Sunday, March 6, 2011

I Only Wish I Was Waxing Poetic...

I am, in fact, waxing anything but.....  I've been working on the Roman wax tablets since Friday, not continuously, of course...but, off and on.
The first thing I did was to sand the edges of the tablets down.  I then put them in the oven on the warm setting so that the wood could heat and allow the wax to saturate it.  The instructions I was using said to set up a double boiler to melt the beeswax.  I didn't have one, so I used a pot with an aluminum pie pan on top.  It worked perfectly.
I had previously read that before painting the full amount of beeswax into the recessed area, to paint some of the beeswax on to slake the natural thirst of wood.  I did that...  I then added between a fourth and a half of the small square of wax dye to the natural colored beeswax and mixed it up. One resource said to paint the beeswax in the recessed area using smooth strokes with minimal to no overlapping.  So, I took the now sage colored wax and began painting it into the tablet with a 1" paintbrush.  I had, the wax was cooling pretty quickly while I was doing this and it just was not looking smooth at all. 
You see....not smooth.  I even tried using a medicine cup to dip some of the melted wax out and pour it onto the tablet, but that only added small increments of wax at a time - which cooled in patches.

Jacob was excited and immediately tested it out.  We didn't have a stylus made, so I let him use a nail.  It worked pretty could actually see what he wrote.

Here I am melting down a chunk of the beeswax with the red wax dye.
I put it on the tablets in the same way I did the sage....painting it on with a paintbrush.  I really wasn't satisfied with the way they were looking.  After I used the brown wax in a different tablet, and took the aluminum pan off to cool, I noticed that the wax in the pan had cooled nice and smooth and looked great.   Which gave me an idea!  I could possibly put the tablets in the oven on warm, let the wax melt totally, and then it would cool nice and even.  I put one in and voila!  It worked!  I put the remaining tablets (except one) in, melted the wax to a liquid, and then turned the oven off and let them all cool.  They looked dramatically better!

Even though they looked better, I now realized that the wax was too thin.  I needed more in the tablets.  One of the tablets had a crack in the wood that went through the recessed area and to the other side....meaning if I put it in the oven, the wax would just turn to a liquid and run out the crack into my oven.  I was pondering how to fix it, when I decided I could just melt the wax in a separate container and pour it onto the tablet in enough quantity to completely cover the recessed area, thereby making it cool smooth and even.

The one on the left is the tablet with the crack.  This method worked so effectively that I decided to fix the remaining tablets in the same manner.  I melted the wax in the microwave and then poured it into the tablets not minding if some ran out of the recessed area and onto the margin.  I was so happy with the smoothness of the wax!!  And there were no air bubbles...which I read could occur.  After the wax cooled, I simply scrapped the excess wax off the margins with the edge of a knife.  (I did nearly cut my index finger off with the serrated edge, but you probably won't need to worry about that...LOL)
See how incredibly smooth that brown wax looks?!?!  Man, I was so happy.... when I took the picture, I hadn't finished the orange tablet, so pay it no mind. :)
We used orange, sage, and brown dye.  I'm excited to see which one shows the writing the best....if there is a difference at all.
I tied one of the tablets together with hemp string.  I think they are going to look great.
We still have to make a stylus to go with each tablet.  I was thinking of buying dowels and whittling them to a point on one end and somehow making a flat or ball shape on the other end to smooth the wax after writing.  I am also planning to let the kids use a woodburner to make a simple design on the front of their tablets.  I really hope they work ...  I know there was the question as to the beeswax having the proper writing consistency because I was using wax dye instead of lampblack.  I had originally intended to do one with lampblack just to see the difference, but I didn't.  Hopefully, these will work and the kids will get a feel for how writing was done long ago.  I know I've definitely learned alot and thoroughly enjoyed the process.  :) 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Allergies: Part Deux ~ Achoooo!! Achoooo!!! *hack*hack*

At the time of my last rant, I had visited my family doctor who pointed me to an allergist... regarding my allergies.  To goats.  Like the one I milk. EVERY day.  I wasn't happy.  Apparently the dander/hair/whatever was getting all in my facial orifices and irritating them to the point of revolt, i.e. coughing, sneezing, throat clearing, eyes itching and oh, yeah...SWELLING.

