One Artist’s Audacious Pursuit of Traditional Korean Hanji

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In Korea, there’s a saying that “Good silk lasts 100 years, good hanji lasts 1,000 years.” Hanji, a special paper, is made through a complex, centuries-old process that combines mulberry tree pulp and hand threading. Aimee Lee, a Korean-American artist, received a Fulbright fellowship to learn the craft in Korea.

image/text credit: Great Big Story 

There, she studied with master hanji-maker Jang Seong-woo. Despite being a male-dominated practice, Lee excelled.Her perseverance, audacity and aptness for hanji impressed her mentor so much, that he now refers to Lee as a colleague.

image/text credit: Great Big Story 

Today, she’s the leading hanji weaver in the United States, and has dedicated her career to teaching others this ancient Korean practice.Korean paper or hanji is the name of traditional handmade paper from Korea.

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Hanji is made from the inner bark of Paper Mulberry, a tree native to Korea that grows well on its rocky mountainsides, known in Korean as dak. The formation aid crucial to making hanji is the mucilage that oozes from the roots of Hibiscus manihot.

Aimee Lee is an artist, papermaker, writer, and hanji researcher. She was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to research Korean paper making techniques, and she is the author of the book Hanji Unfurled published by The Legacy Press.

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