Growlygracepress's Blog

shopping for craft
June 30, 2013, 12:52 pm
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In the chapter entitled “Finding a place for the crafts” in the utterly fantastic “The crafts in Britain in the 20th century” by Tanya Harrod. She outlines the many organisations between the war years that held annual shows and exhibitions where “makers hired stalls and a emphases crowd pulling craft demonstrations”
“The Englishwoman Exhibition of Arts and Handicrafts, organised and sponsored by the magazine of that name, was held at the Central Hall, Westminster from 1910 until the Second World War. This was an overwhelmingly female occasion, with titled woman patrons and predominately women exhibitors……..Phyllis Baron remembers it “as a rather terrible sort of Christmas bazaar. A lady next door to me sold brooches made of fishbones and one on the other side decorated jam jars with oil paint.”

I nearly snorted gin and tonic all over myself at that!
Because when you lift up the rock and look at the scrambling creepy crawlies that is underneath it’s just like todays craft market. It is absolutely riddled with bitchy women making snarky remarks, Guilty as charged!
Take me down!

These craft fares where washed up after the second world war but they still happen today, or shops open up selling a mash up of vintage, tea cups and fabric art. It does not sell and I think what we are actually seeing is an agency where you put in your hand embellished shoes ffs and the owners gets a fee. Now you are all cliver people and you knew all that but I worked it out in my head.

I once walked down a road and I see a long trail of vans being unloaded and being taken in to a hall it was a vintage clothing fare and every single male van driver was pushing rails of cloths and they were as fast as roadies and I realised that it was deadly professional and thats what these guys did 52 weeks of the year and it looked like bloody hard work.

I don’t do craft or book fares I am way too cynical and besides they make me positively psychotic. I am still having nightmares about one I did a million years ago where I was so angry at the whole affair I was unable to speak.

Besides which I am sure the organisers would turn me down, because you have to apply for them. I am way to thin skinned to deal with the rejection. Besides I dont have a table cloth with a logo on it.

I reckon that they would be improved drastically if the vendors were not allowed chairs to sit in and talk to their pals but they should be standing in the front and working the stall. But’s that’s just me.

I think when it comes down to it I want to sell bookbinding services to women who need to buy a lot of gifts.

It must be true it’s in the Mail.
June 29, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Just how good is that! What a lovely thing to do and he’s done it before. He’s that nice!

John Ryder’s Printing for Pleasure.
June 29, 2013, 11:08 am
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This site is a work of love dedicated to the most perfect little book written about learning to print.

If you have never read it go on and treat yourself you won’t reget it.,BDUZF3C8DF2NRyRY18p8_9841225609_1:770:4883&bq=author%3Djohn%2520ryder%26title%3Dprinting%2520for%2520pleasure

been digging
June 29, 2013, 11:05 am
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I think I’ll be digging for the foreseeable future, it occurred to me while I was digging away and my head filled with John Rider, that I am going to make and give away little allotment note books.

We normally go doen very early in the morning and we don’t see people but this morning people were out and about and giving up lettuces, radishes and cabbage to eat and beans, leeks and cabbages to plant. People are good.

Today I am going to print a new buisnes card, and I am going to go on the steep learning curve of fear, dread and deep anxiety so I better go to Morrisons first then!

give your designs freely and take friendship in return.
June 29, 2013, 8:05 am
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In the Foreword to “Printing for Pleasure” Vivian Ridler sets out what is going to the most fantastic guide to a skill that has ever been written (see how I said ‘skill’ it’s because terms like ‘craft’ have been rendered meaningless) anyway I digress, at the the short and perfect foreword Vivian Ridler finishes with :

“And so be guided by Ryder. He will not let you down.”

How perfect is that.

Right up front in Chapter 1 Introduction “Pleasure as Profit” John Ryder hits the nail on the head.

“You should dispense with any idea of running a small press as a money making sideline. In the first place to do so would put you under obligation to people who perhaps know nothing about print. You may be asked to produce items with which you have little or no sympathy and become involved with the keeping of accounts. It would be far better to use your equipment as an instrument of design, to give your designs freely and to take friendship in return. If your growing circle of friends does not quickly convince you of the value of this attitude you may be sure you are mis-spending your leisure and that your talent lies elsewhere.

Is that not just the most impressive thing you have ever read in your entire life?


I have to go and dig the allotment but I am coming back to this vitally important little book during the day.

I got the marble sides finally on to this book.


I had been neglecting the book because it needed this paper and not the blue cloth I was going to put on it and I was dragging my feet because it’s an expensive paper costing more than the total material in the whole of the book!
Book wins out in the end as he is handsome.

Positivity evangelical about bookbinding 4
June 28, 2013, 2:16 pm
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I swear this is the last posting I am going to do about the nonsense I was spouting at the Baltic a couple of weeks ago.

