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Re: [BKARTS] vellum

Thank you for your instructions. I followed vellum 101 using kid, and it is drying at the moment. I scraped any residual fat using my paring knife, and then rubbed with pumice, Somewhat mottled with cream and brown colours it has a medieval look which I like.
Soon I will have a large sheepskin - I had to abandon the lamb as I was too busy - and take note of your instructions re fat removal. What sort of clamps do you use. If you were able to send me a photo I would be most grateful.
Am curious about your comment re translucency. I thought that book vellum is translucent?

Thanks for your help

----- Original Message ----- From: "Jack C. Thompson" <tcl@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, December 28, 2007 10:49 PM
Subject: Re: [BKARTS] vellum


I've been making vellum for more than 30 years, from deer, calf, goat,
and sheep.

If you've been able to de-hair (de-wool) these skins after two days in
a lime bath you've done very well.

Have they been fleshed?

The skins are not stretched 'over' a frame; they are tied to a frame
and 'stretch' as they dry.

I use clamps to hold the skin and cotton closeline cord going from the
clamps to pins stuck into holes drilled into the frame; the cord is
connected to the pins with a pipe hitch, which allows the tension from
each clamp to be tightened.

Alternatives include pushing a marble (or somesuch) into an edge of
the skin and closing it with a half-hitch which is then tied to a pin
in the frame.

The easiest way is to make holes along the edges of the skin (about 1"
in from the edge) and run the clothesline through the holes and around
the frame.

The skin should be stretched as tight as possible in a wet condition;
it will dry drumtight.

This is vellum 101.

Vellum 202 involves a circular knife to clear the hairside and fleshside
of any extraneous material.

Vellum 303 involves using that same knife to reduce the thickness of the
skin before cutting it out of the drying frame.

The first knife I used for making vellum was made from a plywood blade
from a circular saw.  I ground off all the teeth and then ground half
of the blade to a knife-edge on one side.

Then I took a couple of pieces of 1.5" dowel and screwed them together
through the hole in the center of the blade.  This was used to scrape
the hides clean on both sides, using considerable pressure on the
down strokes.

As the hide loosens during this scraping you need to be able to tighten
the cord around the skin.

If you've tightened the hide well enough it should sound something like
a bass drum when you thump it.  If you haven't tightened it enough the
skin will be translucent and you can use it as a window.  For
not for seeing through.

The lime bath is fine for goatskin, but not enough for sheep.  Sheepskins
have extra oil (lanolin) which needs to be removed, and pouring the odd
pan of hot water over the stretched skin, while scraping, will help.

If the sheepskin still looks oily after it dries brush on some lime paste.

After a couple of days scrape it off and decide if you need to do it


I have 3 skins of goat and sheep which I soaked in a lime bath for a
couple of days following slaughter. I would like to make vellum from them.
The hair has been removed and now I think I have to dry them by stretching
over a frame - has anybody had any experience of the vellum making
process?  Thanks  Joe

Thompson Conservation Lab. 7549 N. Fenwick Portland, Oregon 97217 USA



"The lyfe so short; the craft so long to lerne."
Chaucer _Parlement of Foules_ 1386

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