Artisan Organization: Susi Susanti
Country: Bali and Java
"My name is Susi Susanti. People say that I'm a tough, diligent, and strong woman when it comes to my principles. I like cycling, sewing and cooking. I was born in a charming town in East Java, known for its friendly people. Most of the people here are farmers, and the rest craft traditional musical instruments, like the jambe drum.
"I myself come from a family of farmers and am the second of six children. My childhood was so much fun! Kids weren't busy with gadgets like today, so we played traditional games outside in the yard with all the children in the neighborhood. I also helped my parents on the farm after school and made homemade brown sugar, since we had limited resources.
"After graduating from high school, I worked in a shoe factory for six years, then my uncle brought me to Bali to help sell handicrafts. Those were difficult times in my life. I used to sleep on the floor, and life felt so hard. But that's also when I met my husband. He was the son of one of my uncle's clients.
"After getting married, God blessed us with a son and a daughter. Having children makes me happy. As people around here say, 'marriage is not complete without children,' so having them means everything to me. They give me the spirit to work hard and strive for a better life.
"I supplied a few shops that sold different kinds of crafts but, after a few months, I realized that duck sculptures are charming, funny and unique. After that, I focused exclusively on carving ducks. I learned a lot about it, from production to materials, the painting process, and more. I work with the help of my husband and two assistants from my family, and we also have 25 helpers who work in their homes.
"We work with saws and simple manual tools, and use bamboo root for the duck bodies and wood for the heads. My husband designs the painting themes. The bamboo root that we use is from Java as there aren't many bamboo trees in Bali and the demand for these sculptures is high. During paddy harvest time, people in Java cannot provide the materials, since they are busy on their farms. Thanks to God, today I have a shop of my own and even my previous boss now buys duck sculptures from me.""