Studios of Silver
By nadiathm, Dec 30 2015 09:53PM
Back in September I travelled to Bali, not just to take a long overdue holiday but because I wanted to experience some silversmithing classes by local artisans. The classes are considerably cheaper in comparison to those back in the UK and the cost of silver is also quite low. The two workshops I booked on were in Ubud, where I spent the majority of my time in Bali; Studio Perak and Chez Monique. Both classes were within walking distance from my hotel so it made sense to try these ones, however, I had also come across positive reviews for them online.
I had ideals of what I would like to try and focus on in the classes and primarily this was stone setting. I even took some semi-precious cabochons with me to use for settings. In both classes the designs of my pieces weren't at the forefront of my mind. I was fixated on completing well set bezels and more importantly, feeling confident with how I had executed those and whether I'd be able to continue with the same skill back home. In my first class at Studio Perak I made a bezel setting for my cabochon within 5-10 minutes! What fascinated me most was the old-fashioned techniques used and how less labourious they were than how I had first been taught back home. Even more of a surprise was the basic tools used by the tradesmen in the profession - so simplistic to what I use!
Their blow torches consisted of copper piping and bellows. They used only a handful of tools that I could count on one hand and everything was judged by estimates rather than exact measurements. This ended up being something I favoured. Prior to my trip I had no intention of scouting for tools to lug home with me, however, this all changed once I had set eyes on such equipment. During my last day in Ubud I hired a driver to take me to Celuk, searching for the store that the tutor from Studio Perak had recommended to me for purchasing the tools I was after. Thankfully what I did purchase was small and lightweight and (amazingly) around £1 per item!
It was probably a blessing for my bank balance that I had limited time left to venture around Celuk. Numerous roads throughout the village are lined with goldsmiths and silversmiths. It was difficult to know where to look. In fact, thoroughout Bali silver is sold everywhere. There is so much for sale but anything can be stamped '925'. Any pieces I did purchase as souvenirs were only from stockists of the artisans I learnt from. That made each piece more valuable to me.