January to March 2012 - Familiar places - new treasures.

This year, after the usual passionate debate about our travel destination, and influenced by last year’s rather frightening departure from Myanmar, we decided to forgo major adventures and concentrate on bringing some of our own ideas to life.

Thus, armed with rough drawings, a host of ideas and lots of enthusiasm, we headed out to, relatively, familiar pastures with the aim of collaborating with some of the wonderful artisans and artists that we have found over the years.

Our first stop was Indonesia and the first on our list was Wayan Dewata, a metal-worker who works in a studio at the back of the family home in Batubulan, a small village in the south of Bali. We’ve known Wayan for some 8 years and his metal fish and boat panels have proven very popular. Some time spent “brain-storming” (ok, chatting and creating!) with Wayan generated some new nautical wall art designs as well as unusual wrought iron wine racks.

Our next stop was Kerobokan, an area of Bali that most tourists never see, where real craftsmen work and create. We met Cheqy, a fascinating Javanese man whose business is fossilised trees. He travels the length of Indonesia to find and excavate these rare pieces, which often need “mining” to extract from quite deep locations. Cheqy then cuts and polishes these finds to make bowls, bookends and sometimes even garden furniture using this unusual and beautiful product of nature.


We also bought some spectacular pieces from an enterprising young man called “Sam” who we spotted working palm-tree trunks into gorgeous vases.

 

 

Even in Bali, our sources take us far from the tourist areas and so the accommodation and eateries we use are not the usual “resort-style”. However, breakfast at Mama Andre’s provided a great start to the day and her little warung quickly became a regular eating-place.

The village of Celuk was one of our sources of gemstones (Bangkok, of course, being the main source as it’s the central point for the world’s gems trade) for our next project. We found gorgeous blue topaz, rubies, amethysts, sapphires, obsidians and others in several gorgeous cuts (and some quite dramatic sizes!) as well as more freshwater pearls and beautiful mother-of-pearl pieces.

We had taken sketches of many ideas for earrings and cocktail ring designs and wanted to discuss these with another Wayan, this time one of our silversmiths.

Did you know that Balinese only have four first names? The first child is Wayan, the second child Made, the third Nyoman and the fourth is Ketut. If there is a fifth, they start again at Wayan! Very confusing!

Three weeks in Bali flew by as we met lots of familiar faces and also many new ones. Amongst this year’s treasures are spectacular floor and table lamps, interesting driftwood furniture, fossil wood cheese boards and bookends, summer bags made from vetiver designed by Katia and, as always, beautiful jewellery.

Our search for treasures continued in the north of Thailand. We met up with Matissa, the lady behind our popular mango-wood candle holders; visited Chanin and his wife who make our shop display items; and even managed to have a short holiday on a little island between Burma and Thailand before organising our shipping and heading for home.

We were particularly pleased to avoid illness this year and arrived home in time to open the shops on April Fool’s Day, as is our tradition.

Some of our treasures have already arrived (including some dhurries/rugs which we had woven while we were away) but some are still on the high seas and will arrive in the UK over the next month.

For up-to-date news, keep an eye on our faceboook page.

See you soon!