The Fore Edge as a Resource

foreedge

As we know, a book is not defined solely by its cover. There are a great number of component elements of a book that can be intervened. The fore edge of the book is a resource that we can use to give more character to the design.

Paintings in the Fore edge

foreedge2

 

The fore edge painting is an art born in the tenth century, addressing the need of some publishers to highlight their books giving them an added value that made them luxury editions. It involves painting with watercolor the fore egde of an open book, so the only way to see it is opening the book (with the book closed the only thing you can see is it the smooth fore edge).

While this type of hidden paintings was born in the tenth century as mere ornamental drawings, its improvement began by the seventeenth century, leading to true works of art. The paintings on the fore edges can be found located in both the front edge, as in the other two top and bottom.

 

Autumn by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Autumn by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Winter by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Winter by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

The technique consists in placing the book in a special press, which opens it, leaving the fore edge at the angle needed to make it view a small portion of each sheet. Then you just start painting. So, at the end, you close the book, and the fore edge seem intact, but when opened, the reader can appreciate the painting.

fore edge painting press

If you are interested you can check the work of Martin Frost, a british artist that has been doing this since 1970. And sen us a pick if you find any of this hidden works of art in any of your books!

Thank you for Reading!

This article was posted by Ramiro here in spanish.

Article Sources: ForeEdge – Boston Public Library – Martin Frost – ForeEdge Painting.

Ramiro is a Graphic Design student ftom Buenos Aires Argentina, he currently works as a freelance graphic designer

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