How to Use Pergamenata for Scrolls

It’s here! My full-size pergamenata sheets arrived from John Neal Bookseller less than a week after I ordered them.

With vellum costing $100 for a 12″x16″ page, I find machined pergamenata, a terrific alternative. It comes in heavy-weight, commonly used in the SCA, or a light-weight. I regularly used the light-weight until Calontir‘s Falcon Signet began providing heavy weight to scribes after they did original scrolls. The light-weight cockled no matter what I did. Perg also comes in white and natural shade options.

My usual oops. Easier to correct on pergamenata.

I like pergamenata because it works similarly to real animal parchment. I can remove ink or pigment with a sharp knife then burnish with a white plastic spoon back.

I usually don’t prepare it before use, like you do with animal parchment. Although the two sides accept ink differently, I haven’t found it to be a problem. And gouache doesn’t stick to a slick surface. Pergamenata is affected easily by hand oils, so I understand why some scribes may have problems.

When I have scraped a whole page, I use its reverse and rub that whole side with a white eraser, to remove fingerprints, oils, and smudges. I brush the residual crumbs away with a huge flat brush. Some scribes use pounce as described in the care instructions provided by John Neal Bookseller.
I use a blank cover sheet over the area below my work, so I do not deposit hand oils that interfere with ink and paint adherence. Some scribes wear thin cotton gloves instead, like Ian the Green writes in his blog ScribeScribbling. I also refrain from using hand cream before working, but I do that anyway. Do whatever you feel necessary to prevent oil on the surface.

While I love pergamenata, it has a few drawbacks. Large uncut sheets curl and have to be straightened. And too much moisture at any one time causes crinkling. But animal parchment does this too.

If you plan a large painted area I would tape your page to a “board” like masonite or contact paper covered thick cardboard using an easily removed tape, like painters’ tape.

I also suggest experimenting by painting samples such as bookmarks. Start with straight, undiluted tube gouache or watercolor. It’s what I use for most everything. You can add slightly more water as you experiment.

While economical compared to animal skin, pergamenata is more expensive than Bristol board. All things considered, it is my preferred support for original scrolls, especially with its ease for correcting goofs.

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