Growlygracepress's Blog

The practice is the practice.
May 16, 2018, 7:12 am
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One of the reasons why people fail at a given task is because they are unable to separate the notion of what ‘should be’ and what ‘is’. Over the past couple of years I have seen people come and go in the allotments and they start really excited and have a powerful notion of what they want to achieve and they fail to bring it off because they believe in short cuts or some other type of magical thinking. You need to take the weeds out, you need to plant out strong little vegetable plants that need shelter from the wind, covered from the birds, defended from the slugs and placed in to a well hoed and fed soil. They will need to be watered and further fed with liquid feeds and kept weed free.

When it comes down to it you have to be consistent in your practice. You have to be realistic when you use tools and strive to be efficient in their use. You have to ask yourself if you are using the right tool for the task and am I using it correctly. Did I clean it before putting it away? Is is sharpened because using dull tools is rubbish.

One of my favourite garden tools is a stiff brush. I pull all the weeds out and leave them on the paths and then brush them up. I’ll use a brush on a well trodden compacted soil path. People make a mistake by thinking a grass path is desirable and consequently ‘lovely’ but in my book grass is a weed and I am not going to cultivate weeds. Besides it needs mowing every fortnight.

So I am off for a ninety minute practice in the garden. The first 15 – 20 minutes is given up to the destruction of weeds. Then I am going to plant out some onions, some strawberries and I am going to finish the netting in the fruit cage.

I do think about bookbinding and I am thinking about rainbows and unicorns and profanities and silver linings.

But mostly I think about kale.


Why I love living in Newcastle
May 12, 2018, 9:48 am
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I went in to town this morning and this is what I did.

I went to the building society and stashed away the birthday money in my ‘running away account’ the lady wanted me to have an interview with an advisor so I could get a better rate. I have £44 in the account and I am trying to get it to £100 before I take it out for a spending spree. I turned down her kind offer. I noted that the Lang Gallery opposite still is showing the David Bomberg exhibition and I still have time.

I went to the Lit and Phil and got rewarded with a book on the history of the country house library and a book on the friendship between David Hume and Adam Smith. Double bonus points because of the the chapters in it is called “the cheerful skeptic” which makes me happy as I want to make books with that as a title.

I went to the Granger Market and I bought a lot of really smashing grub obviously I bought tons of berries I used to handover my bag to the man and say ‘all the berries’ and I went in and out of my favourite stalls, I bought the eponymous ‘Geordie Bangers’, I bought a carton of ‘cheese savoury’, roast belly pork, Scottish square sausage, I went to a place where they are selling posh food just over / close to it’s sell by date and loaded up on walnut and date cake, silly pop corn, vegetable crisps and posho biscuits.

I bought a slab of pork pie with eggs, a frozen stuffed guinea fowl giving it away at £3 and a big pile of gammon stakes. I then went to Waitrose and bought a massive pork hock, more digestive biscuits and a big slab of chocolate.

I did’t buy the baked herrings or the crab meat and I did want them.

I did see the most amazing lady shirt thing which I might just have been the only person in the market that moment who seen it and recognised the fabric as an actual Kandinsky painting and I wanted it so I asked the price and it was £54 which was a bit of a let down as I really wanted it be £15.

But thats why we have a running away account.

I have been very quiet of late.
May 9, 2018, 10:26 am
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I am absolutely fine and I have been fighting to good fight in dealing with all the contents of my house.Some young people came by to see me the other day and I could guess that one of them was just a tiny bit horrified by the battlefield that constitutes my home.  But I am winning. What I recognise is that I have assembled over the course of thirty plus years is tools, materials and books around the areas that intrest me. Bookbinding, Printing, Graphic Design, Floral Art, Photography, Typography and Calligraphy.   Along with the manuals I have the tools and equipment and I have a lot of books on the historical back ground as well. I also had a massive amount of my own work in bookbinding that I had to deal with.

I am retiring from bookbinding so I can concentrate on bookbinding. I had so much unfinished, unwanted, failed and broken work around me that it required swift and immediate action and many trips to the tip.

I moved my bench and revarnished the surface. I moved the tool chests out of my immediate work area. I want to work in a monk cell. I want to have a clear bench, I want the work to be numbered and accessed and I want it to have purpose after I have made it and not just be in a heap.

