Parchment is one of the oldest writing materials known to humanity. Some of the most ancient written texts in the world are still around today because they were done on parchment. It is these qualities that make parchment a desirable material in modern times.
As North America’s only commercial producer of the material, we have been producing parchment for binding, illumination, and conservation purposes for decades, and have recently been working with furniture makers and designers to expand its use for interiors and lighting as well.
Goat parchment tends to have a pebbly, somewhat pronounced grain that is noticeable when you run your hand across the surface. Also common are scars, bug/tick bites, scratches, and other markings that come from the wild nature of the animal’s life. Varies in color from white/cream to natural. Size ranges from 3 to 12 square feet.
Calf parchment has a very smooth, even grain, characterized by fat wrinkles that run perpendicular to the spine of the skin. Calf also tends to have much more noticeable veins visible on the flesh because it is a young animal with less-developed skin layers. Varies from white/cream, to veiny, to natural, to spotted in color. Size ranges from 5 to 13 square feet.
Sheep parchment is very similar to goat, but has a slightly finer grain pattern. The hide also usually has pronounced wrinkles located around the neck and spine, due to the much more pliable grain. Because sheep have more natural oils and grease in their skins than goat, their parchment tends to be much softer and rounder to the touch (meaning that it is easier to curve or roll than goat). Most skins come out in a gray/brown “antique” color, though some can be a light cream. Size ranges from 6 to 14 square feet.
Deer parchment has a very smooth, fine-haired grain, but lacks the fat wrinkles of calf. It almost always has some sort of natural markings, like bites, scratches, scars, etc. Hides or procured from local hunters, meaning the skins often have pronounced slices or holes around the edges of the parchment due to poor butchering. Color ranges from light to dark cream, with a lot of character from hair and scars. Size ranges from 5 to 14 square feet.
Our Standard Qualities
Furniture & Interiors
Parchment has been in use for interior applications since the early 1900’s. Designs for wall panels, furniture, lighting fixtures, and room screens have all been created with parchment as the defining feature. Today, parchment is still used by designers, crafters, and architects for both lavish and minimalist installations alike. Goat, Calf, Sheep, and Deer are all suitable for these purposes.
Dyed parchment has been in use for centuries, largely relegated to religious texts and commissions by the wealthy elite during the Middle Ages. Today, however, the material is much more accessible and often the statement piece of furniture and interior designs. Goat is available dyed in a range of standard and custom colors.
Calligraphy, Manuscript, and Botanical
Due to its unique qualities, including the luxuriously tactile surface and longevity, the calligraphic arts still remain one the widest uses for parchment today. Calligraphy, illumination, water color, egg tempera, acrylics, letterpress, and inkjet printing all work on parchment, and with the right finish, nearly any media can be used on this material. Goat, Calf, Sheep, and Deer are all available in the calligraphy and manuscript options, and Calf is available with a botanical finish.
Binding and Restoration
For almost as long as it has been used to hold the written word, parchment has also been used to protect it and hold it together. From scroll cases and codices thousands of years ago, to limp- and green-vellum bindings over the last several hundred years, finally to modern day artisan bindings and conservation/preservation work, parchment has been a longstanding player in the fight to protect and maintain human history. Goat, Calf, Sheep, and Deer are all suitable for binding.