Growlygracepress's Blog

Today I am going to do great things.
June 6, 2016, 7:45 am
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My husband was on holiday last week and has returned to work this morning. It takes a few days for me to re-establish my routine and I need to accomplish a great deal of tasks.

I am still looking at working through the list as effectively as possible and I am trying to be creative with the stress caused by teetering on the brink.

I have to begin to bookbind again. I have a commission to begin. I want to make some books using the beautiful Liberty fabric.


I think it’s going to be ‘flower’ books. Which means flowers on the cover with an onlay of leather and perhaps a title on the spine.


Obviously I am going to make more of these bad girls. I consider them to be the equivalent of practising scales.


In the garden I am close to finishing planting out in the two beds. Just got a ton of brassicas to plant and net. An evil pigeon got trapped in the middle green house and eat a couple of trays of plants and then threw it’s self at random panes of glass trying to find out  where the door was. It was doing me a favour as I have planted way to many plants.

I have finished planting in the poly tunnel. I have just about finished on two of the raised beds, I have just about finished planting the flowers in shade house. I have to weed and feed and plant the leeks in the leek trench. I will never ‘do’ show leeks again it’s rubbish.

In between all of this I have a workshop in less than a fortnight so I am going to prepare for it this week to get it out the way.

I know I am just randomly babbling a list of intentions here but it helps to get it in to perspective and I get closer to achieving some kind of compromise and it’s what I’ve done with my life.

In between all of this something wonderful happened on the tool front which makes me very excited and happy and anxious all at the same time. It does mean that I will be doing my very best with this chap.


my cunning plan to lure people in the craft shop.


It’s the old geordie terms of endearment titles but this time the leather will be coloured and on layed and big and bright enough to attract people from across the street. It might not sell but it will amuse me for a bit and I think I have developed a new method in preparing the leather to accept the cut out letters.

I’ll promote the little books with a bit of Crawhall nonsense. Honest.


Making the right choices about a printing press being loaded on a trailer.
April 1, 2015, 6:49 am
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I was coming out of the allotment gate yesterday when I seen a man struggling to place a printing press on to a trailer and that is not a sight you see every day and I said ‘I like that press’ and he said do you want to buy it as I can transport it and I realised that I could buy it and I would have a great big press and I came to my senses and I said ‘No’ and I walked away and then I walked back and realised that I really didn’t want it and I checked again with all my feelings and I knew I was right I didn’t want it and I didn’t need it.

I was loving the fact that I was making reason based decisions and there was a total absence of emotion. I was being rational.

I was thinking earlier this year that I really suck at typography. I know good page layout when I see it but I am incapable of doing it and worse than that I have nothing to say in beautifully hand set 18 point italic Garamond. Again I am being rational.

The printing I do is little more than rubber stamping and I do it because it makes me laugh. Again I am being rational.

Besides I have a big old proofing press under the bench I have not even begin to makes it’s acquaintance.

As I was walking back to the lovely old Cropper press I was calculating the price for rollers and how much a photo polymer base plate would cost through the lens of I suck at typography.

I love it when I am in a rational state.

While I am at it I know that my books are not selling in the craft shop because the hot lights are warping the covers and the books are in failure mode. No one wants to buy a book that will not close. It’s the first thing they teach you at bookbinder clown school.
I am going to get the books and put them in a press for a nice long squeeze. If that fails I’ll open up the endpapers and line the boards and re paste the endpapers again.

I think I need to find a bookbinding technique and materials that will withstand display lighting.

We don’t have enough Paisley Pattern in our lives.
March 10, 2015, 8:21 am
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I found this remnant of fabric languishing outside a vintage shop yesterday it cost a £1 I am going to back it with a strong paper and use it either for a cover or for a cloth joint on ‘made endpapers’ it depends how much it frays.

churning out the Bewicks
February 13, 2015, 2:43 pm
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I have been printing some Thomas Bewick cards today. I believe in bang for buck so I print on the envelope and I added a beautiful feather as well.


Tomorrow I am going to print up a storm with the Joseph Crawhall blocks.

‘When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy tools and materials’
February 12, 2015, 1:42 pm
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Sorry to mangle Erasmus but truth is I buy the clothes from the charity shops and the food is reduced because it’s on the sell buy date!
I eat like a king and I dress like a middle aged woman bookbinder who has an allotment.

I managed to get a little bit of money together over the Christmas period and after much deep thinking about how best to progress my projects I decided to have these blocks made so I can work out how to ‘do’ the blind panel stamping of medieval books.


It’s coming along.

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.

fear, uncertainly and doubt and hand craft.
January 9, 2015, 9:01 am
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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.

It’s not enough to slap Celtic illuminated letters on a cover.


I have been ‘playing’ with Celtic lettering on books for years now and I have always been disappointed in the result. Mainly because I have taken the lettering and taken it so out of context that its failed me. I have been reviewing this work and I think I haven’t taken it out of context enough.








I reckon that if I go back and look a the Celtic lettering again and make the books smaller and incorporate more features of a medieval book then I might have an object that people will buy. Key thing is to make it small.

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.