Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Visit to the Jeonju Hanji Museum

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to meet Manuela, an energetic Brazilian gal who has a true passion for handmade paper. She is currently pursuing Graduate studies in a University in Japan, and her research focuses on traditional Japanese paper making.

Manuela had the brilliant idea to contact me via this blog before coming to Korea on a 2-week vacation, to ask me for some suggestions on how and where she could get familiarized with Hanji paper while visiting Korea. I was thrilled to hear from her!

It is always so exciting for me to meet and discuss with other paper lovers, who have a passion for traditional methods and crafts. (If it's your case, please do not hesitate to contact me!)

After exchanging a few emails, we decided to organize a little meet-up in Jeonju, where we could visit the Hanji Museum together, and pay a visit to my beloved Korean Hanji teacher.

Welcome to the Jeonju Hanji Museum

The Hanji History Hall
Jeonju Hanji Museum
The Jeonju Hanji Museum is located in the industrial complex, in the neighborhood Palbok-dong in Jeonju.

It isn't the type of museum that you can naturally stumble upon while exploring the Hanok village or downtown Jeonju; you will most likely need to take a taxi or a city bus to get there (a link with directions to the museum can be found at the bottom of this page).

The Museum is very beautifully designed, and the majority of the signage is translated in English, which is a rarity in Korean museums! It makes the visit very pleasant and informative for foreign visitors.

The Museum also offers a comprehensive English brochure, and an English version of the "History of Paper" short video (projected on a Hanji screen in the Hanji History Hall) is also available.
The Different Sections of the Museum 

The Jeonju Hanji Museum is divided in five different sections :

  • The Hanji History Hall
  • The Hanji Future Hall
  • The Millenium Hanji Hall
  • The Planning Exhibition Hall
  • The Hanji Reproduction Hall

The first part of the Museum, called "Hanji History Hall", is dedicated to the history and evolution of paper, and more specifically, of Hanji paper. Some beautiful artifacts can be seen in that section, including very old Hanji boxes and pieces of furniture, antique paper scrolls, and calligraphy documents.

Clothing made of Hanji paper and fibers are on display
in the Hanji Future Hall of the Museum.
The second section, named "Hanji Future Hall", is devoted to the multiple uses and usages of Hanji.

You will have a chance to see some outstanding products made of Korean Hanji paper paper, including clothing, artistic sculptures, hair accessories, scarves, vessels, dishes, decorative boxes, shoes, ties, handkerchiefs, etc.

The range of items made with Hanji is truly amazing! The section of the Museum illustrates beautifully the multiple strengths and characteristics of this unique material.

Here are a few pictures of the different items you can see in the Hanji Future Hall :

The third section of the Museum, called "Millenium Future Hall", contains a small auditorium (for video projection) and a space for workshops, and for welcoming groups of visitors.

The different types of Hanji paper are also on display, and the visitors are invited to touch the diverse kinds of Hanji, to feel and see the differences between them.

It is very instructive, but unfortunately the indications on the different types of Hanji paper are only available in Korean.

The fourth section of the Museum is an exhibition Hall that welcomes temporary exhibits. When I visited the Museum back in September 2014, an exhibition of drawings by local university art students was there for us to admire. The students drew portraits on Hanji paper, and the results were truly beautiful! A lovely selection of complimentary postcards was also available for the visitors for the duration of the exhibition.

To reach the fifth and last section of the Museum, called "Hanji Reproduction Hall", the visitors are invited to go down a "green house" staircase, under which different plants are happily growing. Visitors can see the beautiful green mulberry plants, the raw material at the very base of the fabrication of traditional Hanji paper! I felt that this brief walk in a very green and lively environment was a very nice touch in the Museum visit.

In the "Hanji Reproduction Hall", visitors have a chance to see and touch the raw material used to make Hanji paper. Every step of the paper making process is well explained and documented, and you can see the tools, raw materials and instruments used to make the paper.

At the end of the path, the visitors are invited to make their own sheet of Hanji paper, using traditional techniques. The Museum staff is very kind and helpful, and the hands-on experience is very pleasant! The visitors can keep their own sheet of Hanji paper as a souvenir.

When the visit of the Museum is over, you can also browse in the nice Hanji Museum gift shops, where you can find a good selection of Hanji paper (sheets), as well as Hanji paper products: socks, fans, dolls, decorative objects, etc. The products offered in the Museum are of high-quality, and are reasonably priced.

