Growlygracepress's Blog

Cutting down the trees to see the wood.
January 23, 2015, 12:57 pm
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I’ve been engaging in new working patterns lately I work out what do I most want to avoid and I do that.
I don’t want to improve my gold tooling, I don’t want to work with my new plough, I don’t want to make a tiny little note book in book cloth and I don’t want to finish a sequence or edition of little books. So I have to positively engage with these activities every day and I need to clearly describe what is making me uncomfortable with the processes.

At the moment I am avoiding the massive clear out of my immediate work area which is getting clogged up with unfinished little books I need to clear them away to make more room for more unfinished little books.

One thing that I have discovered is that I have misplaced or lost all my coloured linen thread. I hate that when it happens. I am already in mourning for my little orange scissors that got lost when I was doing the workshops back in December.

Sometimes we have to clear away the junk in order to see clearly.

a spring collection


I think I might give considerable thought to designing and making a spring collection of books and prints.
I think what I could do is pick a date what ever the so called official first day of spring is and develop a themed collection of work.
Present them on that day.

I am still in a relationship with the usual suspects : flowers, early Celtic bookbinding and lettering, Sybil Pye and the reasons for love.

I’ve managed to get some money from a little bit of teaching and I’ve sold some books so I have the materials. I am sticking to small sized books as they don’t spook people out.

I choose to build sheds.


“I choose to build a shed. I choose to build a shed in this season and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of my energies and skills, because that challenge is one that I am willing to accept, one I am unwilling to postpone, and one which I intend to win, and the others, too.”

I had to build a shed and my heart would skip a beat as I finished the bookbinding and I would race down to the allotment and work on my shed I was really excited by the process of making something so big and uncompromising, this was not a little book in my hands this was something that if I got it wrong could cause me serious injury. My bones could break.

Yesterday an old allotment man laughed at it and told me it was a waste of shed felt. I agreed with him totally and explained that I was interested in learning how not to make a shed and I considered myself well taught further more when I remake the new shed in the late Autumn I will be stronger. I pointed out to him that I was also teaching myself everything I am going to learn about erecting a greenhouse by getting this one wrong and I own all this knowledge myself and I am indebted to no one.

I don’t have a cement mixer and I don’t to negotiate involvement with some one who does. I want no chains of obligations.

I built a structure that will contain my tools and materials and keep them secure and dry. I am totally responsible for it.
The shed felt cost £15 and nails and screws cost £15.

controlling the impulse to get stuck in.
January 13, 2015, 10:59 am
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I have to lay some paving and then build a brick structure and then place some how and then the green house base goes on the wood and is secured with screws. But I have no experience of brick laying and I have even at the best of times a hazy relationship with ‘straight’ and ‘true’ so I have to be really careful and use the spirit level and have bits of string stretched out to keep me right.

Now I could wait until the week end and get some help from my husband but that will mean that I will have to do as I am told because he has done this before and he is massively competent and methodical to boot or I could have a bash and maybe what happens is I learn some new ways on how not to lay paving.

I don’t like not being able to make progress on a project that is stuck. It like a black cloud that threatens to rain.

The best use of my time would be to finish the roof on the mighty shed and do the preliminary work on the greenhouse site and then watch a great big pile of instructional videos about brick laying!

But first I will have a bacon and fried potato sandwich to build up my strength.

I believe in reassurance.


I’ve been reviewing all the books I have on bookbinding techniques and methods and I have come up with several conclusions.

Lot’s and lots of photographs showing techniques is great.
Celebrate the fact that the reader was made the positive decision to engage with the hand made book for a particular project.
Be explicate that the book models that are displayed are the result of a twenty year career in professional bookbinding.
Be accurate in an assessment as to how long it will take to reach of ability.
Encourage the use of materials that are at hand. Buy the pva from B&Q if it’s convenient.
Everything is permitted. Nothing is out of bounds. Buy leather garments from charity shops and cut them up, glue and paste them down and learn from them.
If you are flogging a particular philosophy about making and doing then shout it loud and proud.
Be accurate about equipment. I can’t imagine engaging in the book making process with out access to a nipping press, a lying press and a plough or guillotine.

I’ll think of some more but that’s enough to be going along with for the moment.

fear, uncertainly and doubt and hand craft.
January 9, 2015, 9:01 am
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One of the great things I have experienced again and again is being in a room with people making books for the first time. Being able to show people a simple sewing technique that secures the contents and allows the book to open is a powerful exercise and it excites people. Everyone who has ever taught bookbinding knows the thrill that students get when making a book for the first time.

Finding a book to learn technique and makes you comfortable is not a precise science.
I own a lot of cookery books and I never have used one of them to follow a recipes.
My idea of a cookery book would just be photographs of finished meals and a list of ingredients.
My ideal format would be a magazine just like pornography.

I aspire to cook the kind of meals that would be served at the canteen of a coal mine.
So I know that I have issues around presentation.

I lurk in supermarket around the shelves of ready-made convenience food and I tease the trays open and look at the dish and think that’s what it looks like. Buy more parsley and sprinkle a lot of cheese on top and stick it under the grill.

Bookbinding can be like that. I like the instruction books that had no photographs, a lot of diagrams and a list of techniques and procedures.

I have issues with bookbinding competitions and books in glass cases.

The best thing I think you can develop is a an internal reasoning when you look at a photograph of a book or even better if you can handle a book work out what is it precisely that is making you sing.
Once you can list what makes it ‘work’ as an object you can start to encompass the techniques in to your practice.
From my experience it’s all about the paring of leather and the difference of a couple of millimetres in every single measurement.

One of the best books I’ve seen about bookbinding in a while.
January 8, 2015, 2:08 pm
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I am still processing all my thoughts after doing the series of bookbinding workshops in December. I am still struck by my total commitment to the handmade book. I got to thinking what if I can find a really great book on technique that I can use as a text book and work through all the examples make tons of samples and let the workshop students know that this book can let them become the bookbinder they want to be.
This is a great concept. It goes wrong because this book is just a little bit intimidating. Actually its still fantastic but dear God its scary stuff.

Years ago when I was learning to marble paper I was very frustrated that the book showed beautiful photo after beautiful photo of beautiful faultless paper but my paper sucked big style and I had to trash a lot of paper and paint before I got examples that I was happy with.
When I started bookbinding it took a long time before I got books that were good enough to give away to the children I was regularly babysitting. I could not give the books away they were so bad.
I had to make more and more books and work at solving the problems that I was incorporating in to the books. Poor measurements, bad glueing, rough work and the books would not be square.
And I was actually attending college with a good tutor, reading loads and loads of books on technique and it took considerable time and effort to get to a level I was happy with.

This is a great book an outstanding contribution to the craft. I am going to promote it at every opportunity and I am going to say it’s going to be a long, long journey but this book will be your constant companion and you won’t ever get lost.