As a young man, Gaspar Tellez studied Art and Industrial Design in Mexico City. Inspired by the thought of a new challenge, in 1979 he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he experienced working with glass, metals, ceramics, and lastly, wood. By 1984 he had opened his own studio --Gaspart Designs Arts and Crafts— the beginning of a dynamic career and a thriving business in fine woodworking. Tellez is a master craftsman with 30 years of experience that includes designing and executing beautiful pieces of furniture and sculpture, home integrated furniture, as well as home construction and renovation. During his years in Los Angeles, much of his work included designing and building custom pieces of furniture for the rich and famous: celebrities and music artists in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Malibu, and Venice Beach. Much of his corporate work was performed for movie and TV studios such as Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Paramount Pictures. His pieces were represented and sold in the Beverly Hills Design Center for many years. During the course of his career, he obtained his teaching credentials from the University of San Diego, California, in 2002, thus allowing him to follow his dream of teaching and inspiring creativity to others. Thirty-three years after leaving Mexico City, Tellez made a full circle back to his country of origin, relocating his woodworking and design studio in Valle de Bravo, this time as a full-blown school: Gaspart Studio - Escuela de Ebanistería Fina y Cerámica. Complete with a full line of machinery and over 3500 square feet of space to learn and work in, the school is the only one of its kind in Mexico. Here Tellez shares his knowledge of fine woodworking with those interested in a professional career as well as with anyone interested in creative art who wishes to learn this noble and timeless craft. Students’ ages range from 6 to over 60, and a variety of classes are offered in fine woodworking, wood carving, creative wood turning, wood sculpture, ceramics, raku technique, and ceramic sculpture. Tellez’s art and craft --a blend of organic, rustic, contemporary, and Asian styles-- are best expressed by the values he upholds as the essence of fine woodworking: simple, elegant, and well-executed.
Fatimah Araneta was born in Manila, Philippines, in 1966. Eight years later, her family emigrated to Mexico City, and that is where she grew up, attending bilingual schools from fifth grade to high school so that she never lost her fluency in English. In 1991 she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies (Licenciatura en Urbanismo) at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and went on to obtain a Master’s degree in City Planning in 1995, at the University of California at Berkeley, California. Not long after that, she moved to Valle de Bravo, eschewing the big city life that she had been studying, but had come to consider somewhat neurotic and not the best place to start a family.
Her first contact with clay was at the Centro Regional de Cultura de Valle de Bravo, the local public cultural center for arts and crafts, when she accompanied her two young children (then aged 7 and 11) to the kids’ clay workshops. The three of them spent a year learning how to hand build, and to fire their pottery in open woodfired kilns.
In 2015, she and husband Gaspar Tellez decided to set up a pottery studio and start offering classes, to complement the woodworking classes that had begun in late 2011. Tellez’s forte is woodworking, but he is also an accomplished ceramicist, having learned a great deal from master ceramicist and longtime pottery teacher Ross Thompson, during those three decades in Los Angeles (see Tellez's bio above). Araneta learned how to throw clay, as well as the basics of electric kiln firing and rakú, from husband Tellez. She also got to learn a great deal from Thompson when he visited Gaspart Studio in the summers of 2016 and 2017, and taught intensive workshops in slab-building and wheel-throwing, as well as electric kiln firing and glazing techniques.
“The world of ceramics is so vast that I always feel like I am just in the initial phase of a long journey. It’s exciting to think about how much I still have ahead to explore. What I enjoy about teaching is that when you teach, you always learn a bit more about what you already know. The students, young and old, come to me with their ideas about what they want to make in clay, and I have to figure out not only how to make those things they want, but also how to deconstruct the making process so that they can do most of the work themselves and therefore own the results. The most difficult lesson to teach a beginner student is: practice makes perfect."