Make your own chess pieces instead of spending the money on a ready-made set. Polymer clay is a convenient medium for making your own chess set, because it already comes in the colours of black and white so you won't have to paint them later. The pieces will also remain soft and pliable until you bake them in a conventional oven. Follow a specific procedure to make sure your pieces all have a base that is the same size and shape.
Measure and trace a 3/4-inch wide circle on a piece of paper and cut it out. This is the template that will help you make sure the base of each piece is the same size and shape.
Condition a block of white polymer clay and block of black polymer clay by working them in your hands until they are soft. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten them so that you have a black pancake and a white pancake that are 1/4 inch thick. Place the pancakes on a baking tray.
Place the circle paper template on the black pancake and trace around the circle with a sharp knife to cut out a black disk. Do this 15 more times so that you have 16 black disks. Trace and cut 16 disks out of the white pancake. Remove the excess clay around the disks and bake them in a conventional oven for 15 minutes at 121 degrees Celsius. Wait 45 minutes for the disks to cool before touching them.
Sand the edges of the disks with a piece of fine grit sandpaper to smooth out the sharp edges from when the disks where cut.
Form eight balls out of black clay that are 1/2 inch thick and cut them each in half. Press the flat side of each half-ball of clay onto the top of each disk and smooth the edges together to hide any seams between the disks and half-balls. Do the same for the white disks, only with white half-balls.
Roll 16 black balls that are 1/4 inch thick. Carefully press them on top of the half-balls on all of the black pieces and blend the edges together where they meet. Set eight of these pieces on the baking tray -- these will be the pawns. Do the same with eight of the white pieces and set them on the baking tray.
Mold two 1/4-inch thick balls of black clay and gently press and blend them into the tops of two of the black pieces. Form them into the shape of the top of the rooks, or "castles" and use the side of the tip of a pencil to make the castle shape. Look at pictures of the rooks to help you mould them into the proper shapes. Repeat for two of the white pieces.
Make two 1/4-inch tall black teardrop shapes and press them into two of the black pieces. Do the same for two of the white pieces with two white teardrop shapes to make the bishops.
Mold four 1/4-inch thick balls of clay and press them into the tops of the pieces to make two knights of each colour. Form these pieces into horsehead shapes by looking at pictures of knight pieces as a reference.
Form two 1/4-inch thick balls of black clay and two of the same in white. Press these to the last four pieces and form the tops into the shapes of the king and queen, using pictures of them as a reference for how they should look.
Place all of the pieces on the baking tray and bake them for 30 minutes at 121 degrees Celsius. Wait at least one hour after they have been removed from the oven before playing with your homemade chess set.
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