Gaming dice as art

I earlier called attention to a premium “wish I had one” product, the ultimate gamer’s table. It should surprise no one that I haven’t yet plunked down my $8K for this handcrafted piece of furniture. But I’m rather tempted by a premium gaming product that’s a bit more affordable: custom hand-made dice. 

I’d say these are more than handmade dice, really. This is art, with gaming dice as its medium. The creator/artist, Abraham Neddermann, was kind enough to answer some questions about his work. Please read on! (I have no connection to the site or product; I simply thought the dice and process were fascinating.)

Apparently, one does not set out intentionally to become a dice crafter. Abraham put his lathe and mill in the service of random number generation when a friend asked him to craft a 13-sided die. That casual introduction led to deeper obsession (sound familiar, gamers?), and subsequent shots at creating oddities such as D3, D5, D7, and D9 dice, as well as more familiar polyhedrons, all while experimenting with materials and image transfer techniques.

Thinking outside the regular polyhedron: a D7

Abraham put his D13 up for sale on eBay as a lark, and found no interest… until contact from a fellow he describes as the Guinness Record-holding “biggest dice collector in the world”. (Hmm, I’m getting a mental picture of a record-company executive fat cat type, sporting cigar and pinstripe suit… but with pockets full of d20s instead of money.) The collector bought a handful of odd dice from Abraham, after which eBay sales started taking off as well. 

The “canvas” is mostly plastic and aluminum from suppliers of blank dice. Metal inlaid dice begin with an acid etching; others use a micro laser engraver. Crafting tools range from commercial equipment to home-brewed solutions (even a clothes iron as an early heat press). Custom orders generally call for black dice (other colors deflect the low-powered etching laser).

Some pieces (like that D7) are truly custom, machined entirely from scratch. Is that still not outré enough for your rarified tastes in saving throws? Ask for titanium or even carbon fiber dice – it can be done!

Steampunk probability generation engine?

So, the inevitable question: What’s the cost for custom orders? Check the site for prices, but expect 4€ per piece for printed dice, 7€ and up for lasered, with perhaps a bit more if vectoring of complex images is required. Metal inlaying produces some of the most beautiful results, at a cost: expect 20€ for a single die, 24€ for a pair, down to 10€ for larger numbers. 

All in all, it’s not at all the price you’d pay for generic dice from the hobby shop; even for custom dice, Abraham notes you’ll likely get a better deal from bigger companies for large orders. But for a small batch of nowhere-else-in-the-world, hand-crafted dice – or even a single die! – this is a unique service. A pair of custom dice would be nifty as an affordable yet prestigious promotional prize, tournament award, or even birthday present for that special roleplayer. Any gamer, collector, or art lover will appreciate the fact that many hours can go into the production of each specimen. 

Here are a couple more beauties by the dice craftsman; head to his site for many more photos. 

WWII game, anyone?

 

Who wouldn’t want to roll the Punisher die?

 

Links

Dicecreator’s Blog

How-to dice-making secrets revealed!

eBay offerings

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