Help With Vellum


Grumbler in Training
Jan 13, 2005
Dublin, Ohio
Hey all,
I am seeking some input/advice on a piece I'm working on. I have a 50 year old sheet of engineers vellum with a building plan on it. At some point in the past it was folded into 16ths and left that way. It is very brittle and mostly transparent. I have two questions: 1. is there anything that can be done to smooth out the creases, 2. any suggestions for mounting? At the moment I plan to leave as is, affix it to foam core with just a wee bit of transparent tape, and mat. Before I do this, however, I would like some different perspectives. Thanks,

Hi Eric, and welcome to the Grumble.
I'm gonna stick my neck out and recommend you consult with a paper conservator before you proceed. Handling and treating old paper products is usually outside the normal range of framing expertise.
A lot of the decision depends on the client's desires and budget, but I think that getting some idea from a conservator about treatments and costs would help in that process.
I'm not sure which transparent tape you are refering to, but most are not considered appropriate for document framing. The adhesives age and can release or even discolor the paper they are attached to.
Good luck with the project. You are on the right track to inquire about proceedure. You just may get overwhelmed by the responses.
Hi Eric,

This sounds like a tracing paper type support. There are two ways the paper is made translucent - 1) by extended beating of the paper pulp before the sheet is formed and 2) impregnating the paper with oil and/or varnish

A third possiblity is that it is a synthetic material.

A paper conservator could probably flatten it.

Re mounting, I'd suggest making your own pressure sensitive tape from Japanese tissue and Lascaux HV 360 acrylic emulsion. Lay the tissue on a sheet of polyethylene sheet plastic and brush with the emulsion and let dry. You can add more coats as needed.(Leave one end of the tissue "unadhesived" so you have a "handle" to peel the rest off - it tends to weld to the polyethylene.)

This stores indefinately when sandwiched between plastic. Just cut off strips as required.

Tengujo tosa would be a good weight of tissue to start with .

Reversible with low heat or ethanol, acetone type solvents.

Wally uses this a lot, so he can give you good tips.

Good luck


Welcome to The Grumble.

Rebecca's suggestion about the adhesive makes a lot more sense than "transparent tape". The only transparent tape I know that might be suitable (non-migrating, non-staining, strong, and inert) is 3M #888, and it is very permanent.

I suggest you use a better mount board than "foam core". Pass-through hinges on an alphacellulose board would be much better. You didn't give dimensions of the document, but if it is large, you should reinforce the mount board with, for example, fluted polypropylene or acrylic sheet.

If you need further help with this job, or any of the materials mentioned here (I have all of the adhesives & boards), let me know. My store is about 30 minutes from Dublin.

Rebecca, do you do the work of flattening such documents? How about a 1719 land indenture on sheeepskin? It, too, has been folded and severely creased.
Hi Jim,

Yes I flatten parchment and parchment-like pieces. As a general rule of thumb, the older the parchment, the easier it is to flatten. 1719 would likely be straightforward. Humidify, and flatten between blotters, with cutouts for seals.

Sometimes though, parchment needs to be stretch dried after humidification. This is when the parchment has been distorted into 3-D, and so would crease if pressed flat. This is typical of Civil War era parchments in too small frames which have expanded into tight ripples.

Tracing paper can behave well, or very badly when humidified. Paper made in the 1920's and on can have some very odd tensions built into the sheet. These often require fancy footwork stretch drying, and may never lie completely flat. Tight ripples might only be coaxed into into broad undulations and require a very high spacer.

I've also had cases in modern papers, where there are localized "puckers" in the center of the sheet caused by water damage, which can't be eased out. Relaxed, but not elimiated.

Flattening is 90% straight forward and 10% hair tearing.