Artist Breathes New Life into Traditional Fabric

      September 08, 2014 08:17

      Ramie cloth used to be one of the most popular fabrics in summer due to its breathable texture, but over the years the popularity dwindled as it takes a lot of effort and care to maintain.

      Now it is mostly limited to traditional Korean hanbok or traditional patchwork quilts, but a young designer is breathing new life into ramie cloth in the form of fashion accessories.

      Kang Mi-na's collection is created only by sewing ramie fabric but features extraordinary angular shapes and stark color contrasts that make the pieces look like modernist paintings. Detailed needlework reflects the time and effort put in by the artist.

      Kang earned both her bachelor's and master's degree in metal craft, and her relationship with ramie cloth did not start until three years ago. Following the advice of her supervisor at university that she would need to find something unique to stand out in her field, Kang looked for new materials and found some ramie fabric in her mother's basket of fabric cuts and threads.

      Her mother's hobby was making traditional crafts such as tie knots and patchwork quilts. "I was attracted to the lightweight materials in beautiful colors. I had never seen any work using this material, so I thought if I do it right, it would be refreshing and get good results," Kang recalls.

      "I struggled a lot because I was doing everything for the first time. There was no reference point, and I had to go through a long period of trial and error as I had to think about what to do, and try it over and over again."

      "Because everything needs to be done by hand, it takes a long time. Small works take one or two days, but some take more than two weeks. Because so much efforts goes into making one and I feel so attached to it, I'm not overjoyed when my works get sold."

      Kang said she likes sewing. "Once I sew with a needle, I enter a state of freedom from all thoughts and ideas. I feel very calm as if I'm in a world of my own. I like it that way, so I think this type of work suits me."

      Kang may try something different in future. "I'm still looking for new materials and trying different things. Traditional materials interest me a lot these days. I'm keen to revive traditional materials with a modern twist."

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