My Parchment Training

internIn October 2014, I started an Institute of Conservation (ICON) Internship at the Staffordshire Archive Service. During the Internship I will be working to preserve and conserve The Bradford Collection from The Weston Park Estate. The Bradford collection contains a variety of archival material – such as limp vellum bindings, notebooks, account books, a variety of scrolls and bundles made from paper and parchment. A large proportion of the collection is damaged and needs to be preserved to a suitable condition for a reader or staff member to use. In the collection’s current state many items are difficult to handle.

Throughout the year I will have the opportunity to attend conservation workshops. These workshops will help to educate me on different methods of paper, parchment and book conservation, which in turn will also benefit the Bradford collection. The training in current and developing conservation techniques used in the repair of parchment documents at the Norfolk Record Office with Archive Conservator, Antoinette Curtis, has been of great value to me.

Techniques we covered –

  • Three different methods to humidify parchment – using a dome chamber, Gore-Tex® pack and Zorbix chamber.
  • How to flatten humidified parchment on a suction table
  • Suitable parchment flattening between felts and boards
  • Appropriate preparation of gelatine and isinglass adhesives
  • How to use alum tawed gold beater’s skin (caecum) for repairs and application on parchment
  • New techniques of parchment conservation using Japanese paper on ‘The Manor of Aylsham Court Roll’ project
  • Preparation of re-moistenable tissues – using a range of light Japanese tissue with one coat of isinglass (1.6gsm – 3.5gsm)
  • How to apply re-moistenable tissue to a document using a suction table method
  • Methods of packaging and preservation storage – not using any adhesives

The Bradford collection, along with all my future projects, will benefit from the conservation techniques that I have learnt during my training with Antoinette Curtis at the Norfolk Record Office.

Jenny Snowdon

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