Friday, November 1, 2013


Start your Holiday shopping early this year!

More than 40 shops members of the SPS Team on Etsy are offering you awesome discounts on truly unique handmade and vintage items!

Handmade jewelry, scarves, home decor items, beauty products, vintage books, Christmas ornaments, posters and more : you can find the most amazing gift ideas for all those you love!

The sale is on from November 3 to 9 : do not miss this chance to save up on amazing presents from amazing artists and artisans!

HanjiNaty is offering a 15% discount on all items in the online shop!

Down the Etsy rabbit hole...

In February 2013, I opened an online shop on After much hesitation, self-doubt and lame excuse finding, I finally dove into the Etsian world.

What is Etsy?

For those who are not familiar with Etsy, it's a gigantic and fascinating website where you can find all kinds of fabulous objects, stories and people. The main point of Etsy (and why I chose this platform, on the enlightening advice of my friend Gowoon, whom I thank and salute!) is to offer handmade items. To be sold on Etsy, an item has to be made by hand. There is also a vintage section (where you can find some amazing things, by the way!), as well as a craft supply section.

One of the interesting aspects of Etsy is the possibility to literally build your own shop. Each shop owner has the means to personalize his or her boutique, with their own banner, an "about" page that allows you to introduce themselves with pictures, customized policies, etc.

For the banner of my site I chose a picture of the gorgeous rooftop of a Korean Buddhist temple. The colors and designs are just stunning to me, and it remains an inspiration for me when I choose my designs, colors and patterns.

My First Sale

To show you how long it took me to find the courage to open that shop, I actually created my Etsy account (with the intent of opening a Hanji shop) in April 2012....! It's almost a full year later that I finally decided to press the "Publish" button.

The first item I sold on Etsy!
Yay!The opening of my shop started with a bang, as my first item was sold in less than five minutes! It's actually a dear friend of mine who bought my very first set of handmade Hanji magnets. I was so thrilled! I remember the rush I felt when I saw the pop-up window saying "Cha-Ching! Congrats Natalie! You've made your first sale - You're in business!"

Connecting with fellow artists and artisans

During the first months of my Etsian adventure I was more or less isolated. I was spending time creating Hanji items, but at a very slow pace, and I was struggling with self-doubt and with this awful feeling that I was lost in a sea of beautiful things and that no buyer would come and rescue me.

At the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013
I have made very few sales since the opening of my shop. I was starting to get discouraged and I slowly stopped making Hanji items, feeling that I would never make it in that world...

Then I visited the two major Hanji festivals in South Korea : The Jeonju Culture Hanji Festival in May 2013 and the Wonju Hanji Festival in September 2013. Those two visits were literally eye-opening for me! I had a chance to meet fellow Hanji artists and to get inspired by unusual and fabulous paper! It also gave me the desire to get more involved myself, maybe by taking part in a Hanji contest or even having a small booth at next year's festival!

After my visit to the Wonju festival in September, I decided to be proactive on the Etsy site. I realized that I couldn't stay alone in my workshop, hoping that traffic and business would magically come to my shop. I had to get involved and stop being so scared!
A Treasury features up to 16 items.

Treasure Hunt

First, I started by joining a few promotion teams. I began to participate in promotion games, and I made my very first treasury on September 2 (to this day I have made about 60!).

A treasury is a collection that any Etsy member put together. The items can be chosen by theme, color, price range, material, etc. Treasuries are a great way to draw attention to your items, and to connect with fellow artists and artisans on Etsy.... and they're a lot of fun, too!

I started to take part in promotional games and cross-promotion actions and I quickly noticed that the number views and favorites in my shop was madly increasing! I also get more and more followers on my personal feed on Etsy, which is very encouraging and motivating! Let's hope that these new connections will  bring me concrete business in the near future.

Being part of the Team

About a month ago I received an invitation to join the "Strategic Promotion for Success" team. I was already a member of about two dozens teams, but I decided to accept the invitation anyway, just to see what SPST had to offer. Oh my! Joining this team is one of the best decisions I have taken since I opened my Etsy shop!

After a few days only I started corresponding with the Captain of the Team, a lovely and very driven artisan named Anna. She asked me if I'd be interested in writing an article about Hanji paper on the Team Blog. I was thrilled!

One thing leading to another I am now a member of the Leadership Team for SPST! It is very rewarding and exciting, and it has given me great occasions to discover new tools, make new friends and, most importantly, it has really motivated me to do more, create more, get more engaged and involved in the Etsy world!


The more I became involved in the world of Etsy shops and teams, the more I discovered that those creative people speak another language! I won't lie, I had to look up quite a few acronyms and expressions that I just couldn't understand! 

