Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hanji update .....

Just to update you all, I really haven't fallen off the edge of the planet !! I think this has been the longest break I've taken over the last 4 years, from writing my Hanji blog but, my Hanji interests are very much still alive and well.

Since my return to Adelaide I've realized that I needed to take a step back from Hanji for a few months to decide exactly what direction I'd like my business to take during 2015 and beyond. Sometimes it's good to take time to reflect on what is important to us and certainly having  time back here in Australia with my family and friends, is one of them and setting up my Hanji business is another. 

If it's of any help to those in similar situations, here are just a few of the lessons I've learnt over the last few months:

1) I've found that I can't just continue  where I left off in the UAE but instead, I need time to build local networks. (As I'm sure you're aware, doing Hanji outside of Korea means you're fairly well alone in your city as far as finding others who do Hanji or share your passion). This hasn't been a bad thing because it's allowed me  time to reflect on what I like doing as far as my style of Hanji and how I'd like to promote it to others in the future.
2) Introducing others to this wonderful craft is an ongoing challenge as the majority of people you meet and talk to have never heard of Hanji before therefore you're constantly explaining what you love doing. Despite that, people have been amazingly complimentary and fascinated by the craft and many have shown a desire to learn more about it.

3) Adjusting to using different varnishes and products can be challenging as things aren't automatically available so new things need to be trialled to find the most suitable for the conditions and the projects I wish to work on. A time consuming process but one that will be well worthwhile in the future.

I have plans for some exciting new directions next year and I'm looking forward to January when I can get started on them. I'm confident that the year will see huge strides forward in all things Hanji and I'm looking forward to meeting and making new friends through sharing my passion.

As Christmas is almost upon us I'd like to wish you and your families a blessed Christmas Season before you embark on a fabulous New Year of creativity and success.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Patience, patience, patience ....

In the last few weeks I've finally found the time to concentrate on setting up my Hanji business. 

Unrealistically I want everything to happen at once. I'd like to find a place to conduct classes and to be instantly organised so that I can get started. My mind knew that it wasn't going to happen but my heart was really hoping otherwise.

Despite my slight despondency I've had an interesting and very enjoyable week of networking with some of the local artists including painters, ceramicist and print-makers  as well as meeting up with a few of my neighbors. 

One of them took me to look through a local warehouse that's currently being fitted out for an Aboriginal artist to hold exhibitions in and it'll also be occupied by a print-maker who wants a part of it as her studio but unfortunately, the rest of the space is already fully taken.

This area of Brompton and Bowden has so many lovely old shopfronts that are not being used so I've knocked on some doors  to inquire in case anyone knew where I could find studio space but, so far no leads there. 

I did however meet some very nice people who are going to look out for me and I feel that with their help something will turn up really soon.

It's early days yet and I still have other options of studio space to explore, some of which are a little further afield but as long as I can continue doing what I love that's not going to matter. 

In the meantime I've started on a new project as you can see.  It's a Korean tea table made in the traditional Hanji way but I'm  using a very different paper to try to create a more modern appeal to the craft.

I'll keep you posted as to how it all goes ......

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hanji Business....

Well here I am sitting at my computer in my Hanji room in Adelaide.

 Joy for joy!

I'm surrounded by all my lovely Hanji papers, cardboard, books, tools, worktables and, with a project underway I couldn't be happier. My computer and printer are now working so it's time to do a blog post after what seems like such a long break.

It's been a while since I've had my Hanji things around me and have had a daily routine of creativity in my life. Its been 4 months and in that time Ron and I've packed up our 2 storey house in the UAE, including my studio full of all things Hanji, moved across the other side of the world back to Australia, organised and overseen the workmen to get our house in Adelaide renovated, unpacked around 280 boxes and had to find places for everything in a smaller, but very lovely townhouse. 

We keep saying that we need to downsize as we get older and we've certainly achieved that with our new dwelling but it's all the things that don't fit into the house that cause the problem!!  We've had to ask ourselves where do our priorities lie and as you can see, my Hanji Room has won out and I must add that Ron's mezzanine study area has had equal priority as well. 

My room is to be multipurpose and used as a spare room for guests and grandchildrens sleepovers so we're working on the functionality of it at the moment which will become easier as time goes by and I'm able to find a studio for my Hanji collection. 

Settling in is an ongoing process but we're nearly there and now I finally have time to get my head around setting up and establishing my HANJI business.

I did manage to register my business name last week and I'm very excited to now have an ABN (Australian Business Number) too so I'm officially the owner of:

                     ABN 48304950644

I've opted to keep the name short rather than using 'Hanji Happenings' as it may be too much of a mouthful for people to remember plus, as a friend very kindly informed me, "It's very 70's!" 

