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Edge Decoration & Sprinkled Edges

Updated: Jan 15

Have you ever admired the exquisite color or intricate patterns adorning the edges of a book, perhaps featuring a marbled or sprinkled effect? This artistic touch is known as edge decoration, a practice that, despite its roots in the 15th and 16th centuries, continues to captivate readers today.

As the number of books grew, libraries faced the challenge of conserving space, leading to the emergence of innovative storage methods. One such evolution was the adoption of sprinkled edges in the 16th century, a tradition that remains prevalent in the world of bookbinding.

The attached video offers a glimpse into the skillful technique of edge decoration, specifically the 'sprinkle' method, demonstrated by Master Bookbinder Michael L. Chrisman at BOOKFORGE. This technique involves applying acrylic paint to a mixture of methylcellulose, which is then delicately sprinkled onto the edges of Gutenberg Bible facsimiles. Notably, the video showcases the nuanced approach, using a clean glue brush and tapping against a backing hammer to achieve varying effects.

An interesting facet of this process is the dynamic nature of the sprinkle. Initially, as the brush is wetted and excess paint flicked off, the result is a heavier and larger sprinkle. However, as the brush loses pigment, a more vigorous flick produces smaller, intricate sprinkles, resulting in a captivating and visually pleasing pattern on the book's edges.

It's fascinating to witness the intersection of tradition and contemporary craftsmanship, as exemplified by the work of Michael L. Chrisman. If you wish to delve further into the world of edge decoration and sprinkled edges, we invite you to explore additional insights on our website.

BOOKFORGE and Gutenberg Publishers, under the stewardship of Edward Patrick Kranz, are proud to be at the forefront of preserving and enhancing the artistry of bookbinding in historic Erie, Pennsylvania.


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