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  1. 22 Aug '10 01:28
    So I'm a full time slab building potter and I've decided to make myself a chess set out of clay. If it turns out, I might like to make more for sale. Having played 99% of my games on RHP and living in a small rural town I don't see too many physical chess sets.

    I'm wondering if there is some fairly hard and fast rule about the dimensions of the chess pieces. After looking around online there seems to be a consensus that the size order goes K,Q,B, N, R, P. Would having a rook thats the same size as the knight or even bishop break some rule I'm unaware of (an actual standard, the aesthetic of tallest to shortest from the centre out, etc.?)?
  2. 22 Aug '10 01:33
    Very cool if you do it.
    Make the King 4 inches tall and roughly 1 1/2 inch thick at the base.
    The Knight should be as tall as the Rook.(Big Knight sets sell faster than regular ones) The Bishop should be as tall as the Knight and Rook but sleek in design.
    The Queen a little shorter than the King. Make the pawns short and fat.
    And put some weights in them.
  3. 22 Aug '10 01:58 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by redpen1919
    So I'm a full time slab building potter and I've decided to make myself a chess set out of clay. If it turns out, I might like to make more for sale. Having played 99% of my games on RHP and living in a small rural town I don't see too many physical chess sets.

    I'm wondering if there is some fairly hard and fast rule about the dimensions of the che e of (an actual standard, the aesthetic of tallest to shortest from the centre out, etc.?)?
    Clay? Wouldn't the pieces be prone to break if dropped? (I've also never cared for glass sets for the same reason.)

    Have you gone to the House of Staunton site? They have lots of detailed photos.

    I like beefy rooks, but that's just my personal preference. I like the proportions of this set:

    http://houseofstaunton.com/Store/product_name=The+Collector+Series+Plastic+Chess+Set+-+4.0+inch+King/exact_match=exact/user-id=/password=

    You can look at the sets on this site to see the normal base diameters for various heights. Normally a 3-3/4" high king has a base diameter of 1.75". A 4" high king maybe a smidgen more in dia. (1.875" )
  4. 22 Aug '10 02:00
    Clay is hard if it is...um...put in a kiln?
    The wife dragged me to those pottery places where I made a nice Goblet. πŸ™‚
  5. 22 Aug '10 02:02
    Originally posted by gorookyourself
    Clay is hard if it is...um...put in a kiln?
    The wife dragged me to those pottery places where I made a nice Goblet. πŸ™‚
    Glass is hard too.
  6. 22 Aug '10 02:12
    Originally posted by Mad Rook
    Glass is hard too.
    Ya well you may drop chess pieces but we don't!!
  7. 22 Aug '10 02:12
    Some brother you are. pffft!! 😠
  8. 22 Aug '10 05:10
    Thanks for all your input.

    Gorookyourself - Well that sounds good; the rook as the same height as the bishop and knight being acceptable. It seemed to me that a rook shorter than the minor pieces (which is how my cheap wood set is and others I've seen online) is a little counterintuitive, given the power and value of the rook. As it stands now, my king will fire (shrink) to 4 1/8" and the queen'll be 3 3/4". All pieces stand on 1/2" thick (1 1/4" squared) slab of solid clay (2 x 1/4" with a line in between actually) and are made with their weights diminishing nearer the top of the piece - so they'll be quite stable on the board.

    Mad Rook - Its true, the pieces would be prone to breaking if dropped - depending on the surface its dropped on. They do however fire into stoneware, so as far as clay goes, its as strong as it comes. Also, in my experience and observing people handling stoneware, they tend to treat it (overly) delicately. It certainly wouldn't be a good set for slamming down pieces and knocking off captures (on the other hand, the board is 6.5 lbs x 2 pieces). I'd be better suited for a longer contemplative game. Plus, a potters living is built on pieces breaking πŸ˜‰

    I have also checked out about 10+ hours worth of websites like you provided. And working with stoneware, I'm also partial to the rook. But after having looked over many, many dozens of knights I can see why they have become such a chess icon. I'm inclined to think though, that the knight can't simply be turned on a lathe and has to be sculpted in a sense, so more effort has to go into that piece (sometimes too much effort - the knight can look gaudy next to relatively a simply turned king, queen etc). Since I'm not turning, I don't have that limitation.
  9. 22 Aug '10 15:02
    raku fired would be awesome
  10. Subscriber sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    23 Aug '10 02:10
    Originally posted by redpen1919
    So I'm a full time slab building potter and I've decided to make myself a chess set out of clay. If it turns out, I might like to make more for sale. Having played 99% of my games on RHP and living in a small rural town I don't see too many physical chess sets.

    I'm wondering if there is some fairly hard and fast rule about the dimensions of the che ...[text shortened]... e of (an actual standard, the aesthetic of tallest to shortest from the centre out, etc.?)?
    Since others have talked about size, there is one thing not mentioned:
    If they are just clay, they will be top heavy and prone to fall over easily. The solution to that is to get a plug of lead or iron in the bottom of the set so it is bottom heavy and more stable. Most good sets are weighted with a disc of iron about 1/8th inch thick and sized just under the outer dimensions to hide the weights.

