If you don’t want to use a regular chess set and want to make your own ceramic chess pieces than this is the right guide for you.
Forming the Chess Pieces
To start, you will need to divide your clay into smaller pieces that will eventually be carved into the individual game pieces. The chess game pieces vary in size, so you will need three categories of pieces: large, medium and small.
Your large pieces should use around 3 ounces of clay. You will only need two large balls of clay for the King and Queen.
Next you should separate 6 pieces of clay that weigh 2 ounces each. These pieces will be used for the rooks, bishops and knights. Finally use a little more than 1 once of clay each to form 8 small pieces of clay for the pawns.
Form each of these pieces into a cylinder shape. The cylinders should stand on their sides, like small soda cans.
These will later be carved and formed to make the individual shapes of the pieces. Bag the pieces and set them aside until they become leather hard.
Carving Chess Pieces
Carving your chess piece design will actually involve both carving and forming the clay to take the shape of your design.
You should sketch out your designs before you get to the carving process as it is difficult to repair mistakes during this step.
Start by using carving tools to remove parts of the clay. Use modeling tools and your fingers to move and form the clay into the new design.
You can stay true to traditional chess shapes or create more elaborate versions of chess pieces. The more elaborate the pieces though, the more difficult the process will become.
Use a little water to smooth out any rough areas created by carving. Try to make the duplicate pieces, such as the 8 pawns, look similar enough to each other that they will be easily identified.
Also make the differing pieces look noticeably different so they won’t be mistaken for each other.
Glazing and Finishing the Chess Pieces
When glazing the chess pieces make sure to keep the base of the pieces free from glaze. You can do this by painting a layer of hot wax on the bottom of the chess pieces. The wax will resist the glaze and it will burn off during the firing process
You can use any color of glaze for your pieces. You can also draw on added details using underglaze.
Underglazes allow you to draw vibrant colors in detail. If you do use underglazes, make sure to apply a clear glossy glaze over the top.
Finally, after the pieces have been fired, they may be rough on the bottoms. To correct this, use sticky felt on the base of each piece.
You can cut the felt to the size of each piece and it will protect the game board from scratches. It will also add to the finished look of your game pieces.
After applying the felt, you can assemble your pieces on the game board and display them for all to admire. They will last forever and add unique charm to your chess game.