As many of you will know, the meaning of 'Hanji' is not widely known in the Western world so I'm going to have an uphill battle  trying to get it known here in Adelaide  but I'm aware of the problem and am really looking forward to the challenges ahead and spending time promoting something that I love doing and I think others will enjoy too.

My next step is to find a studio space where I can set up classrooms and workshops, hopefully not too far from the house but in a nice environment where people will want to come and learn this new craft. 

Fortunately we're situated in an up and coming  suburb of Adelaide just 4 kms from the city centre and in the next suburb there's  a billion dollar development going on over the next 10 to 20 years.  It's in it's early stages now but Bowden is to be a hub for young people, artists and those who want a 'life more interesting'. It's being promoted as 'a creative place where residents and visitors can enjoy vibrant street art and gallery exhibitions'  and I'm looking forward to being a part of this community.

Now we're nearly settled I'll definitely keep you posted more regularly on how the business setup is going here in Australia and look forward to sharing the many ups and downs of these new experiences  with you in the future.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Life is colourful ....

Over the last 15 years I've been fortunate enough to have traveled to many different countries with a wide variety of cultures, history and traditions.  I've lived in 3 of those countries for reasonable lengths of time and many people have asked the question, "Which is your favourite?" I ask, "How am I expected to answer that when each has had it's own unique attractions and influences on my life?" 

Let me first define attractions, 'the action or power of evoking interest in or liking for someone or something'. These aren't necessarily only on the outside, which  most tourists get a glimpse of,  but when you're fortunate enough to live in a country for any length of time you soon find out that they each have many depths of character (colours) which include the geographical, architectural, cultural, societal, and religious aspects as well. This depth of character is what the country is really all about.

Firstly we went to Korea to live for 3 years and there I discovered a depth of culture that I hadn't ever experienced before. I was born and raised in Australia which doesn't have a very long history of  white Australian culture. The original inhabitants of Australia were the Aborigines and their traditions are amazing, and I don't wish to take anything from them but, they're a long way from the history of the Far East with the Emperors, Grand Palaces and structurally complex societies. White Australians have only been in Australia for around 250 years so it's nothing in comparison to the thousands of years of the documented societal history of China, Korea and Japan.

At first Korea was a culture shock for me as it was so different and yet so fascinating.  Back in the year 2000 there were very few signs in English where we lived and it felt as if we were aliens who had landed on a different planet. We weren't going to be there for just a short time, then going back to what we knew in our home country, so we had to embrace it and learn from the surroundings and the people as much as we could. 

This was when I discovered the wonderful world of Hanji and I've loved it ever since

I so admire the traditional arts, crafts, dress and manner of the Korean people and applaud them for being hardworking, conscientious and polite. Of course in any society you get those who aren't stereotypical but  I found from my own personal experiences that this was true for the majority of people I met.

Because of the wonderfully rich history of that region there are still many of the palaces and old Buddhist temples which are still beautifully maintained and well restored so as to remind them, and us, for generations to come of what the country once was, and where they've come from.

There were things in all countries that we lived in that drove us crazy, they mainly related to the practical side of living like dealing with official protocols that seemed to be so much more difficult in another country than in our own but there were so many more positives that made up for it all.

Next we moved on to Malaysia which was very different once again. This move was easier than the first as I'd started to learn how to embrace the differences of the people, language and things around me and take them more in my stride. 

Malaysia is a country with three largely diverse ethnic groups, Malay, Chinese and Indian. The  architecture in general is not that interesting but the tropical weather gives the countryside a lush, green blanket which is uplifting to look at and it softens its man made concrete surroundings.

It was great to see how well the Malaysians all got on together and how each celebrated one another's festivals which means, as a working person, you ended up with a myriad of Public Holidays every year  as the country seemed to stop and become a big festival of riotous colours and celebrations. 

They have their internal problems and not everyone gets on with one another, especially when equality for the races is not truely practiced as we know it but, they make the most of it and life ticks along quite nicely. Religion plays a large part in their lives with mosques, temples and churches all on display and the people are very relaxed, fun loving and respectful of foreigners.

We stayed there for 5 years until our contracts ran out. and we decided to move on.

Our  destination for the last 6 1/2 years has been the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  I never had any  desire to come to the Middle East, I was happy to read about it in books and magazines and to see documentaries on TV but it all seemed too daunting to actually have to live in one of these Muslin countries. 

To my surprise the transition was much easier than expected and here I've seen so many different colours (layers) in this society not only visually with the yellow, wide open expanses of sand dunes and the glitzy, neon  lit buildings and architectural wonders of Dubai and Abu Dhabi but also in the 
barely visible people behind the black and white kandoras.