For those who are curious, here's a recap of my discoveries (big and small) about the Etsian jargon and secret codes :

BNR : Buy And Replace Treasury
BNS : Buy And Stay Treasury
SOTD : Shop Of The Day
PIF : Pay It Forward
TRIF : Trade It Forward
OOAK : One Of A Kind
BOGO : Buy One Get One

To deepen your linguistic knowledge, visit techdictionary for more Internet jargon and abbreviations! Very interesting!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A series of articles on Hanji on the SPST Blog! (Part II)

Grab Button For Strategic Promotion For Success Team
The second article of my series on Hanji paper is now online on the Strategic Promotion for Success Team blog!

In this part you will learn more about the Hanji paper itself, how it has been used in Korea for centuries and why it is considered one of the best papers in the world.

Click here to read the second article!

You have missed the first one? No worries!
Click here to read the first article!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

A series of articles on Hanji on the SPST Blog! (Part I)

Grab Button For Strategic Promotion For Success Team
I am happy and proud to announce that I am signing a series of three blog articles on Hanji paper on the "Strategic Promotion for Success" Team blog!

In this series of blog posts you will learn about Hanji paper, its History, making process, characteristics and special features. I will also be talking about my own creative process, using Hanji paper.

Click here to read the first article!

HanjiNaty Article on the SPST Blog

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The 2013 Wonju Hanji Festival

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South Korea
The 2013 Wonju Hanji Festival

What? There's another Hanji center in Korea?

Really? Jeonju is not the sole and unbeatable Queen City of Hanji?...

Yes. It's true.
Let me spell it out for you : W-O-N-J-U.

Nice spacious site, with creative atmosphere

On a chilly Saturday morning my husband and I left Iksan to go explore the city of Wonju, in the province of Gangwon-do (northeastern corner of South Korea). We hit the road at 5:30am, expecting that our journey to Gangwon-do would take five hours or more. Surprisingly, barely two and a half hours later we were arriving in Wonju.

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South KoreaThe Festival site was very spacious, unfolding all over the parking area and lawn of the very nice and modern Hanji Theme Park Center.

Hundreds of lanterns, made by Korean school students, were hung all around the perimeter of the Festival site. The long strings of colorful lanterns gave a wonderful feel of craftiness to the site, and really created atmosphere. I also suspect that the presence of those lanterns naturally increased the flow of visitors, as the little Hanji creators were probably eager to show their work to their parents or relatives. That's a very smart PR move!

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South Korea
Visitors could make their own sheet
of Hanji paper
HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South Korea
Japanese Master demonstration
the art of paper-making
A lot of attention was paid to make the Hanji paper itself the true star of the Festival. Several Hanji making stations were set up in the center of the site, so people could experiment first hand with the paper making process.

Six tubs with different colors of mulberry pulp were set up for the visitors to try making their own sheet of Hanji paper.

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South Korea
The mulberry pulp is soaked,
then beaten
The raw materials and traditional tools were also on display, so people could really get a good idea on how the paper is made, from start to finish. They could see the mulberry pulp at different stages in the process, the large wooden tub where the pulp is stored and the shallow bamboo or wooden baskets used to create every single sheet of Hanji paper.

There was also a Japanese master who was demonstrating the art of paper making, according to the Japanese tradition. It was fascinating to see him make those perfect silky sheets of paper with incredible ease. Evidently, he manages to make, by hand, up to 200 sheets of paper a day.

Paper + Artists = Amazing Creations

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South Korea
High-quality Hanji paper,
made in Wonju
Among the many vendors on site were several Hanji paper sellers, offering for a very good price the high-quality Hanji made in Wonju. No need to say that I had a blast shopping for new colors and patterns! I was delighted to find some unusual papers, including a wood-grain patterned Hanji.

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South Korea
Square boxes
by Mi-Sook Choi (최미숙)
There were only a few booths displaying the work of Hanji artists, but those who were there had stunning pieces to present.

I had the great pleasure to meet Mi-Sook Choi, a Hanji artist based in Wonju. Her booth was filled with fantastic items, such as boxes, pen holders, lamps, cabinets and other intricate objects.

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South Korea
Cabinet with tiny drawers
by Mi-Sook Choi (최미숙)
Mrs Choi has a workshop and boutique in Wonju. She was very friendly and took the time to explain the different techniques she has developed through the years.

We talked about patterns, color choices and inspiration; it was marvelous to be able to exchange with a person who shares the same passion for Hanji crafts.

