Growlygracepress's Blog

The Hand Made Book in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.
November 7, 2018, 8:25 am
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thread and wax

Tomorrow I am going to talk to a group of students about bookbinding skills and techniques it’s a small group and we are going to sit around a table and fold, sew, glue and paste paper, board and cloth. We will talk about the handmade book and what that really “means” as opposed to the machine-made book. This is the day one of a two day workshop.

On the first day we are going to focus on securing the block by which I mean looking at sewing techniques that will keep the pages in order we have created, we will look at the function of the end papers not just as part of the mechanism of the book but as art work in their own right that celebrate and concludes the book’s contents. ‘Steady on Deirdre that’s giddy stuff for this time in the morning’

Anyway the point of all gibberish today is for me to get it straight in my head about my intentions and to do a check list about what I need to do today for tomorrow to run the way I want to.

One day is going to be securing contents the next day is going to be protection of the contents by means of a boards, hinges and a suitable cover which can be decorated or not, fundamentally it will be about the function and purpose of a mechanism that allows the reader to access the contents and that the contents are protected.

All well and good then however we are not in a bookbinding studio so we don’t have access to presses and the usual suspects in tools and what we make will have to reflect that.

So today I have to do the following in no particular order.

I have to make some samples of little books. We are going to start by making pamphlets just to warm up and play with bone folders, needles and thread. We will make then make little books with end papers, books with covers, books with labels and books with bands.

I need to find all the examples I have previously made. (This might be problematic as I didn’t think I would ever do a workshop again and I might have binned a lot of stuff)

I need to round-up all the samples I have of artist books, zines and the likes and again I might have killed them all in a drive by shooting.

I need to make some blocks of wax for thread, I need to find all the linen threads (including the coloured stuff which students love and again I might have murdered in a I find the concept of any thread other than unbleached linen as unnatural)

I will find all the Jeffery papers, booklets, books and promotions that I have and share it with the students as it’s wonderful.

So on top of all this going on I have to go out and buy suitable sewing needles and I have to go to the sawmill to buy wood to make clamps to be used to saw cut sewing stations and to glue up spines.

I also want to go to the allotment and stare at the compost heap because there is a whole big family of rats living in it and I am about to go to war with them and I intend to win.



‘talking about bookbinding in a loud manner with a Scottish accent’.
November 3, 2018, 8:00 am
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still like this as well

Growlygracepress's Blog


So I am off to talk about bookbinding to some students next month and I am going to use this here blog to put down some of the stuff I will be talking about. I am going to start doing this now because it’s good to get this stuff out the way.

I have always wanted to do a ‘handout’ but unfortunately I have impossibly high standards in what it should look like that I have been unable to make any progress for at least 20 years.

So I am going to start making random notes with old photographs just to see how I get along. It is going to be the usual judgemental, basis, opinionated and righteous blah blah blah that I have been banging about for years.

All linen thread, beeswax and good paper. Taking no prisoners and shooting from the hip.

At the bookbinding class.

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off to talk about bookbinding to students
November 3, 2018, 7:59 am
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Sometimes I don’t think I can improve on this.

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Like the words on the cover of the eponymous book.
“Don’t Panic”

Having read the brief for this project my first thoughts are that it’s relatively straightforward.
As a bookbinder the term ‘portfolio’ has a specific meaning it’s a folder that holds single sheets and it offers security and protection. Bookbinding methods / techniques are all about security and protection of the text.

In this what I call my ‘handout’ I will list some of the issues that I will be talking about and I encourage you to actively use goggle search engine to find resources on bookbinding.

On making handmade books I want you to understand the differences that you will find between the work of ‘book artists’ ‘artist’s books’ and ‘fine press’ we shall be looking at examples of these books and we will identify what makes them different.

thread and wax
The models of bookbindings I have made are circle…

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book labels
November 1, 2018, 8:14 am
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Little letterpressed labels on 300 gms paper which has been coloured. I now have a die with I can use to punch out really lovely label shapes. Lucky students.

