Growlygracepress's Blog

the use of KPI in craft bookbinding.


Key performance indicators, in practical terms and for strategic development, are objectives to be targeted that will add the most value to the business.

The objectives that I think would add most value to my bookbinding practice.

Being able to establish a work flow that would allow me to effectively 25 books at once.

Identify a number of customers who would be interested in the repeat purchasing of a specific type or style of book.

Identify key sectors where I can directly target it’s members who I believe would be interested in commissioning a book.

Find a number of shops and galleries who would be interested in stocking my little books.

Apart from the workflow problem which is a cruel and unusual punishment that causes me infinite pain and frustration.

What I want to do with these indicators is to run the numbers as it were on a monthly basis. Identify, contact and follow up on shops and galleries. Same with individuals.

I am not going to do trade shows as I don’t have the money so mostly I am going to have to find retail outlets by walking to them. I know what you are thinking a touch melodramatic but I intent on keeping it real here.

The other thing I am going to do is to directly write to potential customers with a hand written letter in my nicest hand writing and best printed envelope.

Buy a big sheet of stamps.

my aim is true.
December 30, 2013, 9:09 am
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This is what I am going to do in the near immediate future.
As in as soon as I finish posting this and go look at my bench’s surface.

I am in the process of making three different types of books that could be sold in a retail setting.

When I talk about ‘books’ I specifically mean a book that has blank pages that is sold as a note book or journal.
I don’t make novels, the pages are not full of babble. Some people are generally perplexed and sometimes angry that I make ’empty’ books.

Anyway this is what I am working on.

1. The Geordie terms of endearment.
2. Allotment notebooks.
3. Angry books.

You all know about 1 and 2 because I have posted about them before. 3. ‘Angry books’ is not new to me but something I have been going back and forward to for years. I have never signed up for the universal suppression of anger. I see anger as a positive energy.

I am working on a series of books that announce their intentions on the cover. Stay tuned.

Instead of doing a bookbinding class in the first January I am going to write it up real time. For years I have been saying I need to do a hand out now I will.

I have three workshops I can teach to anyone who wants to give me money basically.

1. An introduction to traditional bookbinding techniques.
2. Bookbinding for book artists.
3. The making and keeping of ‘sketchbooks’

1 and 2 is old ground, tried tested and true. 3. Has only had one outing and is a barn burner.

It’s my belief that a lot of horse shit is talked about ‘sketch books’ and this comes principally through the mouths of art teachers. The other offenders are the publishing houses who promote a constant stream of publications of collections of pages of artist and designers sketchbooks. Fear sells.

I have a collection of these books and when I hand them around groups of students it’s always with the advice of find a style of sketchbook page layout that speaks to you and then rip it off. I am not an art teacher and I can be very fluent in horse shit but trust me on this one.

Time for a picture of a dog.


Off to my bench to do a binding and then I am going to write up my ideas on ‘key performance indicators’ you lucky people.

I am admired.
December 29, 2013, 1:33 pm
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A woman was talking to me the other day. She said she had seen me in “River Island”. A shop I have never entered in my entire life. I said “not me” and she insisted it has my double and I said ‘Whats there are two badly dressed bald women in Newcastle I though I had the franchise for that”

She was mortified and looked like she was going to cry.
It was all she could say was “I really admire you”

She went on to make some mumbling remarks about not wearing a wig.

Being bald makes people uncomfortable. I remind people of death. I avoid cafes and bars in case I frighten people. I have seen people flinch and gasp and look horrified.
I put people off their cake!

The other thing is that being bald it renders you invisible. People avert their eyes. I get referred to as mate or sir then they become flustered as they realise that I am a woman.

People who have know me for years walk past me. I let them as well.

A woman who knows me from dog walking was surprised that it was me and went on to recount about how beautiful her sons hair was and asked if I knew a wig maker because she has it in a box. She was going to give it to me.

Lucky me.

On the nature of the synthetic.
December 29, 2013, 10:13 am
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I buy mostly food that is on the sell by date and I cook three meals a day from scratch. I very rarely by ready made meals if I do it’s because I am going to hack it in to something more substantial which is not bland and is properly seasoned.

I bought a massive prepared trifle the other day for 50p and I was not disappointed. I got a trifle experience in that the colours, tastes and smells were an approximation to what we experience trifle. It’s just a trifle.

I think the same thing is going down in the art industry today or what I experience of the work of the emissaries from planet art school.

I gave the remains of the trifle to the dog and she left the jelly and sponge.

When it comes down to it I am a great bookbinder.
December 28, 2013, 9:34 am
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This was a truly great book.


This is great printing.


Printing and book married together.


No one comes close to me for endpapers.


I totally own the goldielock book now.


I modeled a series of books.

fuck art

This is a great book.


