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  • Writer's pictureDubravko

About our parchment replicas

Since we receive a lot of questions about our replicas, I've decided to do a post dedicated solely to them. I will tell you a little bit about where we get the images from, how we make them, how long it takes, is it possible to make custom orders, and finally give you some instructions on how to keep them safe if you decide to order them!

Where are the images from?

Most of the images come from different books on medieval art and cartography I buy. After I browse the books for the images I like, I usually first head over to Wikimedia Commons to see if the image is available there, and to see if it is published as public domain, as I do not want to have problems with copyright infringement. Fortunately, most images are in public domain, as most countries release art as public domain 70-100 years after the author's death. If I can't find the image in any of the public domain sources, I'll either decide not to make it or try to find if it's available to buy with a for-commercial-purposes license, in which case I might buy it if it's not too expensive. I have to admit many of the replicas we currently have come from my mother's incessant Pinterest browsing as well. Thanks, Mom!

How are the replicas made?

After I download the image, I usually have to edit it in Photoshop. Sometimes it just means adjusting the colors a little bit to fit the paper we're using, but often it also involves repairing the scratches, creases, or other artifacts that happen due to old age, bad scanning, or any number of reasons. It can take from a few minutes to a few days, depending on the quality of the source image.

Once I'm happy with the quality of the image, I will print it on a special 175g paper we use only for this purpose. When the color is dry, I use various rough processes to weather the paper, all done by hand (other than printing, all parts of the creation are done exclusively by hand). When the paper gets a rough texture, I will give it to Tanja for the illumination with golden acrylic paint. It's the lengthiest and most delicate part of the process, and also depends on the map. Some take 5-10 minutes, many take closer to an hour, and some can even take longer. This also largely depends on the size of the replica we're making.

When this is done, I will take the replica again for the final touches, which means burning the edges and applying a coat of beeswax. We don't make our own beeswax (yet!), but we are careful to always buy it from Croatian beekeepers.

This gives the replicas the final parchment-like look and feel that has been our trademark for 15 years.

Before and after the ageing process

Custom orders

We absolutely love doing custom orders, because they usually have some kind of a backstory, and we are suckers for backstories. Once we had a customer who accidentally found out his family originates from a small Croatian town - he had the same surname as the city was called in medieval times, so he went to the city hall, asked a few questions, and learned that his family moved from Croatia almost 200 years ago. We met on our booth on the market in Dubrovnik, he asked us if we could make a map of his family's city of origin, and we most certainly said yes! It was an amazing story and makes me smile every time I remember it.

Another one that is very dear to me is coats-of-arms. This one is kinda self-explanatory for history nerds like us, isn't it? Sometimes it's as simple as making a replica of an already existing coat-of-arms, but sometimes I have to paint it from scratch, and that, of course, is so damn cool I could do it forever.

A pair of coats-of-arms we made for our friends

How to display our replicas, and what to do if they get damaged

There is basically just one thing you have to be mindful of when deciding where to display one of our replicas, and that is the heat. This, of course, has to do with the beeswax coating, which can melt under high heat, such as from a fireplace or direct sunlight. Therefore, be careful to keep it away from sources of heat, and absolutely out of direct sunlight.

You can keep it covered with glass, or with no glass. The texture is a big part of the whole experience, so we recommend keeping it uncovered.

The beeswax makes the paper somewhat waterproof, so if you spill something on the replica, simply wipe it off and you're fine. Don't leave it soaking, though.

If the paper creases in the travel, you can easily repair it by applying - guess what - a little bit of heat! Yes, it's black magic, but other than destroying it, it can also repair the replica. You can use either a lighter or a hairdryer. If you're gonna use the lighter, keep the flame parallel to the paper, and above it, as it can smudge if you keep it under the paper. Here's a little video of how to do it.

I think this covers just about everything I can think of right now. If you have any questions whatsoever about our replicas, feel free to leave a comment below this post, or contact us on our Facebook or Instagram page. We love talking about our products and will be glad to answer anything you ask! :)

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