Growlygracepress's Blog

organising a work area for the binding of books.
November 16, 2013, 11:23 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,


After many years of sharing the study with my husband I now have the entire room to myself and it means that I can have two benches to work on.
The husband has decamped to the living room which is now strewn with guitars, computers and a massive desk. Fair exchange.



We don’t need a room for living in we need a series of rooms to work and to think in. I include the allotment in that which is only a couple of minutes walk away.

I think the only worth while book on bookbinding is the magisterial Arthur W Johnson’s Bookbinding. It was one of the books in the series of manuals by Thames and Hudson aimed at students and staff at higher education colleges and art schools. It takes no prisoners.


Right from the start I had a complex relationship with it as a book. I refused to own a copy of it for about three years and used the library’s copy because parts of the book had created such polarity response.
It was what he had to say about organising a workshop area and the equipment needed. Right up front in chapter 2 Arthur kicks off with only using professional equipment in the workshop as ‘junior’ or makeshift will not with stand the strain and the equipment must be of a standard to meet the requirements of the craft.

He does splendid job on small tools that are required.

But it was the workshop layout that I took offence at.

“Adequate space in which to work is the craftsman’s joy. It is also essential to have power, good daylight and artificial light, running water with a large sink and a separate storage room nearby”


That for me was totally insurmountable and I became insulted that he should have the audacity to ask it!
Arthur and me were strictly not friends.

But this weekend I have come as close to Arthur’s model as I am ever likely to get.
Obviously I am such a hypocrite that I am totally in agreement with his every word.

My press is makeshift. It’s made from marine ply and a car jack and it cost under £50 but it does the job. I would like a lovely metal one on my bench but bookbinding workshops can get a bit Laura Ashley smock territory when we all get overcome by terminal twee.

Obviously I am going to move all the computer programming books out and install all my books on the book shelf as soon as I can. It’s the least I owe to Virginia Woolf.


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