Sunday, December 12, 2010

How Bali Silver Beads are Made

By on Sunday, December 12, 2010 8 Comments

You've heard of Bali beads, right?  Ever wonder where they come from and who the people are who make them? Wonder no more as we are about to do a little armchair traveling.

Bali is a small island in Indonesia, a country of some 7000 islands. Tourism is the biggest industry for Bali and fortunately it has survived the crippling blows dealt by the 2002 and 2005 terrorist bombings. It's a beautiful place with highly artistic people skilled in many areas like dance, music, sculpture, painting, leather work and metal smithing.

Balinese DancersBalinese Dancers via Wikipedia

Although Indonesia is a Muslim country, most Balinese practice Hinduism. The religion as well as traditional Hindu crafts such as silver smithing were introduced centuries ago by Indian traders to the entire region. The distinctive style of Balinese bead making includes tiny granulation balls and intricate silver wire decoration. They also do openwork designs which are created with tiny holes.

Bali Ubut Set 2 - Arts, Crafts, CommerceImage by coolinsights
Image Source
Bali Ubut Set 2 - Arts, Crafts, CommerceImage by coolinsights

The bead making process begins with silver pellets which are melted and mixed with copper (for strength) before being poured into molds. Once hardened, the silver is then flattened in a series of rollers. Round beads are made from two domed discs which are then soldered together before decoration.

Watch this video by Ninadesigns who actually got to go to Bali! Now that is what I call field research for jewelry artisans! The video shows the general bead making process as well as how a Balinese box clasp is made.

Other Bali pictures :
Bali TemplesImage by widybrad via Flickr
Hindu temple on the island of Menjangan (Bali,...Image via Wikipedia
Bali Temple d'Ubud femmes venant faire leurs o...Image via Wikipedia
Melasti 1Melasti Festival Image by Paul Wiryantho

Before you go:
Janet Coles and Robert BudwigWorld Beads: An Exploration Of Bead Traditions Around The World, With 30 Projects To Creatie You Own Jewelry

For more tutorials check out my Jewelry Making Tips

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  1. Very nice. Thanks for sharing how craftspeople around the world create.

  2. Wow I can't believe the amount of work and time that goes into one box clasp! Bali silver is often sold a lot cheaper than the mass produced silver components, yet so much more effort and care has gone into the Bali pieces.

  3. So interesting to see. You don't think of somebody sitting there doing all that tiny detail work. At least I don't. I just see a pretty bead or piece. Very neat to see how it's done!

  4. Yes, it is incredible that every little round silver ball is attached by hand!

  5. You always make such interesting posts! I love seeing how traditional techniques are made. And Bali beads and jewels were always something I wanted to know about. Thank you!

  6. Another one of your great posts, Pearl!

  7. I am glad everyone enjoyed the armchair traveling and appreciated the craftsmanship!