classes, and that enthusiasm for this took me to Findhorn where I lived for almost five years. It makes your life more efficient. Permaculture really relates to my life in the studio. I like to make pots in a progression, in a series, because you have one and you think about it and you see something that needs to be changed. It helps to look at the previous one that you made.
Everything in the studio has a routine and a cycle. There are so many things that are applicable. To run a studio efficiently, you could apply some of the principles of designing permaculture, but also the ethics of permaculture are really important to me. Caring for the land is huge. I work with the Earth; it’s our mother. It is the most giving, beautiful thing that I see. It’s super important that my practices in the studio are environmentally friendly. You can do little things on your own that are important.
There are things that have been really important to me that I still apply in my craft and in my way of living. Every day we have an opportunity to say how we want to live. For me, growing a garden is very important as a way of doing something for the world. It makes me feel good about how I live.
Do you feel like yoga and permaculture are your inspiration for your work?
It would be a little more abstract. A good conversation, a piece of music, a nice walk, a personal act of kindness—all of these things. Also, anger for injustices. They are all material for creativity. It’s like the water in the clay. I feel like the emotions are that water.
So the studio is a place where you can process your thoughts?
Totally. A lot of things happen when you’re in a creative process. It’s very sacred.
Do you feel like your pottery has changed over the years?
A couple of years ago I had all of this porcelain available from a local business in Lynchburg. They couldn’t use it so they gave it to me. It was different from things that I did before, and things that I’m doing now. I think for me, it’s about reflecting about what parts of the process I like, and how I can spend more time doing certain things that are more natural for my personality. I also try to learn the things that I don’t like so much.
I say that one of my weaknesses has been selling my pots. I’ve found it very challenging and scary. It hasn’t been easy to show the things that I’ve been working on, but it’s a very important part of the process for me. I’m learning to stand beside my work with more confidence because I’m also liking the work I’m doing now. It has simplified a lot. It changes through that process of reflection and inner listening but also being open to the feedback. I like to be present with the first reaction of the general public. I try to expose my work to people that have been working for awhile and can discuss some of the problems some pieces may have, or what could be done differently. That would be my advice to anyone who is starting a business. You need to be open to feedback.