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.
Ilsindang(Korean) - www.
Doori Hanji(Korean) - www.
(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

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