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Buying Handicrafts

There are treasures a-plenty in Ubud - for gifts, souvenirs and homewares - and local handmade items are beautiful and high quality. There is also a lot of junk to sift through to find it, though, so here is a list of authentic, locally- or domestically-made handicraft places to check out. There is a link below to another article with a curated art tour, specifically for painting and drawing.


Handicrafts
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Woodwork Art


The traditional wood carving village of Mas is just south of Ubud, and an easy 10-minute drive. There is no village centre to speak of, so you'll need to get your driver to take you to one of the larger co-ops. These places are workshops and learning centres and you'll often see young artisans watching the masters at work and practising their own. The carving is detailed and exquisite, and it's lovely to wander around the stores to see their amazing work. You don't need to feel pressure to buy anything, but there are many beautiful pieces both small and large. Obviously the more complex and larger the piece, the more expensive it is. Small panels, jewellery boxes and statues are available relatively cheaply and will be easier to take home. I would love to buy one of the gorgeous large pieces of a rooster in its cage - with no joins! - although this would set me back a couple of thousand dollars. Your driver will take you to one of the larger workshops, or you can try the more famous ones - Njana Tilem or Karya Mas.


Wooden Homewares


This is found in quite a few stores in Ubud...you will see them walking around the main shopping streets. However slightly north of Ubud, in Petulu, on the way to Tegallalang Rice Fields, are the factories and stores that supply these shops (along with many rattan stores - see below). The items here are super cheap, although not the highest quality. But its fun to buy a few plates, trays and chopping boards, and a small bowl is around $2, or you can get a little spoon for $0.10...so it's not going to break the bank. A good sized chopping board will be just $10. To make them last longer, you might want to get a linseed oil rub when you get home.


I always shop for cheap serving platters, boards and bowl at a treasure trove called Sari Mumbul. Also look for Anggi Shop on google maps, past the Westin, and have a wander around this block for loads of little stores.



Masks

I think I saw a horror movie as a kid where a foreign mask comes alive so I'm always a little freaked out by masks. However there are some master carvers in Mas village whose work you might be interested in. The techniques are important to Bali's puppet and dance industry, and the carvers often produce a large range of masks and puppets for sale to the general public as well as producing commissions for the local theatres. I.B. Sturarja Mask Carver in Mas is the famous artisan close to Ubud.


Textiles

Gorgeous Batik and Ikat are found in a handful of good stores. The cotton sarongs with batik-style designs are NOT batik, so don't get charged more than $5-10! Batik is a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to the whole cloth, and is made by drawing the dots and lines of the resist with a tool called a canting, or by printing the resist with a copper stamp. In Ikat, the resist is applied to the yarn before weaving.


Threads of Life - A gorgeous gallery and store on charming Jl. Kajeng, it is dedicated to preserving textile making practises and supporting women in the archipelego. You can see the different designs and textiles used across Indonesia, and purchase homewares, clothing and textile art.


Ikat Batik - This store on Jl. Monkey Forest is a treasure trove with lots of options for purchasing a simple scarf, whole bedspreads and other clothing and homewares in Ikat. The store is committed to the promotion and support local balinese artisans. These products are high quality, authentic Ikat and you won't find cheap tourist tat here.


Pithecanthropus - on Jl. Monkey Forest is a fabulous, high quality store with loads of gift and souvenir ideas. It's a chain, so you may see smaller stores elsewhere in Bali, but this is the flagship. Clothing tends to be more expensive due to the high quality, but you can also find little batik items like purses and headbands suitable for friends and family back home.


Ceramics


There are a few ceramic factories in Bali producing plates and bowls mostly for the restaurant market. It’s a little harder to travel with ceramics, but these store have some beautifully crafted items to browse. They will wrap up your purchases in bubble wrap if you find something pretty to take home.


Kevala - The main factory is in Sanur, but the little store conveniently located on Jl. Dewa Sita has some lovely plates that are relatively inexpensive.


Gaya Ceramic and Design - This little factory is slightly out-of-the-way in Jl. Raya Sayan but if you love unique and beautiful ceramics its worth a visit. There is also a little gallery of renowned ceramics artists, and you can attend individual and group pottery classes. Website.


Jenggala - This factory is NOT IN UBUD, but far away in Jimbaran. However if you are planning a seafood dinner on the beach one evening, try and make half an hour to stop off here on the way. They have a very comprehensive store with dinnerware, glassware, accessories and gifts as well as a little gallery, a cafe and a workshop. Website.


Touch of Asia - The cheapest place on the list, this little store on Jl. Andong has more serviceable items suitable for everyday use.


Rattan / Straw / Cane


My mother was obsessed with baskets so walking into these places always feels comfortable and homely to me, with their earthy, fresh smells. Actually many rattan items are made in Lombok, but it's still really cheap so good for picking up baskets, trays and table matts.


Mercia - I love this little store on Jl. Raya Andong, opposite the excellent Gangga Coffee. However there are plenty of little rattan places up and down Jl. Andong, so keep your eye out when you're driving up to Tegalallang.


A little further north, you might also check Melati Rattan (next to Aura Linen), Ratna Art shop, Alif Shop or Rinjani Art Shop.



Other Homewares


Minwa Bali on Jl. Bisma and Ubudahh on Jl. Dewisita both have a nice selection of homewares. On Jl. Andong there are loads of furnishing options, but check out Cloth by Medina for higher quality curtains and throws, or Aura for super cheap cushion covers and made-to-order items. I also love Gangga coffee shop. Their coffee is amazing and there is a sweet little store with a nice selection of handicrafts.


Ubud Art Market


The local regency government decided that right at the end of the pandemic was a good time to pull down the old and, let's face it, grotty art market in central Ubud. The area is now dominated by the new fancy and cavernous 2-story ‘art’ markets although many stallholders are refusing to move in, and are up and down Jl. Raya Ubud and sidestreets, clogging up the roads with extra traffic. I would have recommended a new open air space with a free bemo from parking outside Ubud to reduce traffic, but sadly no-one is holding their breath for my opinion.


I was never a fan of the so called art market - the place has become filled, over the last 15 years, with cheap rubbish pumped out of factories in Lombok, and all the stalls have are somewhat homogenous. You can find the same stuff all over Bali and beyond. You may find the odd small souvenir or a useful sarong, but high quality handicrafts are no longer readily available. The artwork also tends to the more mass produced style of tourist tat. However some of the artists co-ops do sell their student's work cheaply here. You can find a few small and nice paintings, masks and wooden and rattan items, but don't expect high quality. Again, the factories, co-ops and traders that supply these items are up on Jl. Andong, so maybe stop at a few places up there instead of pulling your wallet out and being hassled in the markets. However the market's central position, opposite the palace, is convenient and the now shaded markets with fans makes a more comfortable wander.



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