The UAE is progressively modern and amazingly tolerant for a Muslim country whose population is made up of more than 80% expatriates. It's been amazing to see what the oil money has allowed the Sheiks to do over the last 40 years and how the Emiratis have embraced their relatively new found wealth with gusto, employing only the best architects and builders from around the world to change this country from a once sleepy  desert town into a thrilling and thriving metropolis. 

Their religion is everything to them and the country is dotted with mosques which seem to pop up every few hundred metres as you drive through the towns.  The calls to prayer are heard regularly throughout the day but you soon get use to it and barely notice the cries of the Iman after a few short weeks.

I've been able to visit my students stone mountain dwellings where some of them were born in the surrounding caves about 30 years ago, to visit their weekend homes in the desert where they enjoy sand dunning, singing around open fires and eating feasts with them on the floor of their hut as well as  out sailing in traditional dhows on the azure waters of the Arabian Gulf.

How can I choose?

Today is the day that I  head back to Australia to fulfil more dreams.  Not those of travel this time but those of being closer to my family, setting up a Hanji business in Adelaide and having more time to spend on things I love doing. Living in different countries and travelling has given my life a richness of colours like no other and I hope there will be many more to come but if not, I have nothing to complain about. I've taken opportunities when they've been presented to me, I've embraced people  & their cultures from around the world and I've been enriched by every positive and negative experience  put before me.

 ........ I'm now looking forward to what's going to happen next.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hanji Exhibition ...... Creativity is contagious

Sadly I'll be leaving the UAE in a few weeks time to settle back in Australia. It's going to be a huge move for my husband and I after an absence of nearly 15 years from our homeland but one that I'm looking forward to as I'm reunited with my family and I start a new chapter of teaching and learning Hanji back in Adelaide, Australia.
Sue Fine, Anna Bailey, Diana Johnson, Monica Sturgess, Tricia O'Shea, myself, Christina & Arlette Van Veerdegem
Over the last few months here in RAK, and with the last of the Hanji classes  winding down, the students  had been thinking of what to do to as a final farewell before I leave.  Diana piped up with, 'Why don't we have a Hanji Exhibition?'. I thought about it  and very quickly decided that there couldn't be any better  way to celebrate the classes than by getting everyone together and showcasing the students' amazing achievements.    I ran it past a few people and they were excited at the idea so preparations began.                       

Diana Johnson, myself, Niru Bhati
 There were lots of last minute 'finishing off of projects' that they wanted to display. The time came around very quickly and a few nights ago we held the much anticipated 1st RAK Hanji exhibition at the Ras Al Khaimah Sailing Club. 


I can't tell you the excitement and pride I felt every time a student placed another piece of their work on the display tables. It was the best gift ever. 

Sue Fine & Diana Johnson unveiling Sue's Hanji pieces
The club rooms began to fill up from around 5 pm onwards with people filing through to see the wonderful Hanji pieces on display. There were 'oohs' and 'ahs' all around as they seemed to come out of the woodwork, or is that cardboard, to see what Hanji was all about.

Trcia O'Shea and her lamps hand painted by her husband Marius O'Shea
Many of the students have been working in different classes and hadn't had the opportunity to meet or see their fellow students' work so they were able to ask questions of one another and to get ideas for their own future projects. Some approached me with last minute questions about how to continue making their own creative projects and at the same time we all promised to keep in touch wherever we moved to next.

Cabinet by Suzy Jay

People came  to feast their eyes on the students' work and then some of them went but most people stopped for a few hours to enjoy the great pizza feast made in the home made pizza oven and cooked before their very eyes. There was a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere throughout the evening and a great energy that's hard to describe. 

At around 6 pm the infamous RAK Voices put on a performance which was greatly appreciated by those there, especially the Pharrell Williams song, 'Happy' that is so popular all around the world these days. I joined in as I've been a member of this new group for the last few months and it was great fun to perform and to watch the audience's reaction.

RAK Voices

During my time here in the UAE I've had the privilege of meeting some fantastically creative people and I've made some wonderful lifelong friends.  As expats we know that the friends we make in countries all over the world will finally not be around us but I feel all the richer for the experiences I've been able to have and the people I've had the opportunity to meet.


One of the students, Christina Van Veerdegem has set up a Hanji Creations group on Facebook where we can all showcase our work, share ideas, and ask Hanji related questions, no matter where we live in the world. She's moving to Jakarta, I'm moving to Australia, another is going to Oman.
If you'd like to join this group please email me with a short note about your Hanji work and I'll send you an invite .

