The word 'Vellum' is a common term used regularly amongst paper and card specialists, however it doesn't often seem to refer to any specific type of paper. We all have an idea in our heads about what we mean when we refer to a product as 'Vellum', however that can vary significantly amongst different companies and specialists. So what actually is Vellum?
The History of Vellum
Well, from historic times, Vellum was the term given to a parchment like product made from animal skin. Whilst parchment generally referred to a material made from sheep and, occasionally, goat skin, Vellum was noted to be a finer quality product made specifically from calf skin instead, that has been dried and stretched into a strong, smooth and incredibly valuable writing material.
The manufacturing of Vellum was a lengthy process that started with the skinning of the calf. The skin would then have to be soaked in water for 24 hours to rid it of any dirt, grime and blood before it would be transferred to a solution made up of liquor from rotten and fermented vegetables, often included lime juice, in order to rid the skin of any hair. The dehairing process could take up to a week, if not more depending on the concentration of the solution and other factors such as temperature. Once the skin had been soaked and dehaired it would then be put onto a wooden stretching frame to stretch, smoothen and dry out the skin and prepare it to the correct thickness. The Vellum would also be treated with a variety of different solutions to make it smoother, Whiter and to prevent the ink from running thus making the finished scripts more aesthetically pleasing.
Parchment and Vellum were used to create scrolls or books containing high status documentation long before the invention of synthetic papers.
What is Vellum Now?
In the UK today Vellum is not created from animal skin but from wood pulp, cotton and synthetic materials, however it does still have the same purpose to be used as a high quality writing paper. There are 2 common types of Vellum paper. Translucent and Bristol.
Translucent Vellum Paper - This paper is used commonly for tracing and design drawings due to its semi-transparency and is available in plain, coloured, and patterned varieties.
Bristol Vellum Paper - A thicker material often distinguished by a velvety smooth surface that is commonly used in printing.
The term Vellum is also used in other varieties of paper. Sometimes to refer to the colour, often a rich cream colour such as the Conqueror Vellum, and sometimes to signify that the paper is of a high quality for writing and printing.
Nowadays Parchment paper is no longer made from animal skin but from synthetic materials and wood pulp. The Parchment paper that is available to buy is simply more of a 'Parchment Effect' paper, with the similar markings and mottled effect that animal skin parchment would have had so many years ago. Parchment paper is also a high quality paper that is perfect for letter writing and crafting to give a rustic and antique style.
A selection of Vellum and Parchment papers are available to purchase from our webside. Free sample snippets are also available by following the links below.