During my recent trip to South Korea I noticed that the Andong Paper Factory showroom was filled with many large items of hanji covered with intricate patterns and designs. I marveled at the many pieces but didn't understand how they could all be made available for sale, personally if I'd put hours and hours into a large piece of work I'd be reluctant to put it up for sale.
I really wanted to have a lesson with the lady who was making them and after a lot of negotiating I managed to book one for myself and my friends.
When I lived in Korea, maybe it was because I was taught to do Hanji the 'old school' way by a very traditional Korean lady, but I only knew of cutouts being done by hand. They took me a long time so I was wondering how on earth I could make a lovely jewelry box in a 3 hour lesson !!
Gui - Sook Yang's workshop had the answer.
She had a huge room filled with cardboard cutouts made up and stacked ready for decorating, papers were of every colour you could imagine, projects at various stages of completion but, it also had computers, a laser printer and a laser cutting machine.
Technology has caught up with Hanji making and now for some, the skill is in using Photoshop on the computer to make various patterns and designs. These are then printed onto special Hanji paper so within seconds you have your coloured patterns and they can then be glued onto the cardboard.
Next through special computer programs the computer talks to the laser cutter and within a few minutes an intricate and perfectly cut piece of black paper, or whatever colour you may choose, is ready to be placed over the coloured design.
The effects are stunning and so quick.
Is this what I want to do?
No, I don't think so. I find a certain satisfaction in sitting at my desk, relaxation music (usually Korean) playing and cutting out pieces by hand. They take forever and my pieces are not perfect but at least I have the satisfaction of saying I made it myself. I totally understand that from a business point of view using computers is the way forward but for now I'm happy doing what I'm doing.