Book art – vanishing fore-edge painting with Martin Frost

Ref: S1D31310

About this course

Gain insight into this special book art, vanishing fore edge painting, now an endangered craft skill. Using small watercolour brushes, try your hand at this magical form of book decoration, which has origins dating back 350 years in Britain.

Course Description

Gain a basic technique introduction to the traditional, British form of book decoration known as vanishing fore-edge painting.

You will be shown the techniques of this very special book art and can expect to take away your very own example at the end of the one-day course. This intriguing, discreet and hidden form of magic book decoration has a 350 year old history in Britain, but the secret is available now in this workshop, offered by Martin, who has produced 3500 paintings over the last 45 years. Traditionally, the subject of fore-edge paintings has been landscapes. However, Martin can show how any image you choose can be used, so long as you are adept at working small, with watercolour brushes. It is not necessary to be a skilled artist to attend the course.

Martin will have examples of a variety of book edge paintings in process and completed. He will also demonstrate the technique of book edge gilding and explain something of the history of this rare book art.


Timetable for one day courses

Students should arrive by 9am for registration.

Classes are from 9.15 - 5pm

Lunch is included.

Course Materials


  • On this course the tutor will supply one blank, A5 gilt edged book and the free use of special presses at the workshop.

What students need to bring

  • Watercolour paints (preferably pan) and a selection of fine watercolour brushes: sizes 4-8
  • Ruler, A4 paper, pencil, eraser
  • A choice of detailed images in a 1:4 landscape format to suit the shape of a fanned book edge

Available to buy

  • Available from tutor:
  • A wide range of watercolour brushes and paints, including pans, paper and drawing equipment, if required.
  • The tutor will bring additional A5 gilt-edged blank books (£40 each) and presses (c. £70 each) for you to purchase, if you wish to continue – (you will need to pay for these by cash or cheque)

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Martin Frost

Martin Frost as trained and practised in theatre craft, then to book decoration and latterly to craft bookbinding. As a member of the Heritage Crafts Association he was awarded Maker of the Year 2017, which led to the national honour of the MBE.

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Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.