Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stunning hanji.....

Hanji chest of 8 drawers

Detail of drawers

This is one of the stunning pieces of Hanji for sale at the Andong Hanji showroom. I couldn't buy everything I saw so I resorted to taking lots of photographs.

On entering the showroom I saw many pieces for sale and off to the side was a workroom run by Gui - Sook Yang. This piece caught my eye because of the subtle colourings and the use of white cutouts instead of the usual dark ones.
Gui-Sook Yang

Gui - Sook Yang was a lovely lady who has just returned from Queensland, Australia after being there to display her Hanji work. She spoke little to no English but through an interpreter she was happy to share her passion for her craft and even offered to give me lessons when I return to Korea   ..........  I will take her up on that next year when I plan to return with some of the ladies from my Hanji group.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hanji Lamps Insadong

During my visit back to Korea I saw these pretty lamps on display. It appears that stamping the paper with a special tool is now very popular to produce cutouts in the shape of a flower.  This gives a lovely effect with the light shining through the paper. I particularly like this orange colour.

Hanji lamp closeup

Hanji lamps and shoes


Hanji paintings

Here is a series of paintings displayed on the walls of the Hanji paper factory in Andong, Korea. It shows how paper has been made for centuries.

I love the simplicity of the paintings and the fact that the colourings are so subtle. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Collecting the branches of the mulberry trees

Removing the bark
Burning the bark

Boiling the bark fibres and hanging it out to dry

Washing the fibres in the river

Mixing the fibres with water and glue

Making thin layers of fibre on the racks

Putting rocks on the layers of paper to get the moisture out

Rolling the paper

Monday, November 14, 2011


Paper, paper, paper...........

I've just spent a fabulous week back in Seoul, South Korea.

Heading straight to Insadong I was able to gain renewed inspiration from all the wonderful shops selling Korean Hanji products and paper. I  make contact with one of the shops, Ilsindang that has been sending me paper and kits here to the UAE and I met Mrs Lee the shop owner who was very helpful in explaining how to put some of the kits together.  I spent hours just browsing the latest products available including, paper, kits, hardware, printed or hand painted panels, electrical fittings, glues and varnishes .

Looking  online isn't quite the same as being able to browse through the sheets and feel the texture and  weight of the papers as well as see their true colours.

A Hanbok made of paper
Andong Hanji
Mr Ee at Andong Hanji
Mr Ee and I in the paper showroom

Next we(Ron and I) headed out of Seoul on a 3 hour bus and a 40 minute taxi ride to meet Mr Ee at the Andong Hanji factory.  He was pleased to see us after 8 years and even remembered us from our time  working at Andong National University. The factory hasn't changed much since our last visit except for some wonderful paintings on the wall of the factory showing each stage of the paper making process. I believe that the Andong factory is the last of it's kind in Korea to  still make the paper completely by hand.  I'll explain more about it in another post.

The factory had an exhibition hall with items made by a wonderful lady who came out to see if she could help me.  Unfortunately she didn't speak English and I don't speak enough Korean so with Mr Ee translating I found out that she'd just come back from giving an exhibition of her work in Brisbane, Australia.    

It was a long day by the time we got to Seoul but it was oh so worth it.            

Monday, October 31, 2011

 Here is an interesting article  from the Korea Herald newspaper yesterday about  a craftsman who makes Hanji screens, a very important part of the paper making process.


  Master craftsmen inspire with fine touches

2011-10-30 18:57

Yu Bae-geun’s hanji screens are displayed at the exhibition. (Sulwhasu)
Sulwhasu exhibition brings together handicrafts by 11 Korean masters in various fields

It is impossible to make “hanji,” or Korean traditional mulberry paper, without a hanji screen. And Yu Bae-geun, who is registered as Intangible Cultural Property No. 31, is the sole person in the nation who can make one.

He spends his winters in the freezing Damyang County in South Jeolla Province searching for good four to five-year-old bamboo, and other months indoors extracting the thinnest-possible bamboo ribs. It takes almost a month for the deft artisan to cut the bamboo, boil it in salt water, chip and rub it over and over again until it’s barely 1 mm in diameter. At least several hundreds ribs should be connected to form a screen.

The demand for the screens, of course, has decreased since the import of cheap Chinese ones, Yu told The Korea Herald. They do not, however, have what it takes to create the delicate and soft hanji the right way ― how Korean ancestors did for thousands of years.

