Growlygracepress's Blog

I can haz pork pie.


This is pork pie number one.

If I had to identify a ‘thing’ I do that is unhelpful it’s my reluctance to follow a recipe I dislike submitting to a list of commands in a precise order. When it comes to cooking I am a busker. However I own a gazillion cookery books and I love reading them I am just not that in to cooking from them.

However I have known for many years now that I wanted to make raised pork pie and the stars became aligned several months ago. I started to buy the ingredients so they were in the kitchen. The first thing I bought was lard. One morning I was making breakfast and I realised I had run out of vegetable oil for frying so I reached out for the lard and it must have been the first time I had fried with lard for thirty years. It was a revelation. So I kept frying with lard and it got better and better. I had to buy more lard and still in the back of my mind was I am going to make pork pie.

So last week I had been reading about mise-en-place as I am going to restructure how I approach bookbinding and I decided to make a pork pie.

This happened. I was trying to be organised and cleaning up all the time, I was weighing out all the ingredients, I was trying to understand the recipe, I was learning new stuff, I was failing to take note of what time it goes in to the oven, when it gets turned down and when it comes out. I was using scales, I had the wrong equipment, I didn’t even know how to use the ‘dolly’  this is the wooden mould that you raise the pastry around before you fill it with meat.

So I had to improvise with a bread tin. The pastry is way too thick but the filling was great, the jelly was great and as proof of concept it is a massive success.


This is pork pie number two

I made this the next day. I went to the shops and bought some measuring spoons which were a revelation, a spring form cake tin and some prunes. This was a handsome pie

The pastry was thinner and the filling was great.

I have learned tons and tons.

I am going to make more stuff out of the books. The next thing is going to be baked cheese cake then scotch eggs, stake and kidney pudding, French onion soup ( I don’t have the patience to caramelised onions ) and cassoulet.

I am doing this to become a better bookbinder and it’s already working.

The loveliness of Jeffrey papers on a book.
March 30, 2015, 8:04 am
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These papers are just beautiful and I can not do justice to them.

new funky tool.
October 27, 2014, 10:30 am
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At one time the master of the hunt would record the days hunting activities in a leather bound book and the book would have been tooled with designs like this. I think it’s great and I am like this with tools I treat them like a new piece of jewellery when really what I should be doing is using them for there intended purpose to decorate a books cover or to impart information about a books location on a shelf.


My favourite bad boy tool.


This one is still making me swoon with it’s beauty.

When I was at college studying bookbinding I was always reluctant to get ‘stuck in’ to gold tooling I know that that has held me back a little so this week I am going to focus and finish a project with the gold tools.

bookbinding workshops by the pound
October 9, 2014, 8:16 am
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If you wish to see me do my bookbinding workshops then you have a choice of two the first one is at Newcastle Arts Centre on the 8th of November which is all day the next one is just a short one at the Baltic on the 5th of December.

These workshops will be centred around traditional craft bookbinding techniques and materials. That means it’s linen thread, bees wax, kraft paper and scrim as usual the mantra is ‘say no to exposed spines’ In the full day we will start with making pamphlet stitched books in three and five hole stitch, then we put a cover on, we strengthen the spine and we make belly bands, stick on labels and make covers. We are warming up and playing with tools.

Then we make case editions, that means sewing on to tapes. The only difficulty people have here is sewing the second signature, the kettle stitch and adding a new length of thread. I think it’s important that people establish a good understanding of sewing so I take time and with each person and sometimes they can’t get it at all so for them we go back to pamphlet sewing.

We are playing with tools and materials and we are making books handsome.

The second workshop at the Baltic will just be pamphlet sewing as it’s just a couple of hours long.

For years and years I have been threatening to do a handout and I have never got round to it but this time it’s getting closer to reality. One thing I have discovered is the absolute joy of writing while travelling on a train. I was in Durham the other day and the train on the opposite platform was going the Penzance! I was besides myself at the idea obviously I would only do it in a first class compartment but I could write the arse off any project.

So the chances of getting a handout will depend on me scoring to York or Edinburgh train tickets in the next week.
Might try for York.

July 14, 2014, 11:38 am
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My husband says to me this morning “how are you going to advance your bookbinding?” and I tell him by getting so good, so perfect, so incredible, so outrageously great that to be ignored would indicate that a conspiracy is taking place and I can never win. So in that case go back to the ideas I had years and years ago and make the books that made me laugh. These are books that have very direct and bold titles on the spine.

sewing up multiple books
June 3, 2014, 12:46 pm
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I can stand at my bench all morning and sew books together. The day before I cut, fold and press the book block, I make the endpapers and press them. I then saw cut the sewing stations in the blocks and I sew like the wind.

It’s great if I can sew the whole book with out rethreading the needle so I wax and thread ten needles ready to go.


It took just over two hours to sew these beauties.


I have just bought the most beautiful gold tool and very thin black leather. It’s going to be great.

In praise of folly.
May 12, 2014, 8:14 am
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The biggest problem I face is I lose track of my ideas. I deal with a torrent of ideas and I fail in progressing them. I would benefit form a personal assistant who could do shorthand and could capture them and also move them on a bit.

I have ideas for series of books and I write down titles on scraps of paper and come across them again years later and think that was great why didn’t I move with that.
I have started a new notebook on progressing ideas, breaking it down to small tasks. Looking at what I need to do in order to make the books more viable.

Like I need a press to glue up books. Now I have a choice I can have one made which is the preferred option. Or I can lash something together which will be ugly but functional and much cheaper. If I was a tattooing sort of gal I would have “the best drives out the good” scripted on my arm.

So I am going to go and make some notes about progressing my ideas, I am going to think about what makes things ‘good’ and I will reflect upon what I need to achieve this week to consider myself successful.