Growlygracepress's Blog

It’s a gift to be simple.
June 27, 2016, 7:12 am
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I am wildly excited. My garden is coming together and the notion of just gentle restoration and repair has paid of and I am rewarded with insight and vision on how to proceed next year. We need the restoration of beauty, what we create has to be gentle on our eyes and I see how I can achieve this.

I am about to go and do some bookbinding teaching and I find the transmission of knowledge thrilling. We bind books this way because this is the methods that have been evolving for a thousand years. We use these materials because they are the best. We use this construction technique because it will last hundreds of years.

Best of all is that I will get some money and I can buy some materials and tools but mostly I need a pair of shoes!


binding books and growing melons and walking up westgate road.
June 23, 2016, 8:14 am
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I have been working very hard on creating the new allotment that I have stopped binding books. I did not have any commissioned work and in my head I had solved the problems I had developed but have not actually implemented the solution. On my bench I have twenty books. Ten need a cover and the other ten need their boards.

Then I have to prove my theory of putting the letters on correctly in the centre of the boards.


These hinnys are all over the shop. Except the perfect one.

For the past couple of months I have had feeling of unease and a sense of lost. I could not quite put my finger on it and suddenly I realised that I was desperately missing the physicality of the making and creating a object and apply critical analysis.

Is this book a success?

On the allotment it’s different I am trying work effectively and with purpose while growing an insane amount of celery. Every day is a learning day and the biggest thing I learnt is if their is a tray of seedlings put multiple plant labels on them. I lost lots of labels and have a bed of brassicas that could be anything. They will make themselves know. I have seen a tiny button of cauliflower which always makes me swoon.

The other thing is that I am very guilty of not potting things on and the poor plants got pot bound and their roots were going around in circles. Sometime my ‘ideas’ get pot bound and they need re-potting with another helping of grub so they will grow strong and vigorous.

The good thing that’s going to happen is I have some teaching next week and I am going to go up Westgate Hill Road to buy some wood to make clamps and this is my favourite thing.

Right the most time effective thing I can do right now is to go to the supermarket. Then I am going to correct the latest mistake I have made. I have planted two grafted melon plants in to tomato grow bags but I need to take them out and put a bottomless pot on top fill it with compost and put the melons back in.

Monday Mornin’ Comin’ Down
June 20, 2016, 9:49 am
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So I did my bookbinding workshop on Saturday and nobody ran out the room in tears so that’s a good enough indication that it went all right. I take so much stuff to a workshop for this one it literately was every thing that was on my bench and it takes a while to unpack it and put every thing back in the right place. I think that I will clear the bench and do some bookbinding.


But first of all I am going to the greenhouse and I am going to sow some seeds, clear some weeds and plant some melons.

When I went to the garden first thing this morning I noticed a mouse had been captured in the humane trap in someone’s garden so I released it. It was the right thing to do.



beeswax animals
June 17, 2016, 1:09 pm
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I like to have waxed linen thread when I am book sewing. The wax prevents tangling and it protects the thread. I have this mould for making chocolates with but I melt down beeswax and make these ducks and teddies. I did buy a Star Wars mould but was really disappointed by the results.

A manifestation of manifestos.
June 17, 2016, 12:53 pm
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I have been busy this morning putting together this little book for the workshop. I am pleased with the way it’s turned out and it was useful to find out all the problems which happened when I sewed the little book up.  I threaded up a full packet of needles to save time and l then proceeded to bend three of them and was aware that they could snap in two. I am putting this down to the decline of quality or I have become very strong because of my toiling in the allotment.

I might make a big cardboard model of the sewing process. It might help people understand it better.


working and playing with tools
June 17, 2016, 8:05 am
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I am teaching a workshop tomorrow. People have paid good money to hear me explain and demonstrate traditional craft bookbinding. I take this very seriously.

Because we only have two hours I will be banging on about very basic stuff and I will ensure that every one will be able to master basic pamphlet sewing. We will be sewing books with three hole and then five hole sewing. Emphasis is placed on creating a mechanism that will allow the book to open freely. This is essentially music manuscript binding. I like it because it’s very simple and very effective.

