Growlygracepress's Blog

Andrea’s book
July 31, 2013, 12:26 pm
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This is the book I made for Andrea.

Years and years ago I made a book for Tracy and one of the things that happened it I gave Tracey a pile of folded signatures and she drew on the pages and assembled the order she wanted the book to run. This is significant because if you are an artist and you are using the book form as art work this is slicing bread before you wrap it.
The artist is able to have total control of the books contents.

Andrea’s book was made up of different weights of paper, it had lot’s of varieties of paper and most excitingly it had the ‘prints’ she had made and rejected because of flaws. Have you seen the cost of paper! I can’t think of a better use of ‘waste’ than having a book made up of it. I was taught to calculate for 5 to 10% loss in each colour run.
Its a great book because of the contents not the cover.

Not giving in to ‘cute’
July 31, 2013, 11:49 am
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‘Cute’ in all it’s forms is the enemy. If you are looking at a thing and you feel the need to choke back a ‘ahhhhh thats so nice’ strike it down and smash it in to atoms.
The ‘cute’ is about manipulation, women are curating their homes placing little groups of objects to elicit responses.

I see row upon row of magazines dedicated the cult of house beautiful, I think it’s about promoting of ‘focus’.
We are self training our vision to look at a scene and visualise it as an image in a magazine and we reward out self with a hit of endorphins.
We are drifting in the world of the picturesque and the photogenic like zombies looking for brains and it’s fake and false.

and he said “I had to practice really hard”
July 31, 2013, 11:06 am
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Last week I was in town and my purse was full of copper and pulling down my trousers so I looked around for anyone or any way to get rid of it, I came across a busker playing a guitar and he had a really interesting way of playing, it has jangly and bright and he had this way of slapping the guitar which just added to the etherial loveliness of it. I just tipped out my purse and asked about the technique and he said “I had to practice really hard to get it to this level” and it was astonishing because it looked so easy, so natural, so of the moment. I would never have assumed that he even had to practice it, that the “technique” came unbidden to him and he picked up a guitar for the first time and that sound just flowed out of his fingers.

I asked a bit more and he told me that he found this guy on “You Tube” teaching and explaining. I asked about the “practice” and I seen the look of pain cross his face and I concluded it was that “hard” and he had “practice” to the point of effortlessness. It just flowed.

How would I know I was successful?
July 26, 2013, 7:48 am
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Or maybe this should be entitled “What if I was successful and I didn’t recognise it”
What if this is as good as it gets?
Should I settle for that?

Right down at the intersection of making an object and getting paid the proper rate I reckon I’ve got some wriggle room. I think I could just about stand to having a couple of regular clients who would commission regularly.

I think I need to get back to my car mechanic model of selling bookbinding skills to people who need to buy a range of gifts.

I am going to get in to the gift buying services business.

My bench
July 25, 2013, 4:28 pm
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I cleaned up my bench and my favourite tools as they were looking a bit grotty because of my addiction to arts and crafts spray mount from 3M, I say addiction because I have weened my self off it a couple of times but I always come back, not even the hideous price of £21 can stop me.

For the way I construct end papers (‘made’) I mount a pattern sheet on top of a cloth jointed pair of scrap paper and a coloured sheet (I make the joint with tyvex) then I spray it with the heroin, I smooth it out with a bone folder, give it a quick nip and beautiful endpapers.

My tools are sitting on one of my favourite bench top tools.


This is a cutting board form Ikea I think it could slot beneath a cabinet. I use it for sewing on. I don’t use a sewing frame I cut out strips of tyvex and sew on to them.


When Grace was a puppy she chewed everything she could reach the house is filled with gnawed furniture. These are little puppy teeth marks.


These are some endpapers I have made for a book I am making I think I should continue with the painting.

consistency and making
July 15, 2013, 12:53 pm
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I noticed from the stats that some one actually read all the posts the other day thats 185 dollops of rubbish that I dress up as wisdom. So I have gone through all the posts and tried to look objectively at what I am attempting to do and also to see what I have failed to do.

If you are coming here to see a woman give herself a savaging kicking a couple of times a week then you are in for a treat. I beat myself up with such ferocity at times, its cathartic like a good cry. I am very critical about my work and I am one of those tedious truth merchants.

