Manual The Consistency of Parchment

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Hand-sanded on both sides of the skin, perfect for use as pages in a book. Manuscript : Sheep is preferred by many traditional artists and calligraphers for its even texture and antique look. Scrapes, and scars combine with light colors and a surprisingly smooth surface to make deer a noticeably individual material. Hand sanded on both sides. Parchment - Full Hides.

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Binding Goat Parchment. Furniture Goat Parchment. Calligraphy Goat Parchment. Manuscript Goat Parchment.

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Binding Calf Parchment. Furniture Calf Parchment.

Calligraphy Calf Parchment. Manuscript Calf Parchment. Botanical Calf Parchment. There was an error submitting your subscription. Please try again. We use this field to detect spam bots. If you fill this in, you will be marked as a spammer. Photographing Food Improved My Photography. Lisa — June 15, pm Reply. I did it!!!!! Love it!!!! Thanks for lesson!

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Most of the scarring is small in size and tends to occur in the margins near the edges. This could suggest that only quality skins were chosen for this enterprise and that any skins showing significant scarring could afford to be discarded.

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It could also suggest that the animal husbandry that produced the skins was meticulous and well resourced. It could be argued the lack of significant scarring resulted from these animals being well fed and tended, perhaps even bred specifically for the task. It is not only natural features that can be obvious on parchment. Evidence reflecting the degree of skill and workmanship in the parchment manufacturing process can also be found in the finished product. When the skin is removed from the animal and the hair is removed from the skin, any careless or unskilled knife work can leave nicks and cuts with the potential to become holes or tears during the stretching and scraping processes.

Another important part of the making process having direct influence on the physical features is the simultaneous changes in the skin caused by the actions of stretching and drying. Here the dermal fibre network changes from a 3 dimensional interlocking network into aligned layers parallel to the surface of the skin, making it easier to scrape thin and giving the parchment surface its appearance and hard, glue-like consistency. Thus, the look of the parchment can depend on the extent of the alteration of fibre orientation which in turn depends on several factors, including the species, age and diet of the animal from which the skin came; the intensity of the liming it has received; and the tension and rate at which the wet, stretched skin is dried.

The ideal skin would be unmarked but a skilled parchment maker will recognise vulnerable areas of marked skins and usually be able to work with the problem to minimise the affects. However, a mistake in tensioning the skin on the stretching herse and in using the lunellum to scrape the skin, can cause the nicks and cuts to open into holes or become much larger tears.

The size of the hole often suggests the ability of the maker to deal with the skin defects but sometimes the makers may sew up holes to prevent them becoming larger problems during the latter stages. Holes that are present at the time of stretching tend to be larger and receive less scraping attention lest they be made worse. As a consequence, areas around the hole tend to be thicker and retain some of the fatty layers normally scraped off.

Holes can also occur during scraping when too much material is removed. These holes tend to be smaller and characterised by membrane thin edges which could be likened to an eraser wearing through paper see fig. Other holes can be made intentionally to identify the parchment maker and these would be noticeable by repetition.

No such marks were found despite some debate in one instance see fig. Both would have been expensive requisites, lending further weight to the wealth of the enterprise. There is no obvious evidence of a makers repair apart from a part-obscured hole in the spine margin of BL OT f.

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When the parchment maker scrapes the skin he uses a curved, two handled blade called a lunellum which is kept at a near perpendicular angle to the plane of the skin surface. In skilled hands, this blade is capable of reducing the thinness of the parchment to fractions of millimetres but if the optimum blade angle is not maintained, the curved edge can skitter and jump leaving characteristic marks of more open fibre structure called striations. Looked at under magnification and with raking light, striations resemble waves with a crest and trough but to the naked eye they appear as areas having alternating lines of highlight and slight shade.

Evidence of striation on the folios of the codex is not abundant but there are some examples which are uncharacteristic of the usual high quality see fig. Like the other undesirable features, striation tends to occur in the margins away from text areas. From a practical point of view, this could be due to the more open surface fibres found in a striation being inclined to soak up ink and therefore only acceptable where they would not be written on. From an aesthetic point of view they are visually unsightly, so the standard of selection may have excluded all but a few folios and been excepting of those where the striation location did not compromise the look of the folio.

Thinness and consistency of thinness is the ultimate goal of the parchment maker and can only be achieved with quality materials and skill in processing them.

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A quality maker will have enough experience to be instinctive about skin selection, correct tensioning and the amount of material to be scraped off that will deliver a thin, consistent product. The desire for a more uniform thinness has led to refinements in the preparation processes. Particularly in the case of sheep skins, makers have developed a method of mechanically splitting the skin laterally into two thinner layers where the grain, or wool, side of the skin is made into skiver [30] and the flesh, or lining side of the skin, is converted into parchment.

In the case of Codex Sinaiticus, the quality of the parchment is fine and the folios have an amazing uniformity of thinness ranging between 0. In the absence of comparative codices it is hard to say whether this is exceptional but if one considers the skill level required it is no less than remarkable.

Had the animal origin been solely wool sheep, the thinness might have easily been attributed to skin splitting. However, the predominance of calf skin seems to rule this out unless the ancient parchment makers had perfected a method of splitting calf skin. Reed suggests that large, strong sheets could be produced from the grain splits of cattle hides that give a more even character over greater areas, but his comments are based on modern methods.

Special baths may have treated the skin in a way that enabled it to be scraped in a far more controlled manner or perhaps the skin was coated with an acid-like paste which removed layers of skin and fat, not unlike modern-day exfoliation. Until further analysis can determine some answers, these suggestions remain speculative.

It remains indeterminate how these features came to be or how the making process and rigors of history have impacted on the longevity of the parchment. Some of the physical parchment features are attributable to the process of degradation. Colour, opacity and surface appearance change in relation the progress of natural decline and the environments skin products exist in.

The chemical breakdown of the fibre structure can be catalysed by residues from the making process or from airborne pollutants and be accelerated by excessive moisture or heat. Photochemical degradation from excessive UV radiation in daylight can also break down and gelatinize the parchment. Signs of degradation such as discolouration, gelatinization and brittleness can be measured to determine the condition of the parchment and rate of decline.

This helps conservators determine strategies for treatment and storage. The condition assessment of Codex Sinaiticus incorporated the I. Overall, the condition of the parchment is exceptional for its age. Much of the visual degradation has occurred where the ink has interacted with the surface of the parchment.