A Dojang Of My Own

I know I’ve been very bad about updating my blog but I have a good excuse! I’ve been out discovering the world. For my honeymoon Matt and I traveled to Japan and Korea and had an amazing time. There are so many spectacular places to visit, foods to try, things to do, and art to be discovered! Before we headed to Korea there were a few things we looked up and knew we wanted to do there. One of those things, for me, was to get my very own dojang.
A “dojang” 도장 or a Korean seal (stamp/chop) is a personal stamp made of wood or stone. It has a legal effect and is the equivalent of a personal signature in official documents.  I of course, would love to use it for my artwork! We went all over different parts of South Korea hoping to find somewhere to get one made. The first place we found was in Insadong which is famous for its historical trinkets and souvenirs…but a single dojang was as much as $30-$45!
At first I was saddened, but then made the most amazing discovery! Closer to the end of our vacation we happened to make it to the Free (Art) Market in Hongdae which occurs each the Saturday March through November. We just caught it 2 days before we were leaving. There were a ton of amazing artworks and hand crafted items, (which you can read about in my other post), but among them was the coolest artisan of all!
This particular sculptor was making these dojangs for about $18. He worked by himself and even though his selection was not as vast as the “professional” table behind him, I can guarantee that his work was not only more superior but more invested in. You could tell he loved what he did, and I was so enthralled with the process that I wanted to share it with you.
Unfortunately I was not able to ask many questions as there was a language barrier, so I’ll do my best to describe what I saw. I do not know the type of stones that were used but it was a soft stone and some are done in wood as well. I chose my stone, gave him my name translation, and he set off to work!
To start with he simply wrote the letters with a pencil on the end of the stone. After that he began to trace those lines with a thin but sharp tool. He traced and retraced several times until the letters began to form on the stone. He brushed off excess shavings with a toothbrush and sanded the edges of the stone as well.
To create the outer area of the stamp, he had me draw what I wanted on the stone. I did a quick sketch and added my title “SoooGood” underneath my favorite panda Boom Boom! He quickly went on to minutely detail the stone with my exact rendering much to my delight. Then he put a dab of acrylic paint on a toothpick and rubbed it across the etching, the paint filled the gap and lightly colored the engraving…brilliant!
When the stone was completely finished, he took a photo of the piece, drew up a quick little thank you note, and did its first impression on a little paper that he gave me in an envelope. i must say that this was easily one of my favorite experiences and this stone is something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.
The artist’s name is Soh Soh Dol Bang (소소 돌방) and this is the only photo I have of his business card, so address :( sorry. But if you are ever in South Korea I would encourage you to find him and have one of your own made!