From the Artist
Kim Eunkyung, pen name Jicheon
| Director of the Ottchilme Studio
| Vice chair of the board of the Korea Ottchil Association
Growing up, each time I grew a span of a hand taller, my mother would unravel the sweater that I had outgrown and put the wavy wool into a cauldron . Once steamed, the wool became pliable like the branches of a willow tree, and she would connect the old yarn to the new to make a new sweater. My sweater grew up each year as I did.
I found myself fascinated with the art of ottchil at the age of fifty. The color of ottchilware gets more vivid with use and its function is easily recovered with an extra application of lacquer, even if the ware is cracked or chipped—a quality that evokes warmth, like the old sweater my mother used to knit. Ottchilware had a texture that resulted in a smooth, beautiful gloss I hadn’t seen in any other type of varnish, so I found myself more engrossed in unlimited possibilities of ottchil as I studied the art of traditional Korean lacquer. Especially, I focused on the combination of ottchil and paper. Our ancestors have long used paper ottchilware because it weighs next to nothing and also has a high level of resistance to water and decomposition. Unfortunately, the tradition of paper ottchilware has almost disappeared, but if we revive the art of paper ottchilware with our traditional paper hanji, I believe it could become a traditional crafts that Korea can proudly present on the global stage. Furthermore, a good combination of ottchil and paper will provide a vast array of applications for necessities in everyday life as an eco-friendly, natural material. My knowledge of chemistry from my days at the college of medicine and the guidance of professor Kwon Soonseub who is well-versed in lacquer trees and ottchil theories helped me to understand these utilities of ottchil, and based on the understanding, I was able to pioneer the art of traditional Korean lacquer as the first Korean with a doctoral degree in ottchil arts. Also, learning the art of weaving and twisting hanji from the traditional Korean paper craftsman Kim Gyung opened my eyes to paper ottchilware. I would like to extend a heartfelt gratitude to the two teachers.
I opened this studio with the hope of promoting the countless possibilities and applications of ottchil, as well as those of lacquer paintings and ottchilware. I would like to revitalize a precious, old Korean culture of cherishing items for daily use, and finding and cultivating simple beauty in them through the medium of ottchil. If I could make a little contribution to this effort, there would be no greater joy than that.