I’m becoming a little bit of a DIY expert just quietly. Remember last week when I shared all the details of making my own perfume in Bali? Well I’m at it again, but this time I made my own jewellery. I’m not talking about stringing a few beads together or plaiting a friendship bracelet either. I’m talking the real deal here. You already know how much I love silver jewellery, so you can imagine that I was over the moon to learn from skilled craftsmen and make something uniquely my own at a Chez Monique jewellery making class in Ubud Bali. They even let me use a blow torch! Read on for all the details …
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Chez Monique Jewellery Making Class Overview
My genetic cocktail includes having teeny, tiny fingers and wrists. Why this was not accompanied by a teeny, tiny waist and thighs is a mystery, but having small fingers and wrists makes buying rings and bangles somewhat difficult. My Chez Monique jewellery making class not only allowed me the opportunity to design something uniquely mine, but also ensured a perfect fit for my odd dimensions. Each Chez Monique jewellery making class costs IDR450,000 (about AUD$45), which includes 10 grams of silver. Over the 2 – 3 hours of the class you will design and make one item and extra silver can be purchased if needed. Classes are run Monday to Saturday with a choice of three times; 9.30am, 11.00am and 1.30pm. Contact Chez Monique 24 hours in advance to book.
Getting To Ubud
Ubud is a popular destination in central Bali with an abundance of things to do. We had planned to spend a few nights here but unexpected events forced us to bring the dates forward and shorten our stay. With fewer days on the ground, we didn’t fancy changing accommodation but not wanting to miss Ubud we opted for a day trip instead. Even though I am a frequent visitor to Bali, I haven’t been to Ubud since my very first visit in 1988 and I have to admit my memory was a little sketchy so we researched online to make the most of our big day out. It was The Hubs who first spotted Chez Monique on Trip Advisor and he knew it would be right up my alley. What can I say, after nearly 25 years of marriage the man knows me all too well. You can hire a driver or catch the public bus, but we simply grabbed a taxi from The Magani Hotel in Legian which took an hour or so and set us back about AUD$25 on the meter. It is off the main drag and a little tricky to find so don’t assume your driver will know the way. If you have data on your phone (I didn’t!) showing the GPS will help, otherwise print a map before you go to avoid any issues. Chez Monique also has a store in town so don’t confuse the two. The street is well numbered (unusual for Bali) so follow the count up to number 57, which is on the left if you are coming from the town centre. You will know are in the right place when you spot a discreet sign on the lawn stating ‘Silver Making Classes’. Follow the path past the buildings (keep going even when you think this can’t possibly be the right way) until it opens up to a beatifically shaded open air courtyard that houses the workshop. The owner, Wayan Sunarta and his team will settle you in and make you feel at home immediately. Don’t forget to connect to the free wi-fi so you can upload all your adventures to insta as you go. Your Chez Monique jewellery making class has everything you need to create your final design but the selection of stones and beads is limited so if you have something very particular in mind I would suggest bringing along your own.
Step 1 – Design
Chances are you may have some idea what you want to make so bring some pictures and discuss your design with the staff to see what is possible. It turns out that the design I had originally intended making was very complicated and would take about six hours to complete so I opted for something simpler. If you are not that prepared, don’t worry there are plenty of pictures to help get your creative juices flowing, which is exactly what I did to come up with the final design for my flower earrings. The Hubs doesn’t wear a lot of jewellery so he elected to make a second piece just for me. He made some discreet enquirers as to what I might like, but not wanting to stifle his creativity I simply told him I would like a bangle that would be a lasting reminder of our trip and it would be clear that it is something that he has made just for me. His final design incorporated the word Bali, Ubud’s geographical coordinates and both out star signs (Aries and Aquarius), but what impressed me the most was the inscription on the inside which is just for me to see. I’d say he hit the brief perfectly! Once the hard decisions are made, you may need to create a paper pattern. My earrings required this, but I’m an awful drawer so I gratefully accepted the assistance they offered in this part of the process. While the bangle the hubs was making didn’t need drawing he was encouraged to practice on paper first to ensure he had the spacing right and could get the hang of the technique.
