Monday, April 29, 2013

Cutting machine for Hanji designs .........

Since my visit to South Korea last year with my Hanji friends and seeing how cutouts are being done on laser printers, I've contemplated the thought that a mini version would be handy to use for small scale projects. I still believe that cutting out the Hanji paper by hand gives so much more satisfaction on personal pieces but, I know that there have been times when I've conducted classes and needed to cut out 20 or more small designs for others to use and thought, if only .......

I was told about a paper shop that sold cutters in different designs so I went to investigate furthur last weekend and came across what I'd been looking for. It's not a bulky, expensive, laser cutting machine, which is what I'd been looking at but, it's a cutting machine which  has a tiny blade and is small enough to fit on the side of my desk with a  connection to my computer and, it didn't break the bank.  The software has a huge range of different patterns and designs to choose from but more importantly, for those of us doing Hanji, we can also use our own Korean designs as well.

I've been experimenting over the last few days and it cuts the Hani paper really well. It has a cutting area of up to 12" x 12" and I've tried small, large, intricate  and  even masked pieces and it works a treat. I'm so excited as this will be such an asset in my work.

I'm sure there are many different types of these machines around but I bought a Silhouette Cameo machine.  If you're interested to know more check out this short video to see some of the things you can do with it. 

I don't normally frequent scrapbooking shops but they're definitely worth looking at.  I also found some small hardware that'd be suitable for Hanji projects.  All in all a great find and I'm sure I'll get lots of use out of it over the years.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Umbrella stand completed .........


I've finally found time in my busy work days to finish my large pot/Umbrella stand.  I've learnt so many lessons along the way and I now know what I'd do better next time and what I wouldn't do at all.  I'm pretty happy with my first attempt at using this embossed effect on articles and I'm looking forward to getting the chance to try this technique on bigger pieces of work.

Details of the cutouts around the top


Two quite different looking Umbrella stands

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chinese character embossing ......

'What cardboard shall I use for the cutouts'? 'How thick should the cardboard be'? 'What knife shall I use'? 'What Hanji paper shall I cover it with'? and most importantly, 'What will it look like?
These were some of the questions going through my mind as I began a new project this weekend.


For many years I've been admiring  pieces of furniture in Hanji that display an embossed effect. I first saw some at the Jeonju Hanji Festival back in 2001 and I loved the subtle effect that it gives to a piece and have been curious as to to how it's done. I've also seen it in some Korean  Hanji books  and It looked so simple and so I thought it  was  time to give it a try.

I'd made up a tall Umbrella stand and I decided it was a good base on which to apply this technique.

The first challenge was deciding what cardboard to use for the cutouts so I went with 1mm thick and cut out the designs. This was quite a challenge to say the least but I soon got the hang of it and, apart from the fact that you can only cut one at a time and not 3 or 4 as you do it paper, I soon finished the cutouts that I wanted. 

I experimented with what knife to use and started off with the small knife I normally use for paper cutouts but I soon found out that it wasn't strong enough and the blades broke really easily so I reverted to the craft knife which did an OK job. There may be a better knife but I'll research that further for future projects.  

In the end I actually used 2 different types of cardboard, one corrugated and the other compressed.  I found that the corrugated board was easier to cut than the compressed board.

Choosing a paper was the next challenge.  I'm unaware of any special paper that might be used so I went with a normal thickness plain mulberry paper. I wet the paper and cardboard thoroughly before putting them together, molding the paper into the shape of the Chinese characters. I was very much aware that too much pressure and repitition of movements could have torn the paper and I would have had to start all over again so I was really careful but I wanted to applied enough pressure to get the required effect.


As the paper has dried I've noticed that it's shrunk a little and pulled up from the embossed designs.  I've also noticed that the corrugated cardboard has compressed slightly as the paper has dried giving a smoother outline to the design whereas the compressed cardboard hasn't compressed any further and it's given the cutout much sharper lines. To compensate for the shrinkage I've been re wetting the paper and remolding the designs.  Each time I do it it's looking a little better.


