Rosemarkie Gospels- John Incipit
Book of Kells John Portrait
Inks and pigments
oak bark ink
Groam House Museum
Dark Mountain Project
Inks and skins
National Library of Scotland
Primary school lessons
Here’s where the parchment making tools will be explained
the stretching herse, a wet hide must be dried under tension to align the collagen fibers to create a white writing surface. In Tarbat the pegs were made of bone suggesting the hide was resoaked on the herse as wooden pegs would expand and get stuck if wet. the hide is scraped and finshed on the herse to produce the finished parchment.
Lunellum, a ‘normal’ sized one and the tiny 76mm Tarbat style one on the right. I think the larger of the two is best for scraping the flesh side of the hide when dry and the Tarbat one is used on the grain side after it’s soaked with hot water to remove the grain layer a bit like stripping wallpaper. Its a very efficient technique unique to Tarbat but possibly represents a widely used process in insular parchment making.
Fresh water soaking pit. Used at the start of the process to clean fresh hides and re-hydrate salted ones and at the end to rinse out lime before the dehaired skin is stretched on the herse.
Lime vat. Used to dehair hides and to encourage certain bacteria that produce enzymes such as keratinase to help remove stubborn hair roots, break down the collagen just a little and give the finished parchment a particularly smooth surface.
Fleshing beam and fleshing knife. Used to remove flesh after initial rinsing and to remove loosened hair after the lime vat.
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