Would you like to give a gift to a favorite book that has given you … maybe everything?

Then talk to Maisie Jackson. She is a master at fore-edge painting, the art of rendering the heart and soul of a book on the too often neglected page edges. Her detailed watercolors make every surface sing.

“To combine my interest in literature—particularly fantasy—and art has been a total joy,” she told us. “I have a real love for old things, and I am passionate about making by hand.” She likes to work with used books “to keep things in circulation and give secondhand items new life.”

Jackson, now twenty-three, is one of only four professional-level fore-edge painters recognized by Britain’s Heritage Crafts Association, which tracks the survival of traditional handicrafts. According to the HCA, fore-edge painting is “critically endangered,” meaning it could die out in our lifetimes. The tradition dates back to the 10th century and reached its first zenith in Britain in 1660, with other waves of popularity in the late 1700s and late 1800s. Another wave is swelling now, thanks to a new generation of bibliophiles who cherish books as physical beings.

That’s no surprise. Unique among art forms, a fore-edge painting invites you to break it—open it, split the pages and the image, let the book fan out … then step into your favorite world of wonders. Jackson’s brush paints you the portal.

Follow Maisie on Instagram @maisie_matilda_art.


Spring Book Lovers Cover by Enchanted Living MagazineEnchanted Living is a quarterly print magazine that celebrates all things enchanted. 
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Susann Cokal is the author of four novels, including the award-winning Kingdom of Little Wounds and her latest, Mermaid Moon, in which a mermaid goes ashore to find her mother, only to fall into the clutches of a witch who wants to harvest her magic. Cokal also writes short fiction and essays about oddities, and she lives in a haunted farmhouse with cats, peacocks, spouse, and unseen beings who bump in the night. “I’ve always suspected there was more to mermaids than the shipwrecks and love stories that lead them to land,” she says. “I’m glad I had the chance to figure them out in these changing times—both in the novel and here among the creatures of Enchanted Living.”