Step 2 – Crafting
Once The Hubs had mastered the art of stamping on paper he got busy on the strip of silver that would eventually become my bangle. Chez Monique has loads of punches to chose from that will allow you to create many different designs. For the Aries star sign symbol he used a total of three punches on each side to get exactly the right shape and this was the most difficult piece of the inscription. His first attempt was not to his liking but this was easily erased so he could start over. I would advise against erasing every slip up as the quirks (like the slighting misaligned 3 & 4 in my bangle) are the trademarks of a handmade piece and in my eyes make it all the more special. My first step was cutting out my design with a specialist silver saw after my paper pattern had been glued to my silver. Because I was making earrings and obviously wanted them identical I cut both pieces at once. Once I had both pieces cut I added some texture by hammering the pieces delicately all over. Shaping the petals came next and this was achieved my pressing the silver into a cup with a pestle. Be careful not to erase all your carefully applied texture. Once I was satisfied with the shape I needed to make the balls for the centre of my flowers. This is where the fire comes in and it’s just a little bit magic to be honest. You start by snipping two tiny pieces of silver wire exactly the same size and heating them until they pop into tiny little balls which are them soldered into centre of each flower. Finally I stretched some silver wire to make the hoops of my earrings which are then soldered into place. This bit was a little daunting so I left it to the experts but that is one of the best things about a Chez Monique jewellery making class, the staff offer and much or as little assistance as you require. Meanwhile the hubs was still diligently punching away so I had a little practice with his tools; on a scrap piece of silver of course!
Step 3 – Finishing
With our jewellery all but finished I have to say both pieces are looking a little underwhelming and not at all like the shiny, sparkly things I am used to gazing at in the shop window. My disappointment was short-lived as we got to work washing and polishing them to perfection. Watch out during the machine polishing stage as the wheel can easily grip and send your piece flying. Be prepared for the silver to heat up during this process but don’t worry it is not unbearable. Once we (and Wayan) are satisfied with the final result, our creations are packaged up for safe keeping and we are bid a very warm farewell by the team.
Q&A with Wayan
I couldn’t resist asking my host a few questions before we headed off. I think I managed to cover everything you might want to know before deciding whether a Chez Monique Jewelley making class of right for you. Here goes …
SFH: Who usually attends your classes?
WS: We get lots of Australians visiting, mostly couples. During school holidays our classes are particularly popular with families. The kids really enjoy making their own unique item.
SFH: What happens if the design you choose requires more time to make than the two hour class?
WS: That’s no problem at all if you are staying in the area. We have a number of guests that complete their items over several visits.
SFH: Apart from the jewellery classes, your store in UBud also sells pre-made pieces. Are they all handmade using the techniques that we are learning today?
WS: Yes, every design in our store in handmade locally in Ubud by our expert craftsmen.
SFH: Do you have repeat visitors in your classes?
WS: Absolutely, we have people that come back every time they visit Ubud to make a special memento of their holiday. They often chose a different technique each time so they are continually learning.
On the day we visited 6 students cancelled at the last minute so we were very privileged to have a private class. Although the workshop is open air with no air conditioning, the shade and gentle breeze offers much needed relief from the heat. We thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon we spent at our Chez Monique jewellery making class. Wayan and his staff made us feel like very special guests and part of the family all at the same time. We were obviously extreme novices and asked a million questions along the way but despite the fact they have no doubt heard them all before they were very patient with us and nothing was too much trouble. I’m thrilled with the end results and I have no doubt this is more down to their skill than ours. I have two unique pieces that I will wear with pride for a long time to come and each time I do it will remind me of the time we spent with Wayan and his team. If you find yourself in Ubud you must check out a Chez Monique jewellery making class. I guarantee the item you create will make a much better souvenir of your Bali trip than a cheap Bintang singlet.
Have you ever made your own jewellery? What would you make if you attended a Chez Monique jewellery making class? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Until Next time …
P.S. If you are heading to Bali you should really read my ‘know before you go’ post for lot’s of planning advice.
Disclaimer: The Hubs and I received a discount on our Chez Monique jewellery making class as part of this collaboration. As always, all opinions are my own.
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