Exploring Bali’s Handicrafts
I had always heard Bali was known for handicrafts, and for me, just one day of exploring the countryside has confirmed its artistic reputation. My guide, Dewa from Asian Trails, picked me up at 9:00 am and handed me a map outlining the small villages we’d be visiting together.
Our first stop was the Batik Popiler II Factory in Tohpati. Batik is a textile decorating method that involves drawing on fabric by hand with a wax pen and then dipping the fabric in a dye bath. After the dye dries, the wax is scraped away, revealing a beautiful pattern. The process is then repeated to add more colour and designs.
During my tour of the factory, one artist offered to demonstrate batik by drawing a wax design on my shorts. She freehanded a beautiful floral pattern while I stood patiently admiring her skill and trying not to move my leg. She told me the design will wash out with water, but if it doesn’t, I’ll just have a unique souvenir from Bali.
Dewa and I continued our Balinese arts tour in Batubulan, an area known for hand-carved stone sculptures of Buddha, dragons and animal spirits. We stopped for a bit to watch the sculptors at work, painstakingly attending to intricate details using only a hammer and a chisel. It takes about a month to make just one statue, which is a fascinating feat when you realise these pieces are displayed at entrances to homes and temples all over the island.
We ended our tour with a drive up to the village of Celuk, the centre of Bali’s famous silver crafts. Here, artisans use small wooden sticks or pencils to meticulously place tiny silver beads in complex patterns. After the patterns are set, the granules of silver are heated until they fuse together to make a beautiful design. I watched one artist spend 20 minutes creating just one earring.
All this handiwork takes such patience and precision that I have a renewed appreciation for local crafts.