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Coloring Wood Bits

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FastLearner
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Over the last year and a half of making prototypes I've colored wooden bits a wide variety of ways. I've painted them with acrylic paint, I've spraypainted them, I've used wood dye, and I even nearly tried fabric dye at a couple of people's recommendation.

One failed method involved just trying to color them with permanent markers -- as with most markers when you go over the same place twice it gets much darker and so an even color is very difficult.

The other day on a whim I tried dry erase markers (Expo brand), with excellent results. The colors are very even, rich, and actually dye the wood (so that you can sand them a bit afterwards if you want to). A quick coat of spray acrylic on top et voila, beautifully colored wood bits.

I'm quite pleased with the results!

Caparica
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Re: Coloring Wood Bits

FastLearner wrote:
Over the last year and a half of making prototypes I've colored wooden bits a wide variety of ways. I've painted them with acrylic paint, I've spraypainted them, I've used wood dye

That sounds appropriate, a question: What is wood dye? I think I never saw it at stores. How do you use it?

FastLearner wrote:
The other day on a whim I tried dry erase markers (Expo brand), with excellent results. The colors are very even, rich, and actually dye the wood (so that you can sand them a bit afterwards if you want to). A quick coat of spray acrylic on top et voila, beautifully colored wood bits.

I'm quite pleased with the results!

Sounds interesting. Again. What are erase markers??

Brykovian
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Re: Coloring Wood Bits

caparica wrote:
What are erase markers??

"Dry Erase Markers" ... also known as "Whiteboard Markers" ... are colored markers used to write on the white drawing boards that have all but replaced chalkboards over the past 20 years. They are designed to erase easily with a dry felt eraser or cloth, instead of permanently mark the drawing board surface.

I'll let FL answer the "wood dye" question, since I haven't run into them either.

-Bryk

jwarrend
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Coloring Wood Bits

Thanks for the info! What brand spray acrylic do you use? And where do you get your wooden bits?

I've tried contacting the German game components sites listed in the links section about their products, but neither have responded. So, perhaps I'll have to buy bits and paint them myself. Wondering where bits can be gotten. Anyone know of a supplier for Carcassonne-style meeples, for example?

FastLearner
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Coloring Wood Bits

When I said "wood dye" I should have said "wood stain," sorry. Wood stain is the traditional coloring they use to color wood, usually available in a wide variety of shades of brown but with occasional other colors like green and red and blue. It's very messy to apply. I bought some wood stain pens at a craft store and they worked ok but were very expensive and the color selection was very limited (they have similar pens at woodworking stores, too).

I use Krylon Clear Coat brand spray acrylic.

I don't have a supplier for meeples, unfortunately. I use all kinds of other wood bits, though, from craft stores (like Michael's) and a couple of the wooden bit supply places listed in the Resources/Links section here.

hpox
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Coloring Wood Bits

I've had this idea..

Take a relatively big bucket, pour paint/dye/stain mixed with hotwater and let your wooden bits soak in it for some time.

Would that work?

Brykovian
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Coloring Wood Bits

jwarrend wrote:
Wondering where bits can be gotten. Anyone know of a supplier for Carcassonne-style meeples, for example?

You can try this ... go here: http://www.muecke-hotelberatung.de/shop/

Click on "Poppel & andere" in the left column, then scroll down ... almost at the bottom, you can see "Carcassonne Figuren" -- but it doesn't give a shopping basket link for that item. :?

-Bryk

FastLearner
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Coloring Wood Bits

hpox wrote:
I've had this idea..

Take a relatively big bucket, pour paint/dye/stain mixed with hotwater and let your wooden bits soak in it for some time.

Would that work?
With stain, you bet. With paint I think you'd have the same effect as just painting them. It's supposed to work pretty well with fabric dye.

There are two problems I've had with such a method, though: getting wood really wet raises the grain which then requires quite a bit of sanding to end up with reasonably smooth bits... which if you don't use a stain will simply sand away the paint. Grr...