And so is this.


And this.

“I coulda’ been a contender”
December 27, 2013, 11:23 am
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In the jet black stinking heart of my issues around bookbinding (a touch on the harsh side perhaps) but the demon I fight with all the time is I don’t plan and I don’t think enough. I don’t see things to a logical conclusion, I fail to evaluate the result, I don’t review the process and it’s always a recipe for making me annoyed.

It’s the unthinking and thoughtlessness that is my undoing.

This book is a case in point.

I said yesterday that nothing sprang to mind in any bookbinding that I was in love with this year. But this book could have been in the frame.

It’s failed because it’s a proof of concept that didn’t need to be made in to a book. I thought about a method to do the ‘red dots’ and I did it.

I has having another ‘bash’ at the script, have done the same script at least four times before.

This was a book that didn’t need to be made. But I made it.

I failed to consider the ‘dimensions’ of the book. So it’s ‘out’ I failed to think about the edge colouring and i’t ‘out’ But it’s the ‘slapping’ on the script that is the most ‘out’

I know from experience that it’s not enough to just stick some lindisfarne lettering on a cover and get away with it.

I think I will use this as a learning exercise and think carefully and craft a solution to the whole problem.

I will produce a book utilising Celtic lettering and decoration.

It will be great.

No binding of the year.


At any point in time if asked I could produce the book that I had I had decided was the best work I had done so far.
This year as I look back I am surprised that nothing springs to mind.
This year is the year when I said ‘no’ to practically every thing and then I was surprised when a couple of big organisations and people said ‘no’ to me.
Some times I do a book and I am so in love with it I hang on to it for ages and keep it on my bench where I can see it. But there has been nothing this year that did that for me.

I think the little ‘hinny’ book was close and I am working to make this series of Geordie terms of endearment better and really sticky in the hand.
So sticky they are bought immediately with out asking the price.


I have some really strong ideas for series or editions of small books, actually incredibly strong.

But I would have liked to be able to think of a book that made my heart soar.
I think I might just have to make one before the year is out!

my tool of the year.
December 25, 2013, 10:13 am
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When I am being charitable to myself I would describe my binding as a bit ‘rustic’


The measurements and weights of the boards, blocks, leather can be ‘out’ and the book is a bit lumpen and it’s ill considered, over engineered and at times quite frankly scary.

Once I had created a book that has in balance.


I was able to take super accurate measurements and recreated the book.

This process had evaded me.

I feel a Hound of Heaven moment coming on!

“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter”

Anyway I am able to take control of dimensions now.
That and I bought very thin grey board and laminate them with kraft paper and pva to get them to a thickness that works for the book.

literarily failed to fix the roof when the sun shined.
December 25, 2013, 9:47 am
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When the wretched shed was blown down on the allotment and we needed to dismantle the remains and get rid of the contents. Another allotment holder pointed out that the allotment that was one along from ours was in possession of a combined greenhouse and shed, why didn’t we make use of that until we cold build a shed on our own plot and we could get our vegetables started early in the greenhouse.

This allotment had been abandoned many years ago because of severe drainage problems we had heard that several attempts had been made but it’s utterly and completely broken.
It does have a busted up greenhouse and a watertight shed.

So we stuck our tools and materials in the shed and we would get around to securing the busted bits of the greenhouse. We took a lot of the weeds out and started to clean up the drainage ditches.

We didn’t really do anything about the roof because we didn’t understand the breadth and scope of the problem and in our real world our methods of problem solving come down to getting a man in to fix it, buy a replacement, take it to a man to fix it, don’t replace it and get the landlord to fix it.

There was a storm a couple of weeks ago it took out a pane of glass and it smashed in to the gatepost some yards away. There was now several windows missing and more damage could happen with a new storm.

We had to put in a repair that would last a couple of weeks until we could work out an efficient method to fix the whole roof that we could do for nothing.
We couldn’t fix the problem because we had no experience in the domain and we had no money.
We had been hoarding materials we had taken out of skips and bins and ‘found’ some estate agents ‘to let’ signs, we had invested in ‘greenhouse repair tape’ and staples and we hacked a repair to tide the roof over.

We got some money and bought a big length of thickish polythene and staple it to some wood, wind it around a couple of times and then we will nail it to the greenhouse taking it over the roof and nailing the plastic wrapped wood on the other side.

Thats what we are going to do this afternoon because the weather forecast says it’s going to be sunny.

Because you should always fix the roof when the sun shines.

the little wax animals of desire.


I have a silicon mould that is for making lollipops I use it to make these little wax animals. Waxing linen thread not only protects the thread but it stops it from knotting. But mainly it realises a lovely smell of honey in the air and in a cold January it’s practically summertime for a few seconds.