Parchment with Chris Clarkson

The Studio at the College of Arms

I’m slowly catching up on the backlog of posts that I need to write up. Here’s one of them…!

A few weeks ago we spent a fascinating day at the College of Arms, going through (as much as we could in only one day) Chris Clarkson’s knowledge of Parchment. We were hosted by the COA so that we could see examples of some of the bindings Chris was speaking about in his session (see below).  We were also joined by Christopher Harvey, and Becky Tabram with appearances by Clive Cheesman, who, as a Herald, could explain what the bindings we were looking at contained.

Before we went through the bindings, Chris gave us a brief over view of the parchment making process, showing us slides of the different methods from areas in Europe, as well as giving us historical details from woodcuts (Jost Amman) and old ledgers.

He also told us about his time in Venice just after the flooding, and his work trying to conserve the damaged bindings, and that those bound in limp vellum were in the best condition, whilst those with boards were the most damaged, with splits along the joint and detachments.

Chris and Christopher with Clive in the studio.

Christopher also passed around samples of tawed and tanned skins that he had experimented with, each with a different characteristic, colour and flexibility. As well as examples of corner mitring for limp vellum bindings.

Christopher and Chris discussing Lucy's project.

Long-stitch binding with decorative punches and basket-weave.

A wax seal pendant attached through the spine.

Long-stitch binding with leather re-enforcement panels.

Music manuscript used as a covering material.

A concave spine on a parchment binding.

The binding above has become concave, pulling the covers back from the for-edge, this has caused the foredge of the textblock to be exposed, and unprotected. At some point in the past the covers have been extended with a relatively sympathetic new piece of parchment. No conservation would be necessary as, to ease out the textblock would mean the parchment extension would have to be removed, and vice versa.

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