Growlygracepress's Blog

grinning like an alsatian
August 31, 2013, 11:49 am
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This book is the result of a great deal of practice and of learning how I make mistakes. There is misplaced emphasis on not how we learn where much more interesting is learning how I failed. In the course of getting to here I must have attempted to make this book over 50 times. Actually it’s a lot more because I when I was failing I would be making 5 or 10 at a time. My learning strategy was so busted that I could do was repeat the same mistakes again and again.

What changed for me this time was the digital callipers.


I got the Goldielocks book and really examined it. I resisted the strong urge to rip it down to it’s parts.



And then I just turned every thing down. All the parts were made as thinly as possible with out losing strength.
(the spring on the spine of top book does need some remedial work. I made the spring from layers of 50% cotton, some bank, some laid and a hand made craft and I need it to be a bit stronger)

I was also helped by the finding of a carrier bag full of off cuts that I had put aside for printing on. So I had another shot at it and got this.


I don’t care that it’s not got it’s cover on all I want to be able to do is the structure.









My bench on a saturday morning
August 31, 2013, 8:14 am
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I realised that my bench was getting more and more cluttered so I declared a clean and clear bench regime. Obviously this is a ideal in process but I am gaining benefit.
I remove all tools of the bench when I finished using them and the only work I have on the bench is current.
The only books on the bench are in the process of having a task performed on them with in the next hour.


This book has been sewn and I am about to tip in the second and second last sections.


New style endpapers did you know that there is a new edition of ‘Interactions of Colour’ and it’s available for the ipad?


These books have been saw cut and are awaiting to be sewn.


These are their endpapers awaiting to be trimmed.


This is the strips of tyvek I am going to sew them on to.


These books have had the first part of the leavers that will force the spring to open.

Right off for a walk in to town, go to the lit and phil, go to the market come back move paper and boards around the bench and then check out the allotment association annual vegetable show.

While I have the ‘right’ to bookbind I don’t have the ‘right’ to expect people to buy it.
August 30, 2013, 9:33 am
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Again work with me on this.
The idea I had about the ‘right’ to bookbind was actually about the sometimes fraught relationship I have with artists.
I allowed myself to become defined as a bookbinder who makes books for artists, they had big fat arts council grants and they are an absolute hoot to work with.
So the books that I made, that were seen in exhibitions would not be made if it were not for the artist commissioning it.
I now get my name on the wall besides the book, to be honest I never really cared because I like the cheque better.

What I was thinking is this. Do I need the artist?
I used and still do rant at artists that are really going for ‘it’ that they actually need a book designer in the mix. Yeah I can bind it but if they really want to make a book a book. Get a book designer in. Getting someone who has some web development chops is no substitute. That way the books looks like web shots and the type is a dead give away.

So it comes to this. I don’t need an artist to ‘do’ the covers.

But the bottom line ultimately is I have no ‘right’ to expect people to buy them. What I can do is make an attractive object, that functions well at a price that is agreeable.

I don’t think the craft shops and galleries are the way to go. The mark up is 40% plus the vat! If you want to know why the stuff is so bad and priced so high thats why.

The 19th century reformed craft guilds are at the root of all the problems we have with craft. So the Guild of lady bookbinders is not coming back. Good thing to.

The turn your name in to a brand and get the stuff manufactured in China has become yet another way for women to feel bad about them selfs. Thank you Kirsty Althorpe.

So I need another way to get the books to the market.

I think what I am looking at is the selling of bookbinding services. The people who need to buy my books are the people who need to give gifts. They need to give gifts because they are part of a social circle that are rating each other on what the gift they are giving at christenings, birthdays, weddings, civil partnerships, retirements and gap years. Whatever the occasion is I reckon that a handmade book is the answer.

So I just need to find these ladies.


The deliberate construction of an artefact that they want
August 29, 2013, 8:20 am
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fuck art

It would have exposed spine sewing.

The book it’s self would be untrimmed.

The dimensions would be a fold down form A4 maybe A3 at a push.

There would be no use of adhesives.

Grain direction? Thats for experts!

Might have some buttons and beads in the mix.

If it has leather it’s going to be the whackiest leather that can be sourced. Upholstery hides in hideous browns.

If the medium is the message, this object is weaponised, it’s a missile, it’s can’t be destroyed because it’s been made in to a fetish, it’s very handmadeness makes it live forever.

The halflife of a handmade object is a quazillion years.

Do I have the ‘right’ to bookbind.
August 29, 2013, 7:46 am
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Work with me on this. It occurs to me that part of the problem that I am facing in trying to make some money and to be honest thats what has to happen now.
Do I have any entitlement to produce a book that I think can be exchanged for money. I’ll break that down a little bit further.
When I look at what’s available in the craft shops, the internet shops, the stuff is really crap. Sorry if you find that value based judgment offensive. I have a highly developed sense of judgment and really you have no ‘right’ to be offended.
Anyway what I see sucks and I don’t think my books do but what if I am wrong, what if the definitive market value in the area is “the object must not be too good” what if the higher value is “this is as good as handmade gets and it sucks so feel better about yourself”
Is the solution to dial down the values so I can make a book that is just crappy enough?

This is what we eat in Autumn.
August 24, 2013, 4:31 pm
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There must be a universal law in every allotment association that the plot must grow at least ten tons of rhubarb and the that rhubarb must be foisted on anyone who looks at the plot.

This is rhubarb crumble with mincemeat made with oranges, cranberries and port. Thats cornish clotted cream which was reduced to 85p at asda (it’s always reduced I think the good people of Byker are suspicious of it) The mincemeat was been on a shelf since I bought it in January.

When I get back in funds I am going to buy as many kilner jars as possible and the first thing I am going to make is the mincemeat then I will make fruit compotes like it’s going out of fashion. Because along with rhubarb every plot has an apple tree and they have so much fruit on them it looks like small children have been drawing them.

state of play
August 24, 2013, 9:44 am
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Look at this beauty I was out in the front garden cutting back the tomatoes when I found this dragon fly on a bamboo cane. I consider myself fortunate to have seen it.

It’s a long weekend in the UK and I am going to blog up a storm. You lucky people!

Obviously I am going to rant and rave about my obsessions.

Namely the state of my bench, the hoarding of materials, getting better at bookbinding, transferable skills, measuring progress, my perceived ‘worth’ as a bookbinder,
obviously my poor baldy head, fear and loathing in the craft shops / craft fares / artist books fares, the storing of tools and materials, rhubarb crumble and clotted cream, fire up the printing press and did I mention that I am exceedingly happy about a book that I have created.


In fact I am absolutely over the moon about some work that I am doing for an artist. She had a technique that I have never seen before that makes the book so handsome I swooned when I seen it. I then made two books using it and I am still stunned by it.
So that really incredibly exciting.

But first things first off to the allotment to have a look.