We only have a short time so I will be love bombing them with materials. I’ve spent the rather generous budget on lovely stuff for them. I was going to buy some really good paper but I was shocked at the prices. £6 plus for a sheet of 300 gms good watercolour paper is just too much for beginners.

The very best I can do in the time is identify the books they can use to advance their ideas about bookbinding and we will be ‘playing’ with my tools. We don’t do enough ‘playing with tools’ I made a little book last year for writing down the seeds I wanted to buy.


It is a silly little thing. But it gives me lots of pleasure.


So I have made books for the workshop. So every one has a model of a hand made book. It’s called ‘a manifesto of bookbinding’ what I want to encourage is for people to feel confidence in identifying what they like and dislike in the hand made book.

It’s easy for me to say that as I’ve got really strong opinions and I can put them out forcibly and I am going to back them up with a collection of other peoples bookbinding efforts and some of them are woeful and some of them are heart soaringly beautiful.

I know that this kind of value judgement makes some people very uncomfortable but when it comes right down to it. We judge books. The most obvious thing we pick up a book and examine it.  And that’s just fine.


Today I am going to do great things.
June 6, 2016, 7:45 am
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My husband was on holiday last week and has returned to work this morning. It takes a few days for me to re-establish my routine and I need to accomplish a great deal of tasks.

I am still looking at working through the list as effectively as possible and I am trying to be creative with the stress caused by teetering on the brink.

I have to begin to bookbind again. I have a commission to begin. I want to make some books using the beautiful Liberty fabric.


I think it’s going to be ‘flower’ books. Which means flowers on the cover with an onlay of leather and perhaps a title on the spine.


Obviously I am going to make more of these bad girls. I consider them to be the equivalent of practising scales.


In the garden I am close to finishing planting out in the two beds. Just got a ton of brassicas to plant and net. An evil pigeon got trapped in the middle green house and eat a couple of trays of plants and then threw it’s self at random panes of glass trying to find out  where the door was. It was doing me a favour as I have planted way to many plants.

I have finished planting in the poly tunnel. I have just about finished on two of the raised beds, I have just about finished planting the flowers in shade house. I have to weed and feed and plant the leeks in the leek trench. I will never ‘do’ show leeks again it’s rubbish.

In between all of this I have a workshop in less than a fortnight so I am going to prepare for it this week to get it out the way.

I know I am just randomly babbling a list of intentions here but it helps to get it in to perspective and I get closer to achieving some kind of compromise and it’s what I’ve done with my life.

In between all of this something wonderful happened on the tool front which makes me very excited and happy and anxious all at the same time. It does mean that I will be doing my very best with this chap.


trying to get back to binding books
June 1, 2016, 9:37 am
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I have been so engaged with working on the allotment that I have let the bookbinding slide. That’s all right as I don’t have anything to prove with my bookbinding practice and I am so relaxed about it. I have come to terms with my levels of success and failure and I make the books I want to make. I may be able to explore an avenue of bookbinding that I find exciting and it’s an opportunity I feel more able to exploit now than when I first identified it decades ago. There is a way to be good again.

I have a workshop coming up in a few weeks obviously I don’t have the mythical hand out ready for it it’s going to be two sheets of A4 with my stream of conciousness babbling about materials, tools and practice. I will as ever be banging on about just how we make the book handsome with labels and decorated paper. I’ll be giving away little beeswax animals and sewing needles.


I’ve been working at the allotment a great deal. Multiple sessions during the day as I am planting it out. All the stuff comes out of the green houses and goes in to the ground.


This is where you find out how obsessive you have become about cauliflower and kale.

I am going to bind some books this week, I am going to set up a work bench in the living room as I have broken my own work area so much.

I am going to print some labels for my workshop and some little prints to stick in to books.


I also have to make some preserves and I have never done that before so I have this little starter kit with four little jars and some plastic tools. I might have to make labels for the jars! I have to make chutney because I have a gazillion tomato plants and a forest of gooseberry bushes.

It occurred to me the other day that I am fiercely competitive about the allotment and I have massive ambitions for it and I don’t even consider myself a gardener. I am just a bookbinder playing outside trying to make a patch of land handsome.