Growlygracepress's Blog

prepairing the allotment for the winter
October 10, 2018, 7:42 am
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I am a winter gardener. I say it loud and proud. Other people are clearing their plots and won’t return until the spring I am getting stuck in and trying to grow stuff in deepest winter. I figure that the allotment rent is for 52 weeks of the year and I should get my monies worth. So I am tearing down the remaining tomatoes in the poly tunnel and I will plant onions, beetroot and more lettuce. I have planted dwarf and climbing beans, new potatoes and peas on the other side about a month ago and I am going to sort out some fleece for them and a lovely water supply which I am going to stick in some seaweed meal to the barrel to perk up the plants.

I have planted kale, cabbage and leeks where ever I could. I will finish of the peas today (did you know that you can get three crops of peas during the allotment year?) I have some winter hardy peas for containers and I keep them in a green house. I pulled all the tomatoes out of their pots and raked up the soil I will and more compost to them and some long-lasting fertiliser and fill the pots up again and plant carrot seeds and leave them in a cold green house till the late spring.

I am going to empty the greenhouses and chuck buckets of Jayes Fluid around, I will service at least two paraffin heaters so that they will actually work when I come to switch them on.

I get extra good girl reward points if I compleat the following : actually insulate the green house now with bubble wrap, wash the curtains that I hand around the bench, the restored and functioning parafin heater resides under the bench and I am a high priestess accessing the tabernacle.

I am going to get really traditional here and start leeks or is it onions on Christmas day and a week later I start the onions or leeks. Whatevers.

While all this is going on I want to paint the shed. I want to make an automatic watering system for trees (I am a serial trees in containers killer) I want to install taps all over the plot so I can attach hoses and fill watering cans wherever I want. I want to fix my glorious leek trench (every woman needs a leek trench)

Every time I go past the allotment shop I buy a couple of killos of blood fish and bone or bone meal or hoof and horn or seaweed meal. I am going to clear the areas of the garden I don’t have stuff growing in and turn it over. I the early spring I will include all the lovely fertilizers I’ve stockpiled add bags of manure, soil conditioner and my favourite ‘growmore’ and I am going to rotovate it in. This means using the terrifying petrol powered rovatator which weighs tons and hates me. But I have seen a beauty boy battery driven rovatavor which I am head over heels in love with and I know it’s going to be rubbish and the old men will laugh and laugh but I am going to buy it and use it really early in the morning and it will be my secret boy.

He’s cheaper than the pair of boots I am longing for.




Corner cutting
October 9, 2018, 8:06 am
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note two

My chief objective in any course was to get the students to play with tools and maybe as a side benefit make a few books. I  believe that the lack of familiarity with using tools is a set back for wannabe artists. So I gather up my tools and go and have a free for all and it’s the variety of tools that makes for a good learning experience.

This is a tools that cuts corners if we are going to create a “moleskine”  we need lovely rounded corners.


what I talk about when I talk about bookbinding to students : a meander
October 9, 2018, 7:57 am
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note one

What I understand the structure of the book’s purpose is to secure the precious contents by a ‘sound’ binding technique, attach a cover and ensure that the materials used in the cover offers further security.  I am going to accomplish this task by the use of materials that I am comfortable in using. In my case it’s linen thread, high rag content paper, mill board, legal buckram and / or leather.

Because I want to I am going to make the book handsome I want the end papers (which secures the ‘block’ to the boards) I want them to be hand decorated. This is a nod to the traditional use of marbled and illustrated papers made for the purpose if I am not going with this then I am going to use black paper over 120 gms.

We are going to start making simple books using a simple but strong technique called pamphlet sewing, we are going to start with three stitches to secure the block with in the cover and move on to five stitches.

In the next steps we will use end papers, cover the boards, make a ‘dust jacket’ and a ‘belly band’

But mostly we will address the notion of what do I have to do to make this book handsome, how can I get it to stand out, what do I want people to experience when they hold it and the most important question to be answered how do I use what methods I am comfortable with to make this book outstanding and how do I make multiple copies of it.


Last night a bookbinder saved my life.
October 8, 2018, 8:42 am
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My own return to planet bookbinding continues. I have moved all the tool chests, I have taken down the shelfs that were making me unhappy  I will clear out all the drawers and put labels on them so that I know where stuff is. The work bench will be clear. A drawer will be used for the tools I use every day, a tray will be purposed for these tools.

At least one of the three ploughs I own will work to a standard that I am happy with.

The guillotine blade has gone for its last service before I have a new blade made for it and it occurs to me that I live in Newcastle there are a lot of light engineering shops around they can make me two.

As for the work on the bench I decided that I am at my happiest when I am making absurd numbers of books at the same time so I have surrendered myself to this.

I am currently making twenty books.

‘talking about bookbinding in a loud manner with a Scottish accent’.
October 8, 2018, 8:23 am
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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.

ideas are like plants
August 8, 2018, 8:30 am
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One of my mantras that I bang on and on about goes something like this : that all my flaws and mistakes are always on show and that every endeavour that I undertake will make them visible.  I make the same mistakes all the time and it’s every where.

I seen one the other day. In the garden I was late for planting out for the summer, I really hammered the planting out for the winter and I was not great at keeping on top of watering the main beds.

I planted way to much kale, cabbage and cauliflowers and had them ready to go in to the ground when a space became available or I decided where to put them or when I got around to it.  So what happened was I had a lot of plants in white plastic cups randomly placed around the garden, some in blue plastic mushroom boxes some just waiting to go.

One of the things about the plants are they are not all club root resistant and they now all pot bound and screaming to get in the ground and I have not planned enough space that I can net to keep the birds off.

I was so focused on the winter I failed to get the summer fully established.

Some of these plants are really non viable. They need to go to compost bin.

I get way too many ideas. I don’t take care of them. I don’t value them.

I did change my practice in the greenhouse. I decided to grow disease resistant tomatoes. I grew cherry size fruits, I watered them twice a day, I placed the pots in a tray and watered from the bottom and fed them from the top. They got Sunday lunch of comfrey and seaweed. I got thriving plants and loads of tomatoes and cucumber.

The right plants in the right place protected from predators, fed and nourished.

no body likes a cry baby
August 1, 2018, 7:11 am
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DSCF6518 Word Press told me the other day that they were going to take the monies from my account for hosting this here blog and I thought I should get my monies worth by posting some random shit that I am thinking.  Hence me going blah blah blah about ‘not’ bookbinding. Fact of the matter is and strange as it may seem people actually read this stuff and on a regular basis. The bleating about not making books is really unpopular and no one wants to read but if I put ‘ decorative papers of J & J Jeffery of Edinburgh’ in the title then it’s going to get read. Maybe if I put in a made a pile of books for a craft shop and covered them in Jeffery paper and they still did not sell it would make me feel a lot better.

I could write a splendid blog about tradition English Allotment gardening,  It would be about winter gardening, hot beds, leek trenches, brassica cages, grafted plants, black tomatoes, sacred cauliflowers and cold frames in the winter and it would be really, really popular but it’s my own little daily practice and it really is of no consequence.

I write about not bookbinding and the hopeful return to making books because in a very real sense being and becoming a bookbinder is vital to my identity just as not practicing as a bookbinder is vital to me.

Meanwhile in the real world today I am going to plant out kale and leeks, I am going to do battle with vines and I am going to feed a couple of likely lads of cauliflower that just might be entered in to a beauty show in September.

At some point I am going to clear out one single drawer in my tool chest as a start perhaps the one with collection of broken and hard glue brushes.