The following week, as I was trying to steer clear of any goat petting and overexposure, I sat down to a bowl of Rice Krispies. There I sat, on the floor, savoring the snap, crackle, pop, when I realized there was a zing! being added to the mix....  only it wasn't coming from the was coming from my tongue! tongue was zinging...tingling, if you will.  Color me freaked!  I took some Benadryl and bemoaned the fact that maybe I had developed an allergy not just to the goats themselves, but also to the products made from my goat's milk.  I decided to write it off as mostly my imagination and a couple of days later, I had a hankering for some soft goat cheese and crackers.  After inhaling, I mean, daintily nibbling, half a round of cheese, I noticed that the *zing* was back...and accompanied by a swelling in my throat.  Dang!  I took one Benadryl and decided to google it just to see what the "professionals" online had to say.  DANG!  Swelling and tingling in your tongue is indicative of anaphylaxis.  So, I freaked and took one more Benadryl ...just in case....and I might have reminded the kids of the number to call in case of which one responded, "It's 119, right?"  So, I took the rest of the, really, I didn't.  I thought about it, but, no...  I saved some for next time.

The day finally arrived for my allergist visit.  I was greeted by one sadistic, smiling employee who instructed me to lie down on my belly and she'd be right with me.  Ahhhhh, I thought....this is almost like I'm going to get a massage... which I've never had, by the way.  I kept thinking this up until the time that she actually walked in...with a tray full of all these little white things.  I forgot to mention that my seven year old princess was with me...Lord knows she talks every breath...I cannot for the life of me imagine where she gets that.  Anyway, so I ask her, "Are those needles?"  "No", she replies, "....they're made of plastic and what we do is twist them on your skin to open it so we can put the allergen in."  Funny how that information did not make me feel any better.  To which I venture another question, "How many of those do you need to do?"  And then all visions of any relaxation vanished, as she said, "Only 56.".... say what??  Did she just say "ONLY?"  Oh, okay...thanks...  whew....  only 56...     So, she began...  and the first row didn't seem too bad...I mean, it was annoying, but I'm a big girl...I can handle a few twisting plastic thingies.    And a few more on the second row.  And a few more on the third row...and, "DANG! woman!  Aren't you finished yet?!?!'d think you enjoy this!!!"  Then, she leaves the room with this final thought, "Try not to scratch...if you need us, send your daughter to get us"  Thanks.. I'll just lie here...savoring the after effects.  And that's where my dear daughter comes in..."Man, mom....your back looks awful!  Ooooh, that one has some mucus coming out!  That one does, too!  That one looks white!  You're getting some big bumps!  Oh, look, Mom!  She wrote on your back... A, B, C, D, E......"

Finally, the woman (I can't bring myself to say "lady") came back and felt the reactions caused by the allergens and judged how allergic I was.  It was then that I figured out why that nice little welcome bag they gave me upon arrival, contained a back scratcher.  Yeah.  It itched like a mad dog.

So, anyway, the allergist told me I had severe allergies... especially to ragweed and pines...which is really funny because I am surrounded by both.  And she was concerned about the goat milk reaction so I had to get an Epi pen.  I asked her if getting rid of the goats would stop my symptoms and of course she said "No" because that would be far too easy, right?  Right.  However, taking some allergy meds and/or allergy shots should lessen my symptoms.  So, I'm taking some allergy meds...and debating the shots.  I really don't like needles.  And I'm not eating any goat milk products.  She said I could in very small increments just to see how much I can handle....but, for the moment, I'm just steering clear.  I am milking the goat with my mouth and nose covered...just to try to alleviate some of the symptoms.  I've had some fun with it...milking in disguise.  Such as the day I wore my bandanna .....
 that's the thug look...  imma theivin' a little milk....

then Darren bought me a dust mask, so I made a paper nurse hat and went for that look....

then I braided my hair and wore the bandanna for the cowgirl look....
as an aside - look at the quantity of that milk!!  Shivers, the baby, had decided that he wanted to nurse on both sides of his mommy instead of the one.  So, we had to move him...well, I didn't touch him ...I didn't want to look like the Michelin milkgirl...hahaha...ummmm...okay...that's kind of not funny.  Anyway, he had to go to a different pen.  Now that he's gone, I'm getting right at a gallon of milk a day...milking once.  What a great milk goat!!!
Take a gander at that frothy, fresh, farm goodness!!!