Q & A

Five Minutes With Evelyn Wong

The Portland interdisciplinary artist and founder of Fireball Bookbindery on her high-school side hustle, making art that bridges cultures, and trying water bugs.

Evelyn Wong, Portland interdisciplinary artist and founder of Fireball Bookbindery
INTERVIEW BY SARAH STEBBINS
PHOTOGRAPHED BY
rare, vintage, and fun beads that Evelyn Wong likes to collect

I collect…

rare, vintage, and fun beads. Growing up [in Columbia, South Carolina], someone gave me plastic beaded necklaces. When I was way too young to play with them, I took them apart and rebeaded them. In middle and high school, I made jewelry and sold it to classmates. I still make jewelry, but I don’t want to do it professionally. I’m scared of having the fun taken out of it.

Evelyn Wong's new line of bookmarks inspired by traditional Chinese jewelry and weapons accessories.

Recently, I made…

a new line of bookmarks inspired by traditional Chinese jewelry and weapons accessories. I use scrap material, and here I’ve used a vintage floral bead and Chinese enamel beads. You see fancy bookmarks in Western bookstores. What I’m creating merges the aesthetic with Asian elements.

gift wrapped in Nepalese lokta paper

“I’m a purveyor of papers, so when I wrap, I want to use nice materials that people want to reuse, like this Nepalese lokta paper. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up. During Advent, I feel grateful to people for giving to us and want to give back.”

Kelly tie tunic from Loquat Shop, in Portland
Photographed by Danielle Sykes

On my wishlist are…

bags and printed clothing from Loquat Shop, in Portland. Like me, they try to be conscientious about what they do with their brand. Their bags use eco-conscious pineapple ‘leather,’ and their shirts and tunics reference black and brown history in ways I haven’t seen elsewhere. Kelly tie tunic, $150. loquatshop.com.

embroidery by Emilee Harper Art

This holiday, I’m giving…

handmade gifts, including embroidery by Emilee Harper Art [of Alna]. We met in high school, and she went to school here [at Portland’s Maine College of Art & Design], where I ended up going. We do art trades a lot. $175. @emilee_ harper_art on Instagram

journals by Evelyn Wong

My work explores…

what it means to be Asian American. Most of my journals use Asian papers and have Western bindings. In my sustainable Bee Love line, made with scraps from other projects, I have notepads with Japanese stab bindings [shown]. $9. etsy.com/shop/fireballbookbindery

lotus seeds, star anise, dong quai, longan, jujubes

To relax, I…

cook. I have a pantry filled with fun things: lotus seeds, star anise, dong quai, longan, jujubes. I’m adventurous — I just bought water bugs! Every food is something some culture eats. If they can eat it, I can eat it.


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