The last known trading interface in the world paint He shares the secrets of his stunning “vanishing” pictures, drawn between the edges of books pages, to help keep alive the magic of his dying craft.
London-born faded front edge painter Martin Frost paints the edges of gilded book pages. The pages are fanned to reveal his delicate handwork. Today, Frost, 72, lives in the seaside town of Worthing in southern England and works from home in his painting and bookbinding studio.
I am blessed
From a young age, Frost was familiar with the artistic world.
“My father was a professional portrait painter, and my mother was the manager of an art shop,” Frost told The Epoch Times.
Since drawing and painting had always been in his home, Frost was encouraged from a very early age.
“Children at school are happy to draw,” he said, “but later in life, they become less confident, and as adults, they don’t do it anymore… They’re afraid of making a mistake.” “I had no fear… my parents blessed me, I am lucky.”
Frost attended art college with the intention of becoming a painter. However, he later discovered that he instead wanted to be a stage designer, and thus headed in that direction.
While working as a theater set decorator during the 1970s, his neighbor and colleague Don Noble introduced him to the front panel.
“He showed me what he did,” Frost said. “And I was very moved.”
Despite working long hours in the theatre, Frost decided to experiment with the unique art. Under Noble’s direction, the art form picked up fairly quickly because the technique was so straightforward.
“I was too good a painter to make a plausible picture,” said Frost. “It was just a case of learning how to put it on a book in such a way that it would disappear… That’s the clever part.”
“I did a few, showed it to a few book dealers and they said, ‘That’s right, yes, we can sell this work. ‘” “This business slowly took over my life and the theater stopped working,” Frost said. “My wife was in the business too, and we both earned, so we made her work… Most people get a few jobs, but I stayed with this job for half a century! “
The earliest reproductions of headboards are from London, England, in the mid-seventeenth century, and they are still a British craft.
While one side of each page in the book is bound on the back, the other three can be drawn. Frost distinguishes between single-edged, double-edged, double-edged, double-edged, and all-leading edge painting, depending on the number of images drawn and in which directions they are revealed.
“There are more details,” he said.
He also asserts that gold is the traditional way to hide a painting.
Frost and his predecessors preferred watercolors to oil and plasticine paints because a light touch and fine pigmentation were necessary to avoid weighing down the pages.
When Frost began painting on the front edge in his twenties, he worked with 19th-century leather-bound books and gold-coated pages, perfect for masking his handicrafts.
“In the past, I’ve written all the Bibles and prayer books with religious scenes, it was popular,” Frost said. “A lot of my work goes into early poets… sports books and romance books… right now it’s ‘Harry Potter.'” “
Frost has produced 3,500 front rim panels to date, over the course of 50 years honing his craft. A commission can take anything between 12 hours and a week to complete, depending on size and intricacy, and whether the book needs gilding and bounce. While Frost is a patting hand, his work is not without its challenges.
“I work on a lot of pieces of paper,” he said, “It’s hard to keep the paint from getting in between each sheet.” “If you’re looking at a cross section, there’s almost a flight of stairs… I paint on those stairs, and the paint wants to go inside the book.”
Another challenge is that some old book pages can be greasy or squishy, and while watercolor is traditionally a wet medium, Frost has to approach his drawings differently.
“It can’t be wet because it doesn’t work; it gets inserted into the paper, makes the paper wobbly, and tends to strip off the gold,” he explained. “It also means that you have to work slower, because you’re applying small bits of paint that are fairly dry, so it’s not a fast technique.”
Watercolor is also not a forgiving medium.
“You can’t go wrong,” said Frost. “When you make a mark, that’s your mark, you’re stuck with it. You can’t overdraw it… You have to be very intentional about what you do.”
‘My craftsman is seriously threatened’
Frost shares his captivating craft with him websiteand on Instagramwhere he says the most common response to his vanishing paintings is, “Wow, we didn’t see that coming… That’s the magic,” said Frost.
Most people get a little confused and wonder if there is any battery that goes into it to make it work. However, he maintains that there is no such thing as a physical painting.
“My Instagram project is to create an archive, a record of one man’s work on his commercial lifestyle, which is a bit unusual; most of the fine illustrators, we don’t know who they are. They never sign their work… Now, I’m happy to come up with it and say it’s I, and all my works have a signature … a little symbol that I put on the plate.
Frost has the occasional critic ask him why he makes paintings one cannot see or mutilates an old book, but Frost’s response is simple: his art is a loving tribute to the words between the pages and the sole purpose of his profession is to “make people smile.”
Frost is listed as a ‘Creat Endangered Craftsman’ by the Heritage Crafts Association, but his greatest honor to date was an MBE (Member of the British Empire) awarded at Windsor Castle Royal in England.
“It was my daughter who really pushed it,” Frost said. “I thought it would be good publicity for me to try and get some kind of recognition from the palace on the basis that I’m the last man standing. They came back and said, ‘Yeah, you qualify.'”
Frost expected to receive his MBE from Prince Charles, but when he arrived at Windsor Castle with his wife and daughter, the Queen of England met him. Frost said: “I came back the same day in my full suit, my medal on my chest, and went to the nursing home [to see my mother]. she loved him; I told all the other people in the house, “This is my son!”
A number of new artisans have started leading edge painting in the past five years, Frost said, but none of them are making fade paintings. Since the once-booming market has dwindled, Frost can handle the workload on his own.
Semi-retired, he has hopes of passing the baton. As such, he personally ran workshops in several European countries such as Amsterdam, Belgium, France and across the United States for 15 years, in an effort to encourage others to adopt the craft and help revive the market.
“Nobody ever knew about the headboard because it’s hidden away; you can’t hang a painting on the wall, it’s not in the galleries,” said Frost. I can draw.”
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