Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Hanji .....

Wow!  Where has the time gone!!  Since retiring from teaching ESL here in the UAE I thought I'd have so much more time for writing on my blog and researching for my book  but although these things are important to me it seems that my time has been spent in more creative, hands on pursuits, and it's been great. 

I've been working steadily at setting up and running my Hanji classes, designing worksheets for more complex Hanji projects as well as creating ideas for and making new items of my own design.

These last few weeks I've been putting together some items for a  'Christmas' Craft stall.  I say that tongue in cheek because for anyone living in the Middle East we all know that Christmas isn't celebrated over here but because the UAE population is made up of 80%  expats from all over the world  it's  an important time for us to think of family and friends back home. It's a time for sending off our Christmas cards and presents at least a month earlier than we had to when we lived at home. A Christmas gift received after the day is never quite the same is it.

For the stall I made these cute coasters and added a Christmas touch to some of them. They're always handy to have during the festive season or to give as a set of 4 as a gift. I've also used them as small dishes for sweets and treats so they're quite versatile.
I also had pots, boxes of different shapes and sizes, lamps, trays, a set of drawers, handmade Christmas cards, pictures with Hanji cutouts and  some of my large framed photographs.

 It was a lovely evening  in a wonderful  outdoor  setting down by the Marina. There was a cool breeze blowing off the water and the atmosphere was expectant as people started trickling in from the surrounding residences. Over a period of 4 to 5 hours I met with  many people from different walks of life, I sold some things and more importantly  many were interested in coming to classes and learning how to do Hanji in the future so it looks like I'm going to be even busier come next year !!

This is the first time I've sold my Hanji pieces at a stall so it was a huge learning experience for me to see what reactions I'd get from people who'd never seen this craft before. Many people couldn't believe the items had been hand made and others were just out for an evening stroll in the fresh air whilst someone  asked if they'd been mass produced in China !!

Only a few of them realised the amount of work that goes into making things by hand. This led me to remember this saying. I don't know who wrote it  but I think this says it all. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

19th Century Korean Paintings - Hanji Box ......

Every day brings on some new ideas and a new challenge.

As part of my advanced Hanji classes I've designed a new worksheet for the students to make a divided keepsake box in which they can store small items.

I've had one myself for the last 13 years and use it to keep my envelopes, cards and stamps all in one place and it works a treat.  Stationery is almost outdated these days because not many people actually write letters or send things by post but, there's always a time when you might need an envelope or a  handmade card for someone special and it's great to have them all in one  place and in a personalised box. 

The box itself is 30 cms square and dividers can be placed inside  to whatever requirements you need, depending on the items that are to go in it. It could be used for old photos, jewellery, a memory box for storing trinkets or as a very nice gift for someone special.

For the covering of the box I've used copies of some old Korean paintings combined with a relatively simple striped design using the colours of the main painting of orange, mustard, pale yellow and blue. 

The paintings on the box are by a famous Korean painter of the Joseon Dynasty, Shin Yun-Bok, better known by his pen name, Hyewon. He was born in 1758 and was the son of the Royal court painter Yanpyeong. There's little known about his life as he's said to have been disgraced but his legacy is that he's left a large number of beautiful  genre paintings of the Joseon era. There's even been a fictional movie made of this real life character  called, 'Portrait of a Beauty' which is a 2008 South Korean film directed by Jeon Joon-soo. 

The picture of the lady on the lid was painted in 1825 and  on the side  of the box, the lady folding her arm up onto the back of her head was done sometime in the 19th Century, the exact date is unknown.

Since making this box I've had many other ideas of how they could be decorated. The ideas are limitless but here's an idea of how it could look as designed by one of my students. She's incorporating the colours of Turkish tiles into a Korean cutout design and when it's finished it's going to look stunning.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hanji Floor lamp construction .......

My latest project has been to make a large lamp but also to incorporate a few new techniques that I haven't used before.  I spoke briefly about this in a previous blog but I'd just like to add some more details for those who may be interested in working on a project like this themselves.

Making the lamp was relatively easy as I just doubled the measurements of the large lamp instructions that I've already made up and added a few other details to strengthen the sides and improve the placement of the glass.

I'm restricted by the 70 x 100 cm dimensions of the cardboard I can get here but even still, that allows me to make something of a reasonable size.

The side panels were cut out of the 70 cm depth of the cardboard. I believe in some places you can get cardboard in larger sheets or custom made which I may need to look into in the future if I want to make anything too much larger.

The construction went together really well but then I needed to decide what I was going to do to decorate the lamp.  This is often the most difficult part about making something as there are so many different coloured Hanji papers to choose from, a variety of patterns you can place on it and other things you could do to enhance it's beauty.  I remember my Korean Hanji teacher telling me once that sometimes she takes up to a week to decide on what she's going to do.  

