I ordered brass tablets from Messingbrettchen and they arrived a couple of days ago – I’ve had a chance to give them a little test drive, and see how they work. The tablets are stamped out of thin brass (Messing) and copper (Kupfer). They also make Neusilber, or “German Silver,” which is a nickel-copper alloy, also called “White Metal” – but I didn’t get any of that particular type; I’m wishing now that I had. I can tell there is likely to be a second order in my future. The holes and edges are smoothed, so that they don’t scrape or drag on the fiber at all, and they feel really good and solid in the hand, not at all sharp.
The holes are marked by use of tiny adjacent holes – the A hole has a notched corner, and the others are marked with one, two, and three tiny holes. It’s nice to be able to line these up across the warp and see that they’re all in the right place. The tablets are expensive, for tablets – they work out to be just under $3 apiece after the shipping (but, you don’t have to pay the Value Added Tax that is figured in to the German pricing, if you order from overseas). My set of #29 arrived on my desk for about $85.
I have five of the copper tablets, and 24 of the brass – the copper are 2 on either end to mark the border, and 1 in the middle to mark the center line of the pattern.
They’re kind of tricky to tell apart from the top, if the light is reflecting on them – but just tipping them sideways takes the glare off and I can see which is which easily. The copper center tablet is in the middle of that black stripe.
I thought that the holes in the center would feel weird, but my hands quickly grew accustomed to them – they are actually helpful in sliding the tablets from pack to pack when picking the pattern.
And, very conveniently, my favorite shuttle fits snugly but not tightly through the center holes – so when I tie it up to stop work, I don’t have to worry about where to put it.
They make a really nice set with the copper loom.
I did find that because they have absolutely NO flex, they are a little different to turn. The point in the middle of each turn when the threads brush across each other was a bit tight. A comb for a warp spreader sorted that right out.
One of the banes of my existence is accidentally putting the tablets back together mid-pattern-square. Here, you can see the tablets that are out of place, because of the notched corners.
And here’s what I’m sampling on – a Celtic band with paired pretzel knots.
Sabine Asch has been fantastic to work with as far as ordering the tablets – they’re not very accustomed to US orders (I was their second one!) but the transaction was smooth and swift with PayPal. Also, be sure to check out her web gallery: http://www.messingbrettchen.de/html/kleine__bortengalerie.html
Many of the ones on the second page even have graphs, if you click through and click on “webbrief” – they come up in PDF format.
If you’re concerned about ordering in German, don’t be – Sabine’s English is excellent.