Design Bindings of the Booker Prize 2021 – Tom McEwan [Bookish Talk #27]

This time we return to our Booker Prize bindings series to discuss the binding of A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam which was created by Tom McEwan. Tom is an award-winning bookbinder and the first Scottish guest on our podcast. It was a great pleasure to discuss his creative process.

We have also recorded another episode of the podcast with Tom where we discuss his career and some aspects of being a bookbinder in Scotland. This video will be published later.



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00:00 – Beginning
00:38 – Tom’s bindings made for the Booker Prize shortlist
01:38 – A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam
04:36 – How the sheets for the Booker Prize bindings arrived
05:20 – Beginning to work on the edge decoration
05:52 – Using the sheets of blank paper to fill in the shoulders of the book while pressing
06:33 – Where to start: design concept or directly binding
07:53 – Working on the edge
08:43 – Using gold foil for gold tooling
09:19 – Dyeing leather for the cover
14:53 – How many layers of color does Tom usually apply to his design bindings?
17:03 – How long does the first stage (dyeing, silk screen printing) of work takes? Using the hair dryer to speed up the process
19:42 – The finished binding
24:41 – Tom’s favorite part of the bookbinding process
27:42 – How does Tom know that his design is finished?
30:42 – Has Tom’s taste changed through the years?
32:00 – What if other people modify your bindings? Collaborations in bookbinding
34:42 – Tom’s attitude toward the boxes for the bindings
36:01 – Tom’s approach to making bindings for the Booker Prize shortlist
40:36 – Difference between binding old/famous and modern/brand new books
45:01 – Where in the world you can find Tom’s bindings

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