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Marmot Chess is a series of limited edition resin sculptures that can be collected individually or as an over-sized chess set.

MARMOT CHESS


'Marmot Chess' is planned to be a series of limited edition resin sculptures. Currently, this project consists of polymer clay prototypes and paintings that I have been planning and working on for the past 3 years. I specifically created this kickstarter to raise funds to create resin reproductions for the full set of 'Marmot Chess' pieces. I want the pieces to be affordable so I can share the fun with as many people as possible.

The blank resin pieces will come in two colors: black and white. This way people will have the option of painting their own pieces (or leaving them in classic black and white too).

Marmots

I started painting marmots, or groundhogs, a few years back when I lived in Ashe County, NC. I moved there with high hopes of starting a new life and gain enough skill to start a career in art after school. The solitary living conditions in the mountains game me plenty of time to improve my drawing and painting skills... maybe too much time.

I worked day and night, every-day, painting anything and everything I could think of or see, including the many groundhogs that lived on the farm. Of everything I painted, they were the most fascinating to me. They seemed to have very human characteristics and emotions, especially the less-than-stellar ones that I find hilarious. I like to think that they have a limitless potential to be a nuisance.

I guess it really boils down to the fact that painting them makes me laugh and I think it might have a similar effect on other people, or at least I hope it does.

Chess

I have enjoyed playing chess since before I can remember. I thought it would be a lot of fun to someday sculpt a whole set. I began painting small potential character designs towards the end of 2010. The designs have been evolving into the full 32 character set that I am currently producing.

First generation Marmot Chess concepts. 4.5"x6.5" each. Acrylic on paper. 2011.
First generation Marmot Chess concepts. 4.5"x6.5" each. Acrylic on paper. 2011.
Second generation Marmot Chess concepts. 8"x10" each. Acrylic on Panel. 2012
Second generation Marmot Chess concepts. 8"x10" each. Acrylic on Panel. 2012
Varying levels of progress as of 7/23/2013.
Varying levels of progress as of 7/23/2013.
Progress as of 08/13/2013
Progress as of 08/13/2013

Process

The process starts with oil portraits of each character. 

Once I have a good idea of the personality and design of the character I begin sculpting a polymer clay prototype. This begins with a wing nut and a bolt. I then create an armature with wire and bond it to the wing nut with epoxy. To conserve money and time I build out the form from here with aluminum foil. Once the foil has been packed down, I begin layering the clay in a way that suggests the larger overall forms of each design. I then carve into the larger mass to pull out details. With a lot of patience and a little mineral spirit, I finish the prototype off with small, refined details.

Now here's where you come in... 

After all of the prototypes are complete, I will create two part silicone molds for each sculpture. This process requires a vacuum degassing chamber to remove bubbles from the silicone and digital scale to make sure the ratio of mixed components is as exact as possible. Once the mold is made, I will then pour the urethane resin into the molds and let them cure. 

...and I can't do this last part without your help!

Limited Edition

Right now I am aiming for 25 to 100 editions of each sculpture and print. The results of this kickstarter will determine how many I can make. 


THE CAST

Each character in Marmot Chess has a unique design and personality (all 32 of them!!!). I will be posting pictures of a few of them over the course of this kickstarter. 

Kings: (Light) Pie | (Dark) Greed

Queens: (Light) Might | (Dark) Malice

Queen of Malice Prototype
Queen of Malice Prototype

Bishops: (Light) Boss - Boasting | (Dark) Flash - Magic

Boasting Bishop prototype
Boasting Bishop prototype

Knights: (Light) Light - Ram | (Dark) Goblin - Frog

Goblin Knight prototype
Goblin Knight prototype

Rooks: (Light) Squish - Stretch | (Dark) Dragon - Salamander

Stretch Rook prototype
Stretch Rook prototype

Pawns: (Light) 'Mater - Melon - Cherry - Brussell Sprout - Flower - Berry - Niblets - Apple | (Dark) Kitty - Puppy - Snake - Hawk - Baby Elephant - Iguana - Puffer - Squirrel 

'Mater Pawn character portrait.
'Mater Pawn character portrait.
'Mater Pawn prototype
'Mater Pawn prototype
Kitty Pawn character portrait
Kitty Pawn character portrait
Kitty Pawn prototype
Kitty Pawn prototype

THE LOOT

All Pledge Levels: Everyone that pledges will receive exclusive updates and previews of progress and completed artwork before they are accessible anywhere else.

Thank You ($5+): Everyone that contributes also gets a big ole thank you credit on the future Marmot Chess website.  www.marmotchess.com 

Postcard ($10+): Handwritten postcards in the mail are fun!

Prints ($20+): I will be printing archival quality limited edition prints of each character painting. 

Chess Pieces ($50+): The pieces start with the kings (4" diameter at their base, 8" tall) and decrease in size down to the pawns (2" diameter at their base, 4" tall). The diagram below illustrates how they are scaled.

