Here’s the thing – I have a soft spot for crafts (right under meat and music). I have also inherited my mother’s love for flowers. So when Trazy.com, an English-friendly tour booking website right here in Korea, offered a class to make your own fragrant flower wax tablets, I jumped at the chance. Crafts? Check. Flowers? Check. Really. What more does a girl need?
I also decided to bring my friend Ali along since she likes to do crafts. I figured this was right up her alley.
The workshop is located near Saejeol Station on Line 6. Just go straight out Exit 2 and keep walking until you see a bridge. When you cross the bridge, you end up looking out onto the river – try not to have a Titanic moment. Once you cross the bridge and turn right, you have to pay attention. Ali and I made the mistake of chatting as we did and we ended up completely missing our turn and getting lost in the neighborhood. Luckily, the owner was able to direct us back to the workshop.
What’s A Wax Tablet?
The workshop itself is very subtle, titled ‘Joy Academy’ in bold, black letters. However, it wasn’t until we walked in that we knew for sure we were in the right place. The entire place smelled so fragrant, wafts of floral scents engulfed us as we made our way to a big table where there was another girl waiting for the class as well.
There were four of us in the class and we sat around a table, where our teacher went on to give us each a cup of tea. Ali and I both chose vitalizing tea. She then went on to show us a slide show she had prepared to explain what the class was about.
The fragrant flower wax tablets are pretty self-explanatory: they’re wax tablets with bits of dried flowers in them, mixed in with a fragrance of your choice. Each person had their own place mat with the necessary tools, an apron, and three silicon molds for the tablets. I noticed mine were the only ones separated but that later turned out to be a good thing.
Before we actually went on to make the tablets, the teacher explained to us a little bit about what they were in general. These tablets reflect the beauty of the person inside and the creative mind of each individual maker. The motto of the class was: Beauty-Creativity-Network, which means that the best creative thinking stems from human interaction, rather than solitude like so many believe.
Choosing Our Fragrance
The first step was to pick our scents. The teacher brought out a huge basket with about twenty bottles, each labeled with their scent in both English and Korean. What I thought was pretty neat was that each scent is categorized into seven main groups: citrus, green and herb, floral, fruity, woody, Korea, and brand type. When you looked at the descriptions, the names make sense. According to the teacher, the citrus is popular in the summer because it’s tangy and refreshing, but people lean more towards the sweet, fruity scents in the winter.
After that, we were all given the time to smell each bottle and choose which three scents we wanted. I ended up choosing Bamboo, White Jasmine Mint, and Peppermint & Herb. There was one bottle called ‘sake’ that I almost chose just because of its name, but the smell itself was surprisingly fruity, which I don’t lean towards.
The teacher told us a lot of foreigners like the scent “bamboo” because it reminds them of the East. Can’t blame them. It smelled so clean and soothing. After we chose our scents, we were told to write the names of the scent along with the date on one of the label stickers she had given us.
Choosing Our Flowers
Next was picking the flowers and arranging them in our silicone molds. She had given us six each, three of which were so we could arrange the flowers in advance and figure out a pattern. She brought out this large tray with all sorts of flowers on it, both dried and preserved. My eyes were immediately drawn to the cluster of lilac and yellow flowers in the front. There were also some dried roses in the back that I wanted, too.
Before we began, the teacher emphasized that each flower has their own unique appearance and color – there is no right design. It is entirely up to the creator and as long as they are satisfied. This was nice for me to hear since I tended to stress over the creative aspects and its need to be “perfect.” She also assured there was no time limit or rush, so to take our time as we chose and arranged our flowers.
This turned out to be a very good thing because I actually had a hard time deciding which flowers I was going to use together. I kept coming up with more and more ideas and having to pick up the flowers and put them back. But, as the teacher said, there was no “right” design but what I wanted to do.
I finally settled on three designs that I ended up being pretty proud of. I immediately knew which flowers was going to go with which scent.
