Growlygracepress's Blog

Making the little books for money.
September 23, 2016, 7:52 am
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About a year ago I had an insight about just how I could compromise my need to make books (I shall expand on that ‘need’ thing at some point) the time required to make books, the need for stuff to be sold in craft shops, (again I shall expand on the ‘need’ and ‘stuff’ at some point) and I came to some far reaching conclusions.

If you caught me going about my travels last year and if you asked me how things are going I would have been overflowing with gibberish about ‘new’ ideas, understandings, giddy excitement about the bookmaking process. I seen a possibility that I could make books that please me and would be bought as a gift. Every one wins in the transaction.

I have been working at making changes to the book making process with the emphasis on adding value where ever possible. I have got the size of book right down so that the raw materials costs are really low, I have been working in series of tens and making all the components at the start and assembling, I am putting effort in to becoming more effective at the practice (again I will expand on what I understand by the ‘practice’)

I think I have a map with a route clearly defined as to where I am going.

I think I can make a little bit of money if I make the books as effectively as possible and use esty or what ever its called to sell them. I know it’s not rocket science but I have the whole picture now. What if for the next twenty or so years I divide my day time between working at my bookbinding bench and the rest of the time working at the allotment.

Doing both tasks to the best of my abilities and have no tolerance to faults.


Giving it all away.
May 27, 2016, 9:00 am
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So I had this bag of ‘hinny books’ and I crossed the road and went in to the apparently prestigious art gallery in I am straight in to the shop and they were selling ‘stuff’. I had every intention of asking to see the buyer and showing the nine remaining ‘hinny’ books and I felt bad because I was getting reading with the excuse that the next batch would be better and I had ironed out the flaws with the positioning of the letters.


There are just little books but they really punching above their weight and I am biased but they were the best things in the room even in the plastic bag and I realise that neither me or the little books belong here and I left. I decided that who ever I meet on the walk home can have a book for nothing and in a rare event I did not bump in to any one I knew.

I then decided to give them to women who I like. Just put the little book in their hands. Here have this. Think I have two left.

“hinny” is just an arbitrary word they could be called anything it was a proof of concept.


the practice of practice.


At the heart of the bookbinding is my continuing attempt to make books to the best of my abilities, using a method of construction that is joyous, using the best materials in the world and having a unique take on the design of the cover.

Fundamentally it’s about going to my bench and making progress. I achieve ‘progress’ by identifying and tailoring a solution to the perceived ‘problem’

Problems can be solved by throwing money at them and trashing materials until it gets ‘fixed’ Another way is to become totally submerged in the process of making that the ‘work flow’ will not allow for sloppy work, that being neat, clean, precise, smooth and elegant becomes second nature in the process. It helps that your making a series of them.

Make ten books, evaluate them, identify what works and what failed then make another ten books.

Make them better.




a spring collection


I think I might give considerable thought to designing and making a spring collection of books and prints.
I think what I could do is pick a date what ever the so called official first day of spring is and develop a themed collection of work.
Present them on that day.

I am still in a relationship with the usual suspects : flowers, early Celtic bookbinding and lettering, Sybil Pye and the reasons for love.

I’ve managed to get some money from a little bit of teaching and I’ve sold some books so I have the materials. I am sticking to small sized books as they don’t spook people out.

the good bookbinder
October 7, 2014, 8:11 am
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I have realised that I have misunderstood something important about the level of ‘failure’ that I embrace. I was always very cool about being a failure. I fail a lot because I am very critical about my own abilities and I am not as skilled as I would like to be. I test my notions and ideas and I am brutal. I know deeply and intuitively when a book judged as a success and on a handful of times I have made a book that I believe to be outstanding.

I took some books to the craft shop the other day and I realised that they would be great company for the other books that I have made which are languishing on the shelves. They do look beautiful and bless them they are ridiculously cheap but they are not flying out the doors. I thought they would. They still might.

I should be shouting in my loudest voice about my books, I should be banging my drum about them instead of mealy mouth apologetic mutterings in a single craft shop in Newcastle.
This is not heroic failure it’s just stupid and unnecessary failure. I need to find more outlets and I am going to fail better.

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.

My name is Deirdre and I have the best ideas in the world.


I have spent the morning preparing to do some printing only to discover that I had actually had started the project and had put it aside like some piece of knitting.

Annoying it was unfinished and I still have to do some more work on it but I was pleased to see that the plates I was setting up to print were the same ones that I had actually printed.

I own gazillions of photopolymer plates of Bewick and Crawhall engravings I play with them like children play with toy cars and I treat them the same way as well.

So proof that my ideas are strong and can survive not being written down and have an action plan. But it would be so much easier if I had a register of my ideas and a tick box if I have actually finished them.

This morning I went out to buy washing up liquid to clean the press and I was thinking about the church craft fare and I thought about a little book I could sell at it called “my fucking amazing ideas” and I was really excited about the little book but it took a bit to register that perhaps this might not be the best venue to launch it.

I love my ideas and if I could get paid for coming up with shit it would be great. Perhaps the next best thing is to put the ideas on a book and sell the book.

I know that I want to make a series / edition of books and I don’t know where they could be sold. I know that they are bookshops that specialise in selling artist books but I am not and never have been a book artist.

I think the artist bookshops might be the better fit for my books. So I have got a pile of photos and prints together and I think I need to write a little bit of what I do and I’ll send it off and see what happens.


I am going to go out and have a dig but I will be thinking really hard about ‘my fucking amazing ideas’