A great visit... and a new friend!

I had a great time at the Hanji Museum; the visit was interesting, instructive and fun. The whole visit took about an hour, and it was definitely worth it!

I was thrilled to share my passion for Hanji paper with my new "paper friend", Manuela! It was very interesting and resourcing to spend time with someone who shares my passion and interest for traditional paper, and I walked out of the Museum reinvigorated and full of new ideas!

Thank you so much, Manuela! I cannot wait for our next adventure... wherever that might be!

Manuela and Natalie at the Jeonju Hanji Museum

More information on the Jeonju Hanji Museum

 Official website (in Korean only) :
➯ Information and directions (in English):
➯ Visiting Hours : 9am to 5pm, Tue-Sun (closed on Monday)
➯ Admission : Free

Friday, October 17, 2014

My Visit to the Seoul Hanji Culture Festival

Last Saturday (October 11) was another great "Hanji Day" for me. I took the earliest bus from Iksan to Seoul on Saturday morning; I arrived in the Capital City a little before 8am, had a cup of coffee and head over to Dongdaemun Market.

As you know, I cannot go to Seoul without paying a visit to the hundreds of vendors at the Accessory Mall! This time was no exception; I stocked up on wood pieces, plastic disks, barrettes, pins, super glue and other crafty goodies. Fun!

A visit to the Yui Art Gallery

Yui Art Gallery specializes
in fiber art and paper art.
After a nice lunch in the traditional neighborhood of Insadong, I walked over to Bukchon to visit Yui Gallery, a lovely art gallery owned by a couple of Japanese artists and beauty-lovers, whom I met at the Wonju Festival last month.

They visited my booth and we had a nice chat, and they even bought several of my Hanji patchwork coasters.

My HanjiNaty patchwork coasters are for sale
in the Yui Art Gallery, in Seoul.
A few hours later I was thrilled to receive an email from them, asking if I would accept to have them sell my handmade coasters in the gallery up in Seoul. Oh my! I was so excited, and very touched, and I immediately said yes.

They kindly invited me to visit their space, and I made sure to go there on Saturday, before heading to the Hanji Festival. I was delighted to see my Hanji coasters for sale, among other gorgeous handmade items.

The Yui Gallery specializes in fiber art and paper crafts; you can find a nice selection of handcrafted items including jewelry, stationery, framed pieces of art, decorative objects, boxes, etc.

I have never had my work displayed in a shop before, and for it to be in such a lovely and tasteful space, in the heart of Seoul, I couldn't be happier!

Now we just have to wait and see if they find a good home!

The First Edition of the Seoul Hanji Culture Festival 

The Seoul Hanji Culture Festival was held
in front of Seoul City Hall.
As I mentioned in a previous blog article, I was hoping to participate in the first edition of the Seoul Hanji Culture Festival; unfortunately, my work schedule didn't allow me to part take in the event this year.

Even if I couldn't participate as a vendor in the Festival, I absolutely wanted to visit Seoul for the occasion and see what that brand-new event had to offer to visitors and paper enthusiasts.

The Festival was held in front of City Hall, in the heart of Seoul. When I surfaced from the subway station, I wasn't sure I was actually at the right spot; there was no banner for the Hanji Festival, no balloons, and no greeting volunteers. There was a banner announcing a used book fair that was held in the same area, which made me wonder even more.

The Festival offered different hands-on activities,
including paper flower making.
Then I walked around and headed toward the line of white and green booths, and by looking on the overhead banner I realized I was indeed in the right place.

About three dozens tents were installed around the large green area; because of this odd configuration, the atmosphere of the Festival wasn't very festive. Visitors had to walk along the different rows of tents, around the large grassy square; it didn't feel very engaging, and the vendors were very far from each other, on both sides of the square.

A first section was dedicated to hands-on activities: visitors could make Hanji crafts such as dolls, lamps, brooches, and pen holders.

The second section was reserved to the paper vendors: people could purchase high-quality paper from Wonju, Jeonju, Andong and Yeju.

The third section was for the Hanji products vendors, artisans and artists.

High-quality Hanji paper, from Wonju, Andong, Yeju
and Jeonju, was for sale at the Festival.
Visitors had a chance to make Hanji crafts, including these lovely
Korean dolls, made of Hanji paper.

There was also a closed tent, dedicated to "the future of Hanji". Some vendors were installed in that space to introduce their products to the public : a special printer that can print on Hanji paper, traditional beds made of Hanji, and wallpaper and home decor items featuring Hanji paper.