Yu is one of the 11 South Korean master craftsmen exhibiting their priceless works, essential for the transmission of Korean traditional culture, at the Sulwhasu exhibition which kicked off last week at beyond museum in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul.

The cosmetics brand Sulwhasu has been hosting the exhibition for five years now, and supports the artisans as they create new works. Titled “The Garden of Imaginative Tales,” this year’s show, as usual, offers a precious opportunity for artisans to remind the public of their importance and visitors to learn about a wide range of crafts including pottery, knots, ornamental knives and even salt.

At the entrance of the museum, visitors will encounter a sparkling sea of snow white salt ― at least 2 tons. Named gray salt, it is unusually harvested on mudflats and is known for its outstanding mineral content, flavor and high price.

The man behind it, Park Seong-chun, is one of the nation’s master artisans, said the organizers of the exhibition. 
Park Moon-yeol’s metal handicrafts are displayed at the exhibition. (Sulwhasu)

Metal craft artisan Park Moon-yeol’s locks are also sure to catch visitors’ eyes. Not only are the patterns embroidered on the metal exquisite, but the workings of the seven-step lock are amazing. Just as special locks were back in the Joseon Dynasty, it takes seven steps to unlock Park’s locks. Only those with superior knowledge in the structure of the locks are able to open them. Park is designated Intangible Cultural Property No.64.

“This exhibition came as a shock to me. The last time I was in Korea, about 20 years ago, I could not imagine this kind of exhibition in which our traditions and craftworks are so well-organized. Every single one of the exhibits here is something we can all be proud of when displayed anywhere in the world,” said lacquer artist Jun Yong-bok who came back to Korea earlier this year after 24 years in Japan. He is showcasing ocean-inspired lacquer paintings at the show. Contrary to his neat suit and shoes, his fingernails were black from the paint.

The exhibition runs through Nov. 10 at beyond museum in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul. Admission is free. For more information, call (02) 794-1559 or visit

By Park Min-young  (

Friday, October 28, 2011

A pretty lamp ....

This is a lamp that I made a few months ago.  I combined different elements to construct a circular lamp with perspex windows. The shell was covered with a small geometric pattern whilst the windows were covered with a plain, very pale pink paper.  The windows were decorated with cutouts that were filled with different coloured papers.

Monday, October 17, 2011

How to cut out Hanji Paper

 As I've mentioned before I've been following the blog of  'The constant crafter'.  She's currently making a Hanji Korean Medicine Cabinet and is posting every few days to show what she's up to and how she's been achieving this mammoth task.

Today she not only posted on her blog but she has included a video of how to cut out Hanji Paper to make intricate design. I'd like to share this with you.

Here is the link to her video.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Korean boxes

I've set myself a challenge and  decided to make some things to sell at a Christmas stall here in RAK at the Hilton Hotel.  Pat and Barbara from my Hanji group are going to contribute as well so it should be lots of fun when we get it all together.

This annual Christmas event is run by the expatriate women of Ras Al Khaimah and is always an interesting event where we see a variety of handicrafts, made by the men and women of this small community as well as some  from Dubai.

It signals the run up to Christmas in a city that doesn't have shops filled with Christmas decorations nor any outward indication of what is an important Christian event for so many of us.

I'm experimenting with new paper designs and continuing to perfect using some of my own photographs printed onto Hanji paper to create unique items.  It involves many steps in the Hanji process from cutting out the cardboard, glueing them all together, taping, printing the papers and then delicately placing it onto the handmade boxes before finishing them off. As the printer ink  is water based I use a different method of applying the paper to the boxes which is proving to be successful.

I've chosen to go with the sepia colours because to me, the earthy tones depict the essence of the age old traditions of Korea such as Hanji, Kimchi making, the tea ceremony  and playing the gyagum.

I'm happy with the results so far.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Korean Hanji Medicine Cabinet

Check out this amazing blog which details the making of a Hanji Korean Medicine Cabinet.

It's written by an American lady who's spending 12 months living in Seoul, South Korea and she's taking classes in Hanji.

Her  posts give step by step details of what she's been doing and it makes a great story both academically and photographically.

Check out her latest(No. 10) post   here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Educational Foundation

Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Educational Foundation
The Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Educational Foundation is an Ohio non-profit art center dedicated to the preservation of handmade papermaking and the art of the book. Morgan Conservatory will pursue its educational and charitable purposes by serving the greater community locally, nationally, and internationally with sustainable practices in an innovative green environment.

