Thursday, March 19, 2015

Word of the Day -- Vellum

Vellum is derived from the Latin word "vitulinum" meaning "made from calf", leading to Old French "vélin" ("calfskin"). The term often refers to a parchment made from calf skin, as opposed to that from other animals. It is prepared for writing or printing on, to produce single pages, scrolls, codices or books. The term is sometimes used with a more general meaning referring to finer-quality parchments made from a variety of animal skins.

Vellum is generally smooth and durable, although there are great variations depending on preparation and the quality of the skin. The manufacture involves the cleaning, bleaching, stretching on a frame (a "herse"), and scraping of the skin with a crescent shaped knife (a "lunarium" or "lunellum"). To create tension, scraping is alternated with wetting and drying. A final finish may be achieved by abrading the surface with pumice, and treating with a preparation of lime or chalk to make it accept writing or printing ink.

Modern "paper vellum" (vegetable vellum) is a quite different synthetic material, used for a variety of purposes, including plans, technical drawings, and blueprints.



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