Growlygracepress's Blog

Revisiting and remaking a decision.
April 26, 2016, 7:19 am
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I had a remarkable experience the other week. I allowed myself the opportunity of revisiting a decision I had taken and rethinking it with ‘new tools’ by this I mean I allowed myself to be guided. On the allotment I have a facility for growing chrysanthemums.

It’s a very big shade house covered on all sides with windbreak fabric because the flowers do not like direct sun as it can damage the colour of the blooms. I had decided that because ‘if I can’t eat it I am not going to grow it mantra’ I was going to fill the beds with courgettes, herbs, salad and tomatoes. I don’t care at all for the traditional allotment flowers like chrysanthemums, dahlias and gladioli and had in fact massacred the bulbs, tubers and roots of poor things which represented at least half of the whole allotment. It was brutal and I would not even give them away. I chopped them all up for compost and burnt the rest of them in a series of fires.

I was thinking about how the man who had created the allotment had given me every thing I would need to create a garden and my husband was saying in a small voice ‘you might not want to do that’ when ever I mentioned about vegetables in the shade house.

So I decided to think about growing flowers and I went about that days tasks of going to the market, the lit and phil, going to the allotment, bookbinding and cooking with the very positive vibe of ‘growing flowers like he had intended me to do’.

And it was lovely.

I became very comfortable about growing flowers and I connected the facts that I like drawing, photographing and pressing flowers. I have been prototyping book bindings that feature flowers.


I had just bought this rather beautiful fabric.


I just did not see the obvious solution about what to do with the shade house because it was the proverbial elephant in the room.

So I am going to grow hundreds of flowers.


what I did with the money
January 7, 2016, 10:25 am
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I get money from commissions, teaching workshops and the little books in the craft shop and I spend it on tools and materials and make more little books. I refine my ideas and my techniques get better.

At one point last year I made a little book and I was stuck by it’s own awesomeness and went about showing it to people and a couple of them said ‘yes! make me that book’. So I went back to my bench and failed to make it which has led to the current state of affairs where I am practically cloning the book ten times.

Last year I seriously thought about how best to achieve for want of a better word ‘success’ and I am currently making progress. In fact I was telling every one I met in December that I had concluded a really exciting time in bookbinding and I had great expectations.

Obviously I sounded absolutely bat shit crazy.

For what it is worth it’s this : Back in the Autumn  I was leaving a cafe / gallery and I turned around and looked at the people sitting at tables and what I seen was grandmothers, daughters and grandchildren. I realised that the grandmother needs and wants to buy presents and that all I need to do is make it.

So I went back to our old favourite Geordie terms of endearment.


I think that the black leather is to gloomy and decided to try again with some brighter colours.


So the first one was the eponymous ‘hinny’


It’s a goldielock book. It’s just the right size, it’s perfect and most of all it’s sticky. If I put it in your hand you will want it. As I was working through the books I came across a massive problem when I discovered that my lettering cutting ability is not what it should be. To put a pared leather title on a book means that the letters have to be cut out multiple times, I would cut them out of pared leather, I cut them out to make a die so I can get the position of the title on the book and I cut them so I can back pare the leather to except the dropped in letter.

I am not doing myself any favours in using my favourite font Clarendon as it was unforgiving straight edges. So I screwed up the books with sloppy work.


Poor beuk!


And then it hit me “that grandmother does not need to know it’s Clarendon’ she just needs to buy a gift” So I thought is their anyway I can get the letters punched out in any material I choose with out losing my mind. I am eluding to the horror that is using a computer driven vinyl cutter which did spit out letters it is to say the least a very harsh mistress.

So I thought what did the women who make cards and scrap books use before they moved on to vinyl cutters and I realised that they used die cutters on essentially a cylinder press. The card and scrapbook making business absolutely massive and I mean enormous. At least three channels of television selling tools and materials every night and on the news racks there must be at least twenty magazines about making cards.

So I spent the money on dies and leathers and I am going to die cut birds and stick them on books. It does not make the books any less hand made. They are just as much a tool as a hammer or a saw. Some books I cut with a guillotine and some I cut with a plough.

So we are going to find out this week what happens when you die stamp letters out of leather and stick them on a book.


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 Triumph and Disaster Impostors.
November 24, 2014, 9:08 am
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I don’t think I am going to complete this book. I think just cutting out the letters and working with the leather to this stage was enough wound licking. Onwards and upwards.

New Directions in Bookbinding
November 18, 2014, 10:16 am
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When I was college studying bookbinding I was probably the only person who was using the library and there was this big section on bookbinding 686 if we want to be Dewy about it. I absolutely loved it. After I left college I set about buying the books that I really liked and one of the books that had eluded me for years was this one “New Directions in Bookbinding’ and I managed to buy this copy of ebay for £7.50.

It’s a very strange book. Look at the contents page.


This is the only book I know of that goes seriously looks at just how you develop a design for a cover of a bound book and Philip Smith backs his methods up further by showing the pages of his own note books.


It’s just an astonishing tour de force. It just might be the only book on bookbinding that you would ever need. If you seriously applied yourself to the book and if you could access a mentor then you might just be able to pull it off. It would be like training for the priesthood.

My bench this morning.


This is two little books I was working on on Friday morning and they are very honourable failures. I bare them no ill will or malice and they will not be destroyed as they are noble books and have given me much information. There fate such as it is will be that they will be given away to anyone who wants them.
If I want to try out a design on a cover I just need to reach across and pick up a couple of books and set to work. I must have at least 50 on the shelf that are ready to be covered.

I am feeling a bit of love for the Christmas tree decorations of doom.


The bench is a bit of a mess though and I will give it a really good clearing before I set down to work. Obviously I am going to remake the two books from Friday.


On Friday I went to the Literary and Philosophical Society to get some books and later on that day I was investigating a tattoo parlour such is the life of a middle aged lady bookbinder. Obviously I was wearing all my green farmer clothes. The tattoo people were really lovely and incredibly welcoming and the shop was stunning. I will be returning with my camera to take photos. Obviously their will be a bookbinding opportunity! What do people do in tattoo shops? They flick through books of drawings while sitting on a comfy sofa. Obviously the artists are proud of their work and again I think that if I make a book for them I might have a interesting market.



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.