This Foundation in Ohio in the US is about to have a fully operational Paper Mill dedicated to preserving the Art of papermaking using traditional methods. 

Check out their website

They will be selling paper online so for those of us who live outside Korea and who want to get a good quality handmade paper it may be worth a look. If the quality is good, It may aleviate the language problems we have trying to purchase from a Korean website.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hanji dinner

Barbara, Suy, Jan (Me), Anna and Juliet. 
Last night we took a rest from making Hanji and went out for a Japanese meal at Akoya down on the corniche. Unfortunately Tricia and Fran couldn't make it but I hope we'll be able to do this again soon girls.

It gave us an opportunity to regroup and work out just what we're planning to make for the rest of the semester. A Christmas stall is one plan so look out for some new designs coming up...........

Saturday, October 1, 2011

How to make a 3D box?

This is an easy and interesting box to make
  • Cut out a strip of 3mm thick cardboard then score it 7 times to form 4 triangles at the top and 4 triangles at the bottom.

  • The width of the cardboard will determine the size of your finished box.   

  • Put the paper you want onto the inside of the box then glue it together to form a square at the base.

  • Cut out a base - glue the inside paper you want onto one side then glue the base to the sides.

  • Cover all joins with 1cm wide masking tape.

  • Cut out 3 squares to make the lid.
    Punch holes in the centre for the knob.  


    1  - that fits inside the box              
    2 - that is a little larger
    3 - as extra decoration for the lid.

  • Glue the squares together to make the lid.

  • Paper the outside of the box. and the lid. Glue strips of paper over all edges.

  • Cut some designs in black paper to add to the box.

  • Varnish the box. Attach a knob into the lid.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Anyone for a drink?

Since my return from summer leave I've been busy working on new hanji designs. The design on the top of this box was inspired by a design I saw in Australia on an ipad cover which I just had to buy. I've adapted it for use as a cutout in paper and I think it works.

The ladies in our Hanji group are keen to make things to sell ready for a Christmas fair held here in Ras Al Khaimah in early December therefore the next few months will see a variety of Hanji goods which I hope to share with you all.

I decided to begin with a set of 6 coasters all enclosed in a handmade box.

Here are a few pictures for those of you who would like to make them.

Make a box and add a design

Cut out 6 coastersfrom cardboard

Tape all joints - Cut out paper of your choose - Glue paper onto the cardboard

Smooth out the paper

Brush protecting coating onto the coasters

A box of coasters

Friday, August 5, 2011

Traditional paper morphs into versatile artwork

Well this summer break has given me precious time to spend with my family who are scattered across the globe. It's also given me time to reflect and do some research on all aspects of Hanji.  I came across this interesting article from the Korea Times newspaper as it talks about a new Korean film 'Hanji' based around a Korean Hanji Artist. It may be of some interest to you as well.

A variety of colorful “hanji” paper hangs on racks at the Heejai Hanji located in Sanbon, Gyeonggi Province.
/ Korea Times photos by Shim Hyun-chul

By Chung Ah-young

Appearing as a guest in a recent TV show to support director Im Kwon-taek’s current film, “Hanji,” actress Ye Ji-won showed off her “hanji” (traditional Korean paper) craftwork. In the movie, Ye plays a hanji artist who breathes new life into the tradition and she said the role inspired her to learn the actual process of making hanji.

After Im’s 101st film was released, the craft of traditional paper-making and other handicrafts are receiving fresh attention not only because of the master director’s inspiring touch but also for the timeless beauty and practicality such artwork imbues. The paper is now being rediscovered by fulfilling present-day needs.

Hanji is made of mulberry trees known as “dak” which are native to Korea. Hanji is a versatile, durable and resilient material that can be oiled or lacquered and made waterproof. As it is breathable, it is said that the paper can be preserved for some 1,000 years.

In ancient times, use of hanji was limited to making lanterns, window paper, fans and baskets as the paper was very rare and expensive. But nowadays the artistry of hanji extends from simple plates, sewing boxes and lamps to cabinet and tables as paper-making techniques develop and more hanji has been made available at lower prices compared to the past.

Hur Hee-jai, 55, hanji artist and president of her namesake workshop “Heejai Hanji” located in Sanbon, Gyeonggi Province, began creating artwork using hanji some 25 years ago.

