Ubud has a lot to offer in the artsy, crafty domain. It is a shopper’s paradise; clothes, jewelry, artwork, carved wood, handmade kites, you name it. It is enough to make you wish you came with an empty suitcase and a full bank acount. I regularly have to run down the street to catch Devin up after stopping to gawp at some colourful item in a shop window for a little too long. For us, like most other nomads, these beautiful artifacts are something to be yearned after only. Limited luggage space, and lack of funds leave us staring wistfully, without ever actually entering a shop. When we were here last year however, I indulged myself by purchasing a simple silver ring. The cost of silver is significantly less than in the Western world, and the designs are beautiful and unique. When we decided to return to Ubud, I had already made up my mind to enroll in a silver making class. You will find plenty of courses in town, covering most of the local arts: learn to wood carve, kite make, puppet make or to solder silver, there are many choices. Most hotels, hostlels and guesthouses will have information on different lessons, but you can also walk the streets keeping an eye out for signs. It would seem that most of these lessons cost on average 350k rupiah, roughly AU$36, and go on for three hours.
I decided to go back to the silver shop where I had bought my ring the previous year, Studio Perak, ‘perak’ meaning silver. It is a nice space with a well equipped workshop above it. Remember to book the day before to guarantee a spot. Most lessons will begin at 9am. I met my teacher, Made, who asked if I had a design in mind. Although I had been over some ideas in my head, I decided to chose a piece from the studio as my inspiration. A medallion style pendant, with Mayan inspired engravings. A beautiful piece, I hoped to be able to replicate in my own way. Made assured me that I would be able to make something similar. The 380k I paid included 5g of silver – an amount that goes a surprisingly long way. If you exceed your 5g, you pay an extra 15k rupiah (AU$1.50) per gram.
So I began. I started by hammering lengths of silver wire into straight lines. My necklace would consist of five rings, each formed by making a silver wire circle. Made showed me how to wrap the wire around a special tool to bend it into a circle. Once I was happy with the size, I cut the wire at the circle’s joint then proceeded to hammer it closed and flat. Then I just needed to make four more, each one progressively larger.
Once I had my five rings, they had to be sealed. A drop of glue onto each joint, then Made helped me with the blow-torch (that I had to constantly pump with my foot) to seal them shut. Once this was done, I arranged my circles one inside the other, Russian doll fashion. A spot more glue and we soldered them together. Note: if you are going to do a silver class, bring a bottle of water, it can be very thirsty work! Now came the hard part. I spent a good five minutes hammering my circles flat, so that they could be stamped and engraved. Decorating the necklace was probably my favourite part, but also took me the longest as I spent ages choosing which stamps to use! The tools themselves look like nails, but when you look at what would be the nail point, you see the tiny shapes they will leave engraved in your silver. I made my decision and returned to my hammer once more, carefully placing patterns around my pendant. Once I had finished, my silver all pretty and polished, I still had an hour of the class left. I was the only student and having a one on one lesson made things quicker. I could have left it there, but instead decided to pay for a little extra silver, allowing me to make a bracelet for my sister!
The necklace I used to work off would have cost me 280k to buy, so for a little more I learned a lot and can now say I made my necklace myself!
Find out more about Studio Perak here.
And the finished product!