Uniqueness of Korean paper formation
In contemporary Korea, two formation techniques coexist. One is referred to as We Bal and the other, Ssang Bal. These are commonly used colloquial terms but few other names exist. We Bal is also called Se Ro Tteu Gi or Heul Lim Tteu Gi. Ssang Bal is often referred to as Ga Ro Tteu Gi or Ga Deum Tteu Gi. These names reflect different points of view on either the mould shape/orientation or the formation method. How these terms came about is explained below in detail.

Much knowledge has been shared about Ssang Bal and Washi (Japanese paper), paper made from this technique, has enjoyed world wide popularity. However, almost no information has been available about Hanji or We Bal technique outside of Korea. Very small number of papermakers continue this tradition of We Bal, which requires highly intensive labor and virtuosity. We hope this website opens up new opportunities to share the unique vision and spirits of artisans that make these fine traditional handmade papers.


Looking at mould shape and orientation: LENGTH vs. WIDTH
Se Ro Tteu Gi, another name for We Bal technique, refers to the orientation of the Tul (mould) and Bal (screen). Se Ro means 'length' and Tteu Gi translates to 'formation'. Korean traditional Tul and Bal is longer than it is wider and the length extends away from the papermaker. Two front corners replace handles. Also, there is no top frame or deckle to contain the stock during formation.


Korean traditional mould

Screen sits on a mould with no top frame

In comparison, Ga Ro Tteu Gi, another name for Ssang Bal technique, utilizes a mould which is wider than longer from the papermaker's perspective. 'Ga Ro' means 'width' and 'Tteu Gi' translates to 'formation'. It has two handles and the screen is in between the top and bottom frames. In formation process, the stock is contained within the top frame.


Ssang Bal, Japanese style mould

Screen sits in between the frames

Looking at the difference in formation method: FLOWING vs. CONTAINING
We Bal
We Bal (Heul Lim Tteu Gi) is an indigenous formation technique of Korea. It refers to the way fiber mixture 'flows'(Heul Lim) across the screen. The papermaker holds two front corners of the mould, which is suspended by only a single string, and starts with a fast dip towards him. He then quickly tilts the mould to discharge the water off the opposite end. From here, he starts a multiple set of dynamic side to side movement until a desired thickness is formed across the screen. Every papermaker has a unique rhythm and sequence of movements: some are very dynamic and atheletic, while others are graceful and almost dance-like. The number of dip depends on each papermaker's experience and intuition as well as the proportion of fiber and formation aid to water in the vat.

We Bal formation process


This Heul Lim ('to flow') method allows the fibers to accumulate in a crisscross formation without a dominant grain direction. This formation technique typically yields sheets ever so slightly thicker at the papermaker's end of the screen than at the opposite end. Therefore, to create a paper of even thickness, the papermaker rotates the Bal end to end every other time before couching. This results in a strong and even sheet. These two layers -Yin and Yang - are then dried as one. Even a thin sheet of We Bal paper is composed of two layers. Korean term for such paper is Um Yang Ji (*we will call it Yin Yang Ji since the term 'Yin Yang' has already been widely adapted in English.

Another characteristic that distinguishes We Bal paper is the chain line. The chain lines in Korean Bal do not run the entire length of the screen, but end in the middle and shift alignment for the other half. This prevents chain lines from overlapping and weakening that area of the paper.


We Bal: chain lines alternate

Ssang Bal: chain lines run all the way

Fiber formation in multiple directions, two layers in one sheet, and alternating chain lines are all special attributes of Yin Yang Ji , which make it a distinguished hand made paper.


Ssang Bal
Ssang Bal (Ga Deum Tteu Gi) is generally known as Japanese formation technique. 'Ga Deum' refers to the way stock is 'contained' in the top frame to form a sheet. The papermaker holds two handles and starts with a dip towards him, and then gently moves the mould left and right until a desired thickness is formed across the screen. Excess water is then discharged off the opposite end from him. Ssang Bal method yields sheets with a definable grain direction and chain lines that run end to end.

This method was widely adapted by Korean Hanji makers in the early 1900's and refined over the years. Ssang Bal papers made by Korean artisans have been exported back to Japan for several decades. Due to higher productivity and continuing demand from overseas market, Ssang Bal technique has become an integral part of Today's Korean handmade paper industry.

Ssang Bal formation process