The other issue with mass painting or staining is that the bits then have to rest somewhere as they dry. Two things happen: they stick to whatever they're drying on, and the paint/stain pools on the bottom side resulting in unpleasantly dark colors there (with paint you end up with raised paint).

I'm sure the mass-wood-bit-painting folks have perfectly good industrial methods for avoiding this (probably some kind of screens they rest on and some kind of shaker to keep them from sticking and some kind of heat and/or air to get them to dry quickly) but I haven't figured out a good way to do this on a small scale. If someone does I'd love to know.

Hence my thrill at dry erase (whiteboard) markers. :)

jwarrend
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Coloring Wood Bits

Brykovian wrote:
jwarrend wrote:
Wondering where bits can be gotten. Anyone know of a supplier for Carcassonne-style meeples, for example?

You can try this ... go here: http://www.muecke-hotelberatung.de/shop/

Click on "Poppel & andere" in the left column, then scroll down ... almost at the bottom, you can see "Carcassonne Figuren" -- but it doesn't give a shopping basket link for that item. :?

-Bryk

Thanks; I was aware of that company. It seems to be the only supplier of meeples. I sent them and "BEDI Holzspiele" emails the other day asking for prices and shipping rates to the US, but have never heard back from either of them. Has anyone ordered from either company?

-Jeff

Anonymous
Coloring Wood Bits

Ever thought of glueing wooden pieces on printed textures? Just spray the paper (on the back, that is), put all the wood you want on it and then cut it out. Works fine for me and you get fantastic results.

For materials you also can try this one: www.yungames.de
The owner has a game publishing agency and a printshop and he even sells handy authors packages. Ain't life good? :mrgreen:

FastLearner
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Coloring Wood Bits

Very cool, thanks!

The Google-translated authors' page can be found here.

Caparica
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Coloring Wood Bits

jwarrend wrote:
Wondering where bits can be gotten. Anyone know of a supplier for Carcassonne-style meeples, for example?

This guys have several "gingerbread" people, several sizes:

http://www.woodnshop.com/CRAFT_ANGELS_PEOPLE.htm

Anonymous
Coloring Wood Bits

I agree that wooden cubes look VERY NICE ... though, for prototyping purposes, I bought a whole bunch (1000 plastic cubes: 100 of each color). I paid w/paypal and got the cubes in less 4 days. I highly recommend them they look EXACTLY like the wooden ones. They can even be stacked in piles. Their size is 3/8" each side ... go and check them out.
Hint: if you buy 2x500 is cheaper than 1000 ... Ohh, and for only $21.90 :)

http://www.highhopes.com/
22204 - Weigh TooTM Centimeter Cubes, 1cm / 1 g, 10 colors, Set of 500

Anonymous
Coloring Wood Bits

Where did you get the plastic cubes. I didn't see anything relevant on the site (highhopes.com) you listed.

SC

trnardo
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Coloring Wood Bits

You have to dig into their catalog. The page of interest with the cubes is:

Anonymous
Coloring Wood Bits

Does anybody know how big companies go about colouring their cubes?

FastLearner
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Coloring Wood Bits

I sure wish I knew. I've tried a whole variety of things, from spraying to tumbling to hand painting, but I haven't managed to figure out anything that's even reasonably efficient.

(I use the markers because they're actually more efficient than paint and a lot more even than spraying.)

If anyone's seen them painted on a large scale I'd love to know how it's done, too.

Brykovian
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Coloring Wood Bits

Back in my school days, I worked a couple summer breaks at a window shop -- while there, I saw very small metal parts spray-tumbled in fine wire baskets ... in my brain I'd always figured that was how small wooden pieces could be done as well. It was a rather large contraption that did the work though with large quantities of parts, so I couldn't see it as a small quantity in-your-own-garage type operation.

