Enthralling Hanji Portraits by Yun Gee Bradley

Just wait until you see the wow-worthy paper art Yun Gee Bradley of Portland, Oregon creates with tiny fibers pulled from sheets of hanji, a Korean paper made from the inner bark of mulberry trees. I could only gasp the first time I caught a glimpse of one of her animal portraits and read the description. 

 

 

 

 

It's fascinating to scroll through her Instagram feed to see the evolution of her work the past few years as the process developed. Her most recent project is this incredibly realistic wolf. In fact, viewers often think they are looking at photographs rather than a textural art piece... understandable considering the soft detail of the fur. 

 

 

detail of wolf fur made of hanji paper fibers

After sketching a rough outline on an Ampersand panel for the base, Yun Gee glues individual hanji fibers in place with the aid of fine tweezers, a unique process that she developed. Each project requires 200 to 300 hours to complete.

 

tools used to create hanji fiber art with example of fur-like texture

 

She grew up in Korea and Hong Kong, and even as a young child enjoyed making things. Yun Gee never requested special art supplies, but would rely on whatever was at hand. Upon arriving in America in 1995, she used her computer to design flyers, brochures, and business cards for friends. 

 


portrait of pink and white parrot made of hanji fibers



Yun Gee studied authentic Feng Shui at the Blue Mountain Feng Shui Institute and utilized her newfound knowledge to further her design skills. "It made sense to me that there is a flow of energy in everything [and] that this concept could also be applied to graphic design. I taught Feng Shui and became a consultant, designing logos, business cards, and flyers for clients."


 

portrait of toddler girl with short hair braids made of hanji fibers
One of a series, Our Future, that Yun Gee created to remind us that there 
are so many children in the world that need our help.
12 x 9 inches

 

 

She and her husband made custom jewelry that they sold in his shop, but her world collapsed after the death of her son. After five years of deep depression, "a ukelele, the healing power of music, and my husband's encouragement brought me out of it." She designed charts to help memorize chords and found that the beautiful graphics made her feel better.

 

 

black and white dog portrait made of hanji fibers
photograph of black and white dog

 photograph for commissioned pet portrait

 

 

Thrilled to be creating again, she took an interest in hanji, which her cousin happened to be learning at the time. Yun Gee wasn't aware of this traditional Korean craft while growing up in Korea, but was drawn to its beauty, possible applications, and the meditative, joyful process of creating. 

 

 

paper portrait of elderly man holding lamb

male portrait in progress with tweezers and tiny paper fibers 

detail showing fiber size

 

 

She says hanji's characteristics of strength and beauty are "expressed in the old words, Silk lasts for 500 years, Hanji lasts for even 1000 years. You can make paper textiles, traditional jewelry cases, dishes—even furniture! Wanting to learn more, I traveled to Korea to work with a Hanji master."

blue and yellow bird with soft feathers composed of hanji fibers


Yun Gee told me that due to the pandemic, she was not able to make a hanji buying trip to Korea last year. Instead, she is now purchasing mulberry bark and making what she needs by dyeing it. (Curious what it looks like? I found a shop that sells mulberry bark.)



tiger portrait composed of individual paper fibers



Her work has been selected for juried exhibitions and she has promised to make a video of her process one day... I hope so as I would love to watch!

 

 

pair of rabbits made of paper fibers


Visit Yun Gee Bradley's website and Etsy shop. She also has an Art and Music shop where she sells music-related art prints.



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Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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Comments

  1. These are Gorgeous !! amazing art work

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    Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed seeing Yun Gee's art, Angel!

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