Growlygracepress's Blog

new funky tool.
October 27, 2014, 10:30 am
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At one time the master of the hunt would record the days hunting activities in a leather bound book and the book would have been tooled with designs like this. I think it’s great and I am like this with tools I treat them like a new piece of jewellery when really what I should be doing is using them for there intended purpose to decorate a books cover or to impart information about a books location on a shelf.


My favourite bad boy tool.


This one is still making me swoon with it’s beauty.

When I was at college studying bookbinding I was always reluctant to get ‘stuck in’ to gold tooling I know that that has held me back a little so this week I am going to focus and finish a project with the gold tools.

I swear when ever I get some money I am going to buy a copy of this.
October 27, 2014, 10:06 am
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This is one of the few books on bookbinding that I need but do not own I make do with the library copy which is great most of the time but I needed to check a reference and it was out on loan. At the exhibition of bookbinding at Palace Green Library in Durham there is a model of the binding of a codex from seventh century.


It’s the most intriguing and exciting thing in bookbinding I have ever seen. It looks like a prop from the film the ‘the fifth element’
I would like to think I could have the ability to work at the skills needed to make a ‘book’ like this but I recognise that it’s a long haul.

My bench this morning.


This is two little books I was working on on Friday morning and they are very honourable failures. I bare them no ill will or malice and they will not be destroyed as they are noble books and have given me much information. There fate such as it is will be that they will be given away to anyone who wants them.
If I want to try out a design on a cover I just need to reach across and pick up a couple of books and set to work. I must have at least 50 on the shelf that are ready to be covered.

I am feeling a bit of love for the Christmas tree decorations of doom.


The bench is a bit of a mess though and I will give it a really good clearing before I set down to work. Obviously I am going to remake the two books from Friday.


On Friday I went to the Literary and Philosophical Society to get some books and later on that day I was investigating a tattoo parlour such is the life of a middle aged lady bookbinder. Obviously I was wearing all my green farmer clothes. The tattoo people were really lovely and incredibly welcoming and the shop was stunning. I will be returning with my camera to take photos. Obviously their will be a bookbinding opportunity! What do people do in tattoo shops? They flick through books of drawings while sitting on a comfy sofa. Obviously the artists are proud of their work and again I think that if I make a book for them I might have a interesting market.



It’s not enough to slap Celtic illuminated letters on a cover.


I have been ‘playing’ with Celtic lettering on books for years now and I have always been disappointed in the result. Mainly because I have taken the lettering and taken it so out of context that its failed me. I have been reviewing this work and I think I haven’t taken it out of context enough.








I reckon that if I go back and look a the Celtic lettering again and make the books smaller and incorporate more features of a medieval book then I might have an object that people will buy. Key thing is to make it small.

I am going to become a fine art consultant.
October 21, 2014, 5:18 am
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I think I am still on the money here.

Growlygracepress's Blog


Admittedly I have toyed with the idea for some time it’s was only yesterday that the idea formed fully realised in my head and I know I could do it.

In my travels yesterday I talked with the business consultant where I pitched “old Ma Thompson’s bookbinding academy” thats my bookbinding propaganda and promotion division. Basically it’s my three workshops on teaching bookbinding to the very keen. I can do ‘bookbinding for book artists’ and ‘foundation skills for bookbinding’ and ‘the care and feeding of sketch books’ perfectly formed little workshops where every body gets tons of materials to practice with. It’s a winner.

Then I went to the craft shop and showed them my latest bookbinding attempts and talked them through the promotional materials I have been cooking up and in the course of the conversation I asked what were the trends they were seeing. That was really useful…

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Think I will go for a dig
October 15, 2014, 8:53 am
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Rather than move unmade and unwanted books about my bench I really think that I would be better off having a good cathartic dig at the allotment. I am building a mighty shed which (a) I have not told the allotment committee and (b) my husband has no faith in me what so ever that I can do it.
A double win situation!
All last week I woke up with such a sense of dread about the shed situation. We are squatting in a very busted plot, using the very busted shed and the even more busted greenhouse. The allotment committee were cool for us to use it till Autumn. It’s now Autumn and I have to make a shed to store tools but I have no money but I have a collection of wood, bricks and concrete I’ve taken from skips. I splashed out on a bag of screws. What’s not to like. It’s the same leap of faith and imagination that makes for Christmas tree decorations. Except it’s very big and has a door.

the christmas tree decorations of doom


I have not forgotten my threat to make Christmas tree decorations although I admit to a heavy heart I’ll move them along this afternoon.

proof of work and a seraphin.
October 15, 2014, 8:24 am
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This is evidence of work on my hand out for the forth coming bookbinding course. While it is not a train it is a desk and I have actually typed it up and I have messed around with the printer so far so good.
But while I was researching something else I came across this graphic of a six winged angel it’s stunning I would love to have a tool made so I can stamp books with it. I used to be in love with the angels head from the Suite of Fleurons by John Ryder.

bringing books back home.
October 15, 2014, 8:15 am
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I learnt bookbinding at technical college and the department was housed in the school of art which was marvellous because it had a Art Library. Every week I would bring home books about bookbinding and printing and it was dark and raining and I had these treasures which I was so excited about. I would go to my classes and there was formal lessons and then practical and I would hit the library in the afternoon tea break and raid the shelves it was the best of times.

Sometimes you find such unexpected joy in the library that you make out like a thief and this happened to me at the lit and phil last week.

The catalogue from the Ruskin exhibition I seen a few months back and this book on ‘tree graphs’


These are books that were top of my to buy list except I am a poor cat and I can’t justify the price of them. Have you seen the price of bookbinding leather!

bookbinding workshops by the pound
October 9, 2014, 8:16 am
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If you wish to see me do my bookbinding workshops then you have a choice of two the first one is at Newcastle Arts Centre on the 8th of November which is all day the next one is just a short one at the Baltic on the 5th of December.

These workshops will be centred around traditional craft bookbinding techniques and materials. That means it’s linen thread, bees wax, kraft paper and scrim as usual the mantra is ‘say no to exposed spines’ In the full day we will start with making pamphlet stitched books in three and five hole stitch, then we put a cover on, we strengthen the spine and we make belly bands, stick on labels and make covers. We are warming up and playing with tools.

Then we make case editions, that means sewing on to tapes. The only difficulty people have here is sewing the second signature, the kettle stitch and adding a new length of thread. I think it’s important that people establish a good understanding of sewing so I take time and with each person and sometimes they can’t get it at all so for them we go back to pamphlet sewing.

We are playing with tools and materials and we are making books handsome.

The second workshop at the Baltic will just be pamphlet sewing as it’s just a couple of hours long.

For years and years I have been threatening to do a handout and I have never got round to it but this time it’s getting closer to reality. One thing I have discovered is the absolute joy of writing while travelling on a train. I was in Durham the other day and the train on the opposite platform was going the Penzance! I was besides myself at the idea obviously I would only do it in a first class compartment but I could write the arse off any project.

So the chances of getting a handout will depend on me scoring to York or Edinburgh train tickets in the next week.
Might try for York.