Warm, heartfelt gift ideas for Christmas
Bliss of handmade craft at 'Key'
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Christmas is a perfect time to prepare unique, handmade gifts for someone special.
“Key — New Artist’s Original,” located in Seogyo-dong, near Hongik University, is the ideal place to find gift items to share the Christmas spirit. Opened in July, the shop is an ambitious project of Living & Art Creative Center, the organization that operates Free Market.
Key is a combination of a small gallery and a shop, introducing young artist’s works for sale from paintings and digital prints to ceramics and plush dolls.
Manager Lee In-gu said he tries to explain about the artists and their works to visitors to the store.
“At first, we thought of putting up tags with details about each object, but we changed the plan to explaining things directly,” Lee said. “We don’t push the visitors to buy something but aim to introduce young, new artists and stories related to their works. For instance, illustrator Eun-mi’s dolls all have names, birth certificates and different personalities.”
Key offered classes for handmade objects for the holiday this week. On Tuesday, fabric artist Nuur taught how to make Christmas ornaments with felt to six attendees.
The participants excitedly drew patterns and snipped felt to make one-of-a-kind ornaments. Though the stitching was not even and neat, it was enjoyable for them to make something with their own hand.
An So-jin, who made a cat-shaped ornament said she learned about the event on Key’s website.
“I love handmade artifacts though I am not very good at craft. It is difficult to make such items on my own, so I like to participate in classes like this,” An said. “I will present this ornament to my cat.”
In addition to its regular collection, Key offers an array of small paintings and gift items for the Yuletide season from Saturday through the end of the year.
“In December, many people come to Key to buy something as a present but as all our products are artisanal and handmade, they are priced relatively high compared to manufactured goods,” Lee said. “So for the holiday season, we prepared a selection of more affordable artworks.”
For more information, visit www.welcomekey.net or call (02) 325-9955.
How to make felt ornament
1. Draw the shape of the ornament you want to make on a sheet of paper. If it is composed of more than two colors, draw pattern for each color separately.
2. Cut out the pattern from the paper.
3. Trace the pattern on felt and use scissors to cut two copies of the shape from the felt.
4. Decorate the front side of the ornament with a variety of glitters, beads and buttons.
5. Fasten a ribbon for a hanger on top of the ornament and hem the two sheets of felt together, only leaving a small opening to put in cotton wool.
6. Fill the ornament with cotton wool. For narrow parts, use a long needle to push cotton wool into the space.
7. Sew up the opening.
Spice up your coffee-loving friends' morning ritual
By Noh Hyun-gi
Coffee making is a daily ritual for many. Each fashion of brewing brings out different qualities of the magical beans, often marking the start of a day.
It is easy to use automated coffee makers for the sake of saving time, but manual coffee makers have great charms.
So this Christmas, surprise friends with a coffee maker of your choice. They come in limitless sizes and shapes. Here are some gift ideas for your coffee-loving friends, starting with the simplest.
A French press is made up of a cylinder with a lid and a plunger. The plunger is a metal rod which has a round filter made of fine wire at the end that fits tightly in the cylinder.
One puts coarse ground coffee (two millimeter particles) and near boiling water in the cylinder. After letting the mixture sit for about four minutes, press the plunger down slowly and firmly.
The press allows for the extracted coffee oil to remain in the liquid because it does not use a cloth or paper filter which absorbs it. Therefore, the final product is full-bodied with a deep aroma.
While the final taste depends on the type of bean and water-to-ground ratio, one can influence the taste by varying the speed and pressure when pushing the plunger.
A moka pot is a stove top coffee maker made of three basic parts, a bottom container, a filter funnel in the middle and a top container, connected by a column.
The device makes coffee by boiling water in the bottom part on a stove. As the water heats up, steam pressure pushes water via the column through the fine ground coffee packed in the filter funnel.
The result is coffee that contains much more caffeine and flavor than a hand-drip in the top container. The coffee has crema, a foam film on the surface as an espresso does.
Though the basic mechanism of a moka pot and an espresso machine is the same, espresso machines shoot water through coffee at a much higher pressure.
However, it is recommended that one remove the pot from the stove once a gurgling sound is heard. An Italian tradition recommends you put a spoon across the top container for the perfect cup of coffee.
Though moka pots were traditionally made with aluminum, much controversy surrounding the endocrine disruptor induced from boiling water in the metal, gave rise to stainless steel pots.
But they are rather high maintenance. Rubber seals that connect the funnel and the top part need to be replaced periodically and cleaning all the parts can be tricky.
Making drip coffee requires a bit of patience and a few items.
Set a drip cone, usually ceramic and with one to three holes at the bottom, on top of a serving pot and place a paper filter inside it. Put ground coffee with an average size of one millimeter (coarser than the grounds for a moka pot, finer than those for a French press,) inside the cone.
Using a drip pot, a pot with a long nose which allows one to dispense water with great control, start to drip water until the coffee foams up. Then drip water on the coffee in a circular motion adding more water to the center of the circle than the outer edges.
The water seeps through the ground beans, and coffee percolates in the pot placed underneath.
Hand-dripped coffee is smooth and crisp but because the water moves through the grounds slowly, the level of caffeine extraction is low.