There was also an interesting section called "Hanji Material Library", where people could see different types of paper up close, along with a few Hanji creations.

Meeting "my" Hanji people

I was happy to see some of the Hanji artists and artisans I met in Wonju a few weeks ago: the talented paper makers from Dong Yang Hanji in Yeju, the team from HanArt, and a few other vendors I remember seeing and talking with at the previous festival.

It made me feel great to be welcomed by my fellow "Hanji people", who seemed genuinely pleased to see me, and who remembered me and my work. I fell proud to be a member of this community, even if I am still quite new at it.

Unfortunately, I noticed quickly that their enthusiasm wasn't great, and that they didn't seem to have such a great time here in Seoul. There were only a few dozens of visitors on the site (despite the gorgeous weather on this Saturday afternoon), and the large site looked quite empty.

The Festival site was opened until 5pm on Saturday; some vendors appeared defeated, and packed up their booths as early as 3 o'clock. To see deserted booths, some of them filled with trash, was a little sad.

Nice discoveries

Lamps made by Kang Minji.
There weren't that many booths displaying Hanji items (we were far from the 300 vendors promised in the Festival brochure), but there were still very interesting items that are worth mentioning.

I bought several items for different vendors, and I really enjoyed the conversations I had with them.

Here are some of the most interesting discoveries I have made at the Festival :

  • The Hanji club of Yewon Arts University, called "Dr Hanji", had a booth at the Festival. They had very interesting items on display, including clocks made of Hanji paper.

  • Another vendor, called Kang Minji ( had fantastic lamps for sale. Awesome work!
Visit to see more of
Bok si-yoon's amazing work.

  • An artist and designer named Kim HyunJoo was selling flexible Hanji trays, in the shape of a tree leaf. Beautiful! 

  • EcoCNT was selling Tyvek(R) wallets, with gorgeous designs, including hand drawn city landscapes;

  • SYSCOM was offering wonderful Hanji stationery products, including memo note blocks, notebooks, letter sets and guest books;

  • The Hanji artist Bok si-yoon makes exquisitely detailed Hanji dolls, and the handmade costumes are precise replicas of the traditional outfits of the different eras of Korean history. Outstanding!

See You Next Year!

I was told that the venue might change for next year's Festival. The location was great, but the site itself seems inflexible (as far as hours of operation or use of the space are concerned), which created frustration and disappointment. Hopefully the Festival team will be able to find a location that is more suitable to this type of events (where all the vendors could be closer to each other, in order to generate a positive and festive atmosphere), and that will be available for the whole weekend (this year the Festival was held until Saturday only).

I am looking forward to participating in the Seoul Hanji Festival next year! I think it will be a great occasion to present my work to a large audience. Let's hope that the problems experienced this year serve as lessons, in order to plan and have a more successful event next year.

Gorgeous traditional Hanji dolls.

The Hanji clocks designed by the students
of Yewon Arts University.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The 2014 Seoul Hanji Culture Festival (First Edition)

While taking part in the Hanji Festival in Wonju last week, I found out that a brand-new Hanji Festival will be held in Seoul on October 9-11, 2014.

The theme of this first edition of the Seoul Hanji Culture Festival is "Hanji, emit its light"; this event wishes to communicate and promote the multiple qualities of Hanji paper, and its importance in Korea, as well as everywhere else in the world.

The 3-day event will occur at the Seoul City Hall Plaza, from October 9 (Thu) to October 11 (Sat). The opening ceremony, which will include a dance performance and a Hanji fashion show, will be held Thursday night. An open-air market, where visitors will be able to see and purchase a wide variety of Hanji-related items, will be held on Friday (10am-7pm) and on Saturday (10am-5pm).

I was hoping to participate myself in the Hanji market, but my work schedule prohibits me from taking part into the event this year. What a shame! Despite this disappointment, I will surely go to Seoul on Saturday to check out the market and visit the Festival site. 

I don't have much information about the Festival; you can check the official website (, but I have to warn you that the site has been unstable for the last few days, and the contents of the pages is solely in Korean. 

Once again, it frustrates and puzzles me to see that an organization that aims for the international promotion of Hanji can't provide basic information in English (or any other foreign languages, for that matter) on their website... Doesn't it defeat the purpose?

