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Posts Tagged ‘balinese art’

Bali Day 3: Monday, August 7, 2017

Making pendant -silver glue

On my way to the airport, my host stopped at the Prapen silver jewelry workshop near Ubud, where I got to see more silver filigree jewelry being made. This lady is using a yellow glue made from red piling-piling seeds to glue small curls of wire into a silver pendant the same as the one shown.

I slept in a little and it took some time to get showered and to repack all my things. I put the rice farmer’s hat into a large red plastic bag and figured out how to tie it to the back of my TGC bag. I had already dumped some clothes in Jogja, so I dumped a few toiletries I wouldn’t be needing and consolidated things the best I could so that I was packing the most weight I could handle in my carry on bags. I didn’t want to pay a lot for overweight bags on the flight to Jakarta; once I get there and have more weight allowance for the international flights, I can redistribute to save my aching shoulders.

The landlord served me breakfast of chicken bacon on scrambled eggs on toast, a fruit bowl again (pineapple, watermelon, dragon fruit, etc.) and a papaya smoothie. It was good, but I missed the banana pancakes of the day before. I ate a couple of the oranges I’d bought yesterday, then packed my bags up to the top of the stairs by the landlord’s house. Come to find out, there is another road at the top of the hill through the passage beside their home, with several other bungalows tucked back there. I didn’t have to lug everything down the cement stairs.

Blowtorch soldering

Using a finely focused acetylene torch to weld pieces together.

I went to pay for the water I’d used from the mini-fridge and for today’s trip to Denpasar, but found out my payment for this stay hadn’t gone through, although I had the online receipt. My wife checked and found that indeed the payment had not shown up. So after loading up his car, we stopped on the main road of Ubud at an ATM because I had to get some more money out. I got just enough to tide me over so that I wouldn’t have a bunch of Indonesian money left. I had a few 2000 rp and 5000 rp bills and a bunch of smaller coins (1000, 500, and 100 rp) but altogether this amounts to maybe $5 U.S., and I do want some money to collect.

Making lockets

A lady at the Prapen workshop assembling lockets.

I had arranged with my landlord and owner of the Ubud Wins Bungalows to drive me to the airport this morning and perhaps see a few sites I’d missed the day before. Since I was a bit later getting started, we decided I only had time to visit one place, and it had to be on the way. So no Gunung Kawi or Monkey Forest Temple (he said it wasn’t a good idea to visit there in the morning, anyway, as the monkeys are hungry and aggressive).

Workers on silver

Workers at the Prapen silver smithing workshop near Ubud, Bali

We drove around some byways in Ubud that I had not been on before, a part of town given to art shops and crafts workshops. This would be a great place to explore when I return here, if I ever get the chance. We stopped at a small place called Prapen Jewelry, a family owned silver crafting workshop.

Casting silver bals

Preparing silver balls for casting and molding to become parts of jewelry.

I could tell by the coi fish in the pond and the upscale look of the showroom that this was a more exclusive shop than the one I’d visited in Kota Gede. They would not allow me to photograph the jewelry (exclusive designs, apparently) but I was allowed to photograph and video the craftsmen and women making the jewelry. One of the staff explained the process to me, and there were signs with English and Indonesian captions that also explained it.

Silver strip mill

This hand mill presses silver bars into strips. Wire of different gauges is made by pulling the strips through a die.

The silver is mixed with copper (7.5%) and drawn into wires, just like in Kota Gede. It is then cut into pieces, curled or shaped, and glued into designs using a yellowish paste made from red seeds called piling-piling. Once the piece is done, an acetylene torch is used to fuse the wires together and they are cleaned and polished to provide the brilliant white metal finish of sterling silver.

Amarinth seeds

Amarinth seeds, which are used in part of the processing of the silver (polishing?). I find it fascinating that native plants and seeds are used, such as the piling-piling seeds for glue.

One lady was using a tapering round rod to make silver wire hoops of exactly the right size to fit inside earrings. Another was assembling square wire shapes and pieces to build lockets. One lady was creating small curls of varying lengths to place inside a necklace pendant, a very exacting process. When I asked how long it took to build one pendant, they said about five days. Obviously, even if she has made hundreds of these exact pendants, and they assembly line them, with all of this handwork the final price must be much higher than what I could pay.

Silver plate and wire

Silver plates, strips, and wire. The die at the left allows different gauges of wire to be created.

I looked through the showroom and the pieces were amazing; truly works of art. I wasn’t allowed to photograph them, but they did let me photograph a silver Ganesha figurine in the center of the showroom.

Silver pellets

Silver beads of different sizes for use in making jewelry pieces.

This visit has added much more detail to what I saw in Kota Gede, and between the two places, my students will have enough photographs and video footage to put together a nice video on how silver filigree jewelry is made. I can add that to my extensive videos of silver mining and have that element pretty much locked down.

REsizing rings

This lady is creating precisely sized loops of silver to glue and weld into the final earrings. To make the loop just the right size, it is pushed onto the tapered tool she is holding until it reaches the right spot for the circumference she is after.

The original purpose of this site, the Elements Unearthed, has not been forgotten. My own greater purposes now encompass so much more that I originally intended when I started this blog site, so the topics I write about have also expanded. But I still come back to my roots as often as I can; I will never lose interest in how the elements are mined, refined, and turned into finished products such as the beautiful jewelry I’ve seen in Indonesia.

Silver Ganesha

A silver Ganesha statue in the main showroom. I wasn’t allowed to photograph the jewelry itself, which was amazingly intricate and beautiful.

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