Growlygracepress's Blog

All roads lead back to William Morris
February 25, 2012, 3:44 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

and that’s never a good place to be.

This “period of exploration” which will last the length of the Designer Bookbinders exhibition which is on show at the central library, and I am seeking to reconcile some of my ideas, approaches, methods of bookbinding. My thinking of how to teach bookbinding techniques to small groups. “Where” I think bookbinding is going.

I also want to use this space to detail how I am publicise my own bookbinding and what is working and whats failing. On this I can state quite categorically that telepathy as a sales technique sucks.

I have now seen the exhibition four times and I am starting to feel a bit queasy it’s like I’ve had too much trifle. Some of my issues are around the presentation and display of the books.

The first thing that strikes you when you see the exhibition is sizes of the books and that is because they are bindings of “private press” books and it’s been taken for granted that this is understood.  The actual books are even more esoteric than the bindings.

We are being asked to judge these books solely on their covers and that’s a bit of a shame because you actually have to have them in your hand, you have to turn them over up and bring them close to your eye, you have to smell them, to breathe them in and listen to the sound they make as you open them.

I think is would have been possible to have a book on display that people could handle and forget that nonsense about wearing white gloves that’s a bit too precious for my liking.

I’ll come back to the exhibition later.

I mentioned the map I was going to get from the Japanese dude, this is a bit about him from wiki

Mingei Theory

The philosophical pillar of mingei is “hand-crafted art of ordinary people” (民衆的な工芸 (minshū-teki-na kōgei?)). Yanagi Sōetsu discovered beauty in everyday ordinary and utilitarian objects created by nameless and unknown craftsmen. According to Yanagi, utilitarian objects made by the common people are “beyond beauty and ugliness”. Below are a few criteria of mingei art and crafts:

  • made by anonymous crafts people
  • produced by hand in quantity
  • inexpensive
  • used by the masses
  • functional in daily life
  • representative of the regions in which they were produced.

Yanagi’s book The Unknown Craftsman has become an influential work since its first release in English in 1972. Yanagi’s book examines the Japanese way of viewing and appreciating art and beauty in everyday crafts, including ceramicslacquertextiles, and woodwork.


I am getting lots of Morris and hints of Ruskin. Bernard Leach is his home boy or it might be the other way around. Whatever. As soon as I got that I realised this is why we get that wave of ugly muesli bowls that are the staple in craft shops up and down the land.

What I am excited about (can you tell?) is this  “representative of the regions in which they were produced”

Before William Morris and his chums came along bookbinding was a trade that pretty much went along the criteria that the dude outlines.  Then things change gradually to the situation we have now. The look but don’t touch books of “designers bookbinders”.

I want a regional bookbinding, how do they produce a Norfolk notebook? why is it done that way in Aberdeen.

I think what I want is a ream of paper, some kraft paper, boards, inks, canvas, leather, linen and a big dose of integrity.

Todays endpapers look like this.


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