“When I started making hanji crafts some 25 years ago, there were few artists alongside myself. So I had to struggle to find techniques and develop designs and patterns alone. Now many people are making hanji and also many of my students are teaching the skills in their community centers and schools. I am very glad to see that more and more people are interested in these artworks,” Hur said in an interview with The Korea Times.

The artist first saw the Japanese traditional paper crafts which are adorned with flamboyant flowery prints and patterns. She thought that Korea could produce such artworks equivalent to that of Japan using the hanji with its high quality.

“We think the hanji crafts are difficult but once we learn how to make it, it’s quite easy and simple. Anyone, regardless of age can do it,” Hur said.

Her workshop is filled with multi-colored pieces made by Hur and other students. Among them a long standing lantern that was used for a poem reading event captures the eyes of visitors. She also makes cinerary urns that would be difficult to emulate.
“Hanji crafts are part of the traditional arts that attach paper to the basic frames. We can feel the wisdom of our ancestors. The strength, color and pattern of the hanji artworks are durable and long-lasting. Yet, it’s also precious because it is hand-made and unique in the world,” she said.

To make a hanji craftwork, first make a paper frame, attach hanji to the frame, make patterns on it, coat with glue and finally let it dry. It can take anywhere from a couple of hours to months depending on the item. There are colorful hanji craft works and also antique ones, which use bleached black paper to create a vintage tone in the colors. The techniques are diverse and changeable from twisting a bunch of hanji and scratching the surface to form the shape the makers want.

“Unlike other traditional crafts, hanji is very practical. After making it, we can use it immediately. So many students like this fact and this is often popular as gifts,” she said.

The artist emphasized making hanji art is for everyone, particularly for women. “It’s a very stable and calm activity to concentrate on. It’s very eco-friendly and good to keep stuff inside hanji containers,” said Hur.

Kim Soon-ja, 65, comes to the workshop everyday from Pyeongtaek to Sanbon to make hanji crafts. “I have been learning hanji art for two months so I am a beginner but I am really enjoying it and happy to make it because you know, at my age, the elderly donhave many things to do. It’s a perfect hobby for me,” said Kim.

Kim has another ambition to introduce her hanji crafts to other countries as her daughter is living in Sweden. “Maybe, when my daughter has a baby, I must stay there for a few months. During that time I want to bring the materials from Korea to Sweden and make hanji crafts there,” she said.

Kim pointed out that one of the charms of the paper art lies in the sense of accomplishment because it can be completed in a few hours or a month. “I feel great pleasure from this work. Also I am very proud of the traditional work as a Korean. Isn’t it amazing that just simple paper can be turned into a new artwork?” she said.

These days, hanji artworks are popular both at home and abroad. Hur has held hanji crafts exhibitions in France, Italy, Shanghai and Indonesia. She is now planning to hold an exhibition in Germany next year.

“I think a growing number of foreigners are appreciating the beauty of hanji artworks. Some of my students teach the elderly in community centers in the United States and they said that Americans also like it,” she said.

However, Hur thinks it is a pity that recently many imported materials from China are flooding the market because of the lack of dak trees, which lowers the quality of the original hanji.

“The durability of hanji made from mulberry trees abroad is totally different from that made with the native trees. Once we experience Korean hanji, we are riveted by the quality and practicality. But we can use the materials depending on the items we want to make,” she said.

Hur teaches students and sells the materials to schools and community centers nationwide. Most of the materials such as DIY packages are ordered by schools and community cultural centers as an increasing number of people are showing interest in taking classes on how to make hanji art.

Hur said that anyone who is interested in hanji crafts can learn at a convenient time at the workshop. Her works are available in Insa-dong and online at For more information, call (031) 398-0580.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wonju Hanji Master

I'm currently travelling during my summer break so forgive me for the lack of information coming through on this blog. 

I did find time today though to do some research and I came across this article about Jang Euong-ryeol a man who has inspired a Parisian to open a Hanji paper store on the Champs Elysee. 

Paris also held a Hanji paper festival here in March  as part of it's French / Korean focus on culture exhibition.  I wish I could have been here then.

Check out this interview with one of the Grand masters of Hanji making and read his story and he and his family's passion for Wonju hanji.

It's been a while but I just have to share this ...... Bali paper making

Whilst on a holiday in Bali last week I began to wonder if anyone there did paper making.   After a lot of research I came u...