What is bojagi?

‌Bojagi is the traditional wrapping cloth of Korea. Bojagi typically takes the form
of a large piece of square fabric often used for carrying objects or wrapping.

The earliest surviving examples, from the early Joseon Dynasty period (1392–1910),
were most frequently used in a Buddhist context as tablecloths or for covering
sacred texts.

Bojagi used by the royal class are known as ‘Gung-bo’ and they typically took
the form of a single piece of embroidered or painted silk fabric.

Bojagi used by the commoner class are known as ‘Min-bo’.
A common type of Min-bo is the Jogak-bo which was created from scraps of fabric
left over from making hanbok, Korea’s national costume.

Today, in addition to still being used for carrying or covering items, bojagi is
increasingly appreciated as an art form.  Some have compared the art of bojagi
to the abstract paintings of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. However, I like to describe
it as the voice of the Joseon Dynasty’s common women whose craft has been
passed down to the bojagi artists of today who now tell their own stories
through the beautiful pieces of work.

What will you learn?

‌What do you make in the beginner’s class?

-  Aim to make 2 bojagi and 1 small item.
    This includes Dagwabo (covering bojagi ), Nine-Jogakbo (bojagi w/ Nine square patterns)
    and  Golmu (thimbles) etc.

-  Materials: selected Korean silk material from Gwangjang fabric market, Seoul and Meister Huh’s studio, Sangju.

What will you learn?

1) basic handsewing techniques for making bojagi such as the 'whip stitch',
    'running stitch', '3 decorative stitch'  and  ‘decorative edge stitch’ etc.

2) basic decorations of bojagi such as 'handle knot' and 'bat knot'.

You will learn and practice these basic handsewing techniques by making bojagi
and small items

Who is teaching bojagi?

‌Kia ora, I’m Wellington-based bojagi artist Moonhee HAN. I came to organising bojagi classes after presenting an exhibition on ‘Bojagi, Korean patchwork in Aotearoa’ at Thistle Hall Community Venue, Wellington, NZ from 30 July - 05 Aug 2018. The success of the exhibition brought a lot of new interest on bojagi in Wellington. The classes have been a lot of fun with lots of talks and laughs while we were learning and building handsewing skills for bojagi. We do not only learn of making bojagi but we also make small items such as Golmu (thimbles) and pin cushions. They immediately became the students’ favorites. The passion and enthusiasm of my students brought me so much joy. I decided to open new classes for new comers in a new place in town. Yay!

I was first attracted to the harmony of colourful segments found in bojagi around 17 years ago. I see bojagi as a bridge connecting the voices of women from the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910) to the modern women of today. Each segment represents a woman’s happiness, sorrow and dreams. As I connect each segment through handsewing, it brings me comfort.

Expressing one’s inner voice has always been an interest for me. The journey of exploring my own inner voice began when I studied 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson in my first year of fashion study at Massey University in 2006.

My study of Dickinson led me to start my own fashion label, Dickinson’s Room from Feb. 2013 till Nov 2016. After living and working in both London and Seoul I moved back to Wellington in April 2017.

Although I paused my fashion label Dickinson’s Room to move back to Wellington exploring my inner voice is still carried on through multiple segments of my bojagi. And now the journey is enjoyed by to my students as well. One of my students wrote on her facebook page;

‘My bojagi resembles my life. Diverse colours and segments were connected with my crookedly uneven handsewing lines. Although my skill is not perfect I love the harmony of the segments. It may not be pretty when you look at it closely but overall it is a beautiful piece of work. I learn loving my life more while I connect pieces together.’