Thursday, February 05, 2009


My teacher's daughters made these one day. I think they are amazing. The charcoal is real.

I'm back in Seoul, and feeling so much better about my place. I did lots of cleaning and laundry today. I still have a ways to go in terms of figuring out a way to make it work for me, but I'm hopeful. I had lunch w/Hyesun at a place close to where we live so now I know a good place to go for simple broth. Which was perfect for today, a grey day that threatened to rain but then didn't.

Yesterday: finishing up a stab binding, doing final pictures and goodbyes, and then the long trip back to the city b/c there were lots of stops along the way. One was nice: my teacher took me to see the North Han River. One was less nice: being stuck in the car with his 8 and 10 yr old daughters for 1.5 hours in the basement parking lot of a hospital while he slept in the waiting room - they were running late upstairs. Meanwhile, the girls were pushing every conceivable button in the car (and navigation systems here also have a karaoke function, so I got to hear them sing a song about a cat over and over) and yelling for their father out the window. I was afraid the whole time that the car battery would die but didn't stop them from playing with the lights and windows b/c I felt just as stir crazy as them. It took me way back to days when my dad would watch my sister and me when my mom worked weekends at the hospital.

We finally got to the jiseung teacher's apartment and then, of all places, went to Outback Steakhouse for dinner. The story on this new teacher is both wonderful and tragic. He's a 3rd generation jiseung master - the pieces he showed me were impeccable. Insane, really. Like he said, there is nothing he can't make out of paper. But the sad thing is that there will be no 4th generation: both of his children were killed in their 20s in a car accident. He and his wife survived, though she sustained severe injuries. He used to turn down offers to teach abroad, wanting the craft to first take off in Korea, but now he sees that it would benefit everyone for him to bring more attention to his work. I'll see him next week to start lessons. I would love to bring him and his work to the US. But that's all far off. For now, I have lots of work to do. A lot of being present to be.

This story was the one that started the bonding process w/my papermaking teacher back early in January while we were feeding a fire to steam trees. I had actually looked for that jiseung teacher in the summer when I got to Korea, on a completely different lead from a neighborhood friend of a family friend. But when we got to the market where he had kept shop, we were told he didn't work there anymore b/c his kids were killed in an accident. I just figured it was a dead end and didn't think more of it. I also thought at the time that he made hanji dolls, not that he spun and wove. But when my teacher at the mill started telling me about his jiseung teacher, the story came out and it sounded eerily similar. Same guy.

I still have piles and piles of work to do, but managed to get more photos up after zipping through my midterm report for Fulbright. I added photos to the big set of everything at the mill here, but streamlined (since I would hate to go through 300+ photos) and made a small set of just me at the mill. Videos are still on the to do list since I have to edit them, but it's worth the wait!

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