All the blogs I write, whether for my website or for other websites, are about something important to me, whether it’s a Bali tradition or a place you must visit or a quiet getaway. This blog is the same except it’s a little more personal, because it’s about a hobby shared by my dear friend Ang and I. And some of the things we have learnt about how things happen in Bali. The Tilly & Titch story…
Ang and I met about 15 years ago in Albany (small country town approx 380 km south of Perth) and many of our weekends were spent ‘mooching’ around the shops looking at bling and assorted shiny things. Ang was always the creative one, even the way she wraps presents is a work of art. Ang likes to say I’m good with words – but really it’s just a nice way of saying I have the gift of the gab! I’m actually not sure how it started but after chatting one night we decided to turn her creativity and my chatter into a hobby – and so Tilly & Titch was started.
Ang has identical twin 1 year old girls so to say she is busy (and exhausted) is an understatement. But at night during rare moments of quiet, she draws stunning designs of jewellery.
I then take these designs to a silversmith and we work out sizes and stones and weight. Usually a collection of 20 pieces takes about a month to create as each piece has a casting made first and then the actual piece is hand made. And this is where we start to learn about how things happen in Bali time. Bali time means not rushing things, it means just enjoying the process and knowing in the end, you’ll have exactly what you need. I’m not known for my patience so being in Bali has taught me to calm a bit. ( I can hear Ang laughing here!). I used to operate to deadlines. Bali time has taught me that deadlines are more like loose guidelines and provided we give our silversmith loose guidelines, the end product is always amazing. And as our silversmith once said to me, he used to worry and stress about work, but now he realises that he is making beautiful jewellery and each piece deserves time to create it, so that whoever ends up buying it, can see the time and work that goes into it. It’s also why he and his team still make everything from scratch and by hand, to ensure the old traditions are maintained and the quality is second to none.
Our silversmith is from a long line of silversmiths and he manages the family business now. We took a while to find the right person- because we are fussy and wanted to know that only top quality silver was being used along with clear and well cut semi-precious stones. If it’s possible, our silversmith Made, is even fussier than us. If he isn’t happy with the way a piece turns out, he won’t even show me. He just melts it down straight away and goes back to the design. He’s proud of his work and it shows in every piece he makes for us.
Made’s expertise lies in filigree and fine detailing. Ang and I love intricate patterns – we believe it’s a part of our signature. So we are always happy when Made looks at a design, nods, move the sketch around a few times, then smiles and says yes. I have to admit I have of moment of ‘eeek what is he going to say?’ when I hand him a tricky design – but then four weeks later I go back and he has produced three different samples of the design, using different stones, or different marks on the silver and each of them is perfect. If you are contemplating having something made in Bali, whether it’s for personal use or for business, make sure the person you choose is a specialist in that area. Sure someone else might make it cheaper, but personally I think that shows in the end product.
Prices aren’t as expensive to have things made in Bali as they are in say Australia, but don’t make the mistake of thinking the cheaper you can get it, the better. If a garment or piece of jewellery costs you what a bintang does, chances are it will last precisely as long as it takes you to drink that bintang. For example I buy my ‘leather’ sandals from the markets in Sanur. I figure if I paid $8 for them, they should last about 8 wears. That calculation has rarely failed me. Spend a little more on real leather sandals and they will definitely last longer and still be cheaper than in Australia. The same goes for our silversmith. He’s definitely not the cheapest silversmith there is but we think his prices are perfectly reasonable for the quality of work and the care he puts into every piece.
Now here’s where I get personal. The last 15 years of our friendship has been full of all the ups and downs life brings – work, redundancies, moves around Australia, moves overseas, sea-changes, marriages, divorce, babies, and honestly some ridiculous situations that we still scratch our heads over and laugh about. Taking Ang’s designs to Made, and seeing him take them from Ang’s mind on paper to the real thing, then seeing how our friends react when they see each piece on FB…makes me so proud of what she has created. I might be good at talking about each piece and I definitely get excited when it’s time to go see Made and collect the pieces, but this is Ang’s work, her brains, and her creativity…that she manages to find time for despite having twins. Who have just turned 1. Who are teething. And just starting to walk. You get the picture. Speaking of pictures, here’s some more of Ang’s gorgeous pieces.
If you love shiny things as much as we do, please feel free to like our hobby on Facebook by clicking here. Big Tilly & Titch love to you x