At the age of 9, Isnaini Hisyam had a reputation for the fine strokes of his brush. He attended school in Gresik, a small town near the city of Surabaya, in the eastern part of the island of Java. He painted the green landscapes of Java, the trees, the animals, the volcanoes, and the sea. He participated in school competitions, representing his entire region, but at that time it was difficult for him to imagine being able to live on his artistic talent.
Most likely, he would have ended up working in the town's fish factory, like his grandfather, or in construction like his father. He tried, but failed. He also looked for work in a paper mill, learned to fix motorcycles and even tried his luck as a party decorator. Those were roads without a clear horizon.
When he was 19, he was invited to work in Dempassar, the capital of Bali. He did not know anything about rings or bracelets and now remembers that it was difficult to learn, partly because he was obsessive and wanted to know each step thoroughly. 20 years ago, in Legian, a tourist ordered his first necklace. Probably a rosary because he was a Christian and wanted to use it to pray. For Hisyam, a Muslim as the majority of Java’s population, it was a very special piece because of the stones he used.
In 2002, the terrorist attack in Kuta left him without a job and he returned to Gresik to collect some rupees as a motorcycle mechanic. He stayed only one year because he decided to go to Celuk to try to find work as a toucan. When he had almost given up and was already thinking about returning to Java, he got a job and was able to stay.
In 2006, he met his wife Winda Retno Sri Wulandari, also from the island of Java. They have two children: Dimas (13 years old) who is already encouraged to greet in English taught at school, and Adelia (six years old).
For the next ten years, work fluctuated with the ebb and flow of the tourists. Hisyam took advantage to hone a very important skill: he learned to make clasps for bracelets and necklaces by hand, a finishing touch that is very essential, as the quality of a jewel stands and falls with it.
This is what he has been doing for seven years at eThnoPur as a toucan of the workshop staff. Like his colleagues, the “man of clasps and closures” values the stable income which gives him the security to pay the rent for a small room - with a kitchen - in a shared house in Celuk.
He dreams of building his own house, but he knows that land in Bali is expensive and does not know if he can afford it. That is why he lives in the present and has the desire to, perhaps, one day return to Gresik.