I've just returned from a very successful trip to South Korea where I was asked to give a talk titled, 'Hanji - After Korea' which was a presentation on how to continue doing Hanji once you've left and moved overseas. At first I was quite apprehensive but I felt that I'd learnt so much myself over the last 12 years since leaving Korea that my journey was worth sharing if it was going to help others who wanted to follow in the same path.
People are creative in different ways and expats in Korea are no exception therefore some decide to try Hanji crafts during their stay in the country. Why? Because its different to anything they've ever done before. It looks beautiful, it's practical and it's a part of the traditional Korean experience. That can be difficult in itself as getting a Hanji teacher even in Korea, that they can communicate easily with and ask questions about the work, is a challenge.
The experience is enjoyable for the majority of people but most make one or two things and then move on to another craft or move countries thinking that it's too hard to continue on this journey. Some of us get hooked and despite the initial challenges we still want to know how we can continue doing it once we leave.
This was my personal experience and I've worked hard over the last 12 years to try to overcome any obstacles that've been put in my way and might have stopped me from continuing on my Hanji craft journey. I'm so glad I'm still learning and growing in my craft everyday.
I had no idea how many people might come to the meeting that was to be held at Jankura Artspace, a small Art studio run by Mike Stewart in the heart of Itaewon, an area in Seoul. Mike has opened the only expat run Art studio in Seoul to fulfil a need for Art classes in English for the large expat community. It took a little while to find the building and it was on the fourth floor with no lift so I arrived quite puffed and a little frazzled I must admit but, before long I'd calmed down and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
We had a small enthusiastic group of participates on the day and I was informed that we were fortunate to have people come because it was such a nice sunny Spring day, and after a long cold winter people would have been out enjoying the weather whilst it lasted instead of being couped up inside. Everyone who attended was pleased to meet other like minded Hanji lovers and to have the opportunity to make contacts that they might otherwise not have made. Most shared that they felt isolated from other English speaking Hanji lovers and welcomed the opportunity to share their passion and stories with others.
We had one French Canadian lady who came up from Iksan, Jeonbuk, a 2 hour train ride away, another American lady who lived in Seoul who couldn't find an English speaking Hanji teacher and a French lady also living in Seoul who will be leaving Korea in about 15 months and would love to continue doing Hanji but doesn't know how and where to begin. These were just some of the stories but they all had a common thread.
For those of you who don't do Hanji but are involved in other crafts it may sound quite unbelievable that it's so difficult to continue with this outside of Korea but, because it's not very well known, supplies can be difficult to get and doing it on your own can also be isolating and therefore less motivating. We all like to share what we're doing with others, get feedback, ideas and encouragement.
I hope this meeting has been the catalyst for a network of Hanji loving expats (and others) to setup contact with one another and hopefully in the future it will grow. We now need to get those people who are doing Hanji crafts in countries around the world to join in to be able to create a larger network of people all moving forward.
Please email me if you're interested in joining an online group of Hanji people where you can share your ideas and experiences.
This is a link to the blog of Hanji Natty with her thoughts on how the gathering went and what it meant to her.
Here's a summary of ideas of how to get supplies outside of Korea as well as substitutes you could use.
(These are very much my own ideas and are definitely not exclusive)
Paper & Kits
Haminbridge (English) - www. thehanji.com
Ilsindang(Korean) - www. ilsindang.co.kr
Doori Hanji(Korean) - www. doorihanji.co.kr
(There are more websites on the main page of this blog)
Check out your local Art supply stores.
Get them to order in 3 mm thick cardboard.
Wallpaper paste for the Hanji paper
Contact adhesive for the cardboard
White glue mixed 50/50 with water for a finish on your craft
Normal household bleach
Check out the Hanji shops for books of designs as they're often difficult to find online
Ask your Hanji teacher for designs to take with you.
Difficult to find overseas.
Check out the bookstores before you leave and take them with you
Some can be found in stores selling paper craft supplies such as scrapbooking
Buy them online from Korea
Visit Korea to stock up on supplies
White glue and water mixed 50/50
Water based Art varnish for small projects
Shellac for projects needing a really hard finish