Winners of 2013 bookbinding competition named

By Jenny Roper, Monday 13 January 2014

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The winners of the Designer Bookbinders’ Bookbinding Competition 2013 have been announced at a ceremony at the St Bride Foundation, London.


The competition has been held every year since 1974 to encourage professionals, amateurs and students to develop their technical and design skills, with a particular emphasis on helping up-and-coming bookbinders become professionals in their field.

Each year all entrants have to bind a set book, which this year were special editions of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Edward FitzGerald, donated by The Folio Society. Alongside this, binders can also submit up to four bindings of texts of their own choice.

This year 12 prizes were awarded, as well as four Highly Commended Certificates awarded by the Antiquarian Booksellers Association.

The Mansfield Medal for Best Book in the Competition, went to bookbinder of nine years Tom McEwan for his binding of the set text. For this he used a process of reverse transfer printing involving photocopying and softening this toner using thinners.

“It’s a huge honour,” said McEwan, who has now achieved this accolade two years in a row. He added: “I suppose my signature style is quite angular and linear. I’m so happy that I’m at that point now where most of my income is from bookbinding.”

McEwan, who works from a workshop in North Ayrshire, Scotland, also won The Folio Society Prize for the Set Book and The Clothworkers’ Prize for Open Choice Book.

Also taking home more than one prize, was bookbinder of 22 years Jeanette Koch, who won the St Bride Prize for Finishing, and also The Judge’s Award.

She said: “Winning gives you a tremendous sense of self-confidence and motivation. The competition is so important because it’s encouraging young up-and-coming binders to have a go with their creative work. Most are working in trade binderies and designer binding is a passion on the side, so a competition puts you in the position to do that speculative work. And it helps you get recognised.”

The awards ceremony at the St Bride Foundation on 10 January marked the return of this competition and exhibition to London after many years of exhibiting elsewhere in the UK.

The entrants will be on display in the foundation’s new Layton Room until 24 January, with late opening on the 16 and 23 January.

President of the Designer Bookbinders society Stephen Conway said: “This is a wonderful venue and we’re looking forward to many more years and exhibitions here.”

He added: “The standard of entrants to the competition this year was incredibly high, and it very difficult to select winners.”

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