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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hippy Themed Chess Set

A Hippy Themed Chess Set
There is something that sometimes happens when one is working and living at a camp, depending on living arrangements... a lot of quiet time. This was especially true one summer when I was living at a camp in which I had a cabin to myself and my little dog (much of the staff actually had dogs that lives with them on site). I was living in the middle on nowhere, surrounded by an on-site staff that had a lot of range in ages, with no cable, no Internet, and limited cell reception (which usually resembled me on a hill trying to find the right spot to get the best service and resembling a cell phone commercial). I wrote, I watched moved on my portable DVD player, I cooked, I took walks, I hung out with staff, and I found ways to keep my hands busy (I'm the type of person who usually can;t just watch tv, I have to have my hands busy doing something). Over this summer I took various crafting projects, including designing and creating my own themed chess set.

King, Queen, Bishop
I grew up playing chess as a kid and over the years have seen a ton of themed chess sets from King Arthur to 'Gone With the Wind' to 'The Simpsons.' What I had never seen was a 60's Hippy theme. (Maybe there is another one out there, but I hadn't seen it.) I thought about carving the pieces, but my limited carving background includes a nativity scene I carved one year out of bards of soap and pretty much nothing else. I'm not afraid of new challenged, but that is a big one to take on involving a knife and limits on how to fix ut ohs. I decided on sculpting it. While I didn't have a lot of experience here either, I knew if something wasn't turning out the way I liked I could always smash it back into a ball and start over. 

For more on these board: http://www.cutoutandkeep.net/projects/handmade-clay-hippy-themed-chess-set

I brainstormed tons of ideas for the pieces, including making a few phone calls to friends for ideas. I had some interesting feedback, but some seemed way too complicated for my limited sculpting background (Like Paul McCartney as a knight or a gun with daisy hanging out the end) & I still wanted to keep this accessible to my abilities. After a few trial attempts with clay I decided on the pieces and set out with some white Sculpty Clay to create the entire set over a few evenings in my cabin. (While I did not have a full kitchen, preparing most meals in a communal kitchen across the way, I did have a toaster oven in my cabin that I could bake the pieces.) Each piece was hand sculpted, baked, and painted. Instead of going with a tradition black/white theme I chose a fire/water theme with a marbled/tie dye appearance with flesh tones as needed. The board was made from a scrap of something leftover from some house renovation and painted with the same color theme. Once painted (acrylic paint was used for this project) and dry the pieces where sprayed with an acrylic sealer and let dry again.

The finished set got a lot of attention from some of the staff who had seen them drying or being worked on and a few campers. There was a teen girl who wanted to learn how to play chess after seeing them and I was ready to teach her, unfortunately schedules just did not work before she headed home. Hopefully, her desire to learn led her to someone else who could teach her.

For interested parties the pieces were as follows:
King - A long haired hippy male complete with head band, outstretched arms, bell bottoms, a beard, and a peace sign on his shirt.
Queen - a long haired hippy mama with flowing hair, a long flowing dress, headband, and outstretched arms.
Bishop - A shaman themed old man with long flowing beard and hair. (I fought the urge to put a joint hanging out of his mouth.)
Knight - My version of a VW bug. (This was really probably one of the hardest pieces for me to make.)
Rook - A psychedelic mushroom. (These probably turned out the coolest.)
Pawn - a dove (and boy did I make a lot of these).

For More Information About Chess

For instructions on how to play:
-OR- find do a simple internet search
-OR- find a friend or relative who can teach you.

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