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Re: water damaged vellum

Well, you've got two options, the minimal and the maximal:

1) Minimal:  Illuminate your page, bind it into the book, keep the book
under even pressure, and eventually, with the normal absorption and
evaporation of humidity the cockle will become somewhat less pronounced.
Before anything else, though, you could try an extra energetic session
with fine sandpaper (with the vellum on a plate of glass, and taking care
not to accidentally bend the page with your hand - those creases are also
hard to get rid of). Obviously, with the sanding you will end up with a
thinner, more pliable peace of vellum. The problem with this, however, is
similar to the problem with #2:

2)Maximal:  Wet the whole page and dry it under pressure. This is more of
a problem because if you wash out too much of the chalk (and whatever else
is in there), the color of the page will not match the other pages. (True,
also, of the sanding method, though if you sand all your vellum pages
equally (praying you haven't already written on top of them!), then you
have some control over the consistency of color throughout the book).
Anyhow - the problem with this is the amount of wetting you're going to do
and how much pressure you're going to need. Ideally you might get away
with a few passes in front of a room steamer, then placing it under even
pressure, between blotters - not under glass or plastic, it will look
slick. If that doesn't work, try the room steamer, then stretching it on a
frame (e.g. with nails, though wooden pegs in the frame might be better -
there's a small chance that the nails may stain more of the vellum than
you'd want them to; my solution would be to dip the nails in, say, a
varnish of any kind, so that they don't stain, if I was unsure. Whether
dried under pressure or stretched, your time frame for stretching this
thing may be limited, and if the thing isn't stretched evenly then you're
back where you started. The 2nd edition of the Calligrapher's Handbook has
a section on stretching vellum.

You could also try dampening the vellum with, say, chalk or whiting kept
moist. A bit more relaxed than the above method, but it would definitely
entail the risk of leaching out some materials from the vellum.

Let me know how this works out. I'm researching a book on vellum
preparation, and will be interested in any feedback you can give.

On Sat, 19 Sep 1998, Ted Labow wrote:

> Does anyone know of an effective method for smoothing water damage
> creases in vellum? I am illuminating a large page of a book, and the
> outer edge became wet. As a result, the page won't lie flat anymore. I'd
> appreciate any input.
> Ted Labow

Paul Werner, New York City

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