Saturday, October 6, 2012

4. Preparing the Writing Surface

Your first tablets should be relatively small. Start with a single stick of plasticine clay. Knead the clay to warm it slightly and roll it into a ball in the palms. Then press the ball between the palms into a loaf or lentil shape (this may be circular or slightly rectangular). Do not make a flat pancake. You want a convex or gibbous shape that allows for keeping the stylus at shallow angle to the clay but does not force the writing hand against the clay surface. Later on when you make larger tablets, you will still want to create loaf shaped tablets.  

After you press the tablet into its basic loaf shape you may want to flatten the writing surface. Do this by laying the blank on a table surface and rocking it lightly from side to side and top to bottom. Do the same for the reverse side. (You can put a piece of paper on the surface to provide a smoother surface and to protect it from clay residue.) Don't over flatten. Make sure to retain the convex shape on both sides.

(For much larger tablets, the face of a tablet may be made smooth by lightly rolling a dowel (about 1" in diameter), as a rolling pin.

You may also want to square off the edges. Do this by pressing or lightly tapping the edges on a smooth table or surface. Make sure you retain the convex or loaf shape of the writing surface.