As you walk into Paper-Ya you are surrounded by a myriad of surfaces stacked with paper. This is no stationery store. Wander and you find yourself overcome by the need to touch, to feel and to create. Your mind’s eye visualizes new projects: a set of business cards from sturdy cerulean cardstock, some handmade Christmas cards using a die-cut textured vellum, or maybe a personalized wedding album in embossed ivory and gold parchment. Anything is possible.
Owners Denise Carson Wilde and Sharyn Yuen are passionate about paper. Wilde’s fascination began out of a love for collecting specialty paper from Japan. She first envisioned opening a store dedicated to paper at the now defunct Evergreen in Japan Town, a shop that specialized in Kabuki doll paper.
Yuen’s experience is more hands on. It started in 1978 with a blender. She found the papermaking process more fun than the cold formal abstract art of the day. To make paper she would throw anything she could get her hands on into the blender: beets, carrots or potatoes. At first, she says, “My papers were so small they looked like crackers.” After leaving the University of Victoria, she worked as a papermaker at a mill in Montreal. Later she returned to Vancouver to open her own mill and to teach. Although the mill failed, her career as a papermaking instructor flourished. She met Wilde at one of her own seminars. The rest is history.
“Canadians are really into paper now,” says Wilde. “They love its beauty and simplicity.” Paper-Ya has the largest collection of decorative paper in Vancouver. Its stock of beautiful machine and handmade papers from around the world is continually changing. It offers courses on the art of making paper as well as workshops on crafting with paper. So if you are “ya-ya” over paper, take a peek next time you are on Granville Island.