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  • Lois Knight

Make your own wax tablet!

Updated: May 18

In Ancient Rome wax tablets were commonly used for a huge number of writing tasks, such as making lists, leaving instructions and education of boys.

Paper was not commonly used in the Ancient world as it was very expensive. Before the technique of making paper from pulp arrived from China into Europe, paper was made from papyrus reeds or parchment. Papyrus (from which the word paper is derived) was made by weaving reeds to form a sheet and then beating the sheet to create a flat surface. Parchment is made from the skins of animals. Both papyrus and parchment were used for books and important documents.

Wax tablets are unique when compared with other ancient writing materials as they can easily be erased and reused. Wax tablets are made from thin pieces of wood, tied together so that they could open and shut. Each piece of wood had a shallow recess that was filled with wax and formed the writing surface. A stylus was used to write on the wax surface. The stylus was usually made of iron but sometimes bronze or bone. One end was pointed for writing and the other end was flattened for erasing so that the wax could be used again.

To make your own wax tablet you will need:

  • Some paper.

  • A pencil.

  • A ruler or something rectangular to draw around.

  • Wax crayons.

  • Something pointed to be your stylus, such as a cocktail stick or a pen that has run out.

What to do:

I. Our home made version of an easy wax tablet uses two colours of crayon. It usually works best with a light colour on the bottom and a darker colour over the top. You may want to test some different colour combinations before you start to make sure that the colours you chose will give the desired effect. To do this simply colour a small patch of one colour with a second colour over the top and use your pen or a cocktail stick to scratch a small pattern in it.

II. Get your piece of paper and use a pencil with your ruler or template object to draw a rectangle.

Note: It takes a while to colour in the rectangle so you may not want to make it too big!

III. Colour the rectangle in completely with your first colour. You need to colour in and solidly as possible, leaving no white spaces.

IV. Colour the rectangle with your second colour. Like the first colour you need to make sure that the colouring in is solid with no white parts.

V. Write your message

VII. Congratulations, you are finished! Send your message to a friend and get them to send you one back!

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