Growlygracepress's Blog

Working with students is always great.
November 26, 2018, 8:01 am
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One of the things that did go right for me at the course was that I had brought along a collection of models of book bindings. These are books that have not boards or covers, or have uncovered spines, or have ‘guards’ in every other page (this allows for items to be glued in and for the book to close)

What I noticed was that the group of students that were engaged with the process investigated and worked out what how these structures worked and they shared with each other how the books ‘worked’ and they used their own words and some of them then went on to innovated structures on their own books.

If I was doing a workshop again and that is extremely unlikely. I would do more work with the making of portfolios, envelopes and containers.


Form, storm, norm and perform at the bookbinding workshops.
November 16, 2018, 8:35 am
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So I finished the second day of the bookbinding workshops and I am going to record my thoughts on what went wrong and what went right and some stuff that occurred to me.

I am just some random yahoo who has a couple of party pieces about making books and how to get a small group of students to play with tools, materials and get them to make books that function and are made in a traditional method.

This is my model for a workshop : get the students to trash as much materials as possible so that they can test the methods to destruction.  Provide them with models and let them understand in their own way about how the binding mechanisms work. Allow them to share with each other their insights and I never ceased to be impressed with what the students do and I see it as a privilege and I am grateful that I get to see what they can do.

I think that this is probably the last time I will be doing a bookbinding workshop I was surprised that this one came up. The key thing for me is when working with students we have to get to work with leather as soon as possible because leather is forgiving and cheap bookbinding cloth is not. I am not making as many books so I am not making generating enough scrap, I am not coming across redundant materials as much and I don’t have that stockpile any more.

I make little glueing clamps, I make beeswax blocks and I share tools, materials and books and I encourage.


The Hand Made Book in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.
November 7, 2018, 8:25 am
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thread and wax

Tomorrow I am going to talk to a group of students about bookbinding skills and techniques it’s a small group and we are going to sit around a table and fold, sew, glue and paste paper, board and cloth. We will talk about the handmade book and what that really “means” as opposed to the machine-made book. This is the day one of a two day workshop.

On the first day we are going to focus on securing the block by which I mean looking at sewing techniques that will keep the pages in order we have created, we will look at the function of the end papers not just as part of the mechanism of the book but as art work in their own right that celebrate and concludes the book’s contents. ‘Steady on Deirdre that’s giddy stuff for this time in the morning’

Anyway the point of all gibberish today is for me to get it straight in my head about my intentions and to do a check list about what I need to do today for tomorrow to run the way I want to.

One day is going to be securing contents the next day is going to be protection of the contents by means of a boards, hinges and a suitable cover which can be decorated or not, fundamentally it will be about the function and purpose of a mechanism that allows the reader to access the contents and that the contents are protected.

All well and good then however we are not in a bookbinding studio so we don’t have access to presses and the usual suspects in tools and what we make will have to reflect that.

So today I have to do the following in no particular order.

I have to make some samples of little books. We are going to start by making pamphlets just to warm up and play with bone folders, needles and thread. We will make then make little books with end papers, books with covers, books with labels and books with bands.

I need to find all the examples I have previously made. (This might be problematic as I didn’t think I would ever do a workshop again and I might have binned a lot of stuff)

I need to round-up all the samples I have of artist books, zines and the likes and again I might have killed them all in a drive by shooting.

I need to make some blocks of wax for thread, I need to find all the linen threads (including the coloured stuff which students love and again I might have murdered in a I find the concept of any thread other than unbleached linen as unnatural)

I will find all the Jeffery papers, booklets, books and promotions that I have and share it with the students as it’s wonderful.

So on top of all this going on I have to go out and buy suitable sewing needles and I have to go to the sawmill to buy wood to make clamps to be used to saw cut sewing stations and to glue up spines.

I also want to go to the allotment and stare at the compost heap because there is a whole big family of rats living in it and I am about to go to war with them and I intend to win.


‘talking about bookbinding in a loud manner with a Scottish accent’.
November 3, 2018, 8:00 am
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still like this as well

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So I am off to talk about bookbinding to some students next month and I am going to use this here blog to put down some of the stuff I will be talking about. I am going to start doing this now because it’s good to get this stuff out the way.

I have always wanted to do a ‘handout’ but unfortunately I have impossibly high standards in what it should look like that I have been unable to make any progress for at least 20 years.

So I am going to start making random notes with old photographs just to see how I get along. It is going to be the usual judgemental, basis, opinionated and righteous blah blah blah that I have been banging about for years.

All linen thread, beeswax and good paper. Taking no prisoners and shooting from the hip.

At the bookbinding class.

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off to talk about bookbinding to students
November 3, 2018, 7:59 am
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Sometimes I don’t think I can improve on this.

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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…

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book labels
November 1, 2018, 8:14 am
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Little letterpressed labels on 300 gms paper which has been coloured. I now have a die with I can use to punch out really lovely label shapes. Lucky students.

The first rule of bookbinding club is ‘you must bind’
November 1, 2018, 8:05 am
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This time next week I will be doing the first day of a bookbinding workshop so that means lots and lots of things are happening. First off is the walk up Westgatehill Road to the timber merchants to buy wood to make glueing / sawing clamps for the students. This time I will take a camera to record the changes in the buildings and all the stuff that makes me grin when I see them. Then I am going to make blocks of wax to use with linen thread I am not that impressed with the Star Wars molds and I am bored with the Peter Rabbit.


Next I have to chop up all the materials and go through all the scrap materials for the students, I have to look at all the introduction to bookbinding books I have,  I have to find the collection of artists books that I have put together to demonstrate whats available. This might be a bit hard as I think I chucked a lot of them away in a fit of anger. I know I have the best three books because I love them so much. The rest not so much.

I might do some printing of labels as I have a thing about books and labels.

Mostly I am going to think about what I want to say about the learning and applying bookbinding skills for art students. I am massively basis on this one and I think the very least you can do as an art student is to make your own books.

I am thinking about making a book which will embody all the stuff I go on about. I would wave it about like Martin Luther. A book that has painted end papers and is a non standard size but mostly the cover will be judged and it won’t suck and it may have to have a bird on it.