I left Mrs Choi's booth excited and reinvigorated. But, a few minutes later, I have to admit that I started to struggle with self-doubt. The view of such stunning work made me feel a little self-conscious, and made me wonder if I would ever reach that level of achievement and craftsmanship. The vibrant color combinations, the sharp cutting work and the delicacy and taste of the pieces I had seen left me humbled... Luckily, in the same time, it gave me the desire to get to work! It gave me ideas, sparked my interest for certain designs or patterns I hadn't really pondered before, and most importantly it got me excited!

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South Korea
The tiny visitors of the Festival were invited to put
their touch to a very large mural.

A Hanji Festival would not be complete without some hands-on activities. The Wonju Festival offered to visitors to change to make their own sheet of Hanji paper, but also to make different objects using Hanji : containers, jewelry, pinwheels, lamps, etc.

The tiny visitors were also invited to put their own personal touch onto a gigantic mural that was hung by the entrance of the Hanji Theme Park building. I thought it was a very creative way to involve children, without forcing them to sit down at a table for a long period of time.

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South Korea
A clever tool to practice calligraphy :
a practice sheet that erases itself!

Some other traditional Korean crafts, including traditional calligraphy and embroidery, were also present at the Festival. There was even a candle-making workshop.

I had the chance to meet a calligraphy master, who had this magical practice board for sale : when the wet brush touches the paper, it turns black (when in contact with water). Once the paper dries, it returns to its original white color! How clever! It's a wonderful tool for practicing strokes, without wasting precious paper or ink.

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South Korea
Hanji crafts on display
Hanji Theme Park building.
The Hanji Theme Park Center

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South Korea
Irresistible Hanji sheep!
Boutique @ Hanji Theme Park
The Hanji Development Institute, founded in 2001 in Wonju, has the mission to promote the growth of Korean culture and art using Hanji. For this purpose, a very nice and modern Hanji Theme Park was recently built in Wonju. This center is dedicated to Korean Hanji paper, its artists and its promotion around the world. 

A very nice building welcomes visitors with permanent exhibits on the history of Hanji, a nice boutique offering for sale a wide range of Hanji products (including clothes, household items, lamps, cabinets, boxes, coasters, etc.) and several rooms designed to welcome workshops and training sessions. An information counter also offers documentation on the Hanji Theme Park, as well as the Wonju area.

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South Korea
A Hanji wall, inside the Hanji Café.
HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South Korea
Hanji cups and bowl,
displayed in the Hanji Café.
There is also a very cozy coffee shop, called Hanji Café, where visitors can enjoy a cold or hot drink, in a very artsy atmosphere. I was particularly impressed with the Hanji brick wall and the beautiful artwork displayed in the Café. Many stylish Hanji items gave charm to the coffee shop (including some Hanji paintings, paper lanterns and paper sculptures). Personally, I think they could take the theme a little further and make sure that the napkin dispensers or the coasters were made of Hanji, so visitors can appreciate the utilitarian objects as well as the pieces of art.

Welcoming Foreign Visitors

I was pleased to see quite a few foreign visitors at the Wonju Festival. I was glad to see that foreigners were showing an interest for this traditional Korean craft that truly owns my heart. I have to salute the Festival's effort to produce a very nice bilingual program : the English texts relating the History of Hanji, the different types of crafts and were very comprehensible and well written.

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival 2013 in South KoreaUnfortunately, I have once again to whine about the fact that the Festival website is solely in Korean, and is difficult to navigate. And why on Earth is the website of the Hanji Development Institute, dedicated to the International promotion of Hanji crafts and artists, only in Korean? Doesn't this defeat the purpose?

* * *

Overall I had a wonderful time at the Wonju Hanji Festival. It was a very pleasant experience, filled with meaningful encounters, inspiring materials and a very friendly atmosphere.

You can be sure that I will be there for next year's edition! I don't think I will be able to participate in the Festival per se (the schedule and distance would make it difficult for me), but I'll surely attend as an enthusiastic visitor and Hanji lover!

Wonju, you've got a new best friend!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Off the Walls!

HanjiNaty Korean Wall Organizer Handmade Craft ProjectFor the last few months, I have been working (on and off) on this imposing piece. For those of you wondering : it's a traditional Korean wall organizer - called a "go-bee" (고비) in Korean - originally designed to hold calligraphy paper, brushes and other documents.

The openings on the back were traditionally meant to welcome long rolls of calligraphy paper and the front boxes (that I like to call "balconies!") were designed to file letters and other paperwork.

In our modern days, very few of us need a wall-mounted cabinet to hold our calligraphy rolls and brushes... Nonetheless, it's still a gorgeous piece that I decided to "attack," after seeing a few stunning examples in Hanji exhibits and museums.

