Vellum & Parchment: Working on Skins
A workshop with Denis Brown, duration from 2 to 5
days, (longer classes will allow a fuller schedule). Level: Intermediate & Advanced. Max. 20 students
Illustrated above: Work by Denis Brown on translucent calfskin with drawings showing from underneath
View a slide-show of my work on vellum.
the finest material for calligraphy, vellum's nature is inherently different
to that of paper.
It requires special treatment in preparation and presentation. The workshop will cover preparation of vellum for writing and painting (nap raising/flattening), writing and painting on skins, making corrections/erasures, stretching vellum to remove cockling, and presentation mounting techniques.
Unusual techniques such as layering translucent vellum over written/painted background designs will be encouraged and Denis will discuss his own unique approaches to working with skin.
You will benefit from constructive design and lettering critiques as you complete an original piece, stretched over a wooden board and ready to display. A materials fee will supply you with a variety of vellum to work on in class and or to take home for future projects.
Note: This workshop inevitably raises dust while sandpapering vellum. It may be unsuitable for those who are sensitive to airborne
dust. This may also be a concern for classrooms in pristine spaces.
- Vellum if you have any (optional, as the supply fee will provide you a full slunk calfskin or alternatively two half skins).
a prepared calligraphy layout, size including margins: exactly 5"
x 8", ready
to be written onto vellum during the class- There will not be sufficient
time in the workshop to design this piece, so it must be prepared
at home in advance by every student. The design can be very simple-
a few lines of text or short quotation is one suggestion, with full
consideration given to letter-form, layout and color, plus author
accreditation . The design can be either portrait or landscape format
but the exact size specified is very important. All the rough work
and trials should be done and the final design on paper should be
close to the quality of the finished work. (Tip: keep it reasonably
simple- in a 2 day class you will only have an hour or two during the workshop to
complete the final version on vellum!)
calligraphy tools, (dip-pens, pencils, ruler, gouache paints &
palettes, layout pad of paper, etc. plus any extra tools you may need if you are adding illustration or painting to your design).
Medium & fine grades of sandpaper or "wet or dry" abrasive
Finely Powdered Pumice (Dental grade).
Finely powdered Gum Sandarac plus either a clean bristle paintbrush or a "pounce bag" to apply it.
knife/ utility knife plus cutting mat.
Scalpel with curved blade, e.g. surgical blade no.10.
straight edge or steel ruler.
A sheet of Silicone release paper at least 13" x 10". (This is a non-stick paper as sometimes used for lining of baking tins)
pressing boards cut from 1/2 inch thick, melamine faced, chipboard
or similar, 10" x 13" each.
piece exterior grade plywood, 1/4 " thick, cut to 5" x
for guilds/organizers: It may be easiest to get a DIY supplier to
cut to size enough boards for all the class in one go, i.e. the pressing
boards & the plywood)
pieces of blotting paper, cut to 10"x 13"
waterproof plastic sheet, 10" x 13" (e.g. cut out from
a plastic bag)
piece of white or ivory colored conservation quality mount board
neatly cut to 5" x 8". Also bring some off-cuts from this
colored paper, at least 5" x 8", (to line the back of
your stretched vellum design... a color matching your prepared
layout is good.)
PVA glue plus 3/4" glue brush. A 3/4" decorator's bristle paintbrush may be used.
plastic bottle with a trigger-vaporizer-top.(This is to spray water
vapor to moisten materials).
*The instructor will provide finest vellum skins available if ordered in advance. Price estimate (subject to change): €35 Euro per half skin of finest slunk calf vellum or €60 Euro per full skin of finest slunk calf vellum). Each student will need at least half a skin for a two day class or a full skin for a 4-5 day class. Skins will need to be ordered and mailed in advance of the class.
- The instructor
will require a piece of 1/4" plywood & a piece of conservation
mount-board both cut to 5" x 8", plus a set of pressing
boards as described above, for use in his demonstrations. He may also
need to borrow use of various other tools/materials that are impractical
to carry on workshop trips abroad.
large mortar & pestle will be useful- not every student needs
one but if just one is brought to the class it will facilitate demonstrations
of grinding gum sandarac.
- Only for 4
and 5 day versions of this class: A staple gun that can be shared
among the class will also be required , plus an old wooden board that
can be stapled into. These will be used in demonstrations
of dyeing and stretching vellum.
HOW TO BOOK A WORKSHOP