-Bryk

p.s. Or in other words: "I don't know for sure either ... but here's something which you may or may not find interesting from my life history!!" :D

FastLearner
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Coloring Wood Bits

I tried my own little wire basket affair, kind of tumbling them around so they'd get coated on all sides, but I guess I needed some kind of quick-drying paint or something because there didn't seem to be anything I could do to keep them from all sticking together.

Anonymous
Coloring Wood Bits

wow the cubes look just right for me.

My board squares are about 1 cm

my colours for my tiles, are the colours of the 6 coulour pack :-)

it works out about £2.50 per game for the pieces. (on a production run of 8) (which strikes me as ok?)

They even may be better thatn the meeple i am using in the prototype at the moment. (I am still thinking that abstract is better than themed at the moment)

Anonymous
Coloring Wood Bits

The method I have used to paint cubes:

Cut a strip of cardboard (hopefully sturdy) and push a bunch of pins through it. Run a strip of tape down the back side covering the heads of the pins, to secure then in place.

Set it on a nice hard surface and stick your cubes on the pins.
Spray paint thouroughly. Turn the cardboard in all directions so you get all sides of the cubes painted.

Let dry.

It does leave a little hole where the pins were, which some might find unsightly... you can turn the cubes over on a surface and a quick dusting with the spray will fill and cover the holes.

If you use a quick drying paint, you can crack out a bunch of cubes in a really small time-frame.

Tyler

BTB
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Staining small quantity of wood pieces

Greetings,

I use lots of small wood pieces and have found a way to 'mass produce' small quantities. I stain checkers, dice, and other shapes as well.

I use wood stain so the natural grain of the wood shows through, available at home depot type stores. It was a clear base that they add your custom color choice to and shake it up. and I've seen wood stain in 'children's colors' lately in bright red, blue etc. I bought a quart of each color and it has lasted me several years.

Put a few tablespoons of stain in a gallon ziplock baggie. Add 2-3 dozen wood shapes, blow up the baggie like a ballon then zip tight and shake until everything is well coated. The extra air gives more room to tumble around. Add more stain only if absolutely necessary, add more pieces to soak up any extra stain. Let it rest a few minutes and shake again. Rest and shake again until the stain is all absorbed. Then I dump them out on a plastic covered table, outside if possible and let them dry overnight. Do a quality check and touch up any pieces that need it. Turning them once in a while if I remember. When you get the ratios of stain to wood pieces figured out, you can batch run several colors at the same time.

Once they are dry, I tumble-sand them in my clothes dryer. Put several hundred checkers in an old pillowcase, add some shredded fine-grit sandpaper, tie a very secure knot in the end of the pillow case then throw them in the dryer on air dry for an hour (while I go somewhere else.) One color per pillowcase, you can do several colors at a time. It's very noisy but effective.

Dump the checkers in a big bowl and add a drizzle of mineral oil, stir and let it soak in. Set them up to dry on that plastic covered table.

A couple hours in two afternoons gets me 1000 checkers/dice/bits in 5 colors.

Hope this helps someone else too.
Bryanna

Brykovian
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Coloring Wood Bits

Very nice how-to Bryanna!

I think this will make excellent wiki fodder ... ;-)

-Bryk

Anonymous
Coloring Wood Bits

I had asked about coloring wood bits a couple of years ago on another forum and I was told by someone that the big companies color their wood bits with tumbling devices.

The plastic cubes are great. You can find them at teacher supply stores usually. Plenty of great components can be found in teacher supply stores.

DSfan
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Coloring Wood Bits

Bryanna, do you have any pictures of the finished checkers?

I like your method and I am wondering what they tend to come out like.

-Justin

Anonymous
Coloring Wood Bits

Bryanna wrote:
Dump the checkers in a big bowl and add a drizzle of mineral oil, stir and let it soak in.

Add some herbs and you have a nice salad. :lol:

Actually, your tumble-coat method sound very cool, I'll have to try it out!

I have 2 methods which both work, but give very different results.

