Multiskilled Bookbinder and Paper Artist, Yvette Ja

I recall coming across the diverse paper art of Yvette Ja on New Year's Eve via Instagram and knew immediately that I wanted to feature her in the Artist Spotlight. Yvette's journey as a self-employed artist, especially since the pandemic's arrival, has been an eventful one that most certainly has had its high and low points. I think you'll enjoy getting to know her and seeing her creative work that is beautifully photographed.


hands displaying handmade half circle book sculpture

Yvette lives in Corbridge, England and is of Korean and British descent. She explains on her blog that her work "is rooted in traditional craft practice from Korea and UK - I will bring both of these cultures to any project I work on." In fact, she now goes by the name Yvette Ja rather than Yvette Hawkins to more fully embrace her heritage.


tessellated map in square white frame

She told me that she knew by age six that being an artist was in her future. Yvette studied Textiles and then Fine Art at university, and feels fortunate to be able to call herself an artist. She is especially interested in putting "a contemporary twist on heritage crafts while not forgetting their place of origin." 

 cylindrical folded book sculpture

In 2003 Yvette learned bookbinding in a Victorian bindery at The Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle upon Tyne, and then experimented and perfected her skills over the next five years before becoming a freelance artist. 


In 2012 she took the plunge... resigned from an office job and became fully self-employed. An enormous book sculptures order - 4700(!) - for an Atlantic City casino hotel made this possible as the income from the sale allowed her time to make connections in the community and firmly establish a practice.

book sculpture exhibition composed of stacked cylindrical sculptures


In pre-Covid years Yvette worked on private commissions, participated in exhibitions, and frequently taught in-person classes, as well as have a baby. Then along came the pandemic... she abruptly lost all income. 


examples of buttonhole binding, clamshell box, Chinese thread book, and ori folder book


In true entrepreneurial fashion, Yvette swiftly changed course by setting up online classes and was surprised and delighted to find that origami book making and bookbinding were things that her Instagram and Facebook followers around the world wanted to learn.

several bookbinding examples

She has gone on to create an remarkable array of popular courses - more than 20 to date - including Intro to Bookbinding, Advanced Bookbinding, Origami Books, Chinese Thread Books, Sashiko Books, Pop up Books, Binding Children's Drawings, Ori Folder Book, and Japanese Gift Wrapping. Natural Dyeing is upcoming.


hands displaying teal colored paper ori-folder book


Classes can be purchased and viewed at one's own pace. They are yours to refer back to again and again.

handmade compartment box


Just two months ago, Yvette's partner and fiancé passed away unexpectedly. Despite this heartbreaking shock, she is managing to put aside her grief long enough each day to continue running the business and caring for/homeschooling her young daughter.


example of Japanese kraft paper gift wrapping technique

If you're an aspiring teacher, Yvette goes into helpful detail about how she gets the word out about workshops here.  


paper mouse wearing eyeglasses and cut from old book pages displayed in glass dome with handmade book

Visit the shop to see all that Yvette offers, including lovely kits that coordinate with courses, as well as tools, hand folded tessellated maps, and book sculptures.


paper and book artist Yvette Ja holding in-progress handmade book

Follow along with Yvette Ja on Instagram (I'm guessing you'll go down the rabbit hole as I did!) and Facebook.

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Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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