Thursday, May 30, 2013

Waxed Tablets

There are many versions of waxed tablets out there to draw your inspiration from.  I searched for a while and came up with a very basic design that I chose to use.  As I will be going to a one week long event in persona and likely adhering to a vow of silence I need an easy way to communicate silently to others around me.  I chose to make a period looking set of waxed tablets for just such a purpose.

I started with four blocks of wood which I intended to use as the waxed tablets.  They are cut from 1/4 inch oak.  I wrapped them in painters tape to protect them while I used them to construct the case around.

After I had added one layer of painters tape, I wraped another layer of thin cardboard.  As I build the case around the wood tablets I had to allow a small amount of room for shrinkage.  When the tablets are removed and the tape shed, the size of the case should fit snuggly around the tablets.

I stitched this project much like the leather penner in a previous post.  The construction of the penner is really what drove me to make this item.  I was having so much fun playing with leather I jumped on a band-wagon and made about 5 different leather items.

Here you see small gaps in the stitching.  This is going to be the inside layer of the case and all but a small amount of the stitching will be covered.  I left a small gap so that I could cut the case into two parts without having to worry about cutting the stitching.

After all of the stitching was done I let the piece dry a few days.  I had to keep wetting it while I stitched it and also to help force it into the shape I wanted.  The leather is very thick vegetable tanned leather and would not play nicely.  I wet the leather and used a rawhide mallet to help shape the corners.  After the stitching was done I cut along the line to form the cap and body of the case.

At this point I felt it safe to remove the tape and cardboard around the wood panels.  They seem to fit nicely.  I will likely round the corners on all the panels before final fitting though.

Not that the inner layer was constructed, I put the lit back on and taped it shut so that I could assemble the outer layer right over the inner layer.  Here you can see that I used some painters tape to help hold the outer layer in place.  I didn't want to cut it too big, but I also found that as I was stitching the wet leather it was shrinking a little.  I used the tape to help hold it in place and make sure that the size was right before finishing the sewing.

I cut the end caps similar to the way I did on the penner.  They are the same size as the inner layer.  This time around I cut the piece just a little smaller than I thought I needed.  I figured as I stitched it I could continue to pull and press it into place.

This is the top side of the case fully stitched.  Followed the same steps to complete the bottom.

I used more of the vinegaroon that I made for a prior project.  Works really well.  I used a large craft brush to simply brush the liquid onto the surface.  This time around I simply brushed it on while the piece was in a small pan and then let it sit.  I applied two coats and let it dry thoroughly.

In the image on the right you can see the dried piece.  The vinegaroon drys and leaves a rust colored residue.  That comes off very easily with a wet rag.


Here you see both side of the completed case.  You can see small strips of leather that I placed into the sides.  I cut a set of parallel slits to allow for a carrying strap on each side of the top and bottom of the case.  I wanted this to be stretched, wet and shaped before dying.  After the piece was fully dried I pulled those leather pieces out.  The ensured that the size and shape of each slit was uniform and would allow for the carrying strip of leather to be added later.


Here is a close up of the strips after I removed the leather scrap holding the hole open.  You can see a small amount of the blue painter's tape through the hole.  That will be removed when the lid has been cut and separated from the case.


To ensure that the lid was cut straight around the piece I placed a strip of blue painter's tape around the case.  This would make sure that as long as I followed the line of the tape my slash would end up exactly where I started.

After the case was cut, the lid was easy to remove to reveal the tablets inside.  It was at this point that I realized I would have to cut a new set of tablets.  I managed to crack these while I was whacking the case with the rawhide mallet.

Here is a close up of the ugly inside of the case.  The next time around I would make the case deeper.  The small amount of leather seems to catch at the corners of the tablet.  I think if I allowed for more of an overlap the lid might fit better.

So far so good though.  I am very happy with the way this piece is coming out.  As this piece is to be carried by a mendicant friar I wanted no embellishment and simply wanted a functional piece.  So far it is coming out precisely how I envisioned it.