Recently, my daughter has been nagging me to help her make a wax tablet. She is five, obsessed with Romans and a keen reader of her Usborn book on Romans. This week I finally agreed. Off we went to the wine shop up the road to ask if they had any spare wooden boxes – Taylor’s Port will do nicely, thank you! Then I found my saw and started making a mess in the kitchen.
After we located the old smelly candle that no one liked, I scraped it from its glass cup and melted it over the gas stove in an aluminium pan. [Note to Self: use a Bain Marie next time.] It went really runny really quickly! And so onto the wood I poured it. Unfortunately my roughly hacked wood had some gaps and did not have a nice well in the middle so wax went all over the counter. [Note to Self: build myself a proper workshop with good tools one of these days, ignoring husband and children’s protests that they have no garden anymore.]
Eventually the wax cooled and Daughter got to have a go on it. She was not that impressed so she made me make a bigger, better one using another side of the wooden box. I obliged. In for an as, in for a sestertius¹. This one was better.
Although the back of a teaspoon makes quite a good tool for smoothing the wax back down again, we didn’t manage to come up with a sufficiently good stylus in the first place to be able to read her writing. Daughter was pretty happy anyway, so it was all worthwhile in the end.
Final thought: it’s a very good thing Years 7 and 8 didn’t have to write their Latin Assessment translations this week on wax tablets.
¹ Rubbish Latin joke – an as was the smallest Roman coin, a sestertius was bigger.