Friday, April 14, 2006

Fore-Edge Painting

This blows my mind, as I've never seen it before (and for as many books as I've touched in my life so far, it's a surprise): artists have used the edges of the pages of a book as a canvas. And, it appears, not the actual ends that you see when the book is closed, but just inside of the page edges, so you only see the art when the book is open. This technique is called fore-edge painting, and my description pales in comparison to actually watching video of it in action. It's like watching a magician do a card trick; you see the start, and the end, but the in-between is where things get weird.

The dimestore-novel concept has, in a way, really wrecked the book world. Books changed from a valued object, created with care and designed artistically, to something to be tossed away when finished. I also recently handled a 19th century German bible -- with the embossed cover and silver clasps -- and wish they still made books like those. Admittedly, back in 'the day', both the painted-edge books and the hearty leather bibles cost big bucks to obtain and were out of the reach of most people's income. Today, the same would still apply, as the Arion Bible, printed classically via letterpress and bound in fine leather, sells for thousands.