"We were blessed with lots of work all these years, and were able employ many people and give something back to Bali and its people. Bali has been so generous with us!"
"In 1986, I stumbled upon silver jewelry accidentally – if such accidents exist – with a New Zealand company that imported paua shell and bought silver caps and put them together. I decided to set up a studio to make these locally. Making my own designs and styles offers more choices. So ever since then, I've been designing and crafting silver jewelry and have learned by doing," Susanne says.
"My partner Marieke came to us 'sent from heaven.' She works for the PUM, a Dutch NGO; they send senior experts into underdeveloped countries to share their expertise. Marieke and I work very well together and we saw a lot of potential to support and empower the silversmith with her skills and expertise. So we began creating a collection of sawah (rice terrace) treasures together. It uses an old technique with a modern, timeless design. Marieke is developing new concepts with me and is also teaching the silversmiths more techniques."
"Since 1974, I've been working as a professional goldsmith and designer," Marieke explains. "Over the years, I have applied my profession in different ways, from full-time employment as a goldsmith to teaching, consulting and having my own business.
"As a 12-year-old, I was already very much interested in jewelry making and sold my handicrafts in local boutiques.
"Natural materials – wood, glass, silver and, later on, precious stones and gold enticed my imagination as I thought of how to shape these gifts of nature into wearable art. During my last year in high school, I was sure that this was what I wanted to do in life. I was admitted to the Academy of Applied Arts in Maastricht, the Netherlands, to its full-time five-year program. I graduated in 1974 with a degree in sculpture and metal design.
"Forging metal challenged me every time to find new shapes… using different techniques, turning those components given to us by nature into wearable, beautiful pieces of art… combining this with my interpretation of the personal wishes of my clients became and still is my passion.
"Furthermore I like to create timeless jewelry collections that appeal to people because of their design but also because of their symbolic meaning or reference to shapes, for instance, that can be found in nature or are inspired by emotion or meaningful symbols.
"I am proud if my wedding band designs reflect what couples told me about themselves and I was able to translate that into the design of their rings.
"I love teaching design to other silversmiths, many of whom have not been as fortunate as I was to enjoy years of excellent education. I love to work together with them, challenging their creativity and working together as we share our passion for silver work. It's a process that often results in learning from each other – a perfect way to cross all cultural barriers. I like to work with people who are experimental, with creative curiosity and a desire to create something special and beautiful.
"I work with natural materials for their beauty, not their value. My work is never meaningless, it always refers to something. It tells a story."
Susanne talks about the studio and its work:
"We were blessed with lots of work all these years, and were able employ many people and give something back to Bali and its people. Bali has been so generous with us!
"We founded Sunrise School in Krobokan and donated the land to the Yayasan Mack (Membina api cinta kasih) to cultivate the fire of compassion to build the Sunrise School on it. As well, we gave the Yayasan a long-term loan to build the school. Currently, we are extending Sunrise with a special needs unit for local children. The school's focus is on holistic education and living. At the same time, we also founded P T Intaran, which is focused on reforestation, and the production of natural fertilizer and pesticides. We are great supporters of organic farming and also form part of the governmental body being established now to set standards for organic farming and produce.
"The whole reforestation program is a social program financed by the studio, with more than three million neem trees and teak trees planted in Bali and east Indonesia. Our bike club, the green footprint, often goes on two-day tours and plants trees, all in cooperation with the farmers who own the land. We are buying the crops of the neem trees from them and it's creating an income for them on land that they previously didn't use.
"Both these projects have become successful and are serving the local community.
"We also nurture the athletic side of humanity by creating a successful soccer team and shooting team. All these were financed by the studio.
"So anyone buying our jewelry is supporting a long chain of social projects.
"We have been actively living social entrepreneurship before we even heard about this term. Marieke and I feel blessed and honored to be part of this creation and look forward to continuing to be of service to the community while creating treasures."