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Nyoman Nartawan

Artisan Organization: Nyoman Nartawan

Country: Bali & Java

"I was born in Bali, the third of five children. My parents were farmers. When I was a boy, times were tough because my parents' income had to stretch for all of us. We could eat rice only on special occasions, such as religious holidays. We couldn't eat rice any other days, and we ate whatever we had just to survive.

"After graduating from junior high school, I couldn't continue my studies due to financial problems. My parents couldn't support my studies anymore, so I needed to find a job. Since I lived in a town where most people work as silversmiths, I was interested in learning the art. From the time was 11 or 12, I'd help my brother, who also worked in silver.

"Like most people, I also have hobbies aside from working with silver. I like fishing, sometimes I play volleyball and, when I was a boy, I also used to help my parents in the rice field. As an ordinary person living in a small town, I never thought I would marry a foreigner. But I did — I married a Japanese girl. The first time we met was when she learned how to work with silver in my place. Today, we have a daughter. Being a parent is amazing for me and it has changed me a lot.

"My parents used to tell me to help my brother in his silver work, even when I was still in junior high school. By the time I graduated, I had gotten used to it. I remember what my teacher told me — 'You have to practice working with silver frequently because, no matter how dull a knife is, it will be sharp if it is sharpened every day.' Through frequent practice, I obtained my skills.

"I now work with five people to create my own jewelry designs. I have three employees who help me, and the other two are my relatives. They work based on the designs that I create. To look for inspiration, I often read magazines to get ideas. My jewelry uses mostly combinations of silver, gold, copper, and brass. I get all the materials from local shops, and it's quite easy to find them in Bali. Of all of the materials I use, the most challenging to combine are silver and gold. Unlike many other silversmiths, my work has its own characteristics. I hope you can help me introduce my art to the world.""