Blog by M x

Bali - the Artisan Isle

ARTISANS - THEY MAKE UP OUR WORLD IN BALI!

Artisans are creative people that possess a special skill who usually work in a specific area; the most popular being - wood, stone, glass, sculpture, ceramic etc. And this term ‘Artisan’ can also be applied to many others that have a special gift in 'making and creating'.

As we all know, Bali is full of handicraft product, all made by clever Artisans, it’s a most interesting exercise to look at the fine detail of the product made which can be highly complex in its composition. Unlike China, where all product is manufactured by machines, Bali product is handmade, carved, crafted and detailed.

There are many industries here where clever and talented people are working, that are often overlooked for their skills.

A landscape designer and horticulturist is a creative Artisan, dealing with a variety of plant life, that know the botanical names, the composition of soil, possess an understanding of what will grow where, understanding weather conditions even down to the specifics of insect life, all this to create ‘a beautiful garden to be enjoyed. Apart from having this knowledge of plant life, it’s also having the ability and skill to draw up plans to create ‘the garden’ and knowing what plants & flowers should be planted and where... There are many ‘green’ Artisans out there, found working in the numerous nurseries that ring the outskirts of town & they are often working out & about on their own. These Artisans are real gardeners, who don’t hack at trees and bushes, but trim and cut when necessary. To observe a true Artisan at work who lovingly treats plants and trees as if they are people, is quite a pleasure to observe!

The Artisan who works at a table, a shop counter, sitting there day after day, diligently sewing on thousands of sequins, beads, spangles & studs onto a garment, they would be considered a boutique Artisan. Bali is often referred to as the ‘isle of bling’ where garments, belts, bags & sandals are literally covered in such small adornments. Even the home-ware business has got in on the act, with place mats, coasters, containers, and the rest all covered in zillions of embellishments. This is a massive business on the isle that employs thousands of (mostly) women, who are not only highly skilled with needle and thread, but who usually have an excellent ‘eye’ for color and design. The work that goes into producing a handmade garment with ‘bling’ is staggering!

Not only sewing thousands of sequins onto a dress, the intricate embroidery and other handwork is very popular in ‘dressing up a garment’ this work takes time by a skilled Artisan, but the end result is unique.

With labor costs on the ‘up’ this is why that gorgeous bling or embroidered dress costs as much as it does!

Then, there are the many Artisans that have moved in on the fast growing food industry, from the growers of salad, vegetables to all kinds of herbs, to the flower grower, specializing in not only the fabulous tropical flora but producing the most beautiful roses! These are the Artisans of the land, and surely this is an art (handed down by generations) in growing rice, to feed the hungry millions.

From growers to the Artisan gourmet producers, whose skill is cooking, and preserving, folk that can produce the best in local cheese, cured meats, excellent jams, chutneys, relishes, vinegar, to cinnamon flavored organic coconut sugar! Many out there are testing and creating for us ‘foodies’ if you check out your kitchen cupboard or just take a walk along the aisles of your fave supermarket, you will discover a plethora of handmade natural product, and it tastes extra good too!

Thankfully, there are now regular growers markets that have popped up around, ideal places to purchase your fresh Artisan produce.

And of course, to view the Balinese handwork for offerings and ceremonies that occur on a daily basis, by the Balinese themselves, in showcasing their enormous Artisan talent, to us and the visitors of the world.

Artisans in Bali are here to stay and every industry will survive (as long as some of their children will follow the talents of their Artisan parents) Artisans are found working in every quarter of the isle and this piece is purely a reminder to you, that we do indeed live in a very special place, it is, the Island of the Gods.