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Topic: Ideas for made/found chess pieces, quick!  (Read 5088 times)
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« on: December 15, 2004 01:21:26 PM »

Hi everyone-

I need some ideas for making chess pieces (or assembling a set from fun things).  It's for my dad for Christmas.  I'm making him a board out of a hollowed out book.  I want to find or make a unique set of pieces to go with it, but am having trouble thinking up ideas.  A plain plastic set will not do.  Some nice wooden pieces would be okay, but...I'd rather make it. 

I thought perhaps diecast toys would work.  My dad is a pilot, and used to work for the railroad, so aviation or railroad themes would work.  The matchbox airplanes are too big, though, and I didn't really see anything else suited to the task.

My gifts of sculpture are not really apt to sculpt the pieces out of fimo, although if there were a relatively simple concept to follow that might work.  I thought about using wooden beads on some kind of base...

The other idea I had was to use flat porcelain disks with the pieces painted on, maybe even in letters on one side, pictures on the other.  Or maybe buttons?  They'd have to be REALLY nice buttons.  Let me know if you have any ideas.  I'll live in gratitude to you.

I don't know.  Time is running out, though, so I thought I'd tap your creative and marvelous brains for ideas!

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Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.           
                            --Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
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« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2004 01:49:26 PM »

I've seen cute chess sets made with hardware findings--bolts with wing nuts on them for the knights, etc. Probably not as fancy as you wanted, but it might be nice spray painted with black or something.

I like the idea of porcelain disks.

Hobby stores often have nice paint-your-own knights and soldiers and model railroad stuff, any of which would be a cute set and all of which are about the right size.

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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2004 02:04:15 PM »

Here's an especially geeky example:  chess pieces made of BNC connectors.


I suspect you could make something similar if you were to go down to Home Depot and spend some quality time in the miscellaneous hardware section.

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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2004 02:05:31 PM »

Here is website to make origami chess pieces:

I toyed with the idea of cutting up the metal from coke cans and making origami out of them but it probably wouldn't work. They would look styly made out of japanese paper.

I have seen a tiny little plane that was made in World War 2 out of a penny. I think it was cut and melted, might require a blow torch. If I find instructions for this i will post.
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2004 04:35:14 PM »

Take a look on this page at my website for various links to interesting chess pieces (some are made from polymer clay, but many not... and the ideas might translate anyway). 

You might want to find stamps of planes, trains, wings, sky, clouds, etc.... or you could sculpt simple things like that.

If you use a stamp, you can get a lot of quick bang for the buck by "highlighting" just the top area of the impression, or completely covering the whole surface with a metallic powder like Pearl Ex.  You could also "antique" it by applying a (usually dark brown) acrylic paint (tube ones are thicker and better) all over the whole surface, wait a few seconds, then wipe off the paint from the upper surfaces only (leaving the paint in the crevices).  Those techniques and very simple, quick, and look pretty darn good!

If you want more info on any of those techniques I mentioned, drop me a line at DianeB@glassattic.com because I might not run across this thread again!


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« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2004 07:58:59 AM »

Thanks guys!

Coin airplanes would be cute!  Quarters for the king and queen, dimes for the pawns....

I like the idea of the paint your own knights. 

If  I made them out of origami (which is one of my personal passions) is there any way I could harden?  What would I shellac them with, I wonder?

Work is love made visible.
                            --Kahlil Gibran

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.           
                            --Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2004 10:15:20 AM »

Hi momo--

I searched for chess pieces before posting this, but I didn't think shot glasses or piping, while cool for other people, would be appropriate for this gift.  I wanted to get some ideas from folks who may not have posted to those topics. 
« Last Edit: December 18, 2004 09:44:15 AM by craft-matic » THIS ROCKS   Logged

Work is love made visible.
                            --Kahlil Gibran

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.           
                            --Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
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« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2004 05:49:39 PM »

Your post got me thinking.  What about using a whole slew of foreign coins for chess pieces?  In stamp and coin shops, you can sometimes get these--especially the discontinued European coins like francs/centimes etc.--for really cheap, and most of them have engraved profiles that could be used for kings, queens, bishops, etc.  I suppose they could be mounted on, say, pieces from a thrifted set of checkers (draughts) with a little glue or epoxy.

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« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2004 04:27:27 AM »

What I did for my aunt and uncle is got some plain shot glasses - just clear ones, no pattern or anything, and for some white glass paints and some black glass paints and painted the "piece types" (like, painted a horse, a pawn, etc) on them, and set them up on a board i made.
so basically, you fill them up with alchohol - say something white/clear like tequila and something black like black zambuca - and when someone takes over a piece, they drink the contents of that shot glass.
I think they'll really like it. I don't know if your dad is into that kind of thing though. Just a suggestion.
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« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2004 07:14:47 AM »

Yeah, the shot glass thing doesn't really fit the personality in this case, and would probably be too large for the chess board, if it's in a book.  Craft-matic, I like the coin pieces, too, if there were some way of modifying the coins.  Roughly how big should the pieces be again? 

Um, it's too bad, I've got a ton of black and white fimo that I have no reason to use yet.  I tried making a stylized chess set out of fimo a while back, and if I'd ever finished it, it would have been cool.  Those pieces were on average 1/2 inch at the base and no more than 1" tall. 

The porcelain disk think is a good idea.  If the pieces can be a little largish, I've got a vintage backgammon (sp?) set with bakelite pieces, but it doesn't have a full set, and the pieces are green-swirly and yellow-swirly.  I'm not sure there are enough, and they're about 1 1/4" round and 1/4" deep, so they may be too big, anyway.  But something like that might work very well if you had time to do a little heavy thrifting.  (Or, I could help, too.)

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