    I would think it would be better to use lead for the reason that if you used iron and it needed to be just a bit under the size of the outer diameter it would leave the piece with a thin layer of clay around it. If you use lead, you can make it smaller and have more clay around the lead, thus making the whole bottom that much stronger.

    Of course if you really wanted to go to extremes there, you could find some plugs of depleted uranium, that would be half the size of leadπŸ™‚
  11. 23 Aug '10 02:14
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Since others have talked about size, there is one thing not mentioned:
    If they are just clay, they will be top heavy and prone to fall over easily. The solution to that is to get a plug of lead or iron in the bottom of the set so it is bottom heavy and more stable. Most good sets are weighted with a disc of iron about 1/8th inch thick and sized just under ...[text shortened]... emes there, you could find some plugs of depleted uranium, that would be half the size of leadπŸ™‚
    I mentioned weights. Keep up man.
  12. 23 Aug '10 19:49
    I gather that at least 75% of the weight of any given piece is on the lower half. Of that, I'd venture that a good majority of the weight is on the bottom quarter. The ~4" pieces (and 3" rook) weigh in at 90 g and the 3" bishop and knight weigh in at 80ish, so they are inherently stable. Stable or unstable they will get knocked over now and then, so the trick has been to design out weak points. So far its worked well. The true test will come when they're fired and I can take some time to rough them up.

    All that said, I think a plug of lead could be a good idea if I were to continue to make more of these. For me, I'd like to hear the definitive sound of thick clay on thick clay while making a move. But from a bit of research, lead is about 2.5 times heavier than the clay I use, so it would add some welcome weight and stability. And once the base is covered up, the sound will of a move will be dampened and come mainly from the clay board.

    As for the depleted uranium, its been a longstanding policy not to kill my customers. And unless someone has a habit of chewing the base of their pieces, lead should be a fine alternative.

    And as for a raku set, indeed it could make a beautiful set. Especially the crackle glaze for the light pieces. Stoneware though is mainly what I work in and in the end is much stronger. My own set will be unglazed with red/brown clay for the dark and a white clay for the light. The board is a marbled combination of the two clays, which has a woodgrainy look about it. If I make a glazed set, I have a nice glaze that looks much like a very dark pewter with gold highlights.
  13. 23 Aug '10 19:57
    Originally posted by redpen1919
    I gather that at least 75% of the weight of any given piece is on the lower half. Of that, I'd venture that a good majority of the weight is on the bottom quarter. The ~4" pieces (and 3" rook) weigh in at 90 g and the 3" bishop and knight weigh in at 80ish, so they are inherently stable. Stable or unstable they will get knocked over now and then, so th ...[text shortened]... zed set, I have a nice glaze that looks much like a very dark pewter with gold highlights.
    Get'er done and post some pics on here. I collect chess sets and could possibly make an offer. πŸ™‚
  14. 23 Aug '10 21:18
    Yep, I'd like to see pics as well. Do you put the weights in before firing? Is there a chance that due to shrinkage the pieces would rattle? Or (worse) crack during firing?

    Getting back to your original question, although I understand what you mean about rooks being more powerful than minor pieces, I like the fact that in a traditional set they are shorter than the knights. This means that in the starting position the pieces are lined up in height order from the centre outwards: king tallest, queen slightly shorter, bishops shorter again, knights shorter again, rooks shortest (apart from the pawns).

    When I first started playing chess and could never remember which way round the knights and bishops went (this was a looong time ago) I used this height order idea as a way of remembering. Having the rooks "too big" would mess this up for me πŸ™‚

    I bet I'm not the only person here who has started a game with the knights on the wrong squares... I still have to double check every time that the queen is on a square of her own colour, but maybe that's because I can't tell my left from my right...
  15. 23 Aug '10 21:39
    Found a website that tells you how to make your own set.

    http://www.ehow.co.uk/how_6699234_build-chess-set-scratch.html

    You need something called Sculpey Clay

    Creating the Game Pieces

    Using the Sculpey clay and a picture of a chess set as your inspiration, create
    16 pawns, 4 rooks, 4 bishops, 4 knights, 2 kings, and 2 queens.

    Try to make the matching pieces look identical.

    Place the game pieces on a flat cookie tray and put them in a 275-degree
    oven for 15 minutes per 1/4 inch of thickness. So, if your queens are 1/2 inch
    thick, they'll need to bake for half an hour. When they've finished baking,
    they'll need to cool for a few hours. They should be hard to the touch.


    Paint half of your pieces (8 pawns, 2 rooks, 2 bishops, 2 knights, 1 king, and
    1queen) a color of your choice.

    Paint the other half of your pieces a different color.

    Allow the paint to dry and then give the pieces a coat with the clear spray paint.

    Well that sounds easy enough. A piece of cake.

    Where do I get Sculpey Clay from?