We are spreading our wings and the Hanji community worldwide is growing.  I feel proud to have been a small part in making that happen.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hanji books ...............

As I've often mentioned, it's almost impossible to get books in English or in Korean on Hanji crafts  therefore, on my recent trip to South Korea it was one of my goals to source as many books as I could from the home of Hanji.  

Over the years I've been looking both online and in book stores all over the world for any Hanji books I can find in English  and unfortunately, I've only come up with a very small selection thus far. During my trip to Seoul earlier this month it was important for me to go and check out the largest book store in Seoul, Kyobo, to see what they might have. 

Finding the shop after so many years was quite easy  and the taxi driver knew exactly where to take me so once in the store I rushed up to the English counter and after some communication problems it was finally decided that there was nothing on Hanji in English. Plan A had failed but it really wasn't a total let down as I suspected this is what might happen but I guess I was hoping for a possible surprise find. 

Plan B was to venture over to the Korean books section. A lot of discussions followed in the store and the assistants looked at their computers time and time again, checked bookshelves, more discussions and then they finally  came up with one book on Hanji in Korean,  located on the bottom shelf !!  

What am I missing here? Why isn't there more information  on this craft?

After purchasing the book 'Seoha Hanji World', which really wasn't about the three dimensional crafting that I do, instead more about the two dimensional craft of producing pictures out of Hanji paper.  I'd gone all that way and the assistants had spent such a lot of time looking for a Hanji book so I couldn't leave without it and it'll be a good reference if every I want to give it a try.

Whilst I was in the Korean craft section I then found another book which wasn't really related but it did have some wonderful lanterns made out of Hanji paper and it showed how to make them.  I added that to the cart as well.

After a bit of a disappointing visit to the book store I ventured back to Insadong and  managed to pick up some design books from several of the Hanji shops there. Each one  has a series of different designs and will therefore be useful as it'll give  my students and I a wider selection to choose from for our future Hanji creations. 



I also found a couple of different Hanji craft books at the Hanji shops in Insadong but it's interesting that these books aren't available at the book stores. They're in Korean of course but the instructions and step by step pictures give me a good idea of what to do.


All in all I was happy with the books I found but still curious as to where all the information about Hanji comes from.

 Is it so traditional a craft that it's not written about but merely handed down from generation to generation? Or, am I just not going to the correct sources to find the books? Any ideas?

The Hanji book saga will continue ........

Hanji exhibition .....

For those of you living the UAE, there's going to be a Hanji exhibition on at the RAKSA Sailing Club on Tuesday, May 6th from 5 pm onwards. Would love to see as many of you as can make it so bring along your Hanji pieces to display.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fabric and Hanji ........

For an interesting textured effect and to create something that's quite unique you can use fabric under your Hanji paper. I found this set of drawers being made in the Hanji Doori store in Insadong, Seoul. I've never seen this effect before so was fascinated to have it explained to me by Catherine.

Here you can see that strips of a very course burlap  or hessian have been glued on to the top of this set of drawers to give it an interesting  texture, as well as a unique look. It was then covered with a thick black paper and lightly bleached to accentuate the weave.

On the drawer fronts a finer fabric, possibly a finer burlap but I'm sure you could use anything that has texture, has been glued onto the cardboard before applying two coats of paper. The fabric has been placed in different directions on each drawer to give them all an individual look.  

Although I'm not a great lover of the colour purple I do love the graded colours of these purple papers which contrast very nicely against the black surrounds and top.

Can't wait to try this......

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hanji Doori Shop in Insadong ...

Hanji Doori is a shop and it also has a great online web page(in Korean) where you can order all of their supplies.  The shop displays a large range of Hanji craft supplies and on this trip to Seoul I found it tucked away on the 3rd floor of a building in Insadong. You can  buy, papers, cutouts, molds, hardware, kits with paper, kits without paper, brushes, glues and electrical fittings for lamps.

As is often the case, these shops are discovered by word of mouth amongst the expat community and I became aware of its location through the networking I was able to do at the presentation 'Hanji - After Korea' in Seoul, last week. 

It was great to walk into the shop and find a lovely lady, Catherine, who spoke very good English because she had spent some time in New Zealand, and she was able to answer all my questions about Hanji. 

The shop has a great range of neatly set out products and a workroom where students can take 3 months courses which range from Beginner up to Advanced. Students were working away on their projects on the many occasions I made a visit there over the week I was in Seoul and it was great to see the range of things they were making and the work that they were doing.

If you get a chance to go to Insadong it's well worth a visit. Check out the Hanji Doori website. I'll certainly go back.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hanji - After Korea .......

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


Korean books.
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

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...