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Fore-edge painting

The book to read, if you can find it, is Carl Weber's _Fore-Edge Painting_,
published in 1966.

There are a few varieties of this form of edge decoration.  Single or
double fore-edge paintings; painting under gold leaf (gilt edges) or
colored edges, painting under marbled and then gilded edges.

Basically, the book is fanned out and the painting is done on the exposed
top edges of the pages.  When the book is closed the painting disappears.

An easy(!) way to do this is to place a large wooden dowel or cardboard
tube under the middle of the back of the text block, bend the textblock
over the dowel/tube and clamp it into place.  The text block should be
fanned out at this point.  Now paint an image/scene/portrait, etc. on the
exposed top edges of the pages with transparent water color or dilute
acrylic and let it dry.  When it is dry, close the book and the painting
should disappear.

If you use gouache or full thickness acrylic it will thicken the fore-edge
and may cause other problems, such as sticking pages.  Then it is time for
gilding or marbling or marbling followed by gilding, or simply coloring the

If you can't find Weber's book, look for Edith Diehl's, _Bookbinding_
available in Dover reprint for some information about fore-edge painting
and gilding.


Jack C. Thompson
Thompson Conservation Lab
7549 N. Fenwick
Portland, OR  97217

voice/fax: 503/735-3942


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