August 27th, 2013
One of the employees at John Hardy in Bali, arranges pieces in one of the bamboo and glass jewelry cases. — Nadine Kam photos
BALI, INDONESIA — I feel so lucky and privileged to have been able to visit the John Hardy compound outside Ubud, where I traveled with designer Amos Kotomori. We were able to observe the entire jewelry-making process, from illustration to wax carving, to seeing the cast silver pieces in unpolished state, and the final pieces on display in a sustainable bamboo showroom. (It's not easy walking on bamboo tubes. I felt like I needed monkey toes to prevent myself from rolling off.)
When I see the finished jewelry gleaming in the showcases at Neiman Marcus, of course I can see the work that goes into them, and intellectually, I know that someone made these pieces by hand. But actually seeing the painstaking work of individual links being made and ropes of it being woven by hand gave me an even greater appreciation for the company's jewelry.
How I came to visit the John Hardy compound in Mambai, Bali, started with owner/creative director Guy Bedarida's visit to NM in fall of 2011. I interviewed him and he showed me a book featuring a photo of the factory compound, set up to evoke a Balinese warung, or household with a small shop out front, each with its own specialty to share with neighbors.
We also talked about the idea of the village and how he feeds his all his employees, now numbering 700, lunch every day, along with guests. I was taken by the idea and how it makes so much sense to keep employees happy, and how American companies would do well to follow his example.
At the time, he invited me to come to Bali, but I didn't know when I'd be able to make it there, and I'm glad I was able to visit. I enjoyed every minute of the experience.
A previous post is here: http://blogs.starbulletin.com/fashiontribe/page/23/
If you want to see more about the food, visit my other blog: http://takeabite.staradvertiserblogs.com/2013/08/27/lunch-at-john-hardy-in-bali/
Wax models for a bracelet and ring, with a block of wax shown against a background of illustrations that carvers were working from, as below:
Looks like a Naga (dragon) collection piece in the works, like one of the examples below:
John Hardy photo
Sri Utami shows a wax model work in progress that will be used to create a silver stapler that may become one of many John Hardy lifestyle products.
Villa Bodhi manager Made Sukadana crosses the pond surrounding the manufacturing shop on stepping stones. Not wishing to fall into the water, I took a route through the grass, where one could also fall into the water if not careful. Round-topped stepping stones lining the pathways throughout the property make it necessary to wear flats when visiting the compound. It's quite a workout.
Cast silver pieces from the Naga collection await polishing.
A wax model of a Bamboo collection cuff, in green, is shown with a finished cuff at top right.
The same level of attention and precision goes into the smallest beads.
Polishing a flex cuff from the Dot collection.
Hammering silver and gold that go into the Palu collection, with an example of the finished pieces below:
John Hardy photo