Growlygracepress's Blog

Selling hinnies by the pound.
May 27, 2016, 7:57 am
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A couple of week back I sold a ‘hinny’ book it was from the original group of ten.


It was the one that was perfect I am not saying the other nine are differently loved by I do consider them to be ‘bashed hinnies’ It was the perfect one that I took to British Library and introduced it to the little St Cuthbert’s Gospel.  I have done mad shit in my time but that audacious act tops every thing. Comparing and contracting a piece of work you have done with a masterpiece is really illuminating.

And I was not humbled. I was not daunted. I was not embarrassed by my efforts. I was not found wanting.

I gained powerful insight in to what the bookbinder who made the book was achieving with his effortless grace. Last year I seen the gospel at Durham and I was the first person in the gallery in the morning and I got a chair and sat down and filled my note book with drawings and impressions of it and tried really hard to write my impressions of it. Getting the little book to talk to me. I bought a post card of it and it’s on the bench at all times.



making hand decorated endpapers on a Monday morning.
March 9, 2015, 9:52 am
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These are endpapers I am putting together for a ‘beauty book’ they are hand painted and stamped and are asymmetric and they are a start that I mean to go along.

The power of making.


I have taken it for granted for so very long that when it comes to sewing a book I sew on to tapes which I cut from a sheet of tyvek and I don’t need to use a sewing frame. I have a very proper and ancient sewing frame it’s an absolute monster, a positive whopper and it lives on the top shelf with lots of other heavy bits of equipment.


There it is lurking at the back. Being awkward.

One of the reasons why bookbinding equipment is so expensive is that it made to be used in a professional setting and could mean that the equipment could be in use every day so the sewing frame needs to be robust, have the capacity to allow for the sewing of very large books and that the binder might want to sew multiple books one after the other on the same sewing supports. Hence the the ‘awkward’.

I want to sew little ‘beauty books’


And I want to sew on to ‘cords’ so I need a sewing frame and I decided that I would just bash one together from the ‘materials at hand’ this means that all the materials must be at hands length from the bench and no comparisons or considerings. Just bash, bash, bash and job done.
So I made this.


I thought of how it would work and what size it should be and how I could solve the hardest part of it and proceeded to manufacture it.
It’s not pretty and I can’t saw straight but it will do the job I intend it to do. I might at some point make a beautiful one but then again this one works.

When I thought about the process of making the sewing frame what I found surprising was that it was the making of the allotment shed that made it possible. It’s possible to view shed building as a deceleration of war or at the very least a statement of intention. I seriously recommend that you take the opportunity to make a big structure that is water tight and secured by a door. It’s massively empowering one of the best learning experiences I have ever engaged with. I have never have felt the need to swim with a dolphin or climb a mountain but I believe these to be over rated compared to the simple pleasure of building a shed.

I choose to build sheds.


“I choose to build a shed. I choose to build a shed in this season and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of my energies and skills, because that challenge is one that I am willing to accept, one I am unwilling to postpone, and one which I intend to win, and the others, too.”

I had to build a shed and my heart would skip a beat as I finished the bookbinding and I would race down to the allotment and work on my shed I was really excited by the process of making something so big and uncompromising, this was not a little book in my hands this was something that if I got it wrong could cause me serious injury. My bones could break.

Yesterday an old allotment man laughed at it and told me it was a waste of shed felt. I agreed with him totally and explained that I was interested in learning how not to make a shed and I considered myself well taught further more when I remake the new shed in the late Autumn I will be stronger. I pointed out to him that I was also teaching myself everything I am going to learn about erecting a greenhouse by getting this one wrong and I own all this knowledge myself and I am indebted to no one.

I don’t have a cement mixer and I don’t to negotiate involvement with some one who does. I want no chains of obligations.

I built a structure that will contain my tools and materials and keep them secure and dry. I am totally responsible for it.
The shed felt cost £15 and nails and screws cost £15.

controlling the impulse to get stuck in.
January 13, 2015, 10:59 am
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I have to lay some paving and then build a brick structure and then place some how and then the green house base goes on the wood and is secured with screws. But I have no experience of brick laying and I have even at the best of times a hazy relationship with ‘straight’ and ‘true’ so I have to be really careful and use the spirit level and have bits of string stretched out to keep me right.

Now I could wait until the week end and get some help from my husband but that will mean that I will have to do as I am told because he has done this before and he is massively competent and methodical to boot or I could have a bash and maybe what happens is I learn some new ways on how not to lay paving.

I don’t like not being able to make progress on a project that is stuck. It like a black cloud that threatens to rain.

The best use of my time would be to finish the roof on the mighty shed and do the preliminary work on the greenhouse site and then watch a great big pile of instructional videos about brick laying!

But first I will have a bacon and fried potato sandwich to build up my strength.

I believe in reassurance.


I’ve been reviewing all the books I have on bookbinding techniques and methods and I have come up with several conclusions.

Lot’s and lots of photographs showing techniques is great.
Celebrate the fact that the reader was made the positive decision to engage with the hand made book for a particular project.
Be explicate that the book models that are displayed are the result of a twenty year career in professional bookbinding.
Be accurate in an assessment as to how long it will take to reach of ability.
Encourage the use of materials that are at hand. Buy the pva from B&Q if it’s convenient.
Everything is permitted. Nothing is out of bounds. Buy leather garments from charity shops and cut them up, glue and paste them down and learn from them.
If you are flogging a particular philosophy about making and doing then shout it loud and proud.
Be accurate about equipment. I can’t imagine engaging in the book making process with out access to a nipping press, a lying press and a plough or guillotine.

I’ll think of some more but that’s enough to be going along with for the moment.

One of the best books I’ve seen about bookbinding in a while.
January 8, 2015, 2:08 pm
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I am still processing all my thoughts after doing the series of bookbinding workshops in December. I am still struck by my total commitment to the handmade book. I got to thinking what if I can find a really great book on technique that I can use as a text book and work through all the examples make tons of samples and let the workshop students know that this book can let them become the bookbinder they want to be.
This is a great concept. It goes wrong because this book is just a little bit intimidating. Actually its still fantastic but dear God its scary stuff.

Years ago when I was learning to marble paper I was very frustrated that the book showed beautiful photo after beautiful photo of beautiful faultless paper but my paper sucked big style and I had to trash a lot of paper and paint before I got examples that I was happy with.
When I started bookbinding it took a long time before I got books that were good enough to give away to the children I was regularly babysitting. I could not give the books away they were so bad.
I had to make more and more books and work at solving the problems that I was incorporating in to the books. Poor measurements, bad glueing, rough work and the books would not be square.
And I was actually attending college with a good tutor, reading loads and loads of books on technique and it took considerable time and effort to get to a level I was happy with.

This is a great book an outstanding contribution to the craft. I am going to promote it at every opportunity and I am going to say it’s going to be a long, long journey but this book will be your constant companion and you won’t ever get lost.