Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Wrapping up

In my first week with Mr. Shin, we climbed into one of the loft areas to look at hanji that would be good for jiseung. While that high up, he pointed down to note that he had made colored paper, too. It's not natural dye but he said one summer when he didn't have a ton of work, he made this paper. There is still a ton, and all good fiber (he only ever uses premium paper mulberry bark from Korea). They're not solid colors but has longer fibers that are dyed different colors. I ordered a bunch on my last day, of course. To have colored hanji options from him?! No brainer.
While counting out some of his very precious taeji (freshwater algae hanji), I tried to shoot him doing the special move for counting paper (you grab from the bottom and then fan them all open), but my stupid phone had stopped responding the way it usually did and I had given up dragging my regular camera around, so I never quite got it documented the way I wanted.
This was so fun: on one rainy Friday, Kim Dae-seong brought his wife (standing), and his mother and national ICPH father (of fan making), Kim Dong-sik, to visit Mr. Shin! I felt like I was watching an incredible confluence of national ICPH as they discussed what type/weight/size hanji Mr. Kim would need for his fans (you can barely see it but he has a white fan sticking out of his left pocket in the lower left).
In this case, I was a cheeseball and asked for them before the Kim family left to return to Jeonju, to take off their masks briefly for a national ICPH pic. How could I not?
Kim Dong-sik, Shin Hyun-se, Kim Dae-seong
Mr. Shin showed me this bark scraping knife. VERY different from what I've been using!!
But then he said, you don't need something like that at all, and pulled out the knife that he has had forever that he said is the best bark scraping knife. It's totally worn down from so much use and sharpening.
I think either later that day or the next, Mr. Shin's longtime mechanic/builder/guy who builds a bunch of his equipment came by to fix the hog in the vat. It was VERY noisy and I really wished I had earplugs. A couple times I just ran away from all the loud hammering. But it was great to see in person that relationship: everyone needs a make-it, fix-it person.
This is hard to see but at the very top center of the bal (screen), you can see how the splints are pulling apart and the cloth is sticking up a bit. The bal is super strangely made where if you fold it in half at the center line, it's totally not square. But if you measure both ends of the bal, it's exactly the same size. This made it really hard for me to align all of the sheets freehand, but a really good way to practice, since you have to be able to account for any bal discrepancies.
I really wonder about how this road that cuts right near the mill is going to affect them once it's done and open to traffic.
This was my walk back on one of the humid cloudy almost rainy days.
And the view from the bridge. The papermill would be right near where the mountain's left side reaches down.
My hosts were only a 10 minute (or less) walk away and this was the view from their home.
They grow tons and tons of plants to eat and also flowers for pleasure. I've never had so many fresh blueberries in my life, or picked them directly from the tree!

I was almost in tears after I left the mill on Saturday. We (Mr. Shin, his wife, and his employee) all were lingering at the end of the workday because we all know the farewell was imminent. This really was one of the most meaningful times of my life. Too many lessons to count and recount. I hope I can make some of the changes that would honor what I've learned.
On Sunday, my hosts generously drove me all the way to Tongyeong so that I could stay one night in the wonderful guest house where I stayed previously, and see my yeomjang (bamboo blind) teacher. His daughter and son-in-law were at the studio helping him and so was his wife, so it was really nice to see his family together. He still had a lot of splint pulling to do so he sent me next door to hang out with Bak Kyoung-hee.
I was so amazed to see the transformation of her studio since the last time I met her, less than two months ago. It looks gorgeous!
It was great to see her nubi work, which she clarified should not be called quilting, and hang out with her and her husband. When my teacher was done, he showed me the knives he had made for me and packed them up in his usual fastidious way before we picked up his wife to have dinner. After I went to check the bus schedule at the terminal, I headed back to the guest house to rest. The owner there was so kind and happy to see me again, and took incredible care of me to the end (she even had her husband drive me to the bus terminal the next day).
I had been craving her breakfast sandwiches, so I was excited to get one last meal with her before riding the bus to Jinju, where I met Dr. Lee for a final farewell. I arrived too early for lunch so we walked through a bamboo grove along the river after we went to visit a show.
It was a craft exhibit open for entry from any Jinju resident, and it was okay. It was fun to see botanical pressure printing combined with Korean clothing styles. After lunch and tea, he took me back to the bus terminal to catch the next bus to Jeonju.
I have a couple nights here before I leave for good, which means TONS of packing, shipping, and logistics. I took a break to have lunch and tea in a part of town near Mr. Yoo because I needed to pick up my new hanji bal and bal teul. The frame is SO MUCH LONGER than I remember the last one, which is going to be a huge bear because how am I going to get it home? Tomorrow I'll be asking my host a ton of questions about what to do about things too difficult to transport myself to Seoul, and how to dismantle my home for the last few months: do I take the pot home or leave it? Who gets the extra umbrellas? The bedding, ugh!
I think this is my eleventh salad here, which is always my treat near school. It rained a LOT and I was grateful that another professor in the office helped me ship a big box home today. Tomorrow I'll need to buy a new big suitcase to get everything to Seoul, and then back home.
But really all of this was an excuse to delay lecture prep! I know this is impossible to see and most of it is in Korean, but if you want to tune in to my zoom lecture in just about 25 hours, feel free to use this link (if it doesn't work, I'm sorry!). It will be Tuesday night 9pm Eastern Time aka 10am Korean time on Wed morning. I'll speak in Korean, but as with all of my talks there will be a ton of pictures and videos (and some English words sprinkled throughout).

Two weeks left, always bittersweet.

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