Calligraphy on Parchment Paper

decorated certificate for donor written on real parchment

Real Parchment is Not Paper

But most people don’t realize that parchment is not paper at all. It’s actually animal skin! Before there was paper, people had to find a surface to write on. From different areas in the world, there were different surfaces for writing, such as papyrus

Alternative to Parchment Paper

If you are a vegetarian or vegan you probably don't want to have calligraphy written on animal skin! I have the perfect solution so that you don’t have the expense of animal parchment, or the imitation of vegetable parchment paper. Rather that using actual parchment from animal skin, I use a high resolution photograph of actual parchment and print it on archival paper with a texture. In fact, I have a variety of photographs of different types of parchment you can choose from. All of the paper is heavy weight and archival and comes with a variety of choices of texture. It’s very stable and will not shrink or fade.

Choices of Real Parchment Looking Paper

Your hand written calligraphy text or poem is then scanned and superimposed on this paper background. Then it’s printed with a high resolution giclee printer. And I can also add your own photography and superimpose it on that parchment looking background. Don't you love the look of the old photo from WW 2? I was also able to improve the color of the photo and clean it up.

Black Ink on Parchment Paper

Calligraphy writing on parchment paper is what so many people think of when ordering calligraphy services online. People also ask for their text to be written in black ink.  That's pretty traditional. We live in a world where technology has increased your choices astronomically! Why settle for less? At least listen to my suggestions to elevate the look of your calligraphy request. I will of course, go with your final choice. But you may be really surprised how much you love the look of your calligraphy artwork when you see it with more than a simple parchment paper background.

Parchment Paper Enhanced

There are so many different "looks" of parchment paper that you can choose from. And they can be part of the design of your calligraphy poem or text. That is one of the choices here at Beautiful Calligraphy.  Parchment becomes a background image with border designs or even sheet music superimposed  on the parchment background. It's an updated traditional look!

Soulmate marriage proposal in calligraphy with red string signifying spiritual connection superimposed on parchment paper
grunge parchment paper with celtic or uncial historical had in a contemporary calligraphy piece
Song lyrics from favorite music in calligraphy and computer font with graphic microphone on background of parchment sheet music
Song of Solomon written in flourished calligraphy and superimposed on a background of real parchment

Choices of Parchment Backgrounds

Adobe stock has a multitude of choices of images of parchment that you can pick to find exactly your favorite look of parchment for your calligraphy text. Although there is a small fee for the use of their images, it will be well worth it when you get to pick exactly what you like! Make sure you put in keywords when you search on this site. There are thousands of choices and you want to narrow down the scope of your search! It can be like going through a huge museum when you start looking at all the images that are available. Have fun and MAKE SURE you save the images you like in a library so you can find them later.

choices of parchment images

The Declaration of Independence

When people think of "parchment" they refer to the look of the Declaration of Independence. There have been claims that it was written on paper created from hemp, which is now being made again. However, when the surface was investigated it turns out that it too, was written on animal skin. 

Did you realize that parchment is animal skin? Parchment is a great surface to write calligraphy, but it is VERY expensive. And it has to be prepared to be able to write on it. You can see stretch marks, and places where hair came through the skin. For people who are vegetarians, I would expect they wouldn’t want their calligraphy written on parchment skin!

The Best Surface To Write On Is Parchment

Writing on parchment is a calligrapher's delight. The pen glides, but doesn't slip. And if you make a mistake you can take an exacto-knife and VERY CAREFULLY scrape off the paint. Calligraphers I know use paint instead of ink because paint stays on the surface. Whereas ink sinks into the surface and makes it very difficult to repair when you make a mistake.

I had to really take my time and be so careful! This parchment is Kosher as well! 

About Parchment

Parchment is a general term for an animal skin which has been prepared for writing or printing. Parchment has been made for centuries, and is usually calf, goat, or sheep skin. The term vellum from the French "veau" refers to a parchment made from calf skin. The manufacture of parchment is quite involved. After the skin is removed from the animal and any hair or flesh is cleaned away, it is stretched on a wooden frame. While it is stretched, the parchment maker or parchminer scrapes the surface of the skin with a special curved knife. In order to create tension in the skin, scraping is alternated by wetting and drying the skin. The parchment is scraped, wetted, and dried several times to bring it to the right thickness and tautness. Sometimes a final finish is achieved using pumice as an abrasive followed by chalk in order to prepare the surface of the skin to accept ink.

Parchment has traditionally been used instead of paper for important documents such as religious texts, public laws, indentures, and land records as it has always been considered a strong and stable material. The five pages of the U.S. Constitution as well as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Articles of Confederation are written on parchment.

The terms parchment and vellum are also used in the paper making industry. Parchment paper is made from cellulose fibers prepared from fir trees or plants such as cotton or flax. Paper can be made which mimics the thickness and smooth surface of parchment. The terms refer to the finish of the paper and should not be relied upon as an indicator of its long term stability.

examples of real animal skin parchment

Imitation Parchment Paper

There is a paper which is an imitation of the look of parchment. It’s made from vegetable protein called cellulose. Cellulose parchment paper which is unstable, thin and sometimes even greasy. Sometimes my pen slips on the greasy surface and it’s hard to get nice uniform calligraphy letter forms. I really resist writing on any paper like that! I want you to have the most beautiful results of the calligraphy your order.

Whereas writing on animal skin actually provides a great surface for writing, the paper version of parchment is more slippery. It's also not as thick and can almost be see-through. Writing calligraphy demands a surface that will hold "hairlines" which are thin parts of letters. And it should be resistant to "bleeding" or spreading of the paint or ink. Parchment paper really doesn't do either of those functions well. 

The “parchment” looks very real – but without taking the life of an animal! If you are a vegetarian or vegan, no worries! The result is calligraphy on paper that looks just like parchment!

Parchment Paper Looks Even More Real

Now available: Your calligraphy printed on heavy weight, textured, archival paper is now available with a "deckle edge" finish. It makes it look even more authentic! It costs a little extra, but if you like that traditional look of parchment paper this is a great option for you! Just let me know that's the look you want when you contact me

Calligraphy can be printed on paper with Deckle edge, especially nice  for parchment  paper
deckle edge with white border marriage vows framed
examples of deckle edge paper with white border and no border available for calligraphy artwork

How to Order

I hope you are excited to start your own calligraphy artwork and open to using parchment as a component of your background. I'll help you design the perfect piece. Just contact me, and then we'll start communicating about your ideas and mine. Please make sure to send me your text and think about personalization and any photos you'd like to use as well. I'll get right back to you!