The global centers around Seoul offer many free or low cost craft classes to foreigners. This fall, I’ve taken advantage of five classes. It’s been fun making these crafts and meeting new people.
Hanji 한지 business card holder:
Hanji is Korean paper, made from Mulberry bark. We used glue (made from rice) to stick the hanji to cardboard cutouts. It was a little hard to work with because the hanji is so thin and easy to tear.
We used Korean ink to paint a paper fan.
Zipul 짚풀 straw grasshopper cage:
This class was taught at the Museum of Korean Indigenous Straw and Plant Handicraft (whew!). We were first given a tour of the museum (houses thousands of straw pieces, including ancient straw shoes, egg cartons/holders, and even armor). We made the (mini) grasshopper cage with only bits of straw (no glue whatsoever). Apparently grasshoppers only know the direction up, so as long as you trap a grasshopper and hold the opening pointed downwards, it will never escape. You can keep the grasshopper around and listen to the rhythmic chirp (like an ancient radio?).
This class coincided with the special celadon ceramic exhibition at the National Museum of Korea. We were given lumps of clay and could make anything we wanted… I should have thought about what I wanted to make (before the class). Because I had no idea where I was going with my design, I ended up with a weirdly-shaped coin dish (maybe?… no idea what it’s supposed to be). We glazed our creations and picked them up later (after they had been fired).
I was really excited for this class because I’ve been looking for a silver pendant with an “M” on it. I was surprised to be handed a packet of silver clay (mostly silver, with a bit of clay), that we were supposed to shape into our pendant. We were given X-Acto knives and tiny pieces of fine sandpaper, to come up with our designs (to be imprinted into the silver clay). It took a bit of effort to cut the “M” into the sandpaper. Many of us rolled the clay too thin, so they were very hard to handle. We had to “set” the clay with heat (hairdryers) and were told we could pick up our pendants later (after they put the pendants through a blowtorch- to burn off the clay, and polished them). Unfortunately, my pendant broke (where the hole for the necklace loop is) because it was so thin. I’m pretty upset, so maybe I’ll try this class again next time.