Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Link List: More on Fore-Edge Painting, What-if Superhero Art, a Book Trailer, and Other Web Wonders

1) There are ten foot long, fluorescent worms living in the ocean. They eat things. Sometimes, they accidentally end up in people's fish tanks.

They're known as "Bobbit worms" and have, on at least one occasion stowed away in aquarium decorations, bewildering the staff of an aquarium in Cornwall, England by secretly munching fish at night. In that case, the worm turned out to be "only" four feet long and was uncovered when the staff painstakingly dismantled the aquarium. "Barry" now has his own tank and has been transformed into a celebrity. "Barry" is kind of a muddy-colored, centipedish sort of critter while the one pictured in the video has some lovely fluorescence going for it.

2) I mentioned on last week's Link List that I was interested in finding out more, and Jeanne (author of Dogear Diary and other blogs) went out and located two contemporary artists: Martin Frost and Clare Brooksbank.

I've also been poking around. Fore-edge painting is a long-term tradition. The basic version, involves "just" painting the edge of the book. Hidden fore-edge painting, on the other hand, involves painting just inside the edge of the page and then gilding or marbeling the outside so that the painting disappeared until the book was held just so. Apparently fore-edge painting itself goes back to the tenth century, with examples including basic marks and family crests, and hidden fore-edge painting to the mid-seventeenth.

Any given book can have multiple paintings. Not only can they be painted to show one image one way and another when the book is flexed, Frost writes, "the top and bottom book edges can also be decorated, and if done so in both directions, can result in a total of twelve possible painted surfaces." Beth Carswell's article on ABE Books, mentions artists "some artists forgo the usual gilt or marbling on the very edges of the eaves, opting instead to include a third depiction (triple fore-edge-painting)," which brings the possibility up to fifteen possible images (The twelve hidden pages plus three openly displayed). I'm not sure if there are any books where this has been done--but wow!

I'll note that, if one is being strictly technical, the top and bottom edge paintings wouldn't count as "fore-edge" paintings, at least, the fore-edge seems to only be the page edge:


Fore-edge paintings are done with watercolors as they don't stick the pages together the way say, oils, would. The book is painted after it is bound and while it is held clamped at the correct angle while the artist works then allowed to dry. After this, it is re-blocked in its "usual" form and the edge is decorated.

See also The Bookologist, the Marist College article here, and the Boston Public Library's article for more information, or go to the Boston Library's virtual exhibit of their collection (be prepared to take a while). See also Melody Krafft's page for the work of another contemporary fore-edge painter.

Let me know if you find other fore-edge information, especially more on contemporary artists. I'm really surprised that Jeanne and I together only turned up three.

3) Comic Book Resources just wrote a hilarious "The Line it is Drawn" featuring a great sequence of "What if" drawings (What if Charlie Brown were the Green Lantern? What if Robin where Batman's Imaginary Companion?" and other such). Go look! Then take a quick peek at Superhero-Muppet mashups. After that, you're on your own. I will take no responsibility for any further wandering you may do in the series; none whatsoever. Me, I may emerge in time for next week's list.

4) I can't believe I left this out last week! It's the trailer for the American version of Neil Gaiman's Fortunately the Milk

There are going to be two versions, and they are going to be substantially different because they have different illustrators. The UK version is illustrated by Chris Riddell. The US version is illustrated by Skottie Young. Following the two links will take you to ISSU samples of each (links found on Gaiman's blog). The text arrangement and style are very different, and I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to read both. Will the library really be that obliging?

5) What do you do about invasive species? If you are chef Bun Lai of Miya's Sushi, you eat them and encourage others to do the same. Delicacies such as

Knot Your Mother's Lemonade
Japanese knotweed grows quickly in clusters and crowds out other herbaceous species. It has been named one of the world's 100 worst invasive species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is currently thriving in 39 states. The taste is crunchy, juicy and tart—not unlike a Granny Smith apple. In a combination of mineral water and ice, I blend Japanese knotweed shoots with fresh stevia leaves, fresh kefir lime leaves and a splash of lemon juice.

encourage people to think of the invaders as food. Harvesting and munching on the invaders helps curb their numbers and is tasty, too.

Scientific America also has a whole page devoted to recipes for invasive species.

6) "The Cutest of Cthullus and Why You Should Fear Them" A Quirk Book blog entry on the invasion of cute Cthulhus, beings who are cute, cuddly, and downright evil.


  1. Happy me to visit here today and learn more about fore-edge painting. I searched for info on the process and hadn't learned about the particular medium, for example. Not surprised we only found three artists- it's certainly a very specialized art form and I can't imagine the painstaking patience it must take! (I'm imagining a book with all fifteen possible edges painted and feeling flabbergasted). And hey, thanks for the link love!

    1. It does sound extraordinarily painstaking, but I bet there are more than three people doing it!

      Thanks for posting the links you found--that gave me a good start on my next search.