I don't really share too much about my offline life on TIMI, but currently I'm in my last semester of graduate school to polish off my master's degree in international education. I always want to learn about how different countries and cultures approach the same general idea, and have decided to channel that interest into a post about DIY in other parts of the world.
So, today we have Allison, an American living and teaching English in South Korea. She's also the rhinestone-loving author behind the blog Lusting for Lavish. Read on to hear about her experiences DIYing in Korea, her hunt for the perfect glue, and her take on Korean style.
Where do you live in Korea? What is your city like?
I live in Bupyeong, Incheon, South Korea, which is just outside of Seoul. My area is pretty urban, I walk everywhere, and there are three subway stations within a fifteen-minute walk of my apartment.
Where do you shop for craft supplies in Korea?
When I first arrived in Korea about a year ago, I had no idea where to get craft supplies. A co-worker showed me a nearby art store. Art stores in Korea are much different than in the States. They have everything, children’s toys, car accessories, paints, posters, pens, papers etc. They are more like an office supply store than a craft store. In Korea, a craft store looks like a hodgepodge school supply mess. You pretty much dig for things. Sometimes you find what you’re looking for, sometimes you don’t, the stock is constantly changing. In one trip I bought, neon pink PVC, acrylic paint, scotch tape, file folders, and some cleaning supplies.
Allison's local art store
I couldn't find many of the DIY supplies I wanted in the local shops, so I did a quick Internet search and found an area called Dongdaemun in Seoul. Dongdaemun is a shopping district that has supplies for fashion, jewelry, and shoe designers. The first time I went, I got rather lost. Dongdaemun Shopping Complex is multiple warehouse-sized building with several floors.
Picking out trim in Dongdaemun
I have found some favorite vendors for my DIY supplies. I always buy rhinestones for the same people. I also buy chain from whom I like to call ‘the chain ladies.’ A few women sit behind piles of different chain, ready and waiting to cut the chain to whatever length you like. There is a language barrier since my Korean is very limited, but that has never stopped me from getting the supplies I need.
The chain ladies
Are there challenges about DIYing in Korea?
Before I discovered Dongdaemun, I had difficulty finding the supplies I needed. I spent about a month testing different types of glue since I couldn’t find E-6000 anywhere. Now my biggest challenge is planning out my projects and writing out a list of supplies I need to buy. I’ve never been much of a planner, I’m more of a dive-in-and-start-creating type of person. Learning to plan everything out ahead of time has been a little rough, but a growing experience for me.
Rhinestones for miles
Do-it-yourself and crafting is not very popular in Korea. There are underground shopping areas everywhere that sell cheap knock offs of everything imaginable. I made really simple friendship bracelets for my Korean co-workers and they were completely beside themselves. They didn’t believe me when I told them I made the bracelets.
Where do you find inspiration for what you make? Do you find inspiration living in Korea?
I find inspiration from everywhere really. I like to take in every little detail of the world around me. I like to see when people are wearing. K-style is much different than American style. Koreans will mix some crazy patterns! Young Koreans are very fashion forward, they take great care in the way they look. I am also addicted to Pinterest. I’ve had an account for about three years! I follow tons if designers, bloggers, and magazines. I am constantly searching Pinterest for DIY-able fashion.