The only information in English I was able to gather is from a Korea Time article published a few days ago :

There is also a Facebook for the event (but the contents is only in Korean) : 

I will keep you informed if I can gather more information on the Festival !! If you happen to have any useful info, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

HanjiNaty at the Wonju Hanji Festival~~!

Natalie in her "HanjiNaty" booth at the 2014 Wonju Hanji Culture Festival.

From September 25 to 28 I had the chance to participate in the 16th Edition of the Wonju Hanji Culture Festival, held in the city of Wonju (province of Gangwon, in the northeastern part of South Korea).

This 4-day Festival is dedicated to Hanji paper, one of the treasures of Korean culture. During the Festival, the visitors could make their own sheet of Hanji paper, experience Hanji crafts, shop for handmade goods, Hanji paper and other Hanji-related items. There was also a Hanji fashion show and numerous musical performances throughout the weekend.

Hit the road at 4am

My husband Jason and I left Iksan around 4am on the 25th (Thursday), in order to reach Wonju early enough to set up our booth and get ready for our first visitors. We packed everything in our tiny car (including tree branches, countless bags and plastic bins, two by eight planks, etc.) and we enthusiastically hit the road! 

Hundreds of items were for sale in our booth, including
magnets, chests, boxes, pen holders, earrings, hair pins
and headbands, key chains and pendants, etc.
I was very excited, but equally anxious about the whole venture. Luckily my detailed planning paid off and we were able to set up our booth smoothly, without any missing items, panic moments or thrown tantrums!

Our first visitors came to meet us around 10:30, and I was excited to make my very first sale only a few minutes after opening my booth to the public.

There was a regular flow of visitors throughout the Festival, and it was especially busy on Saturday and Sunday.

The Joys and Frustrations of Being a Craft Show Vendor

Let me tell you right away : having a booth in a craft show is hard! I didn't expect it to be so demanding, both physically and emotionally. We spent long hours in our tent (from 9am to 10pm, for 4 days); it was very hot during the day, and annoyingly popular with mosquitoes at night.

My booth was nicely set up, with custom-made earrings boards
(with integrated lighting!) and items hanging for a maple branch.
One of the most important challenges that we had to face is the fact that we are foreigners in an Asian country, which means that a large number of Korean visitors were intimidated by us, or rather by the idea of talking to us; even if my husband is fluent in Korean, many visitors were taking a surprisingly large detour to avoid our booth. We tried to be as welcoming as possible, greeting everyone in Korean with a warm smile, but we unfortunately had a to struggle at times to attract people to our booth.

Luckily, many people were interested enough to approach and take a look at my items : Hanji paper earrings, hair accessories, coasters, plates, boxes, chests, pen holders, magnets, etc.

I met some fantastic people at the Festival, including this
wonderful little boy and his older sister.

Wonderful encounters

People were very curious about the fact that a foreigner is actually doing a traditional Korean craft! We had to answer a lot of questions, and face quite a few skeptical folks!

We took the time to explain where I come from and how I came to be a Hanji craftswoman; people were genuinely interested in learning about it. Often enough, the people who took the time to discuss with us left our booth with a HanjiNaty item in hand; I guess the conversation gave more meaning to the objects they were looking at.

During the Festival I had the chance to meet some wonderful people, including many Korean children with their parents, expats from Europe and North America, business people, other artists and craftsmen and women, including Masters in paper making and Hanji crafts. It was by far the most exciting part of this whole adventure: meeting wonderfully inspiring people, who are interested in sharing their craft and their passions, and who are interested in hearing about mine!

During the quieter times, I worked on some 
new patterns, for future projects!
I am very grateful to have had the chance to participate in this event; beyond the financial aspects of this venture, I truly feel that I have made connections that will open new doors along the way. I also really enjoyed the feeling of slowing making my place in a community of artists and artisans dedicated to Korean Hanji paper, and its endless possibilities.

Next Stop : Seoul !

During the Wonju Festival I found out that the first edition of the Seoul Hanji Culture Festival will be held in the Capital City next week! 

The Festival is scheduled for October 9 to 11, and will include a Hanji Fashion show and other performances, a Hanji Craft market and other activities. I was actually invited to join the Hanji market for this new event... Will I be able to participate? Stay tuned for more details!

People could enjoy different performances during the Festival,
including concerts and a Hanji fashion show.

More information on the Seoul Hanji Festival :

-- Official website (in Korean only) :
-- News article :
-- Facebook page :