I have no doubt that the wonderful people I have met in Korea are helping to shape my impression of this land. I have met so many unique, kind, and fascinating individuals during the few short months I have been here. The kindness of strangers means so much more to me now that I am in a country full of strangers. These positive personalities in my life brighten the world around me and make this an even more enjoyable experience.
I made one such friend during my first month in Korea. I was perusing the purse selection at the PX on Yongsan Army Garrison when a fellow purse enthusiast, Marisa, approached and we began making small talk. Our small talk progressed to exchanging contact information, which led to Facebook messages, and then, finally, to an outing. During our day date, we found that we share the same frustrations with headbands leading to headaches, a love for photography, and the same birthday. It’s weird how the world brings people together sometimes, isn’t it?
We have decided to explore some of Seoul’s themed cafes together, and for our first adventure visited Mustoy Cafe near Hongik University. Many of the themed cafes are simply fun to visit for the decor, but Mustoy is unique in that it is an interactive art cafe. The purpose of the cafe is to bring a little more art and color into everyday life. Each patron may purchase a Mustoy, which is a small ceramic doll, and decorate it in any way that they choose. The starting price is ₩15,000, which includes the Mustoy, unlimited use of markers, and a drink of your choice (the iced tea was fruity, sweet, and delicious!) You may either choose to take your Mustoy home, or dedicate it to the shelves of other Mustoys that line the wall.
There are a variety of Mustoy to choose from, the basic Muskky (male) and Musppy (female), baby Mustoy, colored ones, one shaped like a cat, etc. Marisa and I both chose the basic model, but I didn’t realize I had selected the male version instead of the female version. (I just pretend his male parts are an outtie belly button!) First we used piece of paper to do a brief sketch of our Mustoy; it’s best to go in with a basic plan, but my final product was slightly different from my sketch. We were given our tea, Mustoys, a basket of markers, and the freedom to create! The basket of supplies included a small bottle of rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, and tissues that can be used to erase mistakes (which I used quite frequently).
My design for my Mustoy is inspired by myself; very modest, I know. I decided to dress my ceramic Bethany in yellow and purple, two of my favorite colors, and accessorize her with a little camera. While I have always enjoyed art, I’ve never put the effort in developing any true skill; therefore, my Mustoy is not the the most artistic creation that cafe has seen, but I was quite happy with it. Where some may see a slightly off-center face, I choose to see her as looking hopefully to the future. Without even discussing our designs with one another, my companion chose to have her Mustoy wear a camera as well! As we drew and colored our Mustoys, our conversation would lag at times because we were so concentrated on our project. It’s shockingly difficult to draw on a round, ceramic doll!
We loved our time at Mustoy. It was very therapeutic to focus my attention on designing and coloring. The lady working while we were there was so kind and helpful. She told us about how she can deduce a lot about a person’s personality simply by the way they approach and create their Mustoy.
Looking at all the previously created Mustoys was almost as much fun as making my own. There are some very creative people who have visited the cafe. Some of the designs were so unique and special; some incorporate aspects of famous works of art; others depict pop culture icons. There were a few that were so creative that I couldn’t help but wonder about the inspiration behind them. Here are a few of my favorites:
Aren’t they fun? The cafe is worth visiting just to view these tiny works of art (although I still highly suggest you make your own Mustoy!) It was such a fun way to spend the afternoon, and I now have my Mustoy proudly displayed on my desk. Marisa and I plan on visiting more themed cafes in the future; I can’t wait to see where our cameras will lead us!
PS: My partner in art for this adventure, Marisa, includes Mustoy creating as just one of her many talents. Check out her blog for more!