Vellum expertise needed...

Chuck T

True Grumbler
Aug 15, 2003
Jackson, Michigan
I am re-doing a job that I did 6 months ago which is a modern 14X18 inch document/writing done on vellum, meticulously produced in 14th century protocol. The ink used in the caligraphy was hand made from a recipe of vegetable extracts, etc (so I am told). There is also a ribbon attached to the document that dangles about 3 inches lower than the document. There is a wax seal at the end of the ribbon that has been embossed with an insignia of the medievial group the client belongs. Originally, I mounted the document on a leather matte using medium Mylar photo corners. The two top Mylar corners have since released from the leather matte (adhesive failure possibly due to the oils in the leather matte???).

After more research on the subject I found that Vivian kistler states that gummed linen tape is acceptable to hinge vellum. Does anyone use slip through hinging using line tape on this type of document? :confused:

Also, the wax seal at the end of the ribbon was not secured (by request of the client) so it causes considerable draw on the weight of the piece. Could this account for some of the problems???

Ideas and/or suggestions would be GREATLY APPRECIATED???? I only have so many hairs left in my head........
Thanks, Chuck Thompson
First thoughts would be inregard to the use of actual leather as the mat, if the "oils" in this have been detrimental to the adhesive on the corners then is it likely to have an effect on the piece itself?

Can the corner be physically retained in place? I can see the use of Jim's "adjustable corners" on this...

Hinging is perfectly acceptable for me however and would be the first choice of methods as it will provide better support for the work, it is likely to buckle under its own weight and fall out of the top corners anyhow.

If the ribbon at the base is not supported is there any chance that it may distort the document over time?
Lance's concern about a leather mat is worth considering. Vellum is rawhide and lacks the
tannic acid and other additives that may be used
in tanning leather. As to support for the item,
what you have described is a rather large piece
and with the attachment, it sounds heavy, too.
Starch paste and Japanese tissue hinges will stick
to the vellum and if you use hinges on the top
and sides, which can be passed through the back
mat, they should support the vellum. The seal
can be supported with thread that is lashed over
the ribbon, above and below the seal, which should
hold the weight of the wax and keep it from moving
in the frame.

You could also use pass through corners using strips of mylar. You can run your corners a little farther in that way, to give more support. Then you can glue or tape the heck out of them on the back.

The vellum could absorb dyes from the leather, so putting a rag paper buffer bewteen them is not a bad idea.

You might point out to your customer that leaving the wax seal loose is taking a chance of damaging it if the piece gets knocked around. Sure, it looks nice, but if it leaves a smear on the inside of the glass...
I think I would cut a piece of 4ply rag a little smaller than the vellum and hinge to that. The hinges would go from the back of the vellum to the back of the 4ply. The 4ply can be securely fastened to the leather with a suitable adhesive,(I would probably use PVA). The vellum is then securely fastened and seperated from the leather and the elevation off the backround really looks great. I think it's also easier than pass through hinges. Is the wax seal really that heavy? I'm trying to picture what Hugh means by stitching it. It sounds like stitching through the vellum which does'nt sound right. How about a small hinge behind the seal? Terry
Just to clarify, we are talking about real animal vellum right? If so should the rag board be unbuffered? Or has that idea gone the way of ventilated canvas backings?
Since the seal is attached to the vellum with
a ribbon, one could run threads over one or
both strands (if it has 2 - it could go over only
the lower strand) of the ribbon. None of the stitches would be in or even near the vellum.

OK, I get it now. I was imagining the seal at the top (end) of the ribbon. What about buffered vs. unbuffered rag in contact with animal product?Terry
The original research that proposed that alkaline
board not be placed in contact with the emulsion of a photo, has been withdrawn. Either type of board should do fine.

Thats what I thought I'd heard. I thought the alkaline issue also involved animal by products like vellum, parchment, silk, anything gelatine based,etc.? Thanks, Terry
Chuck, I have had success over the years using 'acid-free' gummed linen tape to hinge old
(13th - 18th century) manuscripts leaves, music/ choir sheets (much heavier)and 19th & 20th century 'official' documents (Freedom of the City
type things etc which generally have seals hanging below the piece on tapes,cords,strips of vellum etc and I have managed to 'persuade' the client to let me take the strain off the document and the seal supports by cutting a hole in the board on which the thing is mounted that just allows the seal itself to be 'gently' pushed into the hole. Easy really.....

Phew, the longest sentence that I have ever written! What a cheek and in the land of the longest paragraphs in the Universe too.