PERSEVERANCE | 189 Hours With Filigree Craftsman.
Having the meaning of "persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success." Perseverance is the best word to describe my overall filigree training experiences (do read "FILIGREE | The thread of life" if you haven't).
One Workshop, Twenty-one days, ten artisans, 189 productive working hours. So, how was it? What am I doing there, and what I have learned from the experiences?
Through the intense 21 days, apart from becoming more proficient in the art of filigree making through firsthand experience on material creation and pattern innovation, I got more insight into the craftsman life. I found that:
Just like any jewellery business and workshop in other countries like Italy and Spain, most of the jewellery business/workshop in Indonesia is Family owned business, meaning it is privately owned and run by a particular family, and they pass it from one generation to the next one.
Having said that, there is only one way for an independent designer to be able to find a way to go inside the business, which is through a connection within the industry.
Most artisans learned their making skills from their family members or neighbour from a young age (as young as 12) and took a good three years to master just the basic making.
Most tools are hand made and assembled. Either by modifying existing tools (obtainable from local crafts shop) or by literally making it from scratch.
Due to a lack of appreciation/support, low working rates as well as pressure from clients, every year the number of workshops and craftsmen is decreasing drastically.
Most Craftsmen prefer to work as a construction worker or taxi driver because it is more rewarding, and workshops that have no artisan on it practically cease to exist.
The craftsmen that available now are currently the last generation left. Regeneration is very minimum, and most of them won't let their children have a career in jewellery as a craftsman.
The remaining craftsmen are dominated by men from the age of 35 to 70, due to how labour intensive the work is (From melting the silver, to make the wire, you do all of it on your own.) A small number of women do the job but only as a pattern fillers as suppose to making the wire and such.
If these things continue in 10 years from now, the arts will probably cease to exist. That's why in Pusaka, we do what we do. We experiment, learn and re-learn in order to challenge and push the boundaries on the existing design, developing a new approach to connect the future to the past, creating a renewed sense of pride.
And on doing that I couldn't be more grateful to find a company like Borobudur Silver who does not only share the same work ethics with us but also up for a challenge.
Today might be the end of my 21 days of filigree training, but it is definitely not the end of my filigree journey. So stay tuned for more story !!
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