What I like in the hand made book is : coloured edges, decorated end papers, small books that fit in the hand, round corners, bevelled boards, spring backs and I like a silk ribbon marker. I want them fully bound in goatskin and I want them decorated with flowers and I want them to have a great title either in leather in Clarendon or in gold blocking and not foil but proper gold blocking.

You know I am just talking to myself here and this is a list of intentions but it’s absolutely true.

I don’t believe in ‘happiness’
February 14, 2018, 9:39 am
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It’s a helluva thing to say but I’ve been thinking about it and I concluded that as a state of being it’s a bit false. Now I can reconcile things I have said in the past about being ‘unhappy’ about not bookbinding but what I mean is I want to have bookbinding back in my life as a practice and to be engaged with the process as effectively as I can using my ideas and values about books, materials and methods. I don’t have a market for the books but that should not prevent me from making them to the best of my ability.

The trashed work room is getting decluttered and shelfs that were crap magnets have been taken out, I am putting together a shelf of books that have some representation of what I think is my best work. I’ll deal with the rest of them appropriately.

The eBay sales have started and are cathartic I am looking forward to commissioning new tools and buying new leathers and I am going to get rid of a massive hoard of leathers that I don’t want to work with or deal with.

That thing about happiness. I always been aware that some women I talk with are really angry about not being happy and the first thing I ask is how would you know if you were ‘happy’ and it’s always some bull shit about ‘feelings’ and when ever I experience ‘feelings’ I want to close that down.

I am contented. I lead a satisfying life. I am engaged with my practice in the allotment. I have meaningful and deep relationships with people around me. I am not chasing happiness. I don’t believe that clearing out the workroom would make me happy or I have a fear of finishing a task. It’s just a pain requiring focus and decision making (as in this goes in the bin or is destined for eBay)

It’s getting sorted.

I am happy when I have a great big bag of cheese and onion crisps or a sausage sandwich and that’s going to happen maybe a dozen times of the year and thats good enough.

actions and consequences.
November 23, 2017, 9:03 am
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It’s all very well thinking it would be great to have a massive asparagus bed but when you see a great deal on crowns and double up on the order then when a big box arrives I am faced with the inevitable act of digging and preparing trenches. I decided to buy crowns because it dawned on me that the asparagus I was raising from seed was going to need care and shelter for at least two years before I put it in the ground. So now I am going to stick it in the front garden and have lovely ferns.

My next bit of brilliant thinking was I want to take photographs of tulips so I had better buy some and plant them and with in minutes I had ordered a big collection of parrot tulips which I now need to plant in to the ground.

Last year I thought it would be funny to feed a crow with bone shaped dog biscuits ( I always have dog biscuits in my pockets) and with in days the crows were finding me they fly close to me to get attention and I carry a little tin of bird food and dole it out to them. Sometimes I can get them to follow me to the allotment, sometimes they visit the allotment and this week they found me waiting for a bus. The crows sometimes land on the tops of cars and freak out people and just pretend not to know them and this makes it worse.

So I am going to have tulips, asparagus and crows.

chutney binding
November 16, 2017, 8:26 am
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I am going to go to the allotment and continue the digging I started in the brassica cage. I have evicted all the rubbish Brussel Sprouts and I plant some cabbages and kale. I am continuing to plant salad leaves, kale, onion sets for spring onions in the unheated green houses and I am reading the seed catalogs searching out early carrots and peas for the poly tunnel. I have cleared out the vine leaves and I will plant seed potatoes in the tunnel and I will decided whither to take out the remaining chillies.

I was making chutneys a few weeks ago and I noticed that I approached the actual making of them much like book making. I had all the ingredients at hand and I just made a ‘batch’ no measuring just buy hand and eye. I wanted a tomato and onion relish and it should look and taste like that. Red, sweet, mustard seeds, onions a little bit of sour. It was as satisfying as making a book. Actually it was better and I think it’s because the ‘proof’ as it were was that I used the relish immediately as it had barely cooled down with bread and cheese and it was great. Where as a book languishes around the work area until it has a buyer or is given way and the new owner gives it purpose.

So it’s going to be batches of books, clearly labelled, numbered, with purpose and intention.


walking back to bookbinding
November 13, 2017, 7:57 am
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This is what I am doing to do. I am going to finish putting back my work room, this means making decisions that I have been putting of about the storing of materials and equipment. I am going to write out some targets with the dates and times I wish to accomplish them. I am going to write out a short and clear statement about what my intentions are and how I will know I have achieved them. Baby steps.