Ever since I saw the museum exhibit, Washi Transformed, about handmade paper and the artists who are using it as a base to create abstract sculptures, highly textured wall pieces, and dramatic installations, I’ve been exploring paper in my own studio.

Lately I’ve been learning about Joomchi, a 500-year-old Korean paper-making technique that uses water to seal several layers of thin mulberry papers together to form a single, strong sheet. The paper is first wetted, then aggressively massaged until the fibers are broken down or felted.

Paper made by the Joomchi technique is six times stronger than ordinary Hanji (Korean mulberry) paper. Historic examples have lasted for at least one thousand years. Joomchi can be treated like cloth and has often been sewn into clothing. Because of Joomchi’s strength and durability, it has been used for making functional items such as containers and wallets, and even for military armor.

My “teacher” is the book, Joomchi and Beyond (Beyond and Above Publishing, 2011) by Jiyoung Chung. My favorite pattern is layered, cut-out circles, as you can see below. For one of them, I applied a bit of gold foil. I’ve got plans to use hand-stitching, wax and other techniques to enhance these compositions. Now that I’ve got the hang of it, I’ll be obsessing about it for the next few months.

Stay tuned for more about Joomchi!