Pergamenata Strategies For Beginners

I love using Pergamenata. The crisp hard feel and dappled appearance really gives a period aura to art. And it’s as close as you can get to using animal skin parchment without paying the big bucks.

Although easy to use, pergamenata acts differently than paper because it’s surface is smoother and less absorbent. So your inks, pencils and paints behave different. Here are the strategies you’ll want to know to get your best results.

Handling

Pergamenata is worked similarly to the real parchment. I do very little to prepare it. Because perg doesn’t work well with subtle oils on its surface I rub a large white vinyl eraser all over it before I use it. That’s it. Some scribes degrease it by dusting with gum sandarac or ground pumice as described in the care instructions provided by John Neal Bookseller.

Perg is affected by hand oils. I use a guard-sheet so the gouache sticks better to its slick surface. I’ve seen other scribes wear thin cotton gloves for the same reason. Do whatever works for you to prevent oil on its surface.

Pergamenata does have a few quirks. The two sides do accept ink differently but I haven’t found that’s a problem. Also slow drying inks like Noodler’s X-Feather take so long to dry they smear easily. (I’m not sure which is the cause here the perg or the ink.)

Perg curls and cockles. Large uncut sheets are delivered in a tube and have to be straightened. To help you can try storing it flat under a heavy weight. Or roll it in the opposite direction and secure it that way for a day or two. Too much moisture at any one time also causes cockling and layer separation. When painting a large area I would tape your page to a “board” like masonite or heavy plastic using painters’ tape that’s easily removed. And if you’re painting a wash you must seal the perg first with an aerosol matte sealant, not workable fixative. This prevents the wash absorbing into your perg.

For mistakes I just remove the ink or pigment with a sharp knife then burnish with a white plastic spoon back. I can’t do that with Bristol paper because I create a hole before my goofs are removed. Once I scraped a whole pergamenata page because I screwed up magnificently, so I used its reverse. Then I rubbed that whole side with my trusty white eraser as usual and brushed the crumbs away with a flat brush.

Specs

With vellum costing $100 to $162 for a 12×16″ page at Talas pergamenata is a terrific alternative. It comes in the heavy-weight we commonly use in the SCA or a light-weight. Heavy-weight is better than the light, which cockled no matter what I did. Both come in white and natural. 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 goof correcting ease. When you order your pergamenata from John Neal Bookseller don’t forget to use your SCA discount code.

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