Apothecary: tool roll

Apothecaries were responsible for more than just concocting and dispensing medicine in the 18th century; they also acted as modern general practitioners, treating a range of common ailments, as well as carrying out minor surgeries, such as pulling teeth.

As a result they would have had quite a large collection of tools to aid them in their work. I made a few basic ones for my set (knife, scalpel, tongs, scraper, spatula), but then had the problem of where to store them. A tool roll seemed the best solution.

After making a painted fabric cover for one of my books, I noticed once painted, the fabric did not fray. This meant I could make a no sew tool roll which would be considerably less bulky than if I had to sew it.

Starting with a small strip of an old cotton bed sheet, I painted it a light fudge brown on both sides. Once dry, I lined my tools up on the fabric to estimate how wide and tall the roll should be (3 cm tall x 6.5 cm long), then cut a rectangle, using a ruler, and a thin long strip for the holster band. I used PVA to glue the band to the centre of the roll, though fabric glue or super glue are probably sturdier, PVA seems strong enough for now (it’s still intact). I used a kebab skewer to help make the loops.

Tool roll

I put all my tools in to make sure they fit, then cut a piece of string for the fastening. I used watery paint to lightly tint the string a pale tan colour. Realising I had forgotten to leave the end of the lolster strip unstuck to glue in the string, I simply pulled one end off, thankfully it hadn’t fully dried yet. Applying super glue to the string, I stuck it at the centre of one of the roll ends and stuck the holster strip on top.

I think it makes an effective tool holder, and is a perfect accessory for my apothecary set.

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