Additionally, with the constant and overwhelming clutter that takes over my house, why not give the old-fashioned scholar's organizer a try?

Where to begin?

The biggest challenge for me, for a piece like that, is where to begin. How to choose the right pattern? How to calculate accurately the dimensions of all the trim and designs I'll need to make this piece truly unique?  Most importantly, how not to get discouraged?

It took me a long time, and quite a few unfruitful attempts, to finally settle on a primary-colored theme, and traditional floral designs.

HanjiNaty Korean Wall Organizer Handmade Craft Project
The original pattern, found in
a Korean pattern book.
I decided to use the five traditional colors of Korean patterns : red, black, blue, yellow and white. Those five colors refer to the five directions (east, west, north, south and center), as well the five elements of classic Chinese philosophy.

I found in a Korean pattern book a design that piqued my interest; I decided to play with it, deconstruct it and use the different elements of the pattern on different parts of the wall organizer. 

HanjiNaty Korean Wall Organizer Handmade Craft Project
Each balcony displays this intricate flower pattern.
I was especially fond of the small flower designs (now that I think about it, don't they remind you of the fleur-de-lys, beloved symbol of Quebec?). I decided to cut dozens of those and place them on every shelf, as well as the corners of the front and interior panels.

HanjiNaty Korean Wall Organizer Handmade Craft ProjectI also separated the palm-like leaves from the central part of the design, and placed them on the sides of the three balconies.  You can only see them when you look at the wall organizer from an angle.

Take out your ruler!

This piece presented another big challenge for me. On top of being the largest item I had ever worked on, it also required very precise and accurate alignment during assembly.
HanjiNaty Korean Wall Organizer Handmade Craft ProjectHanjiNaty Korean Wall Organizer Handmade Craft Project

Usually, the objects I cover with Hanji paper are assembled prior to any application of the paper : I put the box or the pen holder together, and then I cover it with Hanji paper. In this case, I had covered all the different parts of the wall organizer before gluing them together.

When the time came to assemble the wall organizer, I had to measure precisely, in order to place the shelves and balconies correctly (Ah! That's why we have to learn math in school! ;)

Making sure that all the pieces were glued at perfect 90-degree angles was also essential...and not as easy at it seems! Also, when you work with instant setting glue, you don't have a second chance if you mess up the first time.

HanjiNaty Korean Wall Organizer Handmade Craft Project
Luckily, I was helped by my dear friends Mandy and Lee, who were wonderfully supportive throughout the whole process! With four hands, three rulers, a measuring tape, lots of patience and reminiscences of high-school math we were able to assemble it without any problems.

The final touch

HanjiNaty Korean Wall Organizer Handmade Craft ProjectThe last step of this project was to varnish the wall organizer. It took a surprising large amount of time to do it, but in the end the result is impressive.

HanjiNaty Korean Wall Organizer Handmade Craft Project
Now, this amazing piece is hung proudly in my house, ready to welcome documents, letters, pencils and pens, or whatever we feel like filling it up with...

Clutter has never looked so good!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

"Teaching Hanji to Korean students?" Ya' right!

HanjiNaty Hanji Workshop with Korean students

A few weeks ago, I received a surprising message from one of my dear Korean friends. Being the manager of an English hagwon (학원, Korean academy where students study in the afternoon and evening), she was looking for a special activity for her middle-school kids. Something fun and hands-on, that would interest the students.

"Natalie, how about teaching Hanji to my Middle-school students?"

I almost chocked. 

Me? The foreign girl? Teaching a traditional ancestral Korean craft to... well... Korean students? 

It's like asking a South-African to teach Canadian kids how to tap maple syrup.

I wanted to scream : "You're kidding, right?"

Instead I said : "Sure."

And that's how it happened. How I ended up leading my very first Hanji workshop with a group of 11 Korean Middle-school students.

HanjiNaty Hanji Workshop with Korean studentsWhat to teach them? And how?

I won't lie: I was nervous. And concerned. What can I possibly teach them? How can I make this workshop interesting enough? Different enough? Exciting enough?.... What kind of item can we make that would be suitable for them? and for me?....

After thinking of different options (pencil cases? hand mirrors? pen holders?...) I decided to make clocks with my students. I wanted to give them a canvas that was easy enough to work with - no need to struggle with the tiny corners of a pencil case, or the unreachable bottom of a pen holder - but that was big enough that they would have leeway to imagine, design and create something that is truly their own.

HanjiNaty Hanji Workshop with Korean studentsThat was really the goal of this workshop for me : show the students that Hanji can be anything, take many forms and really allow them to be creative, free-spirited and imaginative.