The first rule of bookbinding club is ‘you must bind’
November 1, 2018, 8:05 am
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This time next week I will be doing the first day of a bookbinding workshop so that means lots and lots of things are happening. First off is the walk up Westgatehill Road to the timber merchants to buy wood to make glueing / sawing clamps for the students. This time I will take a camera to record the changes in the buildings and all the stuff that makes me grin when I see them. Then I am going to make blocks of wax to use with linen thread I am not that impressed with the Star Wars molds and I am bored with the Peter Rabbit.


Next I have to chop up all the materials and go through all the scrap materials for the students, I have to look at all the introduction to bookbinding books I have,  I have to find the collection of artists books that I have put together to demonstrate whats available. This might be a bit hard as I think I chucked a lot of them away in a fit of anger. I know I have the best three books because I love them so much. The rest not so much.

I might do some printing of labels as I have a thing about books and labels.

Mostly I am going to think about what I want to say about the learning and applying bookbinding skills for art students. I am massively basis on this one and I think the very least you can do as an art student is to make your own books.

I am thinking about making a book which will embody all the stuff I go on about. I would wave it about like Martin Luther. A book that has painted end papers and is a non standard size but mostly the cover will be judged and it won’t suck and it may have to have a bird on it.

prepairing the allotment for the winter
October 10, 2018, 7:42 am
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I am a winter gardener. I say it loud and proud. Other people are clearing their plots and won’t return until the spring I am getting stuck in and trying to grow stuff in deepest winter. I figure that the allotment rent is for 52 weeks of the year and I should get my monies worth. So I am tearing down the remaining tomatoes in the poly tunnel and I will plant onions, beetroot and more lettuce. I have planted dwarf and climbing beans, new potatoes and peas on the other side about a month ago and I am going to sort out some fleece for them and a lovely water supply which I am going to stick in some seaweed meal to the barrel to perk up the plants.

I have planted kale, cabbage and leeks where ever I could. I will finish of the peas today (did you know that you can get three crops of peas during the allotment year?) I have some winter hardy peas for containers and I keep them in a green house. I pulled all the tomatoes out of their pots and raked up the soil I will and more compost to them and some long-lasting fertiliser and fill the pots up again and plant carrot seeds and leave them in a cold green house till the late spring.

I am going to empty the greenhouses and chuck buckets of Jayes Fluid around, I will service at least two paraffin heaters so that they will actually work when I come to switch them on.

I get extra good girl reward points if I compleat the following : actually insulate the green house now with bubble wrap, wash the curtains that I hand around the bench, the restored and functioning parafin heater resides under the bench and I am a high priestess accessing the tabernacle.

I am going to get really traditional here and start leeks or is it onions on Christmas day and a week later I start the onions or leeks. Whatevers.

While all this is going on I want to paint the shed. I want to make an automatic watering system for trees (I am a serial trees in containers killer) I want to install taps all over the plot so I can attach hoses and fill watering cans wherever I want. I want to fix my glorious leek trench (every woman needs a leek trench)

Every time I go past the allotment shop I buy a couple of killos of blood fish and bone or bone meal or hoof and horn or seaweed meal. I am going to clear the areas of the garden I don’t have stuff growing in and turn it over. I the early spring I will include all the lovely fertilizers I’ve stockpiled add bags of manure, soil conditioner and my favourite ‘growmore’ and I am going to rotovate it in. This means using the terrifying petrol powered rovatator which weighs tons and hates me. But I have seen a beauty boy battery driven rovatavor which I am head over heels in love with and I know it’s going to be rubbish and the old men will laugh and laugh but I am going to buy it and use it really early in the morning and it will be my secret boy.

He’s cheaper than the pair of boots I am longing for.



Corner cutting
October 9, 2018, 8:06 am
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note two

My chief objective in any course was to get the students to play with tools and maybe as a side benefit make a few books. I  believe that the lack of familiarity with using tools is a set back for wannabe artists. So I gather up my tools and go and have a free for all and it’s the variety of tools that makes for a good learning experience.

This is a tools that cuts corners if we are going to create a “moleskine”  we need lovely rounded corners.