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Ratna Pribadi

Artisan Organization: Ratna Pribadi

Country: Bali & Java

"I design motifs for shibori, a Japanese tie-dye technique. I had been interested in batik and, though I work for an advertising agency, I dreamed of becoming a designer someday. But I was just too busy to learn. Always overwhelmed with work, I fell in love with shibori. After working in the agency for ten years, I wanted to realize my dream.

"I began learning shibori from books and on the Internet. I also experimented with the technique. Years after, I found some shibori workshops and have trained with many teachers since then. For accessories and fashion, I do the designing and a tailor brings them to life. I work with many kinds of fabric, including cotton, rayon and silk.

"I grew up in a West Java town. When I moved to a small city to attend junior high, I had to learn to be self-sufficient from that moment on. What's more important, I learned about loving others. To not hurt anyone if you don't want anyone hurting you. Whatever we do today will bring its consequences in the future.

"I'm a divorced woman with no children, but am quite close to my mom, family and relatives. I like photography and usually my family members appear in the photos of my textile work.

"Indonesia is rich in natural resources, and I want to persuade people who dye fabrics to use natural materials. I give them recipes and formulas, and try to convince them to extract dyes from leaves, woods and roots.

"So far, I do everything myself. I have only one person helping me to transform the fabrics into handbags and fashion accessories. I combine my own ideas with the culture and materials of our region. I also get ideas from my friends.

"I've been through many hard moments but, well, how difficult are they? I try not to escape from my problems. There must be a solution — life is short. Let's not waste our valuable time and drown in problems, sadness and obstacles. For example, when I decided to divorce my husband, I saw my marriage was no longer making us happy. I felt there was no point to continuing if we both had been thinking about another option for a better life. By divorcing, we could each finally grow as we wanted. That experience taught me about making decisions. We must be ready for the consequences of our decisions.

"I joined two communities — a Buddhist community and art-on-fabric community. I've been developing not only my talent for my career dreams but also my spiritual world. When we doubt and worry about our steps, or are stopped because of a dead-end, this leads us nowhere. Try to take smaller, shorter steps and do it carefully because, by doing this, you will be braver and understand the next steps better. When we courageously walk through obstacles, a new path will be discovered.""