Growlygracepress's Blog

In the palace of righteous crap.
September 8, 2016, 7:44 am
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Last week I walked out the house and went directly to the carpet shop and bought and arranged new floor covering for the study which means that every thing had to come out and will have to go back in. I then went to the computer technician and gave him a pile of computers and asked that he makes them all better and do a factory reboot. I am just about to press ‘pay’ on a tool chest.

I am way to tolerant of the multiple of duplications of items I own. It’s the problem with living with some really good charity shops I am on auto command to buy when ever I see them : Royal Worcester evesham dinner service and le creuset pots and pans. The dog eats and drinks out of le creuset and I can do a medium banquet with the prissy plates decorated with asparagus, corn, plums, pears and brambles.

I have a slush pile of hand bound books. I think I might have a fondness for about half a dozen the rest are just taking up space. I have decided to redistribute them amongst a couple of people I know who have children under ten. The books I think as B+ will go to someone who reached out to me.

I am going to assess every tool and decide it’s fate, every single sheet of paper will live or die, every prop I have bought to create a narrative that I may have signed up for but really wasn’t prepared to do the deep down dirty hard work. I give you calligraphy, floral painting, typography and watercolour. It’s all going to go.

Shops are great store houses and if I am overwhelmed by the need to draw I’ll go and buy a pen.

I am sitting in the living room and the study contents are rammed in and I can see four lying presses and five ploughs and I know I have at the last count three band nippers.

The playing around with watercolour paints taught me how to buy good quality paints and what paper I like to paint on. I believe that the handmade book is made better by having hand decorated endpapers and I enjoy the rush of putting colour on paper.

I got to ‘here’ by thinking about the space around me and the tools and the materials when I am making a book and I want the tools to be stored appropriately and to be in good order. I want to materials to be the best I can access and stored appropriately and not hoarded.

I went past a house yesterday that used to be home to some eco / social justice warrior types and a team of men were just tipping every thing out, smashing it up and fling the remains on to the back of a van. My heart cheered that the horrible mosaic plaque which featured at the front of the house had met it’s grisly fate. I hate bad art.

But I did like the men taking out the rubbish.


On being effective.
September 1, 2016, 9:54 am
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When ever I get some money from some bookbinding activity I invest it in to becoming a better bookbinder. So I trying to work out what’s the best thing to do. I think I can be more effective if I absolutely clear out my work area and have better storage for tools and materials. I should identify what tools I am not working with and have no plans for ever using and I should get them on to ebay so I can realise the value and buy more tools.

I should buy whatever book I think is going to help me communicate what I think about making books by hand. Even if the book is ridiculously expensive.

I need to get a technician fix a computer and get the phone and ipad all to talk to each other.  This would mean facing up to the fact that this machine is ten years old and has ten years of unedited photographs on it. I don’t do the phone at all and I should because I really like the timer function.

I have been procrastinating about buying a photo printer and a scanner but managed to decide that it would be more effective to get the photos printed out by professionals so the phoney baloney little book of flowers might actually happen.

I really don’t need a Barbour jacket even if it would make me look really cool.

I think if I get some one to actually fit some new floor covering in the study it would force me to actually have a specific and identifiable date in time when every thing has to come out the room.

I am now going to see how much of this I can achieve immediately.



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.

I believe in the right way of doing things.
August 17, 2016, 7:51 am
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I was talking to someone yesterday and I was going on and on about the balance of getting things right and minimising the things I got wrong. The person was uncomfortable about ‘wrong’ and I was explaining that in bookbinding there is a right way and a wrong way of binding a book. If we apply a technique that means the contents of the book is insecure and subsequently the contents separate form the case than that is a clear case of failure and is totally avoidable.

Bookbinding is about constructing mechanisms that make the book secure, lets it function and that these techniques combined with consideration about the materials means that the book be around for years to come. I want to future proof the book for one hundred years.

In the garden I got things wrong and I got things right. What I did best was that I planted out the entire plot with plants that I started from seed from three heated greenhouses.

I failed to appreciate that the garden had a considerable problem with invasive weeds and that I did not have a practice in place that allowed me to be effective at combating them.

I should have went in with soil testing kits and mapped out the whole area and treated the soil effectively.

Every plant went in to a hole made with a bulb planter and a handful of grub. So I am feeding the plant and in early spring I am going to feed the soil using the rotavator.

Erratic watering caused stress with the broccoli and they produced seed.

I need to plant three or four lettuces every couple of weeks.

I am putting plants out at the moment and I am taking care with the brassicas. I am going to make them a big old house, I am going to use weed suppressant fabric,  I am going to grow them in pots in the ground.  I am going to protect them from the evil club root.

When it gets down to it sometimes the solution is chuck money at it.

On becoming effective and working with purpose.


So since the start of February I have been working on my new allotment and it’s an enormous challenge. The bookbinding has been on hold and it’s my intention to clear the deck and make a new beginning. My work area has become so overgrown with unfinished work, finished work, experiments and new materials that in order to save the village I am going to have to destroy it. I am going to have to move every item out of the room and assess it and put it in either the correct storage or put it in the bin.

