Pergamena – The Last American Parchment

There are a growing number of artists that are the last of a dying breed. Sounds like an oxymoron but it actually logically explains the fact that many of today’s “Masters” of a given trade are the last in a line of professionals carrying out the traditional art-forms. Jesse Meyer’s Pergamena (Latin for parchment) is on this list. Pergamena is the last active tannery producing true skin parchment in the United States as a commercial venture. There are a few individuals I’m sure, but none that we know of that are beyond home made batches used for their own purposes. Pergamena meticulously handcrafts each parchment using carefully researched ancient methods and their own modern ingenuity.
Eric M. Saperstein - Artisans of the Valley Masters Papers. Calligraphy & Illumination by Rosemary Buczek, Goatskin parchment by Pergamena

Eric M. Saperstein - Artisans of the Valley Masters Papers. Calligraphy & Illumination by Rosemary Buczek, Goatskin parchment by Pergamena

There are other platforms, cotton bond, rice paper (which is not actually made from rice BTW), and standard paper made from wood pulp that we’re all familiar with. All said and done – there’s just nothing that matches the look and feel for a true handmade parchment. Without parchment there would be no new manuscripts; parchment is the foundation medium for master penman to scribe their proclamations, awards, and religious writings. Artisans of the Valley takes pride in producing heirlooms, the next generation of antiques. We’ve reiterated out stance that the artwork we leave behind is our legacy. Selection of materials is a key part of ensuring our work survives the test of time. The contrast between ink and background is unparalleled, the absorption of color is even and stable, and the life of a properly prepared and maintained parchment is virtually unlimited.

As a raw material, parchment has endless potential; incorporated into furniture, wall coverings, boxes, and dozens of other functional pieces parchment displays its natural beauty. All said and done our personal favorite is the use of parchment as we show in the image above; there’s just something appealing and official (not to mention medieval) about a document scribed in old English text on a live edge piece of parchment. This of is why Eric selected parchment to provide a traditional and artistic backdrop for his Master’s Papers.

Pergamena offers calfskin, goatskin, deerskin, and sheepskin parchment in pre-cut sizes and full skins. Parchment is produced in three thicknesses: thin (below .25 millimeters/below .010 inches), medium (.25–.45 millimeters/.010–.017 inches), and thick (above .45 millimeters/above .017 inches). A wide variety of dyed goatskin parchment is available, including custom colors.

Visit Pergamena’s “How we make parchment” page for more details on the hands on process used to turn raw skins into calligraphy ready parchment. Don’t forget you may also catch the Meyer family on not one but TWO episodes of “Dirty Jobs.” Pergamena was featured twice, once for their tannery and once to show their skills at crafting hand made parchment.

Pergament - Handmade Calfskin Parchment
Pergament – Handmade Calfskin Parchment
Pergament - Handmade Sheepskin Parchment
Pergament – Handmade Sheepskin Parchment
Pergament - Handmade Uterine-Calfskin Parchment
Pergament – Handmade Uterine-Calfskin Parchment
Pergament - Handmade Deerskin Parchment
Pergament – Handmade Deerskin Parchment
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Contact Information:
Jesse Meyer
11 Factory Street
Montgomery, NY 12549
p. 845.649.5806
f. 845.457.9115
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