Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Kaija Joutsijärvi. I live in Turku, Finland with my husband. I’m originally a small town girl, but I’ve fallen in love with the city life. And yes, I know, in some countries Turku would be too small a place to be even called a city!
I’ve got a master’s degree in bookbinding, but before my bookbinding studies I focused on writing and “art” in general. After the idea of Paperiaarre was born, I bound book after book and finished a collection of poems somewhere in between.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I work at the city library of Turku, so there are hardly any book-free hours in my day. When I’m not at work or binding books, I try to read as much as possible. After we gave up watching television last winter there seems to be an endless amount of time to be spent with books. I’m a blog addict (Google Reader saved my life!) and I enjoy watching movies, but only if they aren’t too scary. I like sad movies, freaky movies, and even bad movies, but not scary movies.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I’m not sure if there ever was a chance of me not becoming an artist. I’ve made things with my hands as long as I can remember and beyond, but I didn’t know I was going to be a bookbinder until when I had bound my first real book in 2001. When I heard that there was a school for bookbinding studies in Vammala I knew I had to go there. Becoming a bookbinder and marrying my husband are probably the only things I’ve never felt the need to question.
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
Honestly, most of my free time I spend making books! No matter what time or weekday – when I’m at home, I’m either sleeping, eating or creating. I usually start by listing the basic facts about the book to be made (size, material, stenciled or not, etc.) in my notebook, which by the way isn’t bound by me. Over the course of time I’ve developed a code language which consists of both Finnish and English and often grammatically horrendous abbreviations. Once the list is there in front of me, it’s all clear in my head. Most often the hardest part of making a book is deciding what color linen to use. Just today I tipped over the huge basket I use for storing my linen and went through a long and hard elimination process.
I usually make books in small batches – first I fold and tear the pages, then I finish the covers. The sewing hardly ever happens at the work desk; I curl up in the armchair and have up to six or eight needles dangling on my lap. But I hardly ever stick myself with the needles; maybe that’s why I earned my degree.
When I’m working on a whole new design I start with pencil sketches. Once I’m happy with the design I draw it with ink and use the inked version as a guide when I cut my stencil. I love the cutting part. I’m very attached to my knives, some of them I’ve made myself. Kitchen knives scare me though; I like when my husband cooks.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
The women in my family seem to have always been good at making things by hand. I have old lace my great grandaunt has made that I couldn’t even dream of using; I just stroke it gently every once in a while. But the one thing I cherish the most must be a quilt my mother made me. It’s a grandmother’s garden quilt, consisting of tiny hexagons sewn entirely by hand. And just so it happens, we started making it with my mother and grandmother in the grandmother’s garden, when I was only 9 years old. I lost interest pretty quickly, but my mother continued making it as her summer project. I introduced her to the blog world sometime last fall and when she started her blog she picked up on this project again. Now I’m 24 and the quilt is finished! Someone give her a shiny gold medal!
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
Books and authors:
Marguerite Duras: Le Navire Night
Roald Dahl: Kiss Kiss
Michael Cunningham: A Home at the End of the World
e e cummings
As It Is in Heaven (Så som I himmelen)
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Feist: Inside and Out
My Brightest Diamond: Golden Star
Leonard Cohen: Suzanne
Joy Division: Love Will Tear Us Apart
Einstürzende Neubauten: Die Befindlichkeit des Landes
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
I know you’ve all heard this a million times, but good photos are essential. It doesn’t matter how good your art is if customers can’t see it. Take hundred-and-twenty photos if that’s what it takes to get one good shot! Another good idea is to find out about international shipping; it’s not that scary really!
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I Pounce. A lot. Whenever I have trouble sleeping. But my true love is the Treasury. I wish I had more time to spend there. I love curating treasuries (that’s where the favorites feature comes handy!) and browsing through other people’s creations.
As Etsy is an international marketplace it would be great if we could add Europe or EU as a shipping destination instead of having to list a ridiculously long list of countries with the same shipping costs.
How do you promote your work?
I have always believed that quality speaks for itself. That’s a fancy way of saying that I don’t really promote. I believe that my work shows my talent and devotion and that’s what fascinates people, not blinking ads on some website, which of course are just one way of promoting. I do write a blog which brings in a lot of customers. Mainly I write the blog to keep myself inspired, interested and in touch with the lovely creative people in the blog world, not to promote; maybe that’s why it works so well! In addition to the blog my only promotion venue has been Poppytalk Handmade where I’ve had a table twice this year and I’m planning to return there every once in a while.
In ten years I’d like to be…
A full-time bookbinder (with a whole room just for making books). And a mother. That would be nice.