Creating the King's table

Things I enjoy about making the Kings table (Hnefatafl) game, the ancient Viking board game, was that very little was known about the chest pieces or the figures. The board was discovered, they know what it looks like, and they know how to play the game, but little is known about the pieces. This is what fascinated me the most. I imagined Vikings traveling by ship, the game board packed in their gear, and they would carve the pieces during the voyage or use what they found.

So I was looking to get a design for the pieces, I tried two approaches - one was a simple approach with simple figurines with rough, carved features and I also tried to get a more ornate chess like piece with more detail.

I began sketching ideas, and was trying to figure how to make the 12 defending pieces and 24 attacking pieces for the Hnefatafl game the easiest (laziest) way possible.. I settled on creating the figures in polymer clay, one because it is easy to shape and harden, and I had plenty laying around.

I got started by using a smooth on product for the molds a simple 2 part mold product- this gave me the ability to create many copies of my Pieces that I created from Polymer clay. Making the mold was easy and fun. I placed the newly created figures on a piece of cardboard, and created a border or wall around them to hold the mold making material. I mixed the two parts together, stirred well, and poured the mix over the pieces until they were completely covered… and then waited.

Once the mold making material was setup and cured, I extracted the simpler pieces from the mold by simply pushing them out from the bottom – thus why they call it a push mold. The more ornate pieces I had to cut the mold nearly in half, making two parts where I could remove the original. I cleaned the up, and began to start the casting process.

When I bought the mold making material, I also bought some plastic casting material, white, but reminded me of the plastic army men and cowboys and Indians I played with as a child. After (sort of) reading the directions, I mixed a quick batch.. and I do mean quick. Within two minutes of combining the two parts and mixing, it began to heat up, and then set up, turning from clear to milky white. I needed to be faster, or better prepared.. or both.

Once I created my first set of simple and more ornate pieces, it was time to repeat the process.. 30 + more time – 12 defending and 24 attacking total, and don’t forget the King.

While I was waiting in between pours, I began the board design. Here I did some research and came up with the basic design that had the corners embellished but still was a standard board… didn't want to go overboard (pardon the pun) but I think it came out nice. The board was designed in GIMP and used a laser engraver my kids got me for Christmas to etch the designs. I’ve not mastered it yet, but I am beginning to get the hang of the thing.

Now on to the fun part.. making other designs and setups! And here’s where you can help.. If you have ideas, or want to see something different or unique Just drop me a line and I’ll be glad to start a conversation and we can figure out the best way to go. The pieces and board will be up on the site for you to purchase, and look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas for the next iteration.

In the meantime.. I think I found some more things to use the rest of the mold making material for.. but more on that later.

Also coming up.. my dive into the Honey Do list , as I finally finish the barn screen doors and whip up a table hours before guest arrive for a picnic.. Stay tuned.

And don’t forget to stop, take a breath, let it out, and be happy you can still do that. Life is a one way trip, so enjoy the ride when you can.

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