Mother Nature Inspires Our Unique Carvings


Sitting at the foot of Mt. Agung, the active volcano that dominates Bali, I’m awed. It’s affected me like this for the 28 years that I’ve lived on the Island of the Gods.  Today I looked up from my work and saw the mountain – spewing.

It started up last September with earthquakes shaking the island daily. After several months of eruptions, it quieted down.  Now it’s acting up again.  I’m thrilled that I can be here, so close in Amed, to experience not only its majesty, but its power

I’m supposed to be working but how can I not watch the changing plumes of steam and ash rising in the sky right in front of me? It’s mesmerizing, and a good reminder that Mother Nature runs this show.  Our sense of control is an illusion.

Our New Carving Material

The volcano continues to erupt, but I’m home in Ubud again and back to designing our unique carvings and jewelry.

We have a new wood to carve that I’m super excited about. It’s called Raja Kayu, which means King of Woods, and has been used for eons as an amulet for protection and as a healing agent by the indigenous peoples in Malaysia and Indonesia. They use the powdered wood for pain relief, as an anti-inflammatory, for skin problems, and stress relief.

It’s also used by Southeast Asian monks as prayer beads. It’s believed to bring wisdom and spiritual power. They call it Saint Wood.

Raja Kayu, (Agathis Borneensis), has a few interesting properties. Unlike other woods, it doesn’t float in water. If you shine a light through its chatoyant caramel color, it turns translucent red. So some people call it Dragon’s Blood Wood. And the best part is, it’s not on the endangered species list!

One of the challenges of carving this wood is working with the natural swirls and ‘eye’ in its interior. Perhaps this natural eye feature is why it’s believed to be an amulet to protect the wearer from negativity – throwing negativity back at the director.

Being quite resinous and hard, it’s a bit of a challenge to carve, but we’ve already gotten started. Here are a few examples of what we’ve done.

​Now I’m envisioning power animals out of it and a tree of life…..

What’s your power animal?

Whether this new material is called Raja Kayu, Saint Wood, or Dragon’s Blood Wood, is not important. It’s the beauty of the wood that inspires me.

Here it is with light behind it.  You can see the dark spot in the eagle’s eye that is opaque. That’s the eye of the wood that we positioned to be the eagle’s eye.


Hmmm….I wonder, how could I incorporate an LED mini light bulb?


How to Find Us

Not many of you come to Bali where we create our unique carvings and jewelry, so the best way to see what we are up to is with our website –

For over twenty years we have been known as World on a String but I’m finding that doesn’t work well in this digital age. Googling us that way is not successful, as the song that inspired us is just too popular in web searches.

I go by my name now, Susan Tereba, and Unique Carvings and Jewelry.  It’s pretty hard to let go of World on a String since it’s my theme song, but even old dogs must learn new tricks. It keeps us young.

Until the next Flash,




Carving Inspiration

Our new website,, was launched in early January just before the start of our Tucson Shows. In the whirlwind of show preparations and actually doing the shows, there was no time to write.

Finally back in Bali, I’m writing to you on my veranda, overlooking the rice paddy harvest in full swing. When I left three and a half months ago, the paddies were flooded, reflecting the stormy monsoon sky. Soon they will be flooded again reflecting another cycle of Bali life.

Like the fully matured paddies, I’m bursting with carving inspiration for new styles in our mammoth tusk, jet, painted bone, exotic wood, and stone carvings. Based on requests from customers at the shows, I’ve started drawings of ostriches, sunflowers, bunnies, pandas, baby hippos, new Ganesha designs, and even a Quetzal bird.  I can imagine a pair of iridescent green birds with long tail feathers curving around to meet among the jungle foliage. Will these be earrings, a pendent, or both? And do you have any requests for images you’d like to see carved?

Custom Carving

I also came back with custom orders to produce for other designers. This is our specialty –  manifesting other’s carving inspiration in high quality three dimensional pieces.  I love the challenge of interacting with a client to be clear what is desired and then to actually send the specifications off to the carvers and wait for the raw materials to return, transformed, almost alive in three dimensions.

I’m very excited by one designer’s pieces that are mammoth tusk inlaid with jet. I wish I could show you some examples, but we pride ourselves in keeping every designer’s work private and their designs just for them.

Christmas in April

Coming home after three months away is like Christmas, when new works set in motion before I left, are now each in a zip bag in a basket waiting for me to open them.  Most pieces have that special ‘ooooh’ quality that makes my work so satisfying. This is where carving inspiration becomes carving manifestation. A few might need tweaking to make them just right, but I love the whole process.

I’m so grateful for my team who work tirelessly to keep Susan Tereba: World on a String in motion when I’m here and while I’m away.


All the best,