Ernesto Gonzalez first fell in love with pottery when he took an entry-level class in high school. After many years of study and practice, he has now transformed that passion into a thriving business that offers lessons and rental space to pottery enthusiasts and novices alike in North Brooklyn.
“I started giving pottery lessons in Bushwick about five years ago,” Gonzalez explained. “It started as a simple sip-and-spin thing with friends and family, but then eventually developed into a full business.”
Gonzalez moved from California to Bushwick in 2013, and brought his love for clay making with him. In 2020 he moved again, this time to Greenpoint, where he opened a pottery workshop and studio named Barro (Spanish for “mud”) at 67 West Street.
Gonzalez continued offering classes outside through most of the pandemic as he prepared to open the new workshop. Coming out of the pandemic, he is hoping to take his growing business to the next level.
“There was no pottery studio in this area,” Gonzalez said. “People have loved having such a convenient place to come and learn pottery. Some of my students live only a block or two away.
Barro offers a variety of classes for pottery newcomers and experts. Gonzalez recommends the one-off “Intro to the Pottery Wheel” class for beginners who are mainly focused on having fun.
For more experienced potters, he suggests the four-week “Fundamentals of Wheel Throwing” course that highlights more advanced techniques.
After taking a class, students are encouraged to rent a throwing wheel to continue honing their craft.
Gonzales credits his success in part to the vibrant and welcoming culture of North Brooklyn.
“Greenpoint is so close-knit and supportive,” he said. “Everyone here believes in me and supports me, and I am really grateful for that.”
Even though he now instructs dozens of students a week, Gonzalez has been able to continue honing his own abilities as a potter at Barro.
“I believe that you can only become a better potter by teaching,” he said. “The fun is in the process.”
Formerly an accountant, Gonzalez now works full time at Barro teaching classes and creating commissioned pieces. He hopes that his success story will inspire other artists and entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic comes to a close.
“The city lost a lot of good businesses during the pandemic,” Gonzalez explained, “but now that things are coming back to life, it is the time to try new things. If it doesn’t work out, you can always try it again in some different capacity.”
Registration for classes at Barro can be made at barrobk.com. Additionally, Gonzalez will offer multiple in-person pottery demos on weekends throughout the summer at Greenpoint Terminal Market.
Follow Barro on Instagram @barrobk.