Buenas Companias – Art Classes in Mendoza
Buenas Companias, a small ceramics studio located in Chacras de Choria, is the art and passion of a former journalist turned artist who took advantage of a unique opportunity to enter the wine scene. Born in Cordoba, Milada Baraga moved to Mendoza more than 15 years ago and made a 180 degree career change when she uncovered her artistic passion and identified a gap in Mendoza’s wine industry. With a degree in journalism, she later decided to trade in her pen and paper for a paintbrush and kiln. Today her ceramic pieces are sold in over 28 wineries throughout Argnetina, Uruguay, and Chile.
“I had studied something entirely different, but had always taken art classes on the side,” explained Milada. “Then, when I began working more with ceramics I said no – I have to make a living out of this because I absolutely love it.”
Harnessing her natural attention to detail, Milada creates ceramic accessories to complement all the social moments that center on food and wine. Having identified her niche opportunity, all she needed was the first spark of inspiration to make her first move, and as it turns out she didn’t have to wait long.
Today the Buenas Companias product line is an ample collection of everything from salt and pepper shakers to wine bottle holders, drop stops to napkin rings. However, everything began with the wine glass charms – a common trinket in North America, but a uniquely novel concept for this South American market. Soon the wineries were asking for branded accessories and Buenas Companias was up and running.
“A friend of mine was given a set of wine charms and as soon as I saw them I knew that I needed to create a ceramic version and that Mendoza needed access to products like this. Today our idea is to make everything and anything people need in order to enjoy wine,” said Milada, as she glanced around her workshop and the various products on display there.
Though her work takes different forms, she focuses on the use of materials including clay, wire, wood, and paints. Each piece is hand formed and hand painted with a collection of vibrant colors that Milada must import.
Today, Buenas Companias products are featured in select wine shops and boutiques within Mendoza city, and are frequently purchased by local wineries interested in offering customized wine accessories to the wine enthusiasts that stop by for a visit.
However, that’s not the only way tourists can get their hands on Milada’s creations. In fact, recently Milada has opened her studio doors up to travelers interested in participating in art classes and activities. The small studio is located a short 10 minute drive from Mendoza downtown and is housed next to Milada’s home in a one-room addition. Mate is served and guests are able to paint, fire, and bring home a ceramic creation that is all their own.
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