Growlygracepress's Blog

I knit but I am not a member of the cult.
December 27, 2012, 2:57 pm
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I like knitting but I seldom finish a garment, I just like playing with the colours. I would be really open to tapestry and weaving but thats just a hop skip and a jump away from basket weaving and doing the bookbinding is bad enough. 


I am cleaning up my old press and I am going to use it specifically for colouring and glueing.


I have painted up some end papers for the David Jones lettering book and I think I am going to put some time in to studying the inscriptions on the tombs in the catacombs in Rome.

The most handsome thing to do to a book is to slather the front board with hand lettering it was interesting to see that on the New York Times list of best book covers some of the nicest looked like they were form the 1950’s Faber and Faber catalogue.

In between pushing stuff around my bench I pick up the strips of “intentions” and do ten minutes work here and there. It’s working.

a list of intentions
December 26, 2012, 11:38 am
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This is what I am interestring me at the moment.

One of the problems that has dogged me is my failure to complete the task. I’ll start with an idea and within three moves I’ll change my mind and do something else, the result is I’ve lost my original intentions and I have made something totally different and the final object shows up my lack of thought.
Experimentation should be done in a controlled objective driven method.
I am too haphazard and indisciplined a maker so I really should take more care.
I will make a book that will have lettering from the “lindisfarne gospel” it will have a title that I am in love with at the moment : “The poet as seer and singer” how good is that! It’d going to be bound in natural goat skin, has orange edges, rainbow endpapers so far so good.
When I was sifting through my photocopies of lettering I found a photo copy of some lettering which would look stunning on a cover so rather that ditch “the poet as seer and singer” I am going to make a replicar and put the lettering on the cover.
So I am making two books and not one for my own amusement.

border collie as a pirate
December 19, 2012, 3:58 pm
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Bookbinding equipment pornography. True.
December 19, 2012, 3:42 pm
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Say hello to my not so little friend, this is my new plough, lying press and tub. It was made for me by Robert Cornwall at and it is incredible. When you are making object with hand tools you get so in to the rhythm and your stance while you work and you want the experience to be fulfilling. 

So it was when I was considering what to do when I had the massive amount of money to spend on tools and materials, what would the very best thing for me to “fix” and I was using my “louet” vertical plough and feeling all disconnected with it, I missed seeing the blade slice away the block in front of my eyes and the turning of the handle of the plough gently with my hand and my movement of my whole body creates the perfectly smooth edges that I can then colour and burnish with wax. 

Good equipment is your friend and as a bookbinder your best friend is you press and plough. 

I have to admit I did treat my first press and plough badly but I am going to make it all better. 

all growly, all the time.
December 16, 2012, 3:11 pm
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the state of my bench
December 16, 2012, 3:06 pm
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This is the right hand corner of my bench this is two groups of little books that I am currently making.

What I am currently reading.
December 16, 2012, 3:02 pm
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How I am going to become a successful bookbinder. A cunning plan.
December 16, 2012, 2:59 pm
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“successful” is the weasel word, I am very successful I would just like some more money! 

In no particular order :

There are two areas I want to develop one is I want to make a book that could be sold in a shop. I also want to continue to make one off commissioned bespoke books for clients.

The commissioned books will be the “baby book” and a book for wedding guests. 

I am going to do more workshops and put tools and materials in to peoples hands.

I am going to blog every thing that is happening on my bench and explain what I am doing.

I am going to include photographs of the exceptionally growly dog.

I am going to have an exhibition in the summer, does any one have any idea of how I should go about that?

I am going to make a simple catalogue of photographs of books and bring out a collection   a couple of times a year. 

I shall put together a mailing list.

I shall find more artists to work with.


good craft bad craft
December 10, 2012, 12:35 pm
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Plumbing is a bad craft and making a brooch out of cut out felt flowers is a good craft and opening a “vintage shop” is the highest calling.

In what I call “the new wave of British pretend craft” women are encouraged to make items that other women will find so desirable and the result is profit. I remember meeting a woman wearing a neckless and matching bracelet made out of buttons and pissing myself at the plight of it. A five year old girl might wear it if her pasta neckless had got wet. I have been watching from the sidelines over the years the amount of rubbish being sold to women by other women, we have television channels selling glitter glue to grown women, we have pop up shops with a selection of truly woefully made items, we get mean girls deciding who gets to play in who’s gang.

As far as I can make out the route map to this craft navhana is get a table at a craft fare and sell to the public essentially women like you, get a stand at a trade stand and get stocked in a shop that women like you buy stuff in.
To help you achieve self actualising you can get a life coach who will do Skype sessions on a weekly basis. Or you can do on line courses tailored to your craft market, you can get specialist tax advice for craft market. This whole area is massive it’s a craft with in it’s self, it’s ‘crafting’ craft. Craft will eat it’s self.

I speak as someone who regularly says “I can’t get arrested as a bookbinder” and I do use “bookbinder” as a useful identity statement but I would like to make a more regular income and would prefer not to do it against a background of teaching.
Perhaps it would be more useful to say “I can’t get arrested as a bookbinder in a craft shop / fare”

experiences like “this” made us become bookbinders
December 8, 2012, 10:22 am
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I did a workshop the other day and I was amazed at the lack of technique being shown by a student when glueing the spine so I took the book of her and demonstrated the correct way to do it. I am fan of “making the book handsome” and that means we progress the work with care and attention and above all respect to the process and the materials. Later on today I am going to glue the spines of ten books and the thought of doing that makes me happy, the process of repeatedly and carefully painting a spine with multiple layers of pva is very satisfying.
I am trying to develop a new method of bookbinding and I have gathered up all the instructional books on the new technique. One of the books is “Leather Books” by Karli Frigge and it’s a beautiful book. He gives an outline of two methods to make books and gives a very detailed description of how to do glue the leather to the spine and how to tie down the raised bands and he says “Rub the leather between the cords with your fingers and your palm, pressing the leather firmly to the spine, after all experiences like these made us want to be bookbinders, did’t they?”
Absolutely nailing it.