First of all a recap, I believe that in a short workshop you can gain traditional bookbinding skills it’s going to take at least three hours. It’s easier if the group knows each other. But for a group meeting that day it’s at least 3 hours and that gets you simple pamphlet stitch, on three holes, five or seven. We touched on grain direction, (the teaching of the grain direction of paper is a moveable feast day for me sometimes I will go on and on about it other times I’ll mention it and move on)


I did the the thing about traditional materials like linen and wax, I would move on to the function of the cover and the end papers, I would have explained that the function of the book is to secure the contents, by keeping is safe and clean, by enclosing a cover around it, by taking each aspect of the book’s weakness and strengthening them as in using beeswax on the thread, tie off the know inside the book, using a cloth strip to strengthen the spine and most importantly making the book with folded sheets, rejecting single sheets with a Japanese stab binding because the book does not open flat.

I would have gone on and on at great length about making the book handsome and how that makes me happy.


The other thing I went on about is the little bits of printings, I taught a simple technique called ‘tipping in’ this is the traditional method of placing ‘plates’ on a page of a book. I pointed out that if we put a label on a book we totally change the meaning of that book.

This is from a workshop before Christmas


This from a couple of years ago.


A small label is all you need to make the book beautiful and functional.

I would have also said to buy leather clothes at charity shops in particular skirts and trousers to cut up and experiment with.

I decorate end papers with this ink


My end papers look like this


I keep the scraps to write notes on like this


The decorated papers of John and Jane Jeffery.
June 28, 2013, 12:08 pm
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Listen up this is important stuff. In Edinburgh there is a couple of people called John and Jane Jeffery and they hand decorate paper, actually that does not even begin to explain what they do, they recreate decorative book paper from the 18th century. I fell across a photo of a book that used the papers and I hunted them down. I phoned them up and got a small set of samples and I just said send me a selection of paper I think I sent £50 or more several times. I ended up with a drawer full of it. I used it in books.


Leaving aside the blessed Marthe Armitage I reckon that John and Jane Jeffery are the most impressive workers in craft in the UK at the moment. I love them so much that I am not going to give you their phone number, because they are not geared up for telephone enquires, they don’t have a computer, they don’t even have an answering machine.


I noticed that Conways of Halifax bookbinding supplies are stocking the paper and I would contact them to buy it.



Where do you buy bookbinding materials.
June 28, 2013, 6:29 am
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I remember when I first went to a bookbinding class I wanted to get materials so I could practice and I had no idea where to buy them. The internet is very much a game changer when it come to finding and locating resources.

What I wanted to buy when I first started was book cloth and board. I worked out that there was bookbinders working in industrial estates, in the basements of libraries and in little complexes of buildings so I went and seen them and they sold me cloth. I got the board for art shops. I found the linen thread at a haberdasher.

I started to replicate the hand tools that we used at college, I bought them from a second hand tool shop.


The college had a good library and I read all the bookbinding books I could lay my hands on. I decided on which ones would offer me the best guidance on technique and I bought them.

I constantly come back to my idea which is really simple.
If you want to get good at the bookbinding buy the following.

A ream of SRA 2 drawing cartridge, a skein of linen thread,
coloured paper for end papers, tape to sew on, grey board and book cloth. Cut it all up and make books. Repeat as necessary.

benches and presses
June 28, 2013, 6:02 am
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Bookbinders do it standing up and at a bench, this bench originally came form a school and was used in the woodworking class. It has railway sleepers under the legs to get it to the right height for me to work at.


It has a very useful vice on the front.


I have my old press and plough at one end. I am going to use this press for colouring and glueing. I have a new plough, but I am still fond of this one. The bench has a shelf that I use for reams of paper and stacks of board.

I could not even begin to contemplate how I could even start to make a book with out a bench.

I noticed a couple of years ago that Ikea had a couple of stand alone kitchen units that would make for great work benches.

My bench is placed in front of a window and here’s the kicker, that big ugly shaped box in the middle.


That’s a light box for the treatment of ‘seasonly affected disorder’ or SAD as it’s called, I bought it in a charity shop for £8 it’s just incredible. So I have a fantastic bench and light set up for my work.


This is the the red headed step child of the set, it’s my book press and it’s as ugly as sin. At the moment it’s on the floor which at least it’s behind me and not in my line of sight. But it’s a powerful press it’s just marine ply, threaded bar and a car jack and it works.

My new idea about what I am.
June 27, 2013, 1:47 pm
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The other day a woman asked me what I did and I said I suppose I am an aggressive bookbinder.
I would like to be lovely lady bookbinder wearing a Laura Ashely smock but the odds are stacked against me.

I think I’ll have a buisness card with “aggressive bookbinder and it’s going to cost at least £150” it’s straight and to the point, gets it out the way and no one is going to be disapointed.