"My dream is to bring prosperity and welfare to ashram members. Seeing their smiling eyes and faces, giving them the means for a good education, preserving their art… is the Indonesian way."
"I'm Ida Ayu Mas Indramurti. I was born in 1962 in Gianyar. I started crafting bags from natural materials in 2012 when I managed an ashram where some of the members are from Tenganan village. They have basket-weaving skills so we started making bags and placemats as gifts to the volunteers that stayed with us at the ashram.
"Our main natural material is ate grass, a strong, resistant natural fiber that flourishes on Indonesia's islands. We use traditional techniques derived from the ancestors and no special tools are needed.
"To organize the project, I began by making sketches of bag designs, and then made a pattern. We usually take two days for weaving and three more days for the drying process. We then put a button on the bag and place it in a traditional oven for 48 hours before adding the ropes and straps. Some of us specialize in weaving and some oversee the drying processes.
"A positive impact on local community is that our project can help preserve the ancient crafts of Tenganan. Village members feel proud that their weavings are appreciated overseas and they provide a source of income.
"Village members try hard to preserve the art of ate bag weaving by using ancient village designs. Preserved and modified, they bring traditional details to the bags of today.
"My dream is to bring prosperity and welfare to ashram members. Seeing their smiling eyes and faces, giving them the means for a good education, preserving their ancient art tradition and their social solidarity exemplify the spirit of gotong-royong. It is the Indonesian way.
"I have two children and three grandchildren who will maintain and improve this project. Hardships and a hard life are natural for me since my father passed away when I was only three. I grew up living with my mother — who never learned to read and write — and my little brother; the other brother also passed away. My life consisted of selling food to neighbors, cooking anything and going to school. I also helped out in two shops and taught courses to children and kindergartners just to keep living. Yet I've always tried to do good things and help poor people.
"In addition to designing, I also give advice and make modifications to a number of existing crafts. I am always involved in social work, sharing things with people in the village and giving my skills and advice to people in need."