Here are some of the traditional techniques used by the Balinese Silversmith.
Firstly, all Balinese items are handmade and some of the techniques date back over 400 years. Primarily the appointed smiths lovingly created Gold pieces for the Royal Family. Sterling Silver was only utilised for detailed ceremonial bowls, ornate boxes, but never jewellery.
Then over the last 35 years a demand rose for silver items to be created, which spawned the growth of the silver industry in Bali.
I'll briefly run through how to make the Snake Weave, or as it is known in Bali, the Tulang Naga.
To create the silver wire, the smith uses a thick iron board with various sized and shaped holes on it. Depending on the grade / thickness required, the Sterling Silver is pulled through the hole with pliers, say 0.5mm, and as it is drawn through any excess silver is cut away, to create a round and smooth length.
Once the smith has all the lengths of silver, they are then woven together tightly, whilst maintaining a fluid and smooth finish. After this the piece is then blackened or oxidised. This discolouration process is a fundamental Bali technique, required to enhance the weave pattern, and give it the famous eyecatching finish.
Finally a polish is required so only the oxidised areas remain in between the links. The chain is then cut to the exact length, finshed with handmade end caps, and the appropriate hook or toggle fastener.
Here's the finished necklace, in all its glory.
Next is the delicate art of Granulation.
You may have noticed a few of my designs decorated with tiny spheres of silver. This is granulation. It is usually balanced with curves of silver wire known as scroll work, or filigree in the west.
To create the spheres, small cuts of silver are placed into the smelting pot and heated until they reach boiling point. As soon as this occurs the pieces of silver turn into little spheres and are then removed for cooling.
You then take your piece of silver for application, like a ring or locket and carefully solder each sphere onto it.
It's difficult to suggest which is harder, picking up the sphere with tweezers or soldering it in the correct position, without any solder residue. Beautiful artistic designs come from this technique which can take anything up to four days to complete. Time is not such a pressing factor in Bali, they are artisans as much as they are silversmiths.
The Dot Technique.
This style evolved from the granulation technique explained above, whereby the small spheres are placed on an iron plate and hit cleanly with a hammer. The end result is a near perfect flat disc, or as it's know in Bali, the Dot. These Dots can be applied to all pieces to create another Balinese design. When the Dot is used it always has surrrounding oxidisation to highlight the pattern.
It has been a while since I updated this page but I now have the process pictures for making the Borobudur Chain. This is a meticulous design originating from Bali. Many different countries try to copy or make their own version, but nothing compares to the true Balinese Borobudur! It's also becoming more commonly known as Byzantine in the West.
So, to start with the Smith takes the silver wire and turns it, to create a coil of silver. These are then snipped off to make the silver rings you need for the links...
The silver rings are carefully layered together to form the geometric pattern of the Borobudur chain...
After this, we end up with the basic configuration in its raw state...
The next stage involves heating the Silver chain and adding silver where neccessary to form the correct design...
Now the links are more closer together they are further formed and accentuated VERY carefully with a hammer...
The next stage invlolves blackening between the links followed by a deep polish using an electric buffer. Here's the finished product...High end Byzantine at it's best. The exact same technique is applied to all Borobudur sizes up to 10mm.
When our silver jewellery is made, it involves many different steps to create the finished product. I think it's nice to know these things so you can appreciate what has gone into making your jewellery.
Today I'm going talk about one of the processes used to create our Manah Weave Bracelet. What appears on the finished piece as just a braided rope edging is actually a meticulous procedure. It involves layering lengths of silver links into a spiral so you end up with a length of silver. The links are then heated and accentuated until it is finally looking like the silver rope seen on the finished jewellery.
Here is a photo of the stacking of links to create the spiral formation.
Once the links are of the desired shape for the edging. They are then applied to the piece. An oxidisation process follows to blacken the groove of the rope link to bring out the design. The piece is then polished on the surface to give the deifinition and contrast required for the finished item.
Here is the Manah Weave Bracelet:
I've put an arrow next to where the Tali Air Link work is.
Here is a ring with Tali-Air :
I hope that gives you a little insight into one of our 925 silver jewellery production processes. We only use experience and skillled silversmiths as these pieces are very complex.
I'll be adding some more information regarding the traditional techniques over the next couple of weeks.