Indonesia is a beautiful county. The country has virtually every conceivable kind of scenic beauty – azure waters to white sand beaches, paddy fields to tropical forests; volcanic mountains to their barren planes and warm and friendly people. Indonesia undoubtedly is jewel that can hold its own. It is also a country renowned globally for its art & unique crafts. Indonesian wood carvings, stone sculptures, paintings by local artists have quite the market the world over. However, there is definitely this one product that is so uniquely Indonesian that passing by a shop in the local market will make you stop and peek in for sure!
I am talking about the blown glass bowls that are a common sight in Indonesian gardens, homes and restaurants. These pieces of art are unique in the sense that they are made mostly using recycled glass, in a process in which hot silica is hand-blown over a piece of gnarled and nodular Gamal tree root and is allowed to cool directly atop that. As the molten glass cools on top of the root, it takes up the shape of the root and this ensures that each glass bowl fits perfectly and rests comfortably on top of the root that it is molded onto. The entire process involves using natural and locally available products in the traditional hand- made manner, using local tools & implements. Each end product is distinctive as no two pieces of wood is the same and this ensures that the shape that the molten silica takes up is different for each root that it adapts to.
Throughout Indonesia and particularly in Bali, these wondrous pieces of art are used as fish bowls/aquariums, planters for succulents (terrariums) or aqua plants, pots for flower arrangements or floating candles and even for indoor/outdoor water fountains. They also make excellent conversation pieces on the coffee table and pave the way for a great way to start conversations about your travels with inquisitive individuals.
So, if you happen to journey to Indonesia or are on a Balinese sojourn then you must visit the local shops selling these unique artifacts. Bali also offers tours to local factories wherein you can get a firsthand experience of seeing a local artist in action. It’s quite mesmerizing to watch!