I wonder how it's done in Korea? For me, It's a work in progress so I'll keep you informed as to how it's going and post pictures of the completed article when I'm happy with the results.

It may not be perfect but I hope to continue experimenting with different papers, cardboard and types of knives until I get the results I'm looking for....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Annyeong mate .......

For all my Australian Hanji friends  there'll be hanji classes held at the Sydney Korean Cultural Office in the middle of the year. 

This Korean Cultural Office was established in April 2011, the Year of Friendship between Australia and Korea. It was established to bring Australia and Korea even closer  in what marked the 50th anniversary of relations between the countries. 

They'll be providing both Beginner & Intermediate classes  over  twelve weeks and are heavily subsided by the Korean Cultural Office.  So, if you want to learn something new this'd be a great way to do it.  You can fill in an online form on their website.



When : May 7 - July 23, 2013 (12 week program)

Where: Classroom @ Korean Cultural Office

Cost:  Beginner $40
             Intermediate $80



Monday, April 15, 2013

A surprise inside .......

The inside of the drawers

















I've just completed another interesting set of classes where the students have amazed me with their  creativity,  imagination in paper choices and ability to read and interpret my worksheets.
Carol cutting out her base
After the initial cutting out and putting together of the item the fun began.  The students decided on the colours and patterns of the Hanji paper they wanted to use for their pieces as well as the designs that were to be put on them. They always vary. Sometimes they choose darker colours that make the items look like wood, othertimes traditional patterned papers and designs and then occasionally someone chooses the bright & the bold . 

I surmise that paper choices show a lot about a person's personality and moods. I know in the past I've tended to go for more subdued colours and patterns in my favourites of browns, greens and yellows but just now and again I have that urge to make something completely different.

Anna's traditionally designed patterned paper and design on top
I won't go through all the choices that were made but Sue decided on papering hers in a bright red with a Korean print on the paper and the drawers were in red with bright yellow inside the drawers.  She had an old Nepalese calendar that was made of natural, handmade paper so she cut out the designs and put them inside the drawers as a 'surprise' upon opening them.  It wasn't as easy as it sounds because when she started pasting them in, the water coloured paint that'd been used started to run.  This then meant that she needed to do it very carefully and slowly to prevent spoiling the picture.

Here's a set of  drawers  made in the traditional Korean way but decorated with  a mixture of two cultures, Korean and Nepalese and  I think it works really well.

This is one of my greatest joys in doing Hanji the fact that you can adapt, invent and create in so many ways.

I love them all from the traditional to the bold .......

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A little bit of Hanji nostalgia ......

I just came across this old photo of myself and two other hanji crafters taken in the year 2000 in my tiny apartment in Andong, South Korea. It must have been taken in the very early days of learning how to do Hanji and I'm ashamed to say I don't remember the other ladies' names but I do believe that  one of them use to teach English at a local High School. I wonder if they're still doing Hanji ?


I remember those days fondly when my Korean friend and neighbor Monica first  introduced a small group of us to Hanji and how do make different things out of cardboard and paper.  If she wasn't sure of what to do herself she'd get on the phone to her sister who lived in Wonju and she'd always be able to help us out.

In my spare time I'd spend hours searching the backstreets of Andong and Pusan trying to find Hanji  shops and different papers for a variety of projects.  It was great to be able to wander into a shop and thumb through hundreds of different papers and I'd usually come home with many more than I needed because I just couldn't leave some of them in the shop. I also found some interesting places that had a large variety of Hanji hardware and it was  great to be able to choose the right pieces for particular items.


Things have changed a lot since those early days of doing Hanji as I don't have assess to a lot of the hands on advice and an abundance of supplies that I once had but it's forced me to become more creative with my choices and  grow in my understanding  and production of my Hanji artwork. I wonder what the next 10 years will bring?  I'm excited by the prospect .....