Die Messingbrettchen – the Brass Tablets

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.

30 replies
  1. byrne
    byrne says:

    Oh, nice — and shiny!

    If one had decided that spinning, loom weaving, knitting and dyeing were not enough hobbies along with the many hours a day writing, would you recommend learning to tablet weave from a class over a book? I live in a very small town and doubt I’d be able to find a class; the internet and books, however, have taught me many things. Would it be an exercise in frustration?

  2. monkeyjunk
    monkeyjunk says:

    those are sexy!!!
    it must be a little like re-learning to weave with such stiff cards though…sort of adds an awesome extra bit of challenge eh?

  3. admin
    admin says:

    Well, I certainly didn’t learn the easy way. I had seen somebody’s loom warped up, and seen the draft with the turning instructions… and I sort of wrestled with it for a few hours. I’ve still got that amusing piece; parts of it are actually woven. I had been doing inkle weaving for quite some time at that point, though… so I had some background.

    I would say, with all the information on the Internet and in books nowadays, you should be able to learn without TOO much frustration. I would avoid the warping technique that Candace Crockett uses in her book, because I think it’s unnecessarily tedious.

  4. admin
    admin says:

    Hmm… not like re-learning to weave, but kind of like the amount of difference in switching from cotton to silk. They are VERY smooth – so there’s very little tablet-to-thread friction, but a little more thread-to-thread friction. It’s also made a little more, by the fact that these are thicker than the Lacis plastic ones. They’re about the same thickness as my gray plastic ones.

    The comb fixes it by spreading out the tablets so that there’s plenty of space.

  5. byrne
    byrne says:

    Thank you! Maybe as a summer treat to myself I’ll give it a go — I have a shetland fleece to process on combs first, though. So maybe as a winter holiday treat. 🙂 (Do you ever get that feeling that there’s far too many things to try and not nearly enough years ahead of you? Jeepers.)

  6. admin
    admin says:

    If you want, I’m pretty sure that I have a class packet with the pre-warped tablets, around here somewhere. I sell them for $15 when I do classes. The instruction isn’t quite as dense as I might make it if it were a free-standing book (this is to be more like aids to the memory) but it’s pretty thorough.

  7. admin
    admin says:

    Will do. I’ve got a big event coming up, so I should get through to the boxes containing the class stuff soon.

  8. zoezebra
    zoezebra says:

    I loves it! At this stage I’ve gone from paper cards to cardboard cards and now I work with small 2″ x 2″ wooden Viking-Age reproductions but I’m no totally crazy about them. They tend to splinter a bit at the holes but I have an order in with a local artist for dyed bone. These metal ones look really cool though… I’m going to give it a try. Thanks for the photos and your comments!

  9. czina
    czina says:


    Is there historical evidence for such cards? I know there was discussion about ‘belt plates’ with 4 holes being confused for cards, but with the notched corners and small hole markings, these wouldn’t make good belt plates.

    Heh – not that I need MORE cards: I need more time to warp up the plethora of cards I have!

  10. admin
    admin says:

    No, there is no historical evidence for these. They did choose historically available metal types, but these are modern, marked for convenience, and made for ease of working.

  11. sskipstress
    sskipstress says:

    Years ago I decided that weaving was going to be the fiber art I don’t do…I’d already proved myself with a number of projects, from card-woven belts to my senior project which involved creating 4 samples on a 4-harness loom and then analyzing the results. But those cards are nearly sexy enough to make me want to dabble in it again.

    Would little metal nubbies on the bar at the top of the loom work to separate the warps like the comb does? The purple plastic, while perfectly functional, looks so out of place.

  12. admin
    admin says:

    Oh, I’m sure that any of a dozen more elegant solutions could be arranged… but the comb cost something like $.69, and I can easily reposition it.

    I bet that something like little drops of solder would work, on the cross-beam.

  13. an_sceal
    an_sceal says:

    You are SO busted, missy!

    Man, and I was going to ask him the same thing! *grin* Maybe we could teach ourselves “together”.

  14. habibekindheart
    habibekindheart says:

    Those look quite impressive. I want to download your brain to learn tablet weaving, thx.

    You keep showing me these things and I’m going to blow tons of time and money I don’t have making bands. My LJ will be even more bored by my crafts than they already are…

  15. mothie
    mothie says:

    These are beautiful, and getting them in copper and brass is inspired. With the nickel alloy cards as well, you can really tell a pattern apart.

    I want some! Thank goodness they have PayPal. What did we do without it?

    The tw bands in the second gallery look so like something you’d weave. I can see why you like them. 8-]


  16. spinnerlady
    spinnerlady says:

    Brass tablets

    Who would’ve thought that I’d have to start my Chanuka list in June? Go figure. My husband will be thrilled 🙂

    I really like the notch cut off the single corner. My husband has made me balsa ply wood cards that are lightweight and wonderful. He makes them with a jig so he can turn out a bunch in one run. Power tools are his friend 🙂 I showed him the picture of the notch missing on the brass cards and he’s going to modify my current cards….

    These are very cool cards….thanks for sharing….

  17. admin
    admin says:

    They look wonderful, but a lot of them seem HARD to me… I guess because it’s a patterning system I don’t understand (yet)!

  18. ubermunkey
    ubermunkey says:

    Good Morning

    A quick hello here prior to my heading off to work.

    Thanks for friending me. Just the quick glimpse I’ve taken so far has been nice. Some really varied interests I”m looking forward to reading more and learning more about you.

    Some of my stuff is filtered from time to time depending on the imagery or subject matter. You are on that filter currently if ever you’d life off, let me know.

    and Happy Monday!

  19. admin
    admin says:

    Howdy! I clicked through to your journal from a reply in someone else’s, and enjoyed your photos – I usually make a comment and say hi, but you beat me to the punch! So howdy!


  20. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    brass cards

    They look wonderful and of course I’m itching to know how they do their patterns on the website. If you think they look hard imagine how they look to the rest of us mere mortals! Here’s hoping you can figure some out and help the rest of us. When my sister in law comes from Germany this fall I’m going to see if there’s any information on the page. If so I’ll let you know. Fredi

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