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transparent vellum

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<SZ 12>Since the subject of transparent vellum came up recently, I would
like to add a personal note of my experiences with it, in hopes that others
who have worked with it can set me straight.</P>
<P>I used transparent vellum for the covers of a small edition (14) of
artists' books that I printed in 1992.  It was a simple case binding with
the vellum glued over a linoprint.  The print was on rather heavy stock,
so after I glued it I peeled the vellum away from the stock and it brought
the top layer of fiber and ink with it.  The it was quite well behaved.
<P>To make the vellum transparent I found a mention of potassium carbonate,
without any idea of how to mix it.  I started with a teaspoon in a liter
of water and went up.  The stronger solutions didn't seem to make much
difference, the more important factor being the clarity of the skin - brown
patches and hair were quite visible on the finished cover, but I found
that quite pleasing.  After soaking overnight, I dried the piece under
heavy pressure between blotting paper and remay for several days.</P>
<P>The first problem was a pinkish tone that developed on the endpapers.
 Henk de Groot suggested that it was the result of a chemical reaction
with the buffered endpapers. and that I should wash the skin in a mild
acid after the potassium carbonate.  It worked.</P>
<P>After I had finished the edition I took a piece of the transparent vellum
to Yaakov Asher, one of the vellum factories here in Jerusalem that make
vellum for religious texts and where I buy my vellum.  One of the bosses
(a grandson of Yaakov) looked it over and said that I had destroyed it.
 To make his point he tore it into pieces.  Then he said that I should
be using clearer vellum, and that if I want it transparent, he can make
it that way.  I have yet to take him up on that.</P>
<P>Pieces of transparent vellum that I have seen commercially produced
are too transparent for my taste, and are stiff and horny, whereas my pieces
were quite limp and paper-like.</P>
<P>I suspect that the piece he tore was calf vellum, and the pieces that
I used on the books were goat.  I have tried tearing the offcuts from the
pieces I used on the books, and they are still strong.</P>
<P>In order to avoid trying to counter the pull of the vellum with layers
of paper or whatever, I simply line the inside of the board with the same
vellum at the same time.  Expensive, but effective.</P>
<P>If anyone has any hints or comments, especially formulas for potassium
carbonate or other solutions, I would love to hear them.</P>
<P>Yehuda Miklaf</P>
<P>binder/printer husband of mfritz@ndc.co.il</P>

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