When it comes to giving someone a thoughtful gift, handmade items top the list; it’s even better when you make it yourself. In Korea, there are many craft studios throughout the country offering traditional crafts, such as masks made of hanji (Korean paper) or keychains with najeon (mother-of-pearl inlay). Unfortunately, these items tend to simply be placed on display where they gather dust. For a one-of-a-kind gift that will be loved and used daily, consider visiting a craft studio that offers a glimpse of Korean trends as portrayed through jewelry, perfume, or ceramic mugs.
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Franco Art Lab is located in an unassuming white building off a quiet backstreet of Gangnam. In comparison, the gold FRANCO sign out front and the rows of jewelry on display through the large window appear vibrant and active as they sparkle in the sunlight. Rather than being for sale, the jewelry on display serves as design inspiration for visitors participating in the crafting classes. While the studio is a member of the Korea Design Jewelry Association, crafters are encouraged to come up with their own unique creations, the studio’s motto being “follow your own star.”
The studio’s name Franco comes from the Spanish word meaning “truthful,” “open,” and “authentic.” Franco Art Lab aims to create a space where people can share their lifestyle through conversation and by crafting accessories that embody one’s style. The studio offers a variety of class types, from couples and pet jewelry classes to a longer term hobby class. Many Korean couples come here on dates to make matching bracelets or necklaces. If you’d like to make a matching set of jewelry, sign up for the One-day B-CLASS, which includes a necklace, bracelet, and set of earrings. Each class starts with learning about the materials and tools used in making accessories, along with the basic steps you will need before you start on your project, making Franco Art Lab a great choice for beginners!
Kim Jian Perfume makes and sells perfume in various fragrances, as well as offers classes on perfume making. The most popular class is the personalized perfume class, but other options include making a perfume with aroma similar to large perfume brands and the simple 10 minute class. Due to the nature of making perfume, the classes could even be considered a type of aromatherapy.
The personalized perfume class starts with testing ten different scents to discover which aromas you would like to use. Participants will write down their feelings for different combinations of base scent with touch scent. The touch scent provides the first hint of aroma before giving way to the stronger base scent. This process is repeated again to provide time to fully commit to one’s selected fragrances. After you have selected your base and touch scents, you must decide on the ratio and mix well, testing frequently. This is key to arriving at the perfect perfume, as the scent can smell different depending on the time.
Walking down a side street around Exit 7 of Samseong Jungang Station (Seoul Subway Line 9) near Starfield COEX Mall, you’ll come to a shop with a blue interior that brings to mind Santorini. The shop, La Lune, is actually an aroma studio that creates new and unique scents from mixing different aromas together.
At first glance, La Lune looks like a flower shop due to the plethora of dried flowers used in the items here. Craft programs at La Lune range from making scented wax tablets and candles to diffusers and aroma sprays. Making a wax tablet is the most popular program and only takes about 40 minutes from start to finish. In this program, participants select the aroma oil, dried flowers, and dried fruits they want to put in their wax tablet, which is formed using a mold. Because it dries quickly, it’s a good idea to plan your design before pouring the wax.
Ring Café 8 Gram is a popular craft studio among young couples and friends looking to make matching rings. The rates are reasonable and making a ring only takes about one and a half hours. All rings are made using refined silver, so people with metal allergies can still enjoy making a ring here.
The first step to making a ring is knowing your ring size. If you’re making the ring for yourself or someone you’re with, it’s easy enough to find your ring size within the studio; you’ll need to get the sizing info in advance if you’re planning on making the ring as a gift for someone else. Once you know your ring size, it’s time to move on to the next step and pick your ring style! After you pick the style you want, it’s time to start actually making the ring. Using a hammer and sizing tool, you must create the correct curve of the ring. After the shape is obtained, the repetitive work of shining the ring using sandpaper begins. Although it may seem difficult, watching the ring you are crafting become prettier and prettier will drive you on!
The pink sign of Studio Sslmo stands out among the other shops along Yangjaecheon-ro, a street lined with tall trees that seem to touch the sky. While the interior could serve as a pretty clothing shop or a cute stationery store, Studio Sslmo is actually a pottery craft room!
Studio Sslmo’s slogan is “Make it beautifully and use it happily.” The studio offers one-day classes for beginners and tourists, long-term lessons for people wishing to learn more, and also serves as a space for ceramic artists to share techniques and display their products.
The one-day class lasts about two hours, with instructions taught in a fun and easy-to-understand way. Participants can make a mug or freely create something on their own. The process requires repeatedly pouring liquid clay into a mold and letting it set. Because it takes approximately 20 minutes for the clay to harden between each pouring, the finished product can be considered to have a slow aesthetic. Participants can also choose the size of the handle they would like to attach, and can freely paint on the outside or inside of the mug for a completely personalized design.
* This column was last updated in January 2020, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.