What words come to mind when you hear “ceramics”? Some might say “Asian traditional pottery and bowls and cups.” Others might be reminded of the film <Ghost(1990)>, a renowned love story about a man who was killed and the woman he loves. In the film, the two leading actors are seen making pottery together at a spinning wheel. The situation is romantic and warm. This SMT reporter is sure readers will be able to recall the scene even if they have never watched the movie. This reporter wanted to experience the emotion depicted in the movie, so she decided to become Molly (the female lead of the film) and try her hand at ceramics.
Until just a few years ago, people had to experience making ceramics at Icheon Ceramics Villages or enroll in classes. However, today, ceramics cafés have been popping up around Seoul. In Hongdae alone, there are thirteen craft workshop cafés, where individuals can create their own ceramics. This reporter visited Café Jool, which is popular among people in their twenties through SNS. “Jool” means marionette string in Korean. The café opens daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m, but on weekends and holidays, it closes an hour earlier at 8 p.m. The instructor at the café recommends making a reservation if one wishes to visit on the weekend because it is usually crowded. The café offers guests two types of classes, a regular class for beginners and an intensive class for more advanced people. There is also a full one-day class, and that class is most loved.
Café Jool is near to Sookmyung Women’s University. To get to the café, take Bus 604 from the Hankyoreh Office and get off at Dongkyodong’s three-way intersection. It takes approximately 30 minutes to reach Dongkyodong. From there, walk on foot 4 minutes to the café, which is located in a residential area after passing several alley ways. It may prove difficult to find due to the complicated walk, so a map application will prove helpful. Upon entering the café’s main entrance, visitors will be greeted with a display of ceramics and pottery spinning wheels. The scent of coffee fills the atmosphere of the café and makes it cozier. This reporter had never tried making ceramics before, so her eyes were bright with expectation.
One-Day Class, a Day to Remember
There are three kinds of one-day classes. The “Hand Building” class allows participants to create a clay bowl or container (35,000 won), the "Hand Building and Jiggering” (50,000 won) is a second type of one-day class, and the last one is the “Ceramic Painting” class (18~28,000 won). This reporter registered for the “Ceramic Painting” class and paid 15,000 won more to try the spinning wheel, which would allow her to take home her creation. When deciding cup size, keep in mind that after baking, the ceramic cup will shrink. The Ceramic Painting class’s cost really depends on the cup or bowl the participate wishes to create, so one can expect to pay between 18,000 to 28,000 won. After choosing the desired cup size, the teacher brings with an explanation and a personal story that adds color to the experience. All classes take about two hours. Since the first ceramic is delicate, it is important not to grab the handle of the mug as it could come detached from the mug. If damage occurs, it will cost 5,000-8,000 won to replace it. The classes provide two types of pencil to draw for cups. One disappears when the cup is baked, but the other remains even after it baked. The paint color changes according to water concentration. Baking could cause fading, so this reporter recommends painting the same section several times. This reporter drew a red light house and added a background image of the sea. She also wrote a short note to remember the experience.
After satisfied with the painting and coloring, the next step was jiggering. The place for jiggering is next to the place where participants draw and color on the mug. Before beginning, the reporter had to put on an apron and then, she sat close by the teacher. The teacher supplies the water and a mud paste mixture. After pre-deciding the shape of the rice bowl she wished to create, she followed the teacher’s direction carefully because the teacher said that creating a vase is very difficult for beginners. Since this reporter was unskilled, she put forth too much effort, and the shape got twisted. However, with the teacher’s help and kind correction, she was able to successfully create a bowl. The experience proved to be more difficult than she imagined. After firing, participants need to choose the color they wish the bowl to be. This reporter chose black, but the options were black, pink, and ivory. The baking process takes about three weeks, so participants must record their names and phone numbers so that when it is ready, they are contacted to pick up the finished product.
This reporter recommends visiting the café on a special day when there is cause to celebrate such as someone’s birthday or an anniversary. Participants are encouraged to write special messages and drawings on the cups or bowls. To save time at the café, this reporter recommends thinking about the image you wish to put on your ceramics piece before registering for a class. Also, participants should cut their fingernails before going because long nails hinder your ability of spinning wheel and can cause flaws on the item you are creating. The café gives participants 1,000 won discount on coffee and tea 1,000 won if they have registered for a ceramics class. How about doing something different this autumn by creating a ceramics piece while enjoying a cup of tea?