DVD Review: Youngmin Lee’s Bojagi “How-to”

Lee Bojagi DVD CoverJust what are bojagi?

They are wrapping cloths – used to cover, protect or carry a variety of items.

Korean women of all social classes developed bojagi into meaningful forms of aesthetic expression during the Chosun Dynasty (1392-1910). Bojagi were used by royalty as well as by the common folk. They were made with silk, cotton, ramie and hemp fabrics. They were square, or almost square, in shape – to accommodate the functions of wrapping, covering, folding, protecting as well as carrying.

Designs were printed, embroidered, quilted or constructed. The patchwork-constructed bojagi, characterized by distinctive geometric patterning, are the most popular in the contemporary art world and among textile artists whose medium is needle and thread. Their appeal seems to come from the way the small scraps of usually very colorful fabrics are stitched together to form larger cloths that echo modernist painting.

Lee Trad bojagi fr Asian Art Museum

If you want to know more about – and how to makebojagi, check out Bojagi Wrapping Cloths: The Art of Korean Stitchinga recently produced DVD by SDA member Youngmin Lee, a San Francisco /Bay-area artist. Lee explores traditional and contemporary hand stitching and seaming techniques in this informative and instructive 2-hour video.

A main focus of the video is on the patchwork wrapping cloth, which is arguably the most distinctive form of Korean textiles plus the one made and used by most Koreans – past and present.

Lee bojagi P#1 Yemulbo

In an introductory historical overview, Lee delves into identifying the types, purposes and materials used in the making of bojagi found in early Korean culture. She relates these traditional practices to the wide-spread appeal of bojagi in the 21st century while identifying and demonstrating seams and stitches used to compose her sample projects.

Lee bojagi LACMA workshop 4

The first 2 segments of the video describe 6 basic stitching techniques: whip/overcast, running, backstitch, pinch and 2 decorative effect stitches and 2 seaming methods: flat fell and French. In every instance, Lee provides information and demonstration of how each is practiced.

Lee bojagi LACMA workshop 3The final 3 parts of the video are project-oriented. In these teaching and learning segments, Lee further demonstrates how to connect seams and stitch techniques to create a gift-wrap bojagi, a covering bojagi and an all-over patchwork patterned bojagi.

She shows the design process, sometimes with graph paper, and repeats her demonstration of the techniques, thus reinforcing the basics of the sewing and stitching. To complete these bojagi, Lee highlights complementary finishing techniques, i.e., adding decorative corners and borders, making straps and attaching backs.

Of particular interest is the fact that Lee does all the sewing and stitching by hand, keeping her ancestors’ historically-referenced handiwork alive in her contemporary creations – and in what she imparts to anyone wishing to make their own beautiful bojagi.

Her step-by-step instructions and hands-on demonstrations make Bojagi Wrapping Cloths: The Art of Korean Stitchingan important visual resource for both the novice and the established needle artist wanting to learn more about making Korean wrapping cloths.

Lee #8 Sukgosa bojagi

Bojagi Wrapping Cloths: The Art of Korean Stitching DVD may be purchased via Youngmin Lee’s website or via Youngminlee store on etsy.com

SDJ_Summer2014_Cover_600pixelsScroll down the DVD page on Lee’s website to view an excerpt of the video, produced by Studio Galli Productions and sponsored by Slow Fiber Studios.

Use your purchasing power to benefit SDA! Click to amazon.com via SDA website to buy this DVD. A small percentage of the sale will go to SDA – at no cost to you.

View a sample of Surface Design Journal Summer 2014 issue (shown at right) that explores Korean textile arts – East & Westhere. Youngmin Lee’s work is featured in eXposure section of this issue.

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MaryRuthSmith headshotMary Ruth Smith (Ph.D.) is Professor of Art at Baylor University (Waco, Texas) where she teaches in Fabric Design concentration of the BFA program.

Smith is also an exhibiting artist whose work has been included in numerous international and national exhibitions throughout her 37-year teaching career.

1 Comment

  • Jack Brockette says

    August 19, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Mary Ruth. What a beautiful review of Youngmin Lee's DVD. It is really a wonderful DVD and Youngmin is also a wonderful person. She is so dedicated to teaching and showing people how Bojagi is really done.

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