Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ahn Kum-Joo, My Korean Bojagi Teacher

When I returned to South Korea a second time, I knew I wanted to learn bojagi (Korean quilting) and chasu (Korean embroidery) but finding a bojagi teacher was another matter. I was lucky to find Kum-Joo through a friend who knew her through the SIWA organization. SIWA is an organization in Seoul which offers classes in all sorts of things to ex-pats and it is where Kum-Joo taught bojagi lessons members. She is also a teacher at the Icheon Global Center in Seoul.

The photo above is the first thing I made in class. We met once a week in my apartment in Suwon.  I was so impressed with her English. It is not an easy language to learn and she spoke and understood it very well. Kum-Joo always brought all the materials needed for each project. She also brought samples that she had made to show me what we would be making. And then the stitching would begin with her watching and instructing me to make sure I was doing it correctly. The time flew during those hours and I couldn't wait till the next lesson.
                     These are some of the amazing things I made under Kum-Joo's guidance.

These thimbles had a lot of steps to complete them but they were so much fun and I feel like each one is a little work of art. Kum-Joo also included the instructions and patterns so that I could make them again when I returned back to the States.

I also took chasu (Korean embroidery) lessons from Kum-Joo. Korean chasu uses very thin silk thread and is incredibly difficult and time-consuming. I had done embroidery in the past but not with silk thread and not with just two strands. It takes a lot of time to fill in areas and to make them look great. Kum-Joo was a great help in instructing me.
This is another one of my chasu pieces. It was one of the first ones I ever did and I love how great it turned out all thanks to my teacher, Kum-Joo.
Here are some things that Kum-Joo made and brought to show me. When you see what she has made, it makes you want to work hard and make the same things.

I couldn't believe the chasu shoes she brought one day. She did the chasu flowers and then had a shoemaker make the shoes. They were so beautiful.

As you can see, Kum-Joo is very talented in bojagi and chasu. She also holds a Master's degree in Cultural and Arts Administration from Kookmin University in South Korea. She taught and lectured not only in South Korea but in the United States and New Zealand. She has had her work appear in numerous exhibitions where she received several awards. And if that wasn't enough, she is also certified in maedeup (Korean knotting) which is a beautiful addition to bojagi.

I highly recommend Kum-Joo as an expert teacher in bojagi and chasu. Any organization throughout the world would be very lucky to have her teach at their institution. She not only knows the craft of bojagi and chasu but she knows the history which is also fascinating to learn. If we ever got the chance to live in South Korea again, I would take classes from Kum-Joo. She is a wonderful teacher and I hope that you will get a chance to take a class from her someday.


  1. Hello! I am traveling to Seoul next week and would love to sign my mother up for a bojagi class with your teacher. Or perhaps if there's a school that teaches bojagi in Seoul? My mom speaks Korean, so there won't be any language barriers between them. Much thanks! PS- your bojagi is beautiful!

  2. Kaya, email me and I will contact KJ. Thank you!


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