Every piece of paper, board, tool, leather, pens, writings, books, furniture, and bound book are going to have to make it case for living.

Then I am going to implement all that I have learnt in the past couple of months in creating the allotment. Primarily it’s in the area of being effective when doing a task and using the the correct tool appropriately. There is also some stuff about how I experience ‘time’ when I am being effective.

Another thing I want to implement when I begin binding again is accessing an experts opinion about how to accomplish a task. Yesterday I was planting leeks when an old man said ‘Deirdre what are you planting? and when I said leeks he said ‘do you have a dibbler?’ and I waved it in the air and he said ‘No you need a  great big one and go down six inches and then place the leek in to the hole and the planting distance is 12 inches apart” So I found the great big dibbler pulled out all the leeks and replanted them the way he suggested.

The books that I am going to make in the future : Small batches of small, colourful books, random coloured end papers, Geordie terms of endearment (just discovered the husband absolutely hates the the term hinny on a book but he’s wrong) and books that nest in the hand. These little books don’t cost a lot to make but I need to be able to pare the leather right down to allow it just to ‘float’ on the board. Which means no need to ‘back pare’ the cover to receive the ‘on lay’. So I have bought new tool which is essentially a reversed engineered sharfix tool  I just need to put the time in to learn to use it.

I may need to access a teacher who can help me get better at pareing leather and I am cool about that.

I am a woman of wealth and taste.
April 28, 2016, 1:31 pm
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It’s going to be my birthday tomorrow and I have decided I need a present I was considering some new earrings but I am a little afraid that the whole baldness thing will result in me looking like a funny bald Christmas tree. I’ve been wearing ‘sleepers’ for ages now but at one time I had a considerable collection of odd charms that I wore and I only stopped wearing them as I hated the inevitable of losing them.

Perhaps I need to take my brave pills and seek out the little blue bird, the feminist axe, the skull, the bit of jade, the bit of turquoise and the little quartz crystal and see if I look all right with them on. I might look like I have a junk yard hanging off my face.

Not a good look.

I asked my husband’s opinion on two pairs of earrings or I should buy the tool I had been lusting after. He said tool as I will be so happy and pleased when I use the tool and I will have forgotten about the earrings in a couple of days. Wise and clever husband. I bought the tool and I am thrilled about it.

Did I mention that I have three green houses? It’s a bit excessive isn’t it? All heated with wretched paraffin. When I went down to the allotment first thing this morning it was very frosty and lots of ice. The poor broad beans in gardens where looking very sorry for themselves. I have planted nothing in the garden and won’t until the middle of May.


I don’t have much space left and I have to move on a lot of plants.


Look at these handsome leeks. I am going to get membership at the local workings man’s club and hang out there on a Saturday afternoon and drink pints with the men in the gardeners club.


This is the result of the decision to do flowers. This whole bench is flowers.


Going to do sweet peas.


Leeks, onions, shallots, chives and bunches of spring onions.


I am going to do a good solid session of bookbinding tomorrow. I am going to make ten ‘hinny’ books and they will all be perfect.


In every dream home there is a shed ache.
April 7, 2016, 8:28 am
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So I got a new allotment and I have been working at clearing and cleaning and in doing so I have learnt so much. The main thing is about the very real archaeology of objects stored in ‘out buildings’ the ‘stuff’ is on the allotment site for a reason, because he believed it had value or needed saving or could be adapted or because he had an idea. He would refer to the ‘stuff’ as junk. I knew it was treasure and I had to stop him from taking it to the local tip.

‘He’ is the man who created the allotment over a twenty year period and I now have the garden and the stuff he didn’t need or want or stuff he particularly wanted me to have.

He had a collection of old gardening tools that I have been restoring, using a wire brush on the metal, sanding the wooden handle and rubbing it with the linseed oil that he left.

I have three wheel barrows. One needs a new tire which I have. The other needs to have it’s tire re-inflated and I have two tire pumps.

I have twelve watering cans along with a hose pipe watering system which every bed has its own hose. The old gardeners liked to use watering cans directly at the root of the plant. In the summer when it’s hot I will be setting out a lot of filled watering cans with saved rain water adding a liquid feed.

Best off all the stuff was the improvised tools, the mending of existing tools and the honest repair of equipment.

In dealing with the ‘stuff’ I realised that I have the equivalent of a shed in every room of my house. There is an area of space where items have accumulated and have become a mixture of junk and artifices. Clothes I will never wear again, books I will never open, tools that have manifestly failed to do the task, piles and piles of paper, failed knitting and sewing projects, orphaned books, bits of dinner service I will never use.

The important lesson I have learnt on the new allotment is ‘de-sheding’ and I got really good at looking at something and working out it’s intrinsic value in a time period of now and in the future. When faced with a collection of ten old paraffin heaters the answer is stash them away and get the best ones working. I am becoming an expert on the care and rehabilitation of old paraffin heaters.

The other thing I have learnt is finding out a particular solution and acting on it immediately normally by pressing the pay button on ebay and getting the tools or materials delivered. I have become very solution focused like a simple arithmetical equation ‘this plus this’ equals a trip to Wilkinsons buy an item and enact the solution.

De sheding is fundamentally good for the soul.