June/July 2013

The most important entry in this latest blog is at the end but an awful lot has happened prior to it…so plough through all that goes before…

We had a brief stay in Lowestoft in June for a family reunion and went to Norwich to see the Stonework as well as a lot of other things, 

the North aisle,

Blythsburgh for the flying angels,

Minsmere for the Marsh Harriers, Mediterranen Gulls, Bearded Tits, Bitterns and the Stone Curlew which we couldn’t find!

Since we made the decisions in February, July has loomed ahead until now, and here it is and it isn’t anywhere as bad or as daunting as we thought it would be!  The Grange Open Day, after a four and a half hour journey on the Friday night from Le Manoir to The Grange, was lovely.  Kris had her own courtyard shaded by the Medlar tree.


Elizabeth spent half her time on the hot foil machine making bookmarks and the rest of the time in the press room.  Connie and her friend entertained with original music and were much appreciated by all.  Calligraphers from the Shropshire scribes, Book illustrators for the Medlar press, authors for the Medlar press, story tellers, artists, bookbinders and bookartists, printers from Ludlow and locally… the collection of people were all there to celebrate the “BOOK”. 


A week later was the Grange Summer School.  The meadow, which was a few weeks behind because of the wet Spring, had been surveyed by Shropshire Widelife and they found 135 species! 


Art in Action last week, the last one I shall ever do, was great fun, lucrative, stimulating and jolly.  On Sunday morning before the customers descended, Hikmet, from Istanbul and Craig, from South Africa via Orpington, arrived at my stall at the same time.  Too good an opportunity to miss for photo stop.  Three marblers at the same time!

Hikmet Barutcugil is the World master marbler and has influenced me ever since I met him in the 90s at my first A in A.  He won the “Best of the Best” last year with his 10 metre long fabric marbling. 

Big News

I have decided to cease trading at the end of this year! 

This year has many events that will be my last. 

WEST DEAN College June 21 - 23  - my final Marbling Course -

ART in ACTION  July 18 - 21

Oxford Summer School  July 29 - August 3

Herefordshire Art Week (H-Art)  September 7 -15

Throughout the year I have marbling and bookbinding courses here at Presteigne and at The Grange.  I shall continue to teach at the Grange in the future but not any where else. 

I am hoping when all commitments have been honoured I shall be able to spend some major time working on my own books, I have felt a bit like the successful cobbler whose children have been running around in bare feet!  The first big project will be the continuation and completion of the David Hume volumes (see the annexed blog).  Then I shall start on rebinding all my periodicals that have at some time been stored in a damp and tasty place for slugs as they all have slug teeth mark trails all over the covers! 

This Spring has been eventful, not least my foot operation but all is getting really better at last.  Last Monday evening, Roger and I were reminiscing about our school and training days.  Roger attended Handsworth Technical School in Birmingham in the late 50s, where amongst many skills learned he made a pattern for, and cast in Alumimnium, a little anvil.  My Father in the 60s and 70s went in the evenings to Hammersmith College where he attended the ornamental woodturning class.  On one occasion the class had a visit from a rep from Record, the company that made g-clamps and any kind of cast metal tool etc.  He was given a tiny iron anvil as a publicity gift.  Below is a picture of Roger’s and my Dad,s anvils. 


Yesterday Kris spent the day learning and creating her first head band. 

For a first attempt this is really good, the tension is correct and she remembered to balance the pattern when she got to the middle. 

a hand written World Record

January 13th 2013

Last year I was contacted by Nick Dubois asking me if I could supply a book for a project based at the South Bank in London in connection with the up coming Olympics.  After a long discussion about what might be suitable and an explanation of the original idea for the book I had made (see the Laurence Sterne entries below) this little book winged its way to London and a very excitingly grand new life.


There follows a link by way of a thorough explanation of the project with images of the book in situ and with some of the poet’s inscriptions.




Scrooge McDuck

Another on Boxing Day 2012

Scrooge McDuck came into our lives a few Christmas’s ago acquired from Andy at Courtyard Antiques in Presteigne.  He unfortunately had a poorly foot which has now been operated on and is healing really well.  He is able to put all his weight on the foot at last.  We are waiting until a future date to finish off the cosmetic surgery, not that he will need much…



End of 2012 news…very belated

Boxing Day 2012

Majorie’s daughter, Martha, when she came to visit us soon after we moved here to Presteigne in 1990, took a photograph of one of the first production runs of marbling that was possible in the undecorated bathroom.  I know it isn’t a very informative picture but it sure does bring back memories of using pure pigments and gouache which since 1991 I haven’t used at all. 


This November, Adam Watson came and used the facilities to make a Christmas card book for a friend.  Kris drew the calligraphy for him.  Adam has the most brilliant original ideas for one off books and this was no exception, a long stitch binding with a concertina guarding between the sections. 