Inspiration - Hanji Tea table and Coffee table
After a lot of ideas going around in my head I finally came to a decision. I'd made a small tea table many years ago and I've always liked the combination of colours, textures and designs so eventually I looked to incorporate that style of decoration into the lamp.

In a project of this size I needed a lot of cardboard and paper so luckily I'd just received a new shipment of paper so I had a good supply of Hanji materials to choose from.

I used a black paper which was then bleached to get the mottled brown effect that looks like wood.   You can buy this paper already bleached in Korea but unfortunately I didn't have any of that so I needed to make my own. It's sometimes frustrating that you can't replicate colours when using this technique due to the different composition of the Hanji paper and different batches tend to reveal various shades of brown but it certainly adds a uniqueness to every piece that I make.

Once the lamp was constructed and papered I wanted to try making flowers out of different layers of Hanji paper. As I mentioned before, I've only ever  seen this done in Korea at OM's studio in Seoul and I wanted to try it for myself.  After a lot of research and trialling of styles I made up a collection of flowers and placed them onto the lamp.  The beauty of doing this is that when the light shines through the glass the different layers are revealed and the flowers take on a whole new dimension.  I didn't want to overdo it so the placement of the right amount of flowers was important to me.

It was finished off with a border around the bottom of the lamp and the same design was duplicated on the lid so that it showed the connection between the two pieces.  I then cut out a crane  design to finish off the lid.

The next challenge was to add the light fitting itself and as I wanted the light to radiate from the centre of the lamp and not just from the bottom, which would have given the lamp an uneven glow, I needed it to sit about halfway up. I eventually found a fitting that sits on a rod and is about 20 cms high. This is ideal and it radiates an even amount of light  throughout the height of the lamp.

The finished lamp can be used as a floor lamp because of its size but as my floor space is limited I've put it on a small side table in my living room for now and it certainly makes a statement in the room.

This was a fun project which I hope to replicate and improve on in the future.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tahiti Pehrson - Psaligraphist extraordinaire

I don't normally write about any comments I get regarding my blog posts but this week I had an enlightening comment from an Artist called Tahiti Pehrson. I must admit I hadn't heard of him before  until he saw the article I posted on Psaligraphy by Karen Bit Vejle and he commented,

'Beautiful work. I had never heard that word: Psaligraphy. Had no idea I was a Psaligraphist.'

I was intrigued to see what he did so I checked out his website  and found his amazing work. 
"Yes, you certainly are a Psaligraphist Tahiti", although the Dictionary definition for Psaligraphy is, 'the art of cutting silhouettes out of paper' which doesn't quite seem to explain the intricacies of your work in my opinion. 

Tahiti is from Northern California and his recent pieces have explored the interconnectivity between the fragility of paper and physical structures. Many of his pieces can be seen at his exhibitions in the States and the UK as well as as installations in shops, Art Galleries and studios.

For more information about his upcoming exhibitions check out his website. www.tahitipehrson there may be one on near you.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lotus flower lamp ...

Waterlily with the light on behind it
Ever since I visited Korea last year I've wanted to try a new technique of making flowers out of layers of paper. With my busy schedule it didn't happen straight away but finally, nearly 18 months later, I've found the time to experiment and produce something along similar lines.

I first saw these flowers in OM's studio in Seoul where she'd made some exhibition pieces, lamps, cupboards, tables etc that were covered in flowers similar to these and they were amazing. She  really inspired me therefore I needed to try making them myself.  

I've just finished constructing a large metre high, 6 sided lamp and so I thought that this would be the ideal structure for adding some of these sculptured flowers. I wanted to keep the lamp decorations simple and yet stylish, decorated and yet understated and I think I've been able to achieve that.

It's taken me a while to get to where I'm happy with what I can produce but here's a glimpse at some of the lamp and  flowers that I've used to decorate it with. 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hanji article .......

You may be interested in reading this article on 'Hanji' by Hanji Natty written as the first in a series of three for the 'Strategic Promotion for Success team' for Etsy.

It's great to see someone else with a passion for making things with Hanji !!

Well done Natalie.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Indian vs Korean Hand made Papers .......

During my recent visit to India I took the opportunity to visit Kagzi handmade paper factory in the district of Sanganer, 16 kms south of  Jaipur in the state of Rahjastan.  It's famous for it's handmade paper industry, textile printing and for Jain temples. Around 10 handmade paper industries are present in Sanganer so I was interested to see the difference between how they made paper in India and the way the Korean 'Hanji' is made.

The process of manually manufacturing handmade paper, in either country, has changed very little over the centuries, despite all the advances in technologies but it's useful to note, that paper making started in Korea somewhere between 200 - 500 AD whereas it was only introduced into India in 1728. Therefore, Korea has by far a much longer history of paper making.

