Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Focus On: Beverly Wong Kleinjan

First I ran a post about journals and when I bought one a ran a product review on my chioce. Now I bring you the artist that satisfied my yearning for a handbound leather journal of my very own!

Full Name: Beverly Wong Kleinjan
Shop Name: La Paperie & Cozy: Handbound Books

Tell us about yourself. What makes you, you?
My name is Beverly. I’m 31, an avid bookbinder, artist, freelance writer, and bookworm, living and laughing on the east coast of Canada. I have a very patient husband (♥), three lovable but crazy indoor cats, a house full of books and journals, and various anthropomorphized appliances. When I’m not making things, I can be found with my nose stuck in a good book (most likely a well-loved classic), volunteering, wandering about nature on foot or by kayak with camera in hand, painting/drawing, viewing my multitudinous BBC period drama collection, singing, writing (in a journal of course!), drinking far too much tea, and engaging in lengthy conversations with my rather talkative cats.
Do you see yourself as an artist or craftsman or both?
That’s a good question that I honestly don’t know how to answer. I think the artist in me is what makes me want to create, and the craftsman in me makes me actually DO it. ;)
What made you want to be an artist/craftsman?
As a child I was always the 'strong silent type' preferring to be alone in my room, and always preoccupied with making things on my own - usually little books with drawings/paintings, and story boards. So this love of creativity has always been with me, and I've nurtured and embellished it over the years. I try to do something creative every day, even if it's only for a few minutes – whether it's working on a book, writing, photography, singing, or painting/drawing. It's what keeps me sane, I think. :) I left my day job at a newspaper and as a part-time English teacher to do what I love the most...create!
Why journals?
This love of creativity has always been with me, and I've nurtured it over the years. My love of books started at an early age. After reading The Diary Ann Frank at the age of 10, I started keeping journals, which I've done every year of my life since. I've always believed that "journal writing is a voyage to the interior." I remember collecting and obsessing over journals. And guess what? I still do! In my quest for the 'perfect' journal over the years, I decided to create my own, and share my love of the blank-book with others. That was a little over a year ago. Leather journals have always been my diary of choice, and so I engaged in a self-study of the craft. I spent about 2 months with my nose between the pages before I mustered up the courage to even try making something. As nervous as I was at the prospect of failure, I knew it was something that I would definitely love to do. Et voila! As soon as I had begun, I was hooked! After a few custom orders from family and friends, and at the suggestion of many, I decided to give my handbound books a wider wing-span, and offer them on my Etsy shop.
How do you see your style and what makes it unique?
Every book I create is special to me. I spend a lot of time pondering which quote to integrate into the journal’s collective “theme” because, ultimately, that literary figure will affect the overall design of the journal. To give an example, I will often pair a rugged distressed looking leather with a quote from Twain or Poe or Dickens, or a more refined camel or burgundy for Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte quote. I enjoy imagining what kind of journal they may have written in and, in turn, try to apply that to the books I make.
What's the most wonderful thing you've made? The oddest?
I think the first journal I ever made was the most wonderful thing I’ve ever made - to me, anyway. It was a far cry from a perfect prototype but it meant the most to me. After studying bookbinding for quite a while on my own, finally seeing the fruits of my labor was so exciting! I don’t think I’ve ever made anything odd, though...but there’s a first time for everything right? ;)
What inspires you?
Many things inspire me! With my journals I'd have to say it's my favourite classic authors and my great ardor for books in general. I can almost imagine literary greats of centuries past writing in handmade journals like these... Jane Austen writing notes as she walks in the pretty wilderness behind her house, annotating her next great work, Pride & Prejudice. Or a young Charles Dickens reminds himself in his journal to incorporate the comic villainy of Mr. Jingle in his first novel, The Pickwick Papers. Inspired by these literary masterminds, my journals' first pages pay homage to these outstanding writers and some of their best quotes! When it comes to my art, I'm inspired by the simplistic beauty that is in everyday objects and situations.
Tell us about your creative process.
I like to think about the kind of book I would love to use myself, and design journals and sketchbooks based on that. I personally love using leather books that inspire me. If there is to be a quote in the journal, I will first decide on the quote – all of the quotes I use are ones that have touched me personally. Then, based on the quote, the design of the journal revolves around that. Materials I like to use include: various kinds of leather and papers (recycled whenever possible), linen thread, bookboard, linen, buttons, ribbon, leather & cotton cord, chiyogami paper and other handmade papers, and of course ink from my printer to print quotes on the intro pages of my journals. I couldn’t live without my bonefolder!
How did you get on Etsy and where else do you sell?
I was doing a search for handmade goods on the net, and voila! I pretty much just stumbled upon Etsy and I’m SO glad I did! I also sell wholesale to a handful of boutiques and giftshops around the world. Describe your shop.La Paperie & Cozy is a small home based one-woman bindery by the sea, in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada. I love creating unique handbound leather blankbooks for the unabashed book lover! Each book is made with a lot of love and attention to detail. My books are often inspired by favorite authors and classic literary greats. I also offer prints of my original drawings and paintings on another Etsy shop of mine (, and am also thinking about branching out into photography as well. My three cats would definitely like to 'say' they help me out with the shop, but more often than not, they cause a plethora of distractions!
Make a recommendation.
AriaImages ( - a dear friend, Melody, who takes amazing photos.
Tell us the answer to a question that we didn't ask, but should have. If you can't think of anything, tell us something random.
Guilty pleasure? Keeping some of my journals for myself. Kitty talk. Avocados. Also, hoarding books (a lot of them).


  1. Thanks so much for the interview Sarah! :)

  2. Very interesting interview. I love the journals! I have journal envy. :-)

  3. Journals so beautiful you almost hate to write in them!

  4. Thanks for the recommendation Bev! :) I saw another Melody here and got confused thinking maybe I posted already. lol Nice interview!! :)

  5. thanks for the interview and product review.
    i collect hand bound journals( and writing equipment) and am always looking for my next one...