David’s Jules Verne book is coming on well.  He has now to tool the title and the silver track across the front cover.  It is onlay leather work.  There will be more images to follow…


This years end of year offering has been a big undertaking.  Dave Castle’s photographs, Jon Ward-Allens letterpress pages, Marion’s, Kris’s and my input into the production of 50 copies took quite a long time but it really is worth it. 



These are the two images that Dave made for us.  The sad thing is that I didn’t make sure that there is something for every letter of the alphabet.  I could so easliy have put a quoin key on the bench…never mind! 





We used Arbelave bookcloth, 17 different colours, for the covers and at a little less than A4 in height, they give a good feel to the production and show the Bindery, personel and work off to great advantage.  I have only 20 now available but I doubt if they will last very long! 

UP & DOWN 10th August 2012

Sunday last was out Ruby Wedding Anniversary.  We had a lovely happy celebration with friends and the Sun.  Thank you to all who came. 

Tuesday Mig died, we put her to rest next to Barley under the Rowan.  She had had a good day previously and thoroughly enjoyed Sunday hoovering up the tit-bits and saying hello to everyone.  14 and a half is good age and she certainly lived her life to the full.

This is one of the last pictures of her.

Latest Evening Class work by Anita…and the new arrival at The Grange. 17th July 2012.

This is Anita’s latest creation, a non-adhesive binding without kettle stitches.  The materials are interesting…Magnani broad laid paper for the pages, Colorplan burnt orange for the cover (sadly this paper is now discontinued), Harmatan fine goat together with some 19th century legal document vellum for the tapes and all sewn together with silk thread. 

Anita has decided to make another book immediately (only Blue) and the same as this one that she made along the lines in Shereen LaPlantz’s Cover to Cover.  

On Friday last, Les Baynam, of Homeward Bound, delivered a 1930s Crossland 30” bladed Board cutter to The Grange.

With help from Steve, he had it set up in 3 hours, it is a beauty and cuts correctly.  Les is at pains to say that it is not restored just cleaned and regulated.  So far as I’m concerned it’s perfect.  THANKS LES! 

Now we get to use it at The Grange Summer School.  There are still vacancies!

The Grange Open Day. 30th June 2012

Kris arrived in Presteigne at 7:25 and we were off by half past.  Managed to get up the A49 quickly before the main daily traffic started and was ready and able after a welcome mug of coffee by 9:10.  (The previous day had been a nightmare with a closed bridge at Leintwardine and silly faulty traffic lights in Craven Arms.)  The day was very lively and a constant stream of visitors came through the Medlar Press Print Shop and the Medlar Bindery. I didn’t have a moment to take pictures during the day but managed a few before the visitors arrived.    This is Kris about to take the first trial sheet off.  She was able to give away over thirty sheets so the drying rack was empty come 4:30.

Marion was responsible for the sewing demos.  Sewing 2-up on cords, 3 tape case binding and long stitch sewing.  I didn’t see her for the rest of the day as she was surrounded all day. 

In the Print Shop were George and Jessie Miller of The Hedge Sparrow Press.  www.hedgesparrowpress.co.uk  and Gerard O’Shea of Gwasg Gregynog  www.gwasg-gregynog.co.uk 

Also Ken Burnley of the Silver Birch Press  kjborby@yahoo.com and working along side Ken was Elizabeth Willow who is learning the trade as well as print finishing. 

Latest Student work 2nd July 2012

On Thursday last Anne continued with her tooling practice.  She is in the process of making a couple of sets of paper sample books of hand made papers from Ruscombe Mill.  As she is a book designer as well as craft bookbinder she is very particular about the covers of these books.  They will be covered in quarter calf and different hand made papers.  Anne decided on blind tooling rather than gold or coloured letters, so using 24pt Goudy Old Style she is learning the skills and patience required to tool leather.  The first picture shows cold ink practice on bank paper, the second shows hot practice on calf offcuts…the very necessary repetition to get practice in straight lines of letters and even impressions.   

At the same time Sian was learning the intricacies of 2-up sewing on cords! 

Latest Student work completed. 27th June 2012.

On Monday nights I hold an evening class for bookbinders.  Sue has been attending for a few years now and this year tackled the “big” book.

It is the National Holy Bible (circa 1890s).  The condition was not good and long hours were spent cleaning before commencing on the forwarding.  The state of the leather around the spine and board joints was very poor so rebacking was in order.

Sue is very proud of her first ever head and tail bands, sewn with pearl cotton on a gut harp string core. 

When later this month the rest of the website is updated you will be able to see Sue’s book in progress, all be it as a small part, in the panoramic photograph of the Bindery that Dave Castle took in early Spring.