If you love paper, if you are sympathizers or students, This is the article for you because you will discover some interesting news. Some time ago I wrote a post about the work of american artist Aimee Lee, who conducted studies on the production of hanji (Korean paper) e sulla particolare lavorazione denominata jinseung. Qualche giorno fa sono stata contattata dall’artista per l’uscita del suo nuovo libro, dedicated to processing of Korean paper and I was lucky enough to be able to “chat” with the kind and friendly Aimee. The book is called “Hanji Unfurled: One Journey into Korean Papermaking” edito dalla the Legacy Press, I leave you here with the result of our talk, the article is long but I assure you that you will find it interesting, all photographs have been kindly granted by the author and can be found in the book. At the end of article ’ all links where you can find jobs by Aimee Lee.
When the book was published? How’s it going on your book tour?
Hanji Unfurled was published in October 2012. The fall leg of my book tour was great! I was able to visit Boston, Providence, and Washington, D.C. to teach, lecture, and meet new and old friends. The Boston Paper Collective, Paper Connection, The Artists Loop, and Pyramid Atlantic Art Center were my wonderful hosts. Along the way, I was able to meet more artists, papermakers, librarians, teachers, students, and paper enthusiasts. An old college friend surprised me by showing up at my Boston class, and I was also happy to see friends and colleagues from the book arts world at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair where I did a demonstration. I sold out of all of the books that my publisher shipped to D.C., which was very gratifying.
How did you become aware of Korean paper?
I first learned about Korean paper as an undergraduate at Oberlin College in a Chinese landscape painting art history class. We visited the Allen Memorial Art Museum to view painted scrolls that they had just acquired, and the curator noted that the paper on one of the scrolls was from Korea because Chinese painters often preferred using Korean paper.
Why did you choose to study and do research on the processing of hanji instead of other types of paper, such as the Japanese?
My parents were born and raised in Korea, immigrated to the United States, and met in New York, where I was born and raised. My heritage is Korean, so I naturally was interested in various aspects of Korean culture, especially because I grew up in America at a time when there wasn’t a big focus on Korea. I also felt that the Korean papermaking tradition was in more danger of disappearing than the Japanese tradition. Other scholars and artists like Sukey Hughes and Timothy Barrett had already done significant research on washi (Japanese paper), and wrote beautiful and well-received books on the topic. Japanese paper, generally, is much more well known than Korean paper. I wanted to go to the place that needed my research more. Most importantly, I speak Korean, so I could do my research more effectively in Korea than in another country.
What are the characteristics that best represent paper produced in Korea?
There is a huge range of paper types and characteristics, so this can be a challenging question! The paper I was interested in researching is made in the indigenous Korean tradition, which means that the sheets are large (about 63 x 93 cm), laminated (meaning that they are actually two sheets that are pressed and dried together as one sheet), and have no dominant grain direction (because of the way they are formed). They are also thin, translucent, and very strong when wet. When made from high-quality bark from the paper mulberry tree, the final sheet has a silky sheen from the shiny fibers. In essence, Korean paper is tough, but beautiful.
In traditional Korean paper assumes a very important role, what it was used in the past?
It was used in daily life, spiritual rituals, as tools for the literati, and even in war and death. As I outline in my book, hanji was fashioned into books, clothing, furniture, armor, baskets, wallets, hats, umbrellas, shoes, sewing boxes, chamber pots, wallpaper, floor paper, and window and door paper. This is just a fraction of the possibilities and uses of hanji.
Today it is still used?
Yes! It is still used for artwork, calligraphy, government documents, books and sutras, and widely used in various industrial design applications.
Increasingly, designers choose to use paper (and its derivatives) as a “new” material. Do you think the hanji has possibilities as a material in modern design?
Of course! It is already being used that way in interior design, furniture design, fashion and jewelry design, and even as a way to help those who have allergies and sensitivity to chemicals. It’s funny to think of paper as a “new” material when it is well over 1,500 years old in Korea.
I know that, as a teacher, you organize and keep some interesting workshops. What do you teach your students?
I provide a mix of techniques for my students based on the capabilities of the spaces where I teach. In Cleveland at the Morgan Conservatory, where I built the first American hanji studio, I teach traditional sheet formation. At other locations that do not have the equipment for full-scale hanji making, I teach students ways of using both hanji and the bark of the paper mulberry tree with methods of paper manupulation from the Korean tradition. They learn to make bark lace and bark thread, felt and texture paper (joomchi), make paper yarn, and cord and weave paper (jiseung). I always travel with lots of samples so students can see the wide range of possibilties of hanji, like a traveling museum that fits into a suitcase.
Thank You Aimee!
Book: Hanji Unfurled: One Journey into Korean Papermaking
book trailers: youtube.com