Growlygracepress's Blog

love bombing at the bookbinding workshops
March 9, 2016, 8:04 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,


On my next bookbinding workshop I am going to give the people who attend a little pack of  book plates / title labels and they are going to be all lovely and embossed.


Best off all I am going to make a little envelope to contain them.


My lovely sister is taking me to London for a jolly jaunt and I have a first class ticket on the way back. This means that there is the slightest possibility that I might do some work on the legendary bookbinding handout. ( I can only ‘work’ in first class carriage when I get complementary gin and tonics)


My usual excuse of not having a copy of ‘word’ on the computer has failed as I understand that my husband’s new mac has it installed. I really must do my hand out it would be a bit of a laugh.




fear, uncertainly and doubt and hand craft.
January 9, 2015, 9:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,


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.

the bookbinder’s fear of putting on a leather cover.


I have generated a massive number of books. I’ll go and have a quick count. It appears that I have at least 75 books which are need to be finished. Even by my standards thats a shocker!

Until the book has a cover which would preferably be full leather these books are just a block of paste, paper, thread, board and cloth. They cost pennies and my time has no real value.

The leather is the most expensive part of the book. At times I’ve had no money and I haven’t been able to buy materials. Also there is this thing of ‘proof of concept’ I have proved enough concepts that I don’t need reminding any more. Enough already with the concepts.

The thing with the leather is this. The Chicken is involved, but the Pig is committed!

So the concept I am going to chase is this I get the leather on these books and get them sold.

I’ll take a photograph of the bench later today and we shall see whats has happened concept wise.

top shelf bookbinding pornography revisited.
February 26, 2014, 12:05 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,


I noticed this pile of equipment that I stuck it on top of my tool cabinet. There is a vertical plough, a sewing frame, a finishing stove, a corner cutter, two long reach staplers and a regular plough.

It almost fetish porn!

I am updating this entry because I noticed that it was looked at yesterday but the photograph was broken so I have fixed the link. Also I didn’t mention that in the pile is another of the great tools form the Dutch company Louet. It’s a press for perfect binding.

In order to consider today to be successful I will have achieved the following.
January 20, 2014, 8:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,


I will have finished that business report I had to write and hand in before Christmas.

I will have finished the current batch of letterpress thats on my bench.

I will have cut out the letters for “the books of hate”

I will have made the springs for the ‘edition’ books.

I will get the leather on the “seed” book.

I will make the numbering stamp work properly and not be frighten of it even though it mocks me.

and I’ll start by taking the dog out for a walk.

Stuck in a train with a mad woman.
January 7, 2014, 8:42 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,


This is a true story. This actually happened to a young fine art student.

A couple of weeks back my sister bought me a train ticket and the return part of it was for first class travel so obviously I was giggling like a school girl. She took me to the train and made sure I was sitting in the right place and left me. Sitting across from me was a young man and I just knew he was an art student.

I was still smarting from losing the teaching gig with the undergraduates probably in mourning for the beautiful gold tools I couldn’t buy (remember a dagger, revolver, a bomb and a skull and cross bones) Might go to the library mines to raise the money for them.

Anyway I decided to give the poor student the benefit of the gibberish I spew out for the bookbinding students.
Mainly because I am attempting to write it up as a hand out and I think a couple of the things I say are worth while and are not in the public domain.

In no particular order.

Learn you a bookbinding for great good.

The ability to sew up a book in the paper of your choice with a strong protective cover is probably the most important skill you could learn. (obviously I peddle bookbinding teaching so I am unspeakably biased)
But think about it for a minute. If you can make your own sketch books, you can make them to a size you like in a paper you like, you can make them in a ‘series’, you could easily reproduce the contents in a reprographics kinda way and most importantly ‘your’ sketch books have just become book art.

I pushed the understanding of paper. I’ve been talking to young art students for years and fact is they are poor and have little money for materials. My principal message is ‘find a paper sold by the sheet and stick with it’
Buy really good paper and buy it in a heavy weight. Work on the individual sheet. Because.

Everything you know about keeping a sketch book is wrong.
This fetish for the ‘beauty book’ is unhelpful. Filling sketch book after sketch book after sketch book and having a shelf of filled of filled sketch books I think is limiting. Regurgitating half thought out ideas, committing them to paper, to a proscribed number of pages again and again and again. Well it might impress an art teacher but seriously it’s big effort for little reward.

Now thats fighting talk and I am going to go and make me a bowl of plum porridge while I gather my thoughts and memories.

My honourable intentions.
January 6, 2014, 10:12 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,


My husband has returned to work after a very long break and I am now alone with the dog and I have to put in a new structure and order in my life.

One of the first things I normally do is I set about writing an unfeasible ‘todo’ list running maybe between 70 to 100 things I would like to do. They are mostly about the day to day management of the house and my real job of wife, dog walker and maker of packed lunches.

I always have this dream of going about having coffee and chatting but really I just want the adventure of going out with my bag. It’s a really nice bag. Also I don’t know many people and I am as dull as ditch water.

If I was going about with bag and having an actual life instead of wondering what happened to all the lids of plastic lunch boxes. I would perhaps go and photograph Georgian Squares and do some research in the special collections of the university of a artist who I much admire. Hang out in the graveyards looking at lettering.
Ride my funny little bike. Go swimming. Devise advertising campaigns for my little books and enact them.

I could do some letterpress, I could write up my thoughts on teaching bookbinding to a room of bored students. I could get my head around how to order cheap train tickets on line and have a campaign of visiting art collections I’ve always wanted to see.

I should be bold and outrageous and have a time table of wild and exciting activities. I should reach out to people and say please meet me for coffee.

I should have a massive clear out starting from the back yard and marching through the house removing all the rubbish, the broken, the not needed, the ill fitting and the down right annoying. Must account for at least a third of the house contents. There is plenty of empty bins in the street I could just dump every thing.
Absolve myself of the responsibly of curating the museum of me.

Bookbinding is the constant. On my bench I have to make a special book that I am really looking forward to.

And I have to make a book to record my experiments in seed germination. It will have an cut index. High excitement and considerable tension.