First, I may have to explain Hanji a little. Hanji is a traditional handmade paper from Korea, typically made from Paper Mulberry (dak) trees. Lots of functional and artistic pieces can be made using a combination of Hanji, a sort of cardboard/wood base, and some hanji paste (it's corn starch paste, or wallpaper paste). This craft is used to make lots of exquisitely beautiful pieces, my favorite of which simulate wood grains and staining by using a combination of black hanji paper, wrinkled layers, and a bleach water solution.
I'm not nearly that complex in my hanji crafting, so we'll settle for a very un-Korean version of this craft. Since I also promised a step-by-step process of this several months ago, I'm going to go ahead and make this a two-in-one post. Will that make it long? Very likely. Am I sorry? Only partially.
Several months before you want to make your project, put together the hanji paste.
Okay, not really, but it'll take a day or so for the paste to reach the right consistency. I just happened to prepare my large batch of paste back in June, and the jar has been waiting patiently in my fridge for me to pull it out and use it.
From the research I've done, hanji paste is very similar to wallpaper paste so that might work for you. Some people who want to save a buck make corn starch paste, but I've noticed that it will dry very opaque and you will lose some of the color or print of the paper you use.
For my particular batch, I used 1/4 cup of my powder and added it to about 3 and a half cups of water. Did I do exact measurements? Nah. The important thing is to have enough water-to-powder that it'll thicken up, but not be too watery or end up too grainy. How will you know if it's too grainy? After you mix everything in so it looks mostly homogeneous, let it sit for 30-45 minutes and come back. If you see grains, kind of like you can see in the sides of the jar in the picture above, it needs a little more water.
Now this batch is more than enough paste to last you for several projects. I highly recommend you make a master batch that's slightly thick in consistency. That way you can portion off smaller bits and thin it out with water as needed, and using dark colors like red or black won't stain the entire batch of paste.
One very messy work space.
Hanji paper in whichever colors you plan to use. I also used some of the colored printer paper because I didn't have one of the colors I wanted to use. For those of you curious, it was orange.
Some sort of glue to put together the base kit. You can see the kit in its neat little packaging near the small Gatorade bottle. Some people use wood paste. I used a glue that I got from Doorihanji in Insa-dong.
A hanji kit. You can get a variety of kits in Korea, from small pencil holders to large, functional tables or drawer sets.
Something to cut the paper with, like an exacto knife or scissors.
Brushes to paint the paper on.
Entertainment in the form of music, videos, drinks, or another person's company.
A dog to beg for cuddles while you try and work. For best results, make sure it's a great dane mix that you're dogsitting for a week. That way the poochie is tall enough to get all. In. Your. Business.
A writing utensil to trace/mark things.
Start putting together the kit. Mine didn't come with instructions, so I was left to flounder a little and figure out how the pieces were intended to go together. Some of these kits will come with basic diagram instructions, which can make it even harder to figure out where the heck that one extra piece you have is supposed to go.
Because the finished product has very tight spaces that would be hard to decorate with paper when fully put together, I opted to start putting on my paper before I finished gluing my project together.
While the project is drying, pick out the colors you will be using and cut them down to an appropriate size for the sections you'll be decorating.
I picked red, purple, and green for the inner boxes. For the outside, I picked black with a decorative accent on each of the longer sides.
This part I wasn't able to take pictures for was the actual application process. My hands were full and covered in paste. LOL
To 'paint' on the paper, you have to coat the paper in the hanji paste, then press the paper to the areas of the craft that you want colored. For thicker papers, you need to coat both sides of the paper. For thinner, one side should be enough to soak through. Once you have the paper applied, use a brush, your fingers, or any utensil you want to work the paper into any corners you want to fill and work out and wrinkles that form. I'm a fan of how the project looks when the paper wrinkles a little, so I didn't put much work into straightening the paper out.
This is how it looked once I had finished applying the paper. As you can see, I decorated the piece of the kit that I hadn't yet glued on so the inner compartments would be completely decorated when I glued the side on.
While that dries, cut out and prepare the decorative elements for the sides of your pencil holder.
I made two ginormous pumpkins and four bats. For the pumpkin stems, I glued on some leftover green hanji paper.
Once the paper dries, use an exacto knife or scissors to trim off the extra paper.
Glue the rest of the kit together and voilà, the kit is put together! Now to finish painting the paper on and putting the decorating elements together.
Glue on the pumpkins and bats to each side. I traced the pencil line to make sure I placed my bats and pumpkins so they would be visible once I covered the longer sides with the framing the kit had.
While the pumpkins and bats dry, paint on the black paper to the frames.
While the frames dry, paint on the black paper to the bottom and sides of the kit, skipping over the decorative sides.
While the black dries, paint a thinner cream paper over the decorative paper. My hope was to mute out the colors and add a spiderweb effect over the entire thing.
If you're curious about the bare white on the sides, never fear! It will be covered by the frames!
While your project dries, take some time to take pictures of the poochie you're dogsitting and give her lots of love.
Once the project dries, glue the frames on the sides. I made the pieces look seamless by reapplying my paste to the excess edges of the black paper and ripping the edges before brushing them down onto the piece. I'll show a close up of the effect later in this post.
As you can see, the cream paper ended up being too opaque so I had to mess with it a little to get the effect I wanted.
I reapplied the paste to the paper and scrubbed it with my fingers, thinning out the paper with the hope that the design would show through better once dried.
It took a couple attempts, but I finally got the final product to a point I was happy with.
This was the end result of me ripping the edges of the black paper before smoothing down the paper. This is usually used when two same color edges overlap to smooth out the lines. If two different colors overlap, the lines are much cleaner. For my project I decided to keep the lines messy to add to the Halloween feel of the product.
I also took this time to cover any leftover areas with black paper, like the top of the dividers.
This was the final product before I started the finishing process.
What is the finishing process, you ask?
First apply 2-3 layers of the hanji paste. This is to prevent streaks from showing up in the final product.
Once those layers dry, apply two to three layers of the lacquer. I have a glossy lacquer that I prefer, so that's what I used here.
When applying the lacquer, you have to wait for each layer to dry completely before applying the next one. See the bubble on the top of the purple section of the holder? That's what happens when you get impatient and move on to the next section before the lacquer has completely dried. Darn you, bubbles!
The final result!
I had lots of fun making this piece and will very likely continue using this beyond the fall/Halloween season.
It definitely has a rugged, handmade look to it. I'm okay with that.
Unfortunately, I have no new fall melts to share with you guys. I'm wary of melting anything while we're dogsitting. I don't want the poochie to have any reactions to what I melt! I should resume melting by our next Fall Fun Series post!
Please don't forget to visit these other lovely ladies participating in this fall series and read their contributions!
Amanda at Thrifty Polished
Ashley at The Bohemian Sassenach
Hayley at Polished At Heart
Jaybird at The Candle Enthusiast
Jessica at The Meltdown Blog
Julie at The Redolent Mermaid
Lauren at LoloLovesScents
Sandra at Finger Candy
Stephanie at Imperfectly Painted
Sunnee at Our Sunny Life