Miss Croc is the name Crystal goes by during the time she spends making hand bound books. When Crystal first discovered handmade book sewing, she instantly felt a deep love for the handmade process. She also loves to travel, write her own travel diary and draw in her own handmade books. The "crocodile" is taken from the homonym of its Chinese name. She hopes that through the market activities, more people will know and appreciate handmade books, write their own short stories, draw their own moods, make their own albums and convey warmth and happiness from the pieces of work.
We asked Crystal a few questions about her work...
Your books are so beautifully made! On average how long does it take to bind one of your books? Can you describe the process a little?
On average it takes about 2-3 hours per book. The concept of the handmade book is to fold 3-4 papers in half and bind them together.
How did you first start book binding? And how has your different methods of binding progressed over time?
I learned French Stitch bookbinding from a teacher. After that I found that there are many different kinds of methods to bind a book. And then I came up with an idea of binding names on the book spine which took me about 8 hours when I made it for the first time. Each customised book takes about 5-6 hours to make, though it really depends on the complexity of the alphabet letters or Chinese characters.
Some of your books you have stitched materials and paper clippings from your travels to make a front cover, how do you ensure you don’t become too attached to the materials you collect from your travels?
I always collect different kinds of papers I like. Sometimes I’m kind of reluctant to sell them, because a lot of the papers are all my favourite. I can also produce books to meet specific customer requirements.
Some of your books have printed designs, are these from your own illustrations? What inspires you to draw?
Most of the covers are collected. I like to come up with some fun ideas sometimes. My inspiration is mostly the things I love. Such as Christmas. When I was little, my parents always prepared two Christmas gifts. One is from them, and the other was told from Santa. So I’d like to share the warmth of it. Therefore, I always make a new design each year. I also like to break the traditional form of a book, by making triangle and round shaped books. To me, handmade books are not just simply a book, but they are an art piece. With the wisdom from ancient people, handmade books can be easily flipped over. The combination of the old skills and little creative ideas in my mind makes the books more fun and novel.
We love the personalised name books you have made, how do you calculate where to sew something like this? Can you tell us about how someone can go about ordering one of these unique designs?
First, I draw the names on the book spine, then I poke on each spot to make a mark. Basically, all of the alphabet can be personalised. Some of the Chinese characters can be done perfectly. However, when it comes to the complex characters, it might be hard to present on the spine. I’ve so far made several books with Chinese characters and even the Korean alphabet as well. I am always open for people discuss ideas if they would like to have a personalised book bound.