Sometimes going one place leads me somewhere else. Like I went to a tea party and then ended up with a ticket to the Seoul International Handmade Fair. The Seoul International Handmade Fair was held at the DDP (Dongdaemun Design Plaza) and hosted a variety of small vendors selling the things they made.
With something like a handmade fair you never really know what exactly you’ll find. Since I was given the invite by a tea shop owner I was thinking it might be more food related but it really was a handmade fair. Almost anything that people had made themselves was set up in booths broken up into two parts. A Korean section that was huge and a much smaller international section.
I went with two friends, tickets were about 10,000won and my assumption that my invite was a ticket was correct. Our first stop was to get wrist bands. We were also given forms to fill out. Out of all the festivals and events I’ve been to I’ve never had so many forms to fill out. It wasn’t anything scary, it was just time consuming. We filled out the questionnaire when we got there, basic stuff: How did you hear about it? How many times have you been to this one specifically? What are your goals? Where are you from? Ect. Basic questionnaires. Then on the way out they stopped us again for another one: How much did you buy? What can we improve? Do you think you’ll come back? Will you tell your friends? How’d we do?
Things that can be improved: Oh boy was it crowded. It was difficult to stay in one spot and look at things when the crowd was also trying to push past and do their own things. More than once I had to walk past a vendor I was interested in looking at, wait for the mob of people behind me to pass and then go back. Or I gave up and kept going. It was only worse in the “food lounge” which was the only area in the giant place with anywhere to sit. And we went to this right after the Vegan festival so I was exhausted. (I wanted to finish some of my DIY’s to review before posting this, thus it being out of order.) There was tons of cool things to look at but all I wanted to do was take a seat somewhere and have a snack. But that was impossible in the small food vendor section where all the tables were packed. I didn’t want to wait in any more lines so we didn’t stay there very long.
There was plenty to look at from stationary, ceramics, art, fashion, tools and probably my favorite: DIY kits.
I decided to pick up an embroidery kit from Yvonnemorgun. I’d never seen embroidery before that added a 3D element to it with flowers and thought they were a gorgeous way to dip my toes in. Plus all the instructions are on youtube. They are 100% in Korean but pretty easy to follow along.
Almost everything I needed was included in the kit. There was plenty of yarn, two different size needles, 4 pink flowers, 4 pearl beads, twine, fishing wire and of course the hoop with a clear cloth through it so that I could immediately get to work and follow the pre-drawn pattern.
At first I couldn’t find the pearls but wasn’t too disappointed. However when I was finishing up I found them taped in a folded corner of the plastic which I thought was very smart since there’s a good chance when I dumped everything out I would’ve lost them. The only things not included that you need is glue and scissors.
The glue is to seal the back of the leaves and to hide the ends. The scissors is necessary to cut the string and the thread and to cut off the leftover fabric. After I watched the video doing the leaves wasn’t too difficult to figure out how to do. It was kinda fun. My biggest difficulty was making sure I had the correct amount of thread and not accidentally getting extra fabric caught in my needle. (Of course beyond trying to get thread through the eye of a needle.)
I’m pretty proud of myself. I didn’t have any glue to hide the end threads but despite that for my first completed embroidery project I’m quite happy.
My second DIY I got that I was pretty excited about was from i.art.the.world which makes a combination of two of my favorite things: paper art and travel. These kits do require a bit more work but you end up with a beautiful unique travel card to send people. I bought two: Seoul and Kyoto.
The process to make them is on the back of the kit but all in Korean. However there is an instruction video with English subtitles which can be found here. (She also gave me a paper in English with all the instructions.) It’s pretty easy to follow but you do need a couple things not included in the kit: an Xacto knife (utility knife), glue and something to flatten paper like a bone folder.
Once it’s put together it’s really beautiful and gives off so much more than a traditional postcard does. It reminded me of my bookmaking classes in college and I loved it.
However you have to be very careful while cutting since there are small parts that you may accidentally cut off. It’s not easy. Hours after cutting everything with my Xacto knife my index finger is still a bit sore. But it’s another project I’m happy with the result.
I have only completed one of them at the moment, but they’re so pretty. Other things I bought weren’t DIY kits. I bought two pins from Ongo. These two pins are based off of Korean folklore. First is Haetae is a folklore creature of protection (against natural disaster and fire). This creature is a lion with a horn. Because it’s a creature of protection it can be found around a lot of buildings and you’ll see plenty of statues of them in Korea.
The other was a Kirin which has the body of a deer, an ox tail and horse hooves. It is considered one of the divine creatures and can be found among royal and Buddhist art.
I also bought a candle from candlehaeyum which were quite beautiful with flowers or leaves stuck throughout the edges. I picked out a lavender candle which smells quite nice and thankfully burns straight down the center so I’m not as concerned as I first was when I lit it that I’d accidentally burn the leaves sticking out.
Overall I had a really good time at the International Handmade Fair. The international section was quite small but it was fun to see all the things people are creating and passionate about. Another interesting thing, was on the way out there was a recreation of a Pyongyang Supermarket. Pyongyang is the capital of North Korea, so it was very interesting to see.
Big thanks to my friends for taking pictures for me again. My camera is okay at the moment (thus the DIY project photos) but it refused to work that day.