Disappearing Fore-edge Painting

The Judge

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At the weekend I attended an Historic Life event at an open air museum, which included mini-talks on different aspects of books, ranging from making quill pens, to recipes for inks, to bookbinding. Among the craftsmen and historians attending was a chap who is a fore-edge painter, specialising in disappearing fore-edge painting.

I'd never heard of this before, and it occurred to me that it's something that might be of interest here, not simply for its beauty and history, but because it's the kind of touch that could make fantasies set in the C17th to C19th come alive.

Basically, it's a painting done on the very edges of the leaves of a book -- the book is fanned (by pressing down at an angle, not fanned outwards like a pack of cards) so the edges are held at an incline to the cover, not at right-angles -- which is then concealed behind gilding done to the very tips of the leaves.

Here's the wikipedia page on fore-edge painting Fore-edge painting - Wikipedia and here's the website of the chap we saw who is apparently the only professional practitioner of it The Artist | Mysite 1 -- this page shows him working on a painting, which shows how it's done better than I can explain it.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I've seen instances of this before—online, not in person—and I think it's pretty awesome. And you are right, it's the kind of detail that could be used in a fantasy novel, or really any sort of novel, to good effect.
 

The Judge

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I guessed you'd have heard of it, Teresa, as it seemed just the thing you'd have come across in researching Goblin Moon.

I could have stayed there hours watching the chap. He'd done a Harry Potter book and was showing it to a little girl, first the gilded edge of the closed book, then the image of HP, then back to the gilded edge. The expression on her face was just as if she'd seen magic done, with the picture appearing and disappearing!
 

Teresa Edgerton

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No, I came across it more recently than that, and I can't remember where or when. But it is the kind of thing I would like and remember, and probably would have used if I had known it when I was researching GM.

Being reminded, my thoughts are filled with ideas for how I might use it in the future. (So thanks for posting about it!)

____

Oh! And I've just found that if one Googles fore-edge painting one can find a couple of videos on how it is done, as well as a number of articles with lovely examples of finished paintings.
 

-K2-

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Impressive! I was expecting something more like this...




Shows my level of culture... :cautious:

K2
 

Parson

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For a person whose drawing is far below par, the idea of a painted edge like this is astounding. Glad to know about it!
 
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