Growlygracepress's Blog

In the palace of righteous crap.
September 8, 2016, 7:44 am
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Last week I walked out the house and went directly to the carpet shop and bought and arranged new floor covering for the study which means that every thing had to come out and will have to go back in. I then went to the computer technician and gave him a pile of computers and asked that he makes them all better and do a factory reboot. I am just about to press ‘pay’ on a tool chest.

I am way to tolerant of the multiple of duplications of items I own. It’s the problem with living with some really good charity shops I am on auto command to buy when ever I see them : Royal Worcester evesham dinner service and le creuset pots and pans. The dog eats and drinks out of le creuset and I can do a medium banquet with the prissy plates decorated with asparagus, corn, plums, pears and brambles.

I have a slush pile of hand bound books. I think I might have a fondness for about half a dozen the rest are just taking up space. I have decided to redistribute them amongst a couple of people I know who have children under ten. The books I think as B+ will go to someone who reached out to me.

I am going to assess every tool and decide it’s fate, every single sheet of paper will live or die, every prop I have bought to create a narrative that I may have signed up for but really wasn’t prepared to do the deep down dirty hard work. I give you calligraphy, floral painting, typography and watercolour. It’s all going to go.

Shops are great store houses and if I am overwhelmed by the need to draw I’ll go and buy a pen.

I am sitting in the living room and the study contents are rammed in and I can see four lying presses and five ploughs and I know I have at the last count three band nippers.

The playing around with watercolour paints taught me how to buy good quality paints and what paper I like to paint on. I believe that the handmade book is made better by having hand decorated endpapers and I enjoy the rush of putting colour on paper.

I got to ‘here’ by thinking about the space around me and the tools and the materials when I am making a book and I want the tools to be stored appropriately and to be in good order. I want to materials to be the best I can access and stored appropriately and not hoarded.

I went past a house yesterday that used to be home to some eco / social justice warrior types and a team of men were just tipping every thing out, smashing it up and fling the remains on to the back of a van. My heart cheered that the horrible mosaic plaque which featured at the front of the house had met it’s grisly fate. I hate bad art.

But I did like the men taking out the rubbish.

Tending my garden.
August 23, 2016, 8:35 am
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This is the cutting garden on my allotment I did it because I thought I would do something bookish and printish with the flowers which will probably be prentiousish.

I will go down and take cuttings and put them in a flower press and do ‘something’ with them still very keen to do cyanotype.

I will let the flowers go on for a few more weeks and then I will lift them. The allotment has a lot of aggressive weeds for lots of reasons, the garden next to me was poorly worked for several years, the lovely chap whose garden this was used a lot of weed suppressant fabric and straw to keep it down to a dull roar and when I came along and pulled every of the weeds came back with a vengeance.

It was overwhelming and one time real despair. The allotment has two open beds which are very large areas with out paths.


Traditional allotment technique is to use planks of wood to walk upon to hoe the beds and it’s a bit of an art form. So I am going to divide the beds up with paths. Making a total of five beds it’s now more manageable, I am going to use weed suppressant fabric which has holes cut out to plant through. I am going to a weed burner. I am going to weed methodically and take the weeds of the garden on a daily basis. No weeds left behind.

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.


playing at the bookbinding
May 1, 2015, 11:27 am
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I had to wait in for a courier the other day and I decided that I would do put a cover on a book. I had totally forgotten how engrossing the process actually was. I’ve been so busy with the allotment that I have been neglecting my work.
It was great just processing letters, leather and paste.


I make such a mess when I work but that’s all right because I  clean it up.

Today I am waiting in for the courier so I have the ‘to do’ list I drew up for Tuesday.


And I am going to do the rest of it. I did the ‘do some leather lettering’ and I will make dinner and lunch.
The rest of the list looks lovely. I will look at books, try techniques, read all my project notes, prepare plant pots.
But obviously if the courier comes in the next five minutes I am off to the allotment.

Cutting down the trees to see the wood.
January 23, 2015, 12:57 pm
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I’ve been engaging in new working patterns lately I work out what do I most want to avoid and I do that.
I don’t want to improve my gold tooling, I don’t want to work with my new plough, I don’t want to make a tiny little note book in book cloth and I don’t want to finish a sequence or edition of little books. So I have to positively engage with these activities every day and I need to clearly describe what is making me uncomfortable with the processes.

At the moment I am avoiding the massive clear out of my immediate work area which is getting clogged up with unfinished little books I need to clear them away to make more room for more unfinished little books.

One thing that I have discovered is that I have misplaced or lost all my coloured linen thread. I hate that when it happens. I am already in mourning for my little orange scissors that got lost when I was doing the workshops back in December.

Sometimes we have to clear away the junk in order to see clearly.

new funky tool.
October 27, 2014, 10:30 am
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At one time the master of the hunt would record the days hunting activities in a leather bound book and the book would have been tooled with designs like this. I think it’s great and I am like this with tools I treat them like a new piece of jewellery when really what I should be doing is using them for there intended purpose to decorate a books cover or to impart information about a books location on a shelf.


My favourite bad boy tool.


This one is still making me swoon with it’s beauty.

When I was at college studying bookbinding I was always reluctant to get ‘stuck in’ to gold tooling I know that that has held me back a little so this week I am going to focus and finish a project with the gold tools.

and there will be titles…..
July 14, 2014, 8:32 am
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As soon as I can buy some brass spacing.

I suffer or rather ‘the work’ suffers from my heavy hands by this I mean that I can be unsubtle, work can be uneven, not fully thought out, I can have issues with the quality of the finish.

But some times I am down right dangerous.

I have melted type in a type holder over a finishing stove more than once. While it in no way resembles a stream of hot lava it can take you by surprise when a puddle of metal hits the bench.

This type is cast from a harder metal and it will take some heat but I have no spacing materials so I am going to get some brass which won’t melt at all.

So the little books will be named.