Growlygracepress's Blog

small but perfectly formed.
September 25, 2014, 8:53 am
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This fresh batch of tiny books are actually quite good.
I am given to the thought of making some that can be used as Christmas tree decorations. Because people need a reason to buy an item. Hanging a little book from a Christmas tree can be that reason.

handsome books


This is from last week.

What I liked most about this batch of book is that they taught me so much. Tons and tons of stuff.

It’s really easy to put leather on a tiny book. Bish Bash Bosh covers on. I am not sure if I like tiny books but we are about to find out if they will sell in a shop. The other thing about the tiny books is that they really, really need a delicate touch to the extent I have to cut my finger nails because I has leaving little crescent marks on the paper.

Bigger type is best. Big and bold clarendon in capitals makes the cover easier to work.

This level of concentration and effort is tiring and I should only do covers first ting in the morning.

this is my bench this morning.


This is the new type I am working with for my ‘shy bairns’ and ‘fuck yeah’ I know what you are thinking. That ‘fuck yeah’ book is not going to play nicely with the lovely hand made stuff at the craft shop.

Thats a bit of a problem.

tiny books of promise.
March 27, 2014, 11:14 am
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These are a tray of the little miniature books. I was told “I had shot what little credibility I had left” and I have to conclude that they are on the money with that.


I don’t care of novelty and I don’t want to make christmas tree decorations.

think I’ll sign off the dole.


and get a bit more serious about the bookbinding.


A couple of weeks ago I was chatting to a doggy person and I was compelled to confess that I was not remotely ambitious.

I like my practice and I try to make the best book I am capable of, with the best materials I can source and I want the commissioning experience to be valuable and worth while to the client. I want people who come to my workshops to be excited and passionate about making books. I want the little books I am making for sale in shops to be unique and proud and I want people to buy them.

But I would not consider myself an ambitious woman if anything I am a housewife and a dog walker, I make meals and fail to keep the house clean. I have an allotment that requires a lot of money spent on wood, paving and a poly tunnel and actually I am very ambitious about that.

So I am going to raise my game. From now on it’s about the number of books I have made this week, the number of books I am making and the number of books I have sold.

Every thing else is bullshit.

It’s quite likely that I am going to be making books with “cheese and onion pasty” and “the fog on the Tyne is all mine”

Stop me and buy one.


Stuck in a train with a mad woman.
January 7, 2014, 8:42 am
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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.

the use of KPI in craft bookbinding.


Key performance indicators, in practical terms and for strategic development, are objectives to be targeted that will add the most value to the business.

The objectives that I think would add most value to my bookbinding practice.

Being able to establish a work flow that would allow me to effectively 25 books at once.

Identify a number of customers who would be interested in the repeat purchasing of a specific type or style of book.

Identify key sectors where I can directly target it’s members who I believe would be interested in commissioning a book.

Find a number of shops and galleries who would be interested in stocking my little books.

Apart from the workflow problem which is a cruel and unusual punishment that causes me infinite pain and frustration.

What I want to do with these indicators is to run the numbers as it were on a monthly basis. Identify, contact and follow up on shops and galleries. Same with individuals.

I am not going to do trade shows as I don’t have the money so mostly I am going to have to find retail outlets by walking to them. I know what you are thinking a touch melodramatic but I intent on keeping it real here.

The other thing I am going to do is to directly write to potential customers with a hand written letter in my nicest hand writing and best printed envelope.

Buy a big sheet of stamps.

No binding of the year.


At any point in time if asked I could produce the book that I had I had decided was the best work I had done so far.
This year as I look back I am surprised that nothing springs to mind.
This year is the year when I said ‘no’ to practically every thing and then I was surprised when a couple of big organisations and people said ‘no’ to me.
Some times I do a book and I am so in love with it I hang on to it for ages and keep it on my bench where I can see it. But there has been nothing this year that did that for me.

I think the little ‘hinny’ book was close and I am working to make this series of Geordie terms of endearment better and really sticky in the hand.
So sticky they are bought immediately with out asking the price.


I have some really strong ideas for series or editions of small books, actually incredibly strong.

But I would have liked to be able to think of a book that made my heart soar.
I think I might just have to make one before the year is out!

on a lost teaching gig.
December 8, 2013, 12:56 pm
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I used to teach a quite serious bookbinding workshop to undergraduates at a local university in the first week in January have done for years. I made tools for the students so they can continue to explore bookbinding techniques. I think it was a good and popular class and I was actually very good at it.

I found out the other day that they don’t want me.
Thats fine it’s their decision to make.

I was going to use the money to have some fantastic tools cut. I wanted daggers, grenades and revolvers. I was going to make an edition of books that would be bright pink and loads of gold work, the kinda book that a female assassin would have.

The Geordie terms of endearments books.


Good or what?