There are generally around five steps in making paper:

1. Separating the  fiber from the rest of raw materials. (e. g. cellulose from wood, cotton, etc.)
2. Beating down the fiber into pulp
3. Adjusting the color, mechanical, chemical, biological, and other properties of the paper by adding special chemical premixes
4. Screening the resulting solution
5. Pressing and drying the paper

I've always noticed that  the Indian handmade papers are courser and much more fibrous than 'Hanji'  therefore I rarely use it as it makes it difficult to employ my methods to mould the paper into a three dimensional art form. Nevertheless I was interested to find out more.

The first thing that I noticed is that this factory used scraps of cotton fabric as the base of their paper instead of the inner bark of the mulberry tree that's used in Korea.The business had actually stopped for lunch when we arrived but we were shown around the factory floor and it seems that the process of softening the base product into a mulch is done in much the same time consuming and messy way, as it is in Korea.

Secondly,  the method of screening  out the water from the fibres through the mesh is done more coursely, producing a lot more fibre on the screens which was then placed in only one direction, whereas 'Hanji' is made using a cross threaded pattern.

Thirdly, in India the papers were then hung in sheets from the ceiling to dry naturally and then smoothed out by putting each sheet through some rollers before being stacked in their colours ready for sale. In Korea Hanji is usually dried on a hot steel drum for a few seconds which automatically produces a a smooth finish to the paper.

During the pulp making process, colors and other waste materials like straw, grass, hemp, silk waste, flower petals are added to lend texture, color and pattern to the handmade paper. The paper is often internally sized with rosin soap and surface-sized with gelatine, and therefore can be slightly acidic (ph 6-6.5). The sizing is necessary for the absorbent cotton to resist the penetration of water-based inks and paints. Indian handmade paper is generally considered to have greater tensile, bursting, tearing and double-fold strength compared to conventional paper.

The Indian papers are crudely made from cotton rag waste but it's tree-free and 100% recycled.

The finished products were quite different from what I'm use to working with but this factory is a large operation with exports going all over the world. Their papers are used for covering commercially made boxes, wrapping papers and handmade recycled paper products. 

It was an interesting exercise and it's given me a better insight into the highly refined paper products that I use in my work and why I use them.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

From India with love ....

Luana Rubin, Pam Holland and myself
Well I have finally stopped travelling for a while and I now plan on having more time to devote to myself, my family and to Hanji.

I've been fortunate enough to have spent the last 3 months travelling throughout Europe, on holiday with my husband, then back to Australia to spend time with my three children and their families and on Saturday I returned from a 2 week trip to India with my sister, Pam Holland, and her friend, Luana Rubin.

I have so many fresh ideas for what I'd like to achieve in the next few years that I'm feeling quite excited at what the future holds for myself and my love of Hanji. Before travelling I was wondering how I'd cope being away from my Hanji studio for such a long time and not being able to create something tangible everyday but in heinsight, I think it's done the soul good to redirect my energies and to can come back to what I love best, afresh and renewed.

During my travels I took lots of photographs along the way and I enjoyed capturing the special moments of people I met, places I saw and experiences shared. My thoughts at times were a long way from creating Hanji pieces but always in the back of my mind was the idea of how can I use my experiences to improve my craft.

Hanji isnt like most crafts where you can meet someone in any country with your similar interest.  Travelling with Pam and Luana, who are both into textile arts, made me realise that they can share their love of textiles anywhere they travel in the world and in fact we met up with a lovely lady, Anju, who runs a quilting group in New Delhi.

Currently Hanji's following is limited to those who are either Korean by birth or to those who may have been in contact with the culture through adopting a Korean child or living in the country as an expat for a length of time. 

I really hope this will soon change as it has so much to offer as a craft and as an art form.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Boxes by Ulla Bruun and Kamma Rahbek in Denmark .....

I'm finally back at my desk for a short while before heading off to see my family in Australia and I'd like to  share with you one of the artistic highlights of my time in Europe. 

Over the few months, prior to going on holiday, I began corresponding with a lovely lady, Ulla Brunn from Denmark. She wrote  telling me of her love for making boxes and her interest in the fact that I made boxes out of Hanji paper.  We exchanged some information and made plans to meet up in Copenhagen in July. 

Her work was exquisite and I was very interested to talk to her about the methods she uses for making her boxes and to compare it with those I use in Hanji. 

Ulla and myself looking at her boxes
Some of Ulla's box designs are based on those of another Danish lady who lived in the late 18th and early 19th Century called Kamma Rahbek. Kamma's work can be seen in the Bakkehust Museum in Copenhagen so Ulla and I went together to visit, and see first hand, those handmade boxes made more than 200 years ago out of cardboard and paper. How special that time was.