Making the Tablets
Next came the actual tablet-making. So while we were picking and arranging the flowers, the teacher had been off to the side, melting the hot wax. She explained it had to be at a certain temperature, 85 degrees C or 185 degrees F, for us to be able to work with it.
After mixing in the scent with the wax in separate paper cups, we then went on to pour the wax into the silicone molds. We then had mere minutes to take our giant tweezers and put the flowers into the wax. However, if you make a mistake – no worries! The teacher had this cool-looking hot air gun, kind of like a blow dryer, to re-melt the wax and allow you to rearrange the flowers and fix anything you didn’t like. Ali actually messed up so badly that she had to start over, but the teacher had plenty of extra hot wax on hand for her to start an entirely new tablet so it worked out just fine.
There was one moment while the teacher was helping me with mine that she noticed I had used some of the rose leaves, apparently not many people did that. Creative innovation, for the win!
Once we were all done making them, the teacher took them away to put them in the fridge so they could cool. Meanwhile, we were going to stain our wooden frame to display one of the wax tablets.
Frames For Our Tablets
She explained it was important to have the wood be a darker color so that the white wax tablet would stand out more. She brought out a small pot of eco-friendly wood stain and we went to work! The process itself is fairly simple; you take the sponge with some wood stain and brush it all over the frame. The nooks and crannies were a little difficult, but we got there eventually. Of course, we weren’t just going display the tablet on any ole piece of wood. A special item calls for a special background. And the studio delivered.
The teacher brought out what is called hanji paper, the traditional paper of South Korea. It’s made with the bark of a mulberry tree and its sturdy, durable property allows it to lasts hundreds, even thousands of years. Traditionally it was mainly used as screens on windows and doors, it is now used as decoration for things like lampshades and fans.
I know all this because we watched a short clip about hanji, including its history and how to make it. What I found interesting is that the process also allows the maker to put in extra things that is normally not found in regular paper. One of the sheets the teacher brought out had insect wings and another had bits of flower inside of it. It’s fascinating to think that it took so much to make something so thin, but useful.
We each got to choose a sheet to glue onto the back of the frame, this would be the background the wax tablet would be displayed against. I, naturally, went for the ones with the flower petals inside – I’ve always been extra like that.
The Finishing Touch
And finally, the fun part – peeling our wax tablets out of the molds. The teacher had put them in the fridge to cool and they were now solid enough to take out. And this is when I realized the fact that mine were separated was a good thing. I didn’t have to worry about breaking the other tablets as I peeled the mold away from one.
Now you’d think the whole looping a ribbon around the holes of the tablets would be the easiest part but nope! At least not for me, Ms. Long Nails and Stubby Fingers. This was especially true for the one you’re choosing to display, since the ribbon has to be a lot shorter. But I got it eventually and the teacher is always on hand to help.
And finally, we’re done!
Just kidding. We can’t forget the other two tablets.
Luckily, this teacher thought of everything. Not only did she prepare a wooden frame so we could display (and smell) our wax tablet but she also had gift box cutouts so we could fold our own gift boxes to put the tablets inside. That’s why she had us write the names of the scents on the stickers earlier. It was a ready-made label for each tablet so our loved ones would know what it was when we gifted it to them.
This also took care of the dilemma I was contemplating this whole time: what am I going to do with two extra tablets? Well, now I have two Christmas gifts taken care of! Yay!
All in all, the class was fun in a calm, relaxing way. It was small, but that allowed the teacher to give us the individualized attention we all needed and more flowers and supplies for us to use. Thank god I had Ali with me, though because then I had someone to help me choose which flowers (I cannot make decisions to save my life) and the experience is always better with a friend. Thank you, Trazy.com for allowing me this experience and I can’t wait to try out more craft classes in Seoul.
Make sure you book your Make Your Own Fragrant Flower Wax Tablet class soon!
Check out our other Trazy adventures below!
This experience was sponsored by Trazy, but all opinions are our own.