I was looking back over some old items I made in Bali back in the 1980’s and it really brought home to me how much the way we make jewelry, and the materials we have available to make jewelry has changed in the last 30 years – it’s been incremental changes but over 30 years the difference is massive massive massive!
Back then we really had no available technology for production, for sure no lasers, no 3D printing no CNC milling etc, but even things like no casting! And the tools available to buy locally were really rudimentary, the torches we were soldering with super basic and the fuel we used was heavily leaded petrol, bought from the local gas station and brought home in a plastic jerry can, or sometimes even just in a plastic bag – like the ones we are now trying not to use when get our groceries at the supermarket. Kinda scary when you think back, but then it was all A OK!
The one great thing we did have available back then though, was a huge pool of super talented smiths with indigenous and ingenious techniques handed down parent to child over multiple generations, and this really sadly is breaking down with the current generation. Older talented smiths still holding these skills are lamenting, their children and most of the younger generation have no interest in acquiring these skills, the professions of being graphic designers or dealing in real estate or work in the tourism industry are seen as far more exciting and rewarding, and maybe that is true… but without some attention it will see the demise of some wonderful traditional skills