Deer Skin Parchment – Or it will be anyway

This week is the week of scribal materials apparently.  Today, 12/08/2012 I went over to Master Johannes von Narrenstein‘s and did the scraping (we’re calling it flensing for now,) of the deer skins and de-haired a couple of them (mostly.)  The flensing (as we’re calling it) is when you remove all the rough fat and other tissues from the skin.  It is the first scraping of the hide that is done.  You do this over a wooden “beam” that is supposed to be a curved shape, often a half or quarter of a log propped up.  You then use a long knife (like a draw knife but going away from you) to pull/peel the tissues away from the skin layer.   The skins had been in a lime bath for about a week and I noticed that the skins were swollen thick and rubbery much like the goat and sheep I had done last year at Master RanthulfR‘s.

Since they skins had been soaking for a week in a lime bath we de-haired the hides as well.  Well we tried anyway and mostly succeeded.  We are betting that the hair spots that would not come out, did not get soaked well enough in the lime bath.  But what did come out came out pretty easy. We used two techniques.  One was reminiscent of what you would think plucking a bird would be like.  Grab a handful and pull.  The other way was to use the dull side of the draw knife and push it off.  This worked medium well with one of the skins and very very well with the other skin.

So remember when I said I noticed the skins was swollen thick and rubbery?  Yeah I was wrong.  Once we de-haired the deer skins we noticed to our surprise that the deer skin is very thin stuff.  Right now it is as thin as after having scraped and sanded on the sheep skin for hours, and we haven’t even put the skins on a frame yet.  This will be different from the goat and sheep by a lot.  Same general principles I’m sure, but much greater care will be needed.

So Wednesday was starting to make ink and today, Saturday, was making deer skin parchment.  It has been a good week for making scribal materials!


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