Growlygracepress's Blog

finding my way home
April 9, 2019, 7:05 am
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I bumped in to a lovely woman in a supermarket on Friday and she asked me if I had made a return to bookbinding yet and I was standing there disassembling like mad. I was explaining the half painted room, the clearing out of unfinished books, the breaking up the collection of leather / paper / decorative paper and it came down to me stating that nobody wants the books. I am not bookbinding because nobody wants the books I make . She was saying I want them.

My husband has just left for work and he said I should make some progress on ‘bookbinding laboratory’ just do 20 minutes every day.

So that’s what I am going to do right now.


on the road to exquisite
February 11, 2019, 9:20 am
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When I think of the books I want to make I think about ‘exquisite’.

A dictionary definition states that ‘exquisite : marked by flawless craftsmanship or by beautiful, ingenious, delicate, or elaborate execution.

This is a good enough starting point and allows me to progress to the main event ‘how will I know that I have created an object that is ‘exquisite’ and then the devil is in the detail. I am not on the flawless craftsmanship bus.

I love watching the property porn programmes on the telly when the people want the house with the two bathrooms, four bedrooms, big garden, prime location and loads and loads of ‘charm’ and they have a totally unrealistic budget. They can have it all but they need to spend at least £50,000 more and settle for outside there prefered location. Maybe in an up and coming area.

I am not a delicate woman. I don’t have a delicate bone in my body. I am a bit roughty toughty, a bit nippy sweety and I am a bit confrontational. But I have my truths and principles and I’ll but up with a lot of shit before I go in to ‘truth mode’.

I am not a beautiful woman but I understand what ‘beauty’ it means when I handle the very best materials, pigments, gold leaf and tools.

So I am going to busk the craftsmanship, trust the suppliers, practice the gold tooling, continue investigating cutting dies, stick with account book binding and make it small. Keeping material costs down and make small exquisite books.

The work room as Identified Patient.
February 7, 2019, 10:49 am
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‘Identified patient, or “IP“, is a term used in a clinical setting to describe the person in a dysfunctional family who has been unconsciously selected to act out the family’s inner conflicts as a diversion. This person, often a child, is “the split-off carrier of a breakdown in the entire family system,” which may be a transgenerational disturbance or trauma.[1]

The term is also used in the context of organizational management, in circumstances where an individual becomes the carrier of a group problem’

So I pressed ‘publish’ and went in to the room and started to move out the piles of equipment and materials and it hit me ‘what if the ‘room’ is my ‘IP’

If I am being true to myself and my values surely I should raise my game as it were and remove all the obstacles that are preventing me from achieving my goals. Because I have ‘checked’ and my want to return to bookbinding is sincere and true. So all that I need to do is make it happen. No magical wand just clear out the space and get lose the ‘stuff’ that I have decided is holding me back.

Just do it.

the good enough work bench
February 7, 2019, 10:04 am
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This is one of these posts were I am talking to myself and just posting to say Hello and update on my progress.

I am committed to returning to bookbinding and in producing books that people will want to buy. If you bind it, make it exquisite, make it relevant at a price point that people can ‘do’, in a market place that you have total control (not a craft shop) then surely success will follow. I need ‘sucess’ because that pays for materials. I am not keeping a score and I will make books that give me pleasure. If people want to buy them then that’s even better.

Under the cover of ‘not doing much bookbinding these days’ I trashed my work area and delayed putting it back together. I put in new floor coverings, I bought new storage and best of all I decided to repaint the room all to put off and delay the inevitable. The day would come when I have a functioning work area, all the materials in place, a plan to make ‘magical books’  that time when all around you is perfect and your faced with a bench and a to-do list.

So my work area is today half painted, filled with boxes and crates and cupboards that are dumping grounds for equipment.

So it’s declaration time.

I will clear the area full of boxes and crates.

I will identify all the equipment I want to keep and put the rest on eBay.

I will finish painting the room and make it better. (I have walls that are half deep blue and half white when I say white I mean a million tons of undercoat and primer that I had to ‘knock’ out the blue with never use ‘signature’ colour paints in a whole room the cost of under coating it will bankrupt you. Rooms are white and magnolia for a reason.

I am going to make a significant move in this direction today.


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.