Method 1: Pieces look like painted wood (think meeples). Use craft grade spray paint ($3-5 per can). Set pieces on a carrier (i.e. box top or other scrap cardboard or wood) and evenly coat exposed sides. Spray lightly. When dried, flip pieces over and coat remaining sides. Repeat for deeper color.

Spray pains come in a HUGE variety of colors and finishes and look very professional when done. You can set up a large number of pieces on your carrier, so it's efficient to do larger number runs.

For oddly shaped pieces, secure some masking tape to the carrier with the sticky side up. Then place the wood bits on the tape (tape will hold them in place) and coat. when dry, reposition so the side that was held by the tape is now exposed and coat again.

Be casreful that you get a good quality paint (I use Krylon paint intended to bond with plastic). Poor quality paints will come off! I have some black and white pieces that I painted with low quality paint. When I put them together, little specks of black and white came off on each other.

Method 2: Pieces look like molded plastic. Get a can of white enamel primer. Get a can of enamel paint in the color you want. Fewer colors available, but you can have custom colors mixed in quantities of 1 qt. or more.

Take a pin and shove it into the bottom of each piece. Mix the paint well, but do not shake (the air bubbles will get on your pieces and cause all sorts of problems). Dip pieces into the primer and coat thoroughly. Allow excess to drip back into can, then stick the pin into stryofoam or some other means of holding them upright. Allow to dry fully for 24-48 hours. Repeat with color enamel.

When you take the piece off the pin, trim the excess from around where the pin was. Dab with color enamle to match the piece if desired.

This method is very labor intensive, but the pieces really do look like they're made from plastic!

Brykovian
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Coloring Wood Bits

Sisk ...

I use your method #1, although I rarely flip the pieces over and paint the bottoms. Obviously your method #2 takes more manual effort, but is there much of a cost difference? I'd assume spray paint is much cheaper than enamel (especially with the double-dunk primer/color), but you'd have *much* less waste involved.

-Bryk

Anonymous
Coloring Wood Bits

Brykovian wrote:
I use your method #1, although I rarely flip the pieces over and paint the bottoms.

Do you use the basket idea you mentioned earlier (spray them whil moving them around the basket)? I like the sound of that, but I'm not sure how well it would work on a home-scale.

Quote:
Obviously your method #2 takes more manual effort, but is there much of a cost difference?

I use a quart of primer (cost I think $7-9) and I found some model enamle paint in small jars that were $1-2 each. There is very little waste, but the coating is much thicker.

Since I haven't done a lot of production in these ways (just for prototyping at this point), I can't really say if there's a cost difference between the two.

Brykovian
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Coloring Wood Bits

SiskNY wrote:
Do you use the basket idea you mentioned earlier (spray them whil moving them around the basket)? I like the sound of that, but I'm not sure how well it would work on a home-scale.

I don't remember mentioning using a basket ... I haven't ever tried it, although I've wondered about it. Spray painting the pieces sitting on cardboard seems to work fine for what I've needed so far (producing 1 game, the rest are for prototyping).

I do have some upcoming designs that might work better (or at least look a bit more unique) by using stain instead of paint, though.

-Bryk

Anonymous
Coloring Wood Bits

Quote:
I don't remember mentioning using a basket...

Sorry, I was reading part of your window-shop anecdote and thought that was the technique you used for painting bits.

BTB
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Coloring Wood Bits

Greetings,
My website has photos, the but in looking through it for a good example, well, I need to take new product photos. Look at my Gloucester Tabulae Set or Draughts for an example, but I didn't find any closeups of the checkers. It's nice outside today, I'll make it a priority to set up my games for a photo shoot.

The stain gives a slightly varigated color, and I like the grain of the wood showing through. The oiled finish makes them feel wonderful in your hand.

Bryanna Cannell, Proprietor
http://BryannasTreasureBox.com
Ancient Games and Toys from Around the World!

+++

DSfan wrote:
Bryanna, do you have any pictures of the finished checkers?

I like your method and I am wondering what they tend to come out like.

-Justin

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