Growlygracepress's Blog

Grace in the snow
January 25, 2013, 3:03 pm
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what I am working on at the moment
January 25, 2013, 2:39 pm
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This is a group of eight little books (plus two are awaiting their leather) they will have marble sides.


I want to make this for the sheer pleasure of the title.


It’s twin is going to have a line form the Lindisfarne Gospel on it think I am going to have to try out the technique first as I want to have the red dots from the script on the leather.



And I need to put sides on this I like the lettering but I think I could have been been better, it also has a twin so I get another chance.


disapproving border collie
January 21, 2013, 2:16 pm
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All serious, all the time.

I am not a “craftswoman” I am an inadequate bookbinder
January 17, 2013, 10:48 am
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I was introduced to a group of students the other day ‘Deirdre is a craftswoman’ and I thought “no I am not”, I have several well rehearsed pony tricks and when I get them right it’s a glorious result.
What I am is a tradesman, I’ve got a bunch of trade qualifications, my particular style of binding couldn’t get more ‘trade’ the ‘proper’ bookbinders will point and have a giggle at me. (seriously I am that thinned skinned!)

As a tradesman I make a trade, we agree the price and I make the book to the best of my abilities and you give me money. Business transaction over.

I have no problems with embracing the limits of my abilities, if I don’t think I can do what the client wants to a level I am secure with, I’ll pass on the job.

This year I am going to exploit the ‘trade’ and pass on the ‘craft’ in translation that means more baby books and I can’t wait.

the compleat crafter.
January 17, 2013, 9:52 am
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This is the list of contents of my most favourite book “The Craft Reader” edited by Glenn Adamson Go buy a copy it’s an education between covers.



learn you a bookbinding for great good.
January 16, 2013, 12:28 pm
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I have never wavered in my belief that a little bit of bookbinding skills can bring massive dividends particularly for art students. I have always began the long workshops with asking to see sketch books I don’t want to in them I just want to point out some time forcibly that as “books” they suck big style. Every thing about them is wrong they engender fear and loathing in equal measure. Now that’s a pretty strong thing to say but I’ve been talking to students for years and it’s true. The paper is rubbish, the size makes them unwieldily, the covers don’t offer protection, the wiro binding is ugly, the books don’t open flat and the students want to have different papers inside the one book. 

If all I can achieve at a workshop is the students can make workbooks that work for them then that’s a hell of achievement. While I am at it I will also point out the thriving cult and fetish around what their “sketch books” should look like is both phoney and baloney. 

Again a little bookbinding technique and reverse engineering makes for the proverbial “beauty book”.

On my last course I took the time to prepare the materials. : “we will have a ream of SRA 2 paper, grey board, kraft paper, scrim, pva, tyvek tapes, coloured end paper, linen thread and beeswax. We will turn all this in to books.

On previous courses I would turn up with the piles of offcuts, this course I used a full ream.

On previous courses we made small hand size books on this one they made big hefty books. 

Again on previous courses I used leather off cuts on this one they were working with goat and calf skin materials I would use my self.

On one level this course is about playing and learning with tools and this is where I got my most important insight : All the tools we had at hand were blunt and they don’t know how to sharpen them. Student after student want the leather to “turn in” over the boards but a blunt Stanley knife cannot pare leather. I didn’t think they would want to pare the edges of leather but they do. Next course I will have really, really sharp blades and a first aid box.



Creating a laboratory for the teaching of bookbinding.
January 16, 2013, 11:48 am
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I have been thinking really hard about what I wanted to achieve in the teaching of bookbinding skills and techniques. I had decided that I needed to put tools and materials in to peoples hands. Literally. I needed to teach that bookbinding could be achieved with out industrial plant. I needed to love bomb the students with great materials. I needed to give away materials for them to continue to develop their skills and most importantly I needed to give accurate feedback on how they were doing against a background of warmth and positive support. Student centered with the emphasis on skill acquisition.

In the past few months I have taught two separate one day workshops, a two hour taster session and a four day workshop. I seen over 30 people. I’ve given away tools and materials and I think I have an idea of how I want to develop the course.

I think I want to be able to offer a five day course in bookbinding techniques. It can be done in four but I think five would be better. I would like the students to pair up and teach each other the technique they are learning, I want to seat on my left to be used in turn by every student so I can ensure that they are understanding the sewing techniques. I believe that if the students has misunderstood the methods it’s my fault and I will say sorry, if the work needs to be “undone” I’ll tell the student gently that I am going to start it off again. I will support and encourage experimentation. The only laws operating during the course is beeswaxed linen thread to sew the block, first and last section tipped in, grain direction observed and correct weight of thread used for sewing signatures. After we have the basics under our belts : any thing goes.

This is what the students achieved.