I have been fortunate this year to travel coast to coast on my book tour to promote hanji (Korean paper), hand papermaking, paper crafts, and the people who work in these fields. These journeys help me practice gratitude for my job as a hanji ambassador, and I can’t wait to spend a whole week teaching at Women’s Studio Workshop this summer. Before I land in Rosendale this July, I wanted to share a bit of the hanji trail.
NYC was my first stop of 2013, with an enthusiastic audience at the Center for Book Arts. People have noted on many occasions, “How many more things do you have in that bag?!” The best thing about working with paper is that you can travel light but with an abundance of samples. I travel to all of my talks and classes with enough paper and paper-made goods to fill an entire exhibition, and you’re allowed to touch!
photo credit: Brenda Sunoo
I spent March on the West Coast in seven cities. One of my stops was at Mills College in Oakland, where we made eastern-style paper in one brief afternoon. Students learned how to combine three main components of this technique: fiber (after they beat it to a pulp), formation aid (the gooey stuff), and water. We will cover these ingredients of paper alchemy at WSW this summer.
In April, I headed back east and taught a couple of workshops in Boston and Providence. Along with papermaking, I always introduce jiseung, a form of off-loom paper weaving. I believe it is the most advanced hanji technique, which involves cording strips of hanji to weave into all sorts of objects. Above is a paper shoe that I started last summer; this is a long-term project because my hands insist on a work-rest rhythm that keeps them injury-free. In the pockets of time between my travels, I like to work on pieces that I can finish in a day, like these paper beads.
The final technique that I have been sharing since my return from Korea four years ago is joomchi, or paper felting. It is a simple and elegant way to transform hanji, which shows off the strength of its long fibers. Take dry paper, add water and friction, and voila! The possibilities are endless.
I look forward to sharing all of these techniques, and more, this summer at WSW. For more information, please consult my book, Hanji Unfurled: One Journey into Korean Papermaking (recently named a finalist for the First Horizon Award of the Eric Hoffer Awards). Happy trails!