Growlygracepress's Blog

do I actually need to make any more books?
December 17, 2014, 9:36 am
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This is not me displaying my pathetic paw but it did occur to me that I might just be better suited to just talking about bookbinding, after the experience of doing the workshops with the students were all I was doing was distilling down to the absolute reduction of what I think it’s all about. I think I actually got down to doing full on “this is what we believe in…” and listing like a holy mantra linen thread, beeswax, good cotton rag paper, deckle edge, hand decorated and unsymmetrical end papers and goats skin. Strong stuff.
Saying this stuff repeatability to a room full of uncomprehending students might inflict lasting psychic damage. But I feel stronger for it.
I concluded that actually I need to make even more books, hundreds more and I have only just started.
I am going even further.

making boxes
December 11, 2014, 2:56 pm
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When I was at college my heart would regularly sink like a lead weight because some one would bring in an intricate box and the teacher would seize upon it and we would be forced to recreate it. Desperate days.
When I was at the university last week an aspect of the project the students were working was ‘box making’ and an artist involved in project had made a box which was quite good. I remembered that I had actually sat and passed exams on box making and I decided I would have a bash at a box.

A few days later I seen this beauty in a charity shop and bought it for £4 it’s a travelling jewellery box and it’s very sweet.


So far I have done the base tray.


the title on book
December 11, 2014, 2:17 pm
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This book has been made for a tattoo studio. It’s going to be used by visiting artists who are going to draw in it.
I am surprised that more is not made of the revolutionary act of ‘wearing’ a drawing.

getting evangelical about bookbinding
December 11, 2014, 2:06 pm
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I did six sessions with first year university students last week. I pulled a pile of books, materials, tools and I made a stack of models and I went out in to the arena and talked my socks off about why making an object by hand matters. I think I seen over 150 students and if I got the attention of at least ten of them then I can regard it as a totally roaring success.
One of the things that I kept coming back time and time again is that if I am presenting my ideas in a book format then I am going to do every thing I can to make that object as handsome as I can and that I will use all my skills to ensure that the object functions as well as it can.
By the time I got to the last group I was positively Luddite. John Ruskin would have been proud of me.

my new beautiful tool
December 11, 2014, 1:39 pm
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Don’t you just love it. I suppose I am going to have to find a way of incorporating them in to the bookbinding. My current ideas is to just make a simple small pamphlet with good honest paper and use the stamps on the cover. It is handsome and I have no idea what it is about.

millionaires shortbread and timber merchants and the cold on Westgatehill Road.
December 3, 2014, 11:00 am
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I leave everything to the last minute I remember I was doing some workshops years ago and I was making little presses right up to the last minute, I was drilling holes in wood while wearing my coat and about to get on a bus.

I remember going up Westgatehill Road to the timber merchants and I was so cold I kept apologising to Cheryl because I had never experience such bitter weather in my life. Cheryl was going back to Australia the next day and she was talking about Bondi Beach and I was going to teach lovely girls bookbinding.

The very best thing you can get a bookbinding class is a little press so that when you go home you can make more books because we need to own our own tools.
Hopefully I will have enough wood in the house or I am going to have to wrap up warm and go on an adventure to the wood shop.
The last time I was at the timber shop I noticed that the guys had these massive bags of what looked liked exotic continental Pâtisserie and I was saying what’s that!!!!! and they said help yourself and it was delicious. The timber merchants is just next door to the Greggs the bakers seconds shop it’s where they sell all of the left overs from yesterday. One of the things they sell is a bag full of the trimmed edges from the trays of millionaire shortbread. Obviously I bought a bag of it and nearly had a diabetic coma on the bus on the way home. I had to put it in the bin I couldn’t trust myself not to eat it all.

So wood or wood and millionaire shortbread.

off to talk about bookbinding to students
December 3, 2014, 9:20 am
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Like the words on the cover of the eponymous book.
“Don’t Panic”

Having read the brief for this project my first thoughts are that it’s relatively straightforward.
As a bookbinder the term ‘portfolio’ has a specific meaning it’s a folder that holds single sheets and it offers security and protection. Bookbinding methods / techniques are all about security and protection of the text.

In this what I call my ‘handout’ I will list some of the issues that I will be talking about and I encourage you to actively use goggle search engine to find resources on bookbinding.

On making handmade books I want you to understand the differences that you will find between the work of ‘book artists’ ‘artist’s books’ and ‘fine press’ we shall be looking at examples of these books and we will identify what makes them different.

thread and wax
The models of bookbindings I have made are circle accordion, pamphlet, stab binding and case edition. The key to all binding of materials is to establish a fold in the sheet and sewing the block together as in pamphlet stitch or sewing a number of signatures on to tapes. In Japanese binding single sheets are stab stitched along the spine.

I will have demonstrated a method of joining two single sheets together using a strip of material glued to the edge and thus establishing a fold to allow sewing.


The tools I will have shown you include a ‘bone folder’ a traditional bookbinder’s tool that is used to fold, score and smooth materials, an awl to make holes, I would have sewn the bindings with a ‘short darner’ needle, the thread is linen and I used wax to protect it and make it run smooth.

The adhesives I use are pva, the boards for cases is ‘grey board’, in bookbinding we use natural coloured materials as in linen, canvas, kraft paper, we use decorative paper for end papers, I will make frequent references to the rather quaint term ‘making the book handsome’ and everything we do is to that end. I will have shown you a book that has been clamped and is in the process of having the spine strengthen and built.
round corner

I will have demonstrated specific tools specifically a tool that cuts round corners, a sewing gauge that makes holes for sewing.( the instructions for a handmade version is called a ‘piercing cradle’ and details are all over the internet.)

hole makers

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a knowledge of bookbinding techniques and methods can bring tremendous dividends to an architectural student. It would allow you to be able to make your own sketch and note books which could be made up specifically in a paper or multiple papers that you like, that suits your favourite medium, in a book size that fit’s your pocket or bag, which can include folders, have ribbon markers, have rounded corners. To be able to manufacture your own books is a desirable skill.


I believe that at the heart of this project is the use of materials and mechanisms.
You should be able to use what materials you have at hand or what you can find.

I would be thinking of making use of plans, charts, maps, packing materials, plastics, building materials, tyvek, membranes, slates, wood, metals and fabrics.
I would be thinking as to how I get my information / image on the the various materials. and I would be thinkings of laser cutting, sewing, printing, silk screen printing, the use of collage techniques or using a image transfer technique called ‘lazertran’

There are three books that will guide you through the process of making a portfolio.

No Plastic Sleeves The complete portfolio guide for photographers and designers. Larry Volk and Danielle Currier. Focal Press 2010

Publish Your Photography Book Darius Himes and Mary Swanson Princeton Architectural Press 2011

Indie Publishing : How to design and produce Your own book. edited by Ellen Lupton.
Princeton Architectural Press 2008

By no mean my final thoughts on this project.

The other day in Waitrose I noticed that they were selling small wooden crates with some packing material and the idea that you can buy cheese, booze, chocolate whatever and turn it into a very attractive and handsome gift.
When the scriptoriums were making the great manuscript books like the lindisfarne gospels these books were stored for transportation and protection in what are called ‘book shrines’ which were wooden boxes that resembled early church buildings.

Deirdre Thompson

Subversive, traditional, inflexible bookbinder and experimental letterpress printer. HIGHFALUTIN AND AND PRETTY PRETENTIOUS ABOUT IT. Will bind books for money.

I am on twitter as @bookbindings
I blog extensively at Growly Grace Press on the wordpress platform
My email is