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Re: Stretching Vellum

Jake Benson asks:

>  I have friends who make drums, and what they do with vellum is interesting.i


>On some smaller
>inruments, the head is not dressed, but  on larger drums, they are, with a
>type of leather dressing.  This is to keep the skin flexible over time, and
>preventing it from drying out too much.


>I've often wondered about the role of a little dressing in this regard.. any

I think you answered your own question.  The skin used for a drum will be subject
to rather more strenuous use, and larger humidity variations than most skins used
in book arts applications.  The leather dressing probably helps to keep it from
becoming too brittle, though this should not be a problem with properly prepared
parchment.  After having had problems with a Bodhran (irish drum) that
I reskinned, the local folk music store manager suggested putting a bit of
neatsfoot oil on the skin to make it less sensitive to humidity variations.  Now,
whether I did a better job of tacking down the skin the second time around, or
the neatsfoot oil helped is uncertain, but last I heard the drum hasn't been
giving any problems.

Drumskins do split on occasion, and the musicial expects to have to replace them
occasionally.  I hope that we aren't taking hints on how to treat works of art
from applications where periodic replacement is expected.

As a parchment/vellum maker, I find the thought of my skins being rewetted and
stapled onto frames/boards to be disheartening.

Cheers, Rick C.

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