Boxes by Ulla Bruun

The Museum is set in a beautiful country home built in 1520 in one of the suburbs of Copenhagen. At the time it was built it would have been out in the country but today it's about a 15 to 20 minute drive from the centre of the city.   The house has been used for many purposes over the last 500 years but it was the family home of Knud and Kamma Rahbek  from 1802 and at that time it was the centre of literary, artistic and social gatherings in what was called the Golden Age of Denmark.

Ulla had contacted the Museum and we were priveleged to have the curator take the fragile, but in surprisingly good condition, 200 year old handmade boxes out of the glass cases for us to see up close.

A box made by Kamma Rahbek in the early 1800s
Here's some information about Kamma that's been translated from Danish into English from the Museum leaflet.

'Kamma Rahbek's grew up in the ancestral brewery in Noerregade in Copenhagen, the daughter of Judge Hans Heger and Anna Louise, she was born Drewsen. In a time when girls' education can be described as poor, her father wanted to challenge his gifted and thoughtful girl, so he taught her botany and astronomy in addition to several different languages. 

Boxes of different shapes and sizes
For example, she mastered English at the age of 10, which was quite unusual.  She was also interested in learning literature, and her relationship with her husband, Knud Lyne Rahbek, friend to Kamma's brother Carl Heger, began as a 15-year old. They became engaged in 1797 and married the following year. The marriage was happy, but they had no children.

In their home at Bakkehuset, Kamma Rahbek created a cozy and hospitable home without snobby or trivial boundaries. Their circle of friends was great and they included literary artists such as Hans Christian Anderson,
intellectuals and people of a high status in the community.

One of Kamma Rahbek interests was box manufacturing. This was then a common pastime for the middle classes, who used boxes for storing games, buttons, cigars and more. Kamma Rahbek developed a preoccupation to perfection, and she made her boxes of luxurious paper materials she bought in Hamburg, and conjured up amazing, sophisticated boxes from scratch. 

She used claw feet and 'guldborter'
She used some Dresden gold borders of the period 1880 called 'guldborter', claw feet, mirror effects and painted designs or watercolor paintings under glass in the lid and the base consisted of individual works of art. 

Most of the illustrations in the boxes were done by Kamma Rahbek herself who had a talent for drawing and painting, and as a young woman she had also received drawing lessons from the  famous Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, before he went to Rome. The house guests were often ordered to participate in the manufacture of boxes, including the Norwegian Golden Age painter JC Dahl.'

We were delighted to see these objects up close and spent as much time as we could examining and admiring the boxes. We also saw the table on which Kamma would have worked and the tools that she used which was an eerie experience to  actually see the cuts in the table where she worked in poor lighting conditions. I reflected on how difficult it would have been to do the fine work of cutting small pieces of cardboard, putting the boxes together, decorating and painting without some of the more modern tools we have available today. 

This was Ulla's first visit to the Bakkehus Museum as she lives a few hours drive away from Copenhagen so for her it was incredible that she could see Kamma's work. After our visit to the Museum I was in awe of the fact that Ulla had produced such lovely copies of her work, with all the fine details, and Ulla had made her boxes merely from pictures of what she'd seen.

Myself, Ulla, Alan (Ulla's husband) and Anna (her daughter)

I was thrilled to have met Ulla and her family in person and to be able to share our passion for making boxes. Our methods might be slighly different coming from different cultural backgrounds, hers from Denmark and mine from Korea, but there were so many similarities to the work and mastery of what we're doing today.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer break ......

I'm taking a break  from Hanji for a while as I head off on summer break......

I don't know how easy it's going to be to post whilst I'm away but if I get an opportunity and I have anything I think you might be interested in, then you may see a post or two pop up in the next 6 weeks.

If you live in the Northern hemisphere I hope you all enjoy your summer break  and if you're currently going through winter  in the Southern hemisphere my wish is that you'll find lots of Hanji projects to keep you going.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New paper .......

I've just received a new batch of papers from Korea and some, are quite different from anything I've ever used before.  I first saw them when I visited Korea last year and I excitedly brought some home and they've just sat in my drawer waiting for an inspirational project that I felt was right for them. 

When this new batch arrived with  more different designs I felt that I should to try one out.

It's a bleaching paper with a rubberised design on top.  I was unsure at first what I'd use it for and how well it'd mold to the cardboard but, even though it's fairly thick,  as long as I applied enough glue it was as easy to use as any other paper.

I decided to make a bowl with a lid and this is how it looks. 

There are several different designs in this type of paper, from Chinese calligraphy to waves and geometric designs and this, a classic looking flowery one, but they're all stunning and I'm looking forward to using them all in the future .....

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...