Generally things suck because they remind me of other things that suck.

This is important : I rarely show client work on this blog (there is two or three pictures for some reason and I have taken them down) But I don’t show paid work. Might show a “mates rate”

Every book that I have made for paid commission does not suck, if it did I would kill it off and remake it.
My paid commissions are fantastic great books that make me grin.

My principal motivation is I make it because it makes me happy or it makes me laugh. Obvious one here is whats missing and it’s the fact that I am not making books for the money. I am not responsible for keeping a roof over my head or dinners on the table or the rent of a studio. Thats the responsibility of my husband. I am indulged.

What I am strong about is the construction and the materials, the honesty and integrity of the structure.
I am really good on that.

I am consistent about what should happen at a bookbinding workshop and my ideas have continued to evolve. Basically it’s tradition English bookbinding up the yazoo and no Japanese stab binding (shudder).
I believe that to get good you have to trash materials and if you provide enough materials at a workshop people will take them home and make books.
(that promise I made to send materials to four people who were at my last workshop I am still on it, I have cloth and fabric cut I just need to cut up boards and go through my paper drawers, it’s a promise that I am going to keep)

I like the fact that I actually spend a whole lot of my time just thinking about the problems around bookbinding and on the commissions I work on. It’s my principal strength and I draw on it every day.

This blog is about a celebration of tools, materials and books. It’s about my attempts to make a little book that people will want to buy.

The biggest surprise I got from reading every thing is I don’t mention the construction techniques I am using, I have never actually talked about bookbinding structure I am using, I don’t show how I made the book and why I make books this way.

So I think I am being consistent about what I write.
I know I am making progress.

Say hello to my little friend.
July 15, 2013, 8:54 am
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In my pursuit of the goldilocks book (it’s just right) I have recreated the presses that I had around me when I made the original.


I have taken detailed notes and critically appraised the little books I have made.

Very important to point out that I recognise that what I am up against is my ‘self’ the flaws, mistakes, the rush, the unthinking, the unplanned, the unfinished, the addiction to novelty and the new and lack of knowledge is me it’s my DNA.

I have made at least fifty attempts at the little book and have come close maybe twice.

The latest attempt was made using a digital calliper so the measurements are more accurate, I need to change some materials just a little. I am making progress.

If I had kept an accurate log of every book I made I wouldn’t be having this problem. I could simply go to a card index say and find the dimensions, materials, a photo and could easily recreate it.

What does not kill me makes me strong.

books do furnish a room.
July 14, 2013, 10:02 am
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Proof if it was needed that books do indeed furnish a room. See that blueish / greenish book on the drawers to the right I made that and if this dude is displaying them like this just maybe other people will.

Anyway a woman I kinda know stopped me in asda’s car park and said “I’ve been reading about you” she assumed that I would be fighting off bookbinding commissions and I had to explain that it’s not like that. Very rare that I pick up work from a write up in a publication, it has been know but it’s not worth the perusing.

The model I need to follow is the one I did here I approached a person who I knew was passionate about craft and materials and who I knew attended an art school that had a big bookbinding department and I gave him a book and he bought more. I should have repeated and repeated and repeated this. I should have got myself 20 clients like this who would be buying twenty books each.

Instead I got distracted by craft shops, mean girls, artists, and the worst kind of artist, a book artist!

At the moment I am quiet excited about the work I am doing.
I think I have made a breakthrough on the making of the goldielock book.

I noticed the stats for this blog that someone actually read every entry, they might be actually broken now, might be in a dark room with a cold towel pressed to their head.
I actually had to drill down the thread to see what I’ve been saying and check if I have been consistant in this nonsense. Not only am I consistant I think I have something to say that needs saying.

look at these freshly made little books!
July 12, 2013, 11:36 am
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These are absolutely lovely, every one of them is totally unique and all made by hand in England!

I think every Friday I am going to celebrate the handmade.
But not cupcakes……

put together your own bookbinding workshop
July 8, 2013, 1:02 pm
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Get a bench, make some presses, gather up hand tools, buy a ream of SRA 2 paper, some scrim, some kraft paper, some book cloth and / or leather.

Buy a bookbinding instruction book or get some DVD’s

Make books then appraise what you have achieved then make improvements. Make progress.

That is all.