Friday, September 23, 2016

Polymer Clay Game Pieces

A few weeks ago I finished quilting a reversible gameboard with a checkerboard on one side and a tic-tac-toe board on the other.  Now I just need to come up with checkers and some X's and O's so we can play with it.

I really wanted to find some rocks or flat disks that Lucky and I could paint together, but I had trouble finding something that would be cheap enough.  In the end I decided to use some polymer clay to create my own game pieces.  I purchased 5 colors (silver, dark green, jade, turquoise and blue) but only ended up using 3 in this project.  Let's bake some clay!

Supposedly the craft smart polymer clay won't shrink when baked so what I create size wise will be what we'll use.  Checkers sets require 12 of each piece so I want to make at least 16 to have some extras.  I'm not sure I have enough clay with a totally of 12 oz but I'll make it stretch as far as I can.

I haven't used this clay since I was in elementary school and tried making some beads.  I forgot how hard it can be to mold.  There is a reason why I had some special tools back then.  One brick of clay was easy to cut into 16 even pieces with a little left over.  I decided to make a dot on one side of my checkers to make the "kings" obvious with a modern twist.  I placed a mini sphere on top of a larger sphere and then squished it flat.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do for the tick-tack-toe pieces yet, depends on how sturdy these checkers feel.  I only needed 2 packages of clay for 32 checkers.

I baked at 275 degrees F for 16 min.  At first, I wasn't sure if they had really hardened when the came out of the oven.  Once they were cool they felt pretty sturdy.  I'm not sure how strong they are, but I didn't attempt to break a checker in half.

The silver pieces don't show up quite as much as I would want, but I wanted there to be contrast between the two colors.  I wasn't sure if the colors would change much when the clay was baked (they didn't.)  

For "king me" pieces, you can both flip the pieces over to show the dot and still stack the pieces.  Even without ridges they fit together pretty well.  

Since the clay was much harder to mold than playdoh, I decided to just make simple X's and O's out of the silver and jade clay.  I realized that none of the colors I had left (besides silver) would show up well on the dark green fabric so I picked the one that I hoped would have the most contrast.  

While I'm not worried about the checkers breaking, these tic-tac-toe pieces are much more likely to be bent and broken.  I do have some extras but not enough for a destructive toddler.  I rolled out equal sections in a "snake" and then created either the X or O.  I pressed them down to flatten them out and smoothed the intersection on one side of the X to hope that it would stay together.  Hopefully these will last more than just a few rounds of tic-tac-toe!

When I play myself, I always lose.  

Keith was so excited to see these pieces that we immediately played a few rounds of tic-tac-toe!  I really like baking the polymer clay.  I wonder if there is an easier way to manipulate it.  If you have any tips I'd love to hear them!