5/31/2009

Finishing demonstration




I went to a bookbinding demonstration a few weeks ago, I am all out of sync with blogging at the moment, but better late than never I suppose. The demonstration included ploughing a book, something that I have never done before and edge painting, which I suppose I will never do, but loved learning about.

When the sections of a book are first sewn together inevitably the pages will give an uneven edge to the book when closed. To give a beautiful, even finish to a volume the book may be ploughed in a book plough, seen here. The plough has a sharp blade, which trims each page to produce an even surface. This surface can be left undecorated or it can be marbled, gilded or painted to give a decorative effect.

We were shown how an edge can be painted by first applying a thin coat of size to the surface. Acrylic paint was then used to decorate the edge; this was later waxed and burnished to produce the most beautiful finish. Amazingly none of the pages stuck together!

In the past some books were painted in such a way as to conceal a painting along the fore-edge. The book would have been placed in the press at an angle; it would have then been painted in such a manner that when the book was closed the painting would be secret. Landscapes were the usual treatments for such books but also, because of the secret nature of the subject, sometimes life drawings. When the book is seen shut the painting is hidden. The closed, straight edge could also be gilded, as if things were not complicated enough! If you have time, there are some fascinating videos on youtube which demonstrates what I mean. You never know, you may already own a book with a fore-edge painting, which has been secret for centuries.

15 comments:

  1. The book with fore-edge painting sounds very intriguing. Now i need to google it so i can learn more about it!

    Thanks for sharing the bookbinding demo Valerie! :)

    Happy weekend.xx

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  2. that is so interesting and I never have heard about the secret paintings before!

    in the book classes I've taken, we use a very precise paper cutter, set a guide on specific dimensions and then trim only the head of the book block. that gives the reader a way to easily turn one page at a time, while preserving the deckle edge of the book if the binder desires one.

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  3. I have always been fascinated by the art of book binding Valerie. So it was interesting to read your blog and to see your photographs.

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  4. A very interesting craft Valerie.
    Thank you for sharing.x

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  5. That was so interesting! I am going to try to remember to ask the librarians at my library if there are books in their rare book room that feature fore-edge painting. I think that there must be some there.

    Thank you for introducing me to this phenomenon.

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  6. Wow--I had no idea. Thank you for sharing this!

    Wow.

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  7. Fascinating! I own a lot of antique books...and now I'm going to have to inspect them all much more carefully!!

    Edward sends his greetings to Ted!

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  8. Fascinating - as any good description of a craft nearly always is.

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  9. This is so interesting... Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos and explanations of this dying art form..

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  10. Oooh! Is THAT how it's done...I saw some of those books on Antiques RShow, how fascinating.

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  11. What a fascinating process. I am intrigued now. I will have to have a look on youtube (whatever did we do before youtube..ha ha).

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  12. Amazing.
    I love to stop by and see what you've been up to...always a nice visit!
    :) Hope your day is wonderful~
    Michelle

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  13. I have read about fore-edge paintings but have never actually seen one.I thought it must be a lost art.
    Your blog set me off on a lovely googly trip through the blogosphere looking for sites about fore-edge paintings...and I found them. Truly, with all it's faults,we are living in a magical time.

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  14. Exceedingly informative and interesting post - Glad weaver pointed me in your direction, I'll be back!

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  15. This is really so interesting !! I was really not aware about such secret arts..Great one..Well Informative..Thanks for sharing...Also I Have Started My Own Website And Would Like You To Have A Look At It.I Would Love To Have Your Comments On That Also.Unseen Rajasthan

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