My beloved husband (and helper for the workshop) had the brilliant idea to use Roman numerals on the clocks. It'd be a very interesting thing for the students to learn, and it would allow them a lot of creative freedom, using color strips of different lengths and widths.

I was expecting that many of them had already done Hanji crafts in the past (it's a popular activity for Elementary school students in Korea) so I wanted to offer them the option of creating something different. There will be no pre-cut patterns, no limits in the choice of colors or designs and no strict indications: I wanted to let their imagination run free, and really see what they could do.

Time to get our hands dirty!

At the beginning of the workshop, the students were very quiet. They were listening carefully to my explanations, but weren't very reactive. 

I told them a little about me, my discovery of Hanji and how it became such an important passion in my life. Afterwards I told them about the clocks we were going to make: I insisted on the fact that they are completely free to do it anyway they want, with the colors they want, without any limitations.

I told them : "You will not hear You can't do that! tonight. Anything is possible."

And they we began! The classroom quickly became this beautiful, colorful mess, full of paper strips, tubs of glue, giggling and laughter. 

HanjiNaty Hanji Workshop with Korean students11 students, 11 very different clocks

HanjiNaty Hanji Workshop with Korean students
HanjiNaty Hanji Workshop with Korean studentsAs soon as we began handling the Hanji paper, I quickly realized how different the students were from one another. Their generic look (same hair cuts, school uniforms, dark-rimmed glasses) might lead us to believe that they all think and create the same way, but we couldn't be further from the truth. 
HanjiNaty Hanji Workshop with Korean students

Each and every one of the students took a different and unique approach. I didn't have two students who chose the same color for the background of their clocks; they all took different paths to make their own design.

HanjiNaty Hanji Workshop with Korean students
Some students took a classic approach and made very symmetrical clocks: they used bold colors, striped patterns and geometrical patterns.

Some students were ripping paper with their hands, creating very organic clocks, with many different colors and fantastic textures.

HanjiNaty Hanji Workshop with Korean studentsHanjiNaty Hanji Workshop with Korean studentsSome students went even further and added origami flowers, faces, rabbit ears and moustaches to their clock.One student even put the name of her favorite K-Pop idol band B1A4 on her clock.

Some students even decided to use a black marker to write directly on the Hanji paper! My first reflex was to stop them from doing so, but then I remember my own rule, anything is possible!

It was wonderful to see how, with the same material and the same square canvas (and a limited amount of time) the students were able to create clocks that were so original and different from one another.

What does Hanji say about you?

Even if I don't know those students well (I was meeting them for the first time the night of the Hanji workshop), in a few hours I was able to learn quite a bit about their personalities, characters and interests by looking at their work and, more importantly, by looking at them work.

HanjiNaty Hanji Workshop with Korean studentsSome of them were concentrating on their task, working carefully and silently, with their faces very close to the paper. Some others were chit-chatting among themselves, reacting to each other's pattern and color selections. A few kids casually asked for my help or my advice, while some of their classmates politely declined my offers to assist them in their work.

HanjiNaty Hanji Workshop with Korean studentsWhile I was teaching them, I was constantly thinking of my own Hanji teacher, who has always given me room to explore, choose and create. I know my choices of colors or patterns have often surprised or puzzled her, but she's never tried to slow me down. She never imposed her vision of what Hanji is supposed to be. I did my very best to give the workshop students the same space and freedom to create, while not insisting on the technical aspects of Hanji; I assumed they can learn that later, if they develop a real interest for the craft.

* * *

I consider this very first Hanji workshop to be a success. The students seem to be very happy and proud of their creations, and so was I! I really hope to have the occasion to repeat the experience in the future, with those students or some other ones. I strongly believe that giving the students a chance to express their inner creativity (through arts and crafts, as well as music, writing, dance or any form of artistic expression) is essential to their growth, not only as students, but as human beings.

It was also important for me to show them that Hanji can be a modern craft, despite its traditional roots. It doesn't have to be conventional; it's a versatile and timeless medium that can be used in some many ways! I wanted to let them experiment and show them that arts and crafts don't have to come from a kit, and most importantly, don't necessarily have to follow a specific pattern. You just have to give it a try, let your imagination run free and allow yourself to be inspired by the material.

And if, as their Hanji instructor, I was able to make them see that there are no limits to what a person can do when he or she really wants to invest himself or herself into it, then I'd be the happiest Hanji-loving foreign gal on Earth!

HanjiNaty Hanji Workshop with Korean students
Natalie, the eleven Middle-school students and their gorgeous Hanji clocks.