THE AR­TI­SAN JEW­ELER & HER BA­LI­NESE CRYS­TAL JOUR­NEY

NICHE Magazne - - Fashion Travels - By Sylvia Ten­nant

In April of last year, my boyfriend and I found our­selves on a long, hot road in what we heard was a sil­ver­smith vil­lage just out­side Ubud on the In­done­sian is­land of Bali. It was barely 9am and we felt late al­ready, as the bustling mar­kets and vil­lages of Bali had risen hours be­fore the sun. My goal was clear – I wanted to find a sil­ver­smith and de­sign a col­lec­tion for my jew­elry brand, Zaleska. How­ever, based on the mere uncer­tainty of the sit­u­a­tion and the new­ness of these weav­ing, ar­ti­san-filled al­leys, this seemed unattain­able. I had no ex­pec­ta­tions as we walked along the main jalan, jump­ing gut­ters, weav­ing through home stu­dios, and ul­ti­mately hop­ing for a sign that I wasn't sure I'd find. It was a serendip­i­tous mo­ment when I met a smil­ing young man named Made, who in­vited us in af­ter be­ing greeted by his rooster, koi fish, and bark­ing (but de­cid­edly friendly)

I WAS LIV­ING IN A DREAM STATE, WATCH­ING MY SKETCH­BOOK COME TO LIFE RIGHT BE­FORE MY EYES. [ day in the life]

dogs. His stu­dio, lo­cated in­side his fam­ily com­pound, was lined with heavy wood and glass cases NICHE colum­nist, jew­elry de­signer and un­apolo­getic fash­ion­ista, Sylvia Ten­nant is cre­at­ing her new­est crys­tal jew­elry col­lec­tion, and NICHE has the ex­clu­sive story that be­gins with an in­spi­ra­tional jour­ney to the In­done­sian is­land of Bali, and con­cludes with the ful­fill­ment of a dream... brim­ming with in­tri­cate de­signs. He told us that the gi­ant turquoise and sil­ver rings (which I in­stantly set aside for my­self) could be sized in 30 minutes, and that he would drive us to find break­fast at a lo­cal warung while we waited. The en­ergy of this ex­pe­ri­ence shifted the course of my business and set off a whirl­wind chain of events.

When we re­turned from lunch, I de­signed a col­lec­tion within 2 hours, and it was hand­made by his won­der­ful team of ar­ti­sans in 7 days.

My Re­turn to Bali

I went back to the vil­lage a few months ago to be­gin this process once again. This time, I was armed with a plan, over a thou­sand gem­stones, and my lovely mother, Mercedes, who guided me through the over­whelm­ing mo­ments and im­por­tant de­ci­sions with grace, pa­tience, and (some­times) tequila. I was liv­ing in a dream state, watch­ing my sketch­book come to life right be­fore my eyes. Once I ap­proved the sam­ples, pro­duc­tion was un­der­way.

We took this time to re­treat to the beau­ti­ful Cha­pung Se Bali Re­sort, which was sur­pris­ingly close to Ubud, con­sid­er­ing how ex­clu­sively re­mote it felt.

I sensed a men­tal shift within sec­onds of wit­ness­ing the in­cred­i­ble jun­gle views blan­keted in thick trop­i­cal fo­liage. Nes­tled on the edge of the Osh Val­ley, this lux­ury re­sort sits with mod­ern grandeur. We stayed in a pri­vate

plunge pool suite, which was gen­er­ously spa­cious and re­cently built to ac­com­mo­date a grow­ing de­mand. The cus­tom fur­ni­ture was de­signed by the owner, who had each piece hand­made on the is­land from re­claimed iron, wood, black mar­ble, and brick. We soaked in the lux­u­ri­ous­ness of the spa where ponds, un­par­al­leled views, and uniquely de­signed treat­ment rooms are the back­drop to an in­spired menu of of­fer­ings for mind and body. Dur­ing the day, we read in daybeds next to the in­fin­ity pool at Jun­gle­fish Bali, the “no-beach beach club” con­ve­niently lo­cated steps from our suite. Bali has long at­tracted

vis­i­tors se­duced by its var­ied land­scape and cul­tural op­u­lence, and Cha­pung Se caters to the vast ma­jor­ity of lux­ury trav­el­ers.

In ad­di­tion to this ex­pe­ri­ence, we had the plea­sure of stay­ing at my fa­vorite lo­cal refuge, an Ubud bun­ga­low called Merthayasa 2. The first thing one no­tices upon en­ter­ing the hand-carved door­way is that it's mag­i­cally im­mune to the bus­tle of the sur­round­ing chaos that is tourist sea­son. Or­chids hang from flow­er­ing trees and prop­erty staff har­vest jack­fruit and pa­payas from the fam­ily gar­den. The pool is pri­vate, the com­pli­men­tary break­fast is de­li­cious, and the price is right: $35 per night for a sim­ple but im­mac­u­late suite with strong Wi-fi. Alit and Wayan were won­der­ful hosts and of­fered trans­port, de­li­cious home­made corn frit­ters, and even lent my mother a ke­baya (a tra­di­tional Ba­li­nese lace top worn with a sarong) through­out our mul­ti­week stay. This fa­mil­ial warmth is the essence of the Ba­li­nese and the rea­son I re­turn each year to build my business with them.

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