Original Drawing($100+): This is the original mock up sketch that I did for the Marmot Chess sculptures.

Proportional mock-up sketch of each size of chess piece.
Proportional mock-up sketch of each size of chess piece.

Dark Marmot of Old($100+): This is one of only two remaining first generation character studies. This Dark Knight character is the base design for Salamander Rook for the final chess set.

Dark Knight. Roughly 4.5" x 6.5". Acrylic on Paper. 2010
Dark Knight. Roughly 4.5" x 6.5". Acrylic on Paper. 2010

Land Beaver Wearing a Codpiece($100+): This is one of only two remaining first generation character studies. This Dark Rook character design is no longer being used in the chess set.

Dark Rook. Acrylic on Paper. approx. 4.5"x6.5". 2011
Dark Rook. Acrylic on Paper. approx. 4.5"x6.5". 2011

Full Marmot Chess Set ($900+): This is the full set of all 32 different resin sculptures. Makes for an over-sized game of chess. 36" to 40" squared playing surface suggested.

Custom Painting and Sculpture ($1,500+): This is a custom 8"x10" painting and a sculpture that could replace any piece of the marmot chess collection. You give me what type of piece you want it to be and a few details about how you would want it done; then I make it happen.

Bronze Marmot Chess Set($10,000+): This will take some time, but I think it would be amazing to see this set, in all its glory, cast in bronze. 


YOUR PLEDGE

The amounts that I have listed for pledging may seem high, but that's because production cost of this many sculptures is amazingly high. Here's a pie chart to break it down.

Project cost breakdown
Project cost breakdown

Tools(roughly $1000): In order for me to do this project right, I need to have the right tools. This includes a vacuum degassing system for removing air from silicone and safety gear so that I don't hurt myself.

Molding($500): It will cost a little less than $500 in non sulfur clay, mold boxes and the silicone itself.* 

Casting($4000): Each set is an estimated $355 in resin. The $4000 figure is for 10 full sets(320 sculptures) plus some slack for testing and for in case I mess up.* 

Printing($250): Ink and 2 rolls of paper. Pretty simple.

Shipping($1000): Rough estimate for shipping 100 packages averaging $10 per package. 

Kickstarter($750): Between Kickstarter and Amazon, I will have to pay up to 10% if funding is successful. 

 *Estimates on Silicone and resin are based on calculations of known sculptures sizes on smooth-on.com's online calculator. The end figures may not be exactly the same. 

 I have poured a lot of my own money and even more of my time into this project. I really want to be able to complete it to the fullest extent and if I end up receiving more than my original goal, I will add felt bottoms, packaging and other cool things, like stickers. 

Stretch Goal 1: $10,000 - Felt bottoms

Stretch Goal 2: $15,000 - Packaging (boxes and stickers)

Stretch Goal 3: $30,000 - Fabric playing surface for full sets

TIMELINE

At the start of this kickstarter campaign, the majority of paintings and sculptures are still in progress. I will be posting public updates on the status of production throughout this campaign and private, backer only updates after it is over. My plan is to finish the majority of the original work by the end of the pledge period and use the funding to cast resin reproductions of each sculpture. There is a two week period between the end of this campaign and the beginning of mold-making that I will use to finish all of the original work. I welcome everyone to join me for the final steps of this massive creative endeavor.

I will be sending out kickstarter surveys(You choose your rewards based on your pledge level) the week of my art show/release party.

After production and exhibition of the pieces,  I will ship all resin sculptures to arrive before mid-December.

ART SHOW/RELEASE PARTY

I am excited to be having a Solo Show/Release Party at Screaming Sky Gallery in Portland, OR. The opening reception is September 26th, 6-9pm and the show will be up through October 27th. All of the originals, prototypes and resin sculptures (if this kickstarter is successful) will be available at retail prices. For information on pricing, availability and reserving original paintings and prototype sculptures please contact Screaming Sky Gallery. I will post more information on the show as I receive it. See ya there!

www.screamingskygallery.com

Pop-up show

A Marmot Chess Pop-up Show has been tentatively scheduled at Gallery Twenty-Two in Charlotte, NC. The show will be one night only: December 12, 2013, 7pm-2am

www.gallerytwentytwo.com

The amazing people at Twenty-Two are letting marmots run wild the night of December 12th. For this pop up show, there will be full resin Marmot Chess sets ready to play and a boatload of prints available. There will also be a display of uniquely painted individual pieces.

Backers and potential backers: I welcome anyone that contributes $50+(blank chess pieces) to have their custom chess piece creations featured in the show. If you pledge towards a painted piece or full set and you would like to participate, send me a message and we will make it happen. I can't wait to see what unique color palettes and modifications that you all will make! 

Want a pop up show in your city/area? Okay, let's do it! Share this project with your friends and if Marmot Chess gets over 25 backers from any particular area, I will figure out a way to bring a pop up show to you. (US only)

THANK YOU

Well, that just about sums it all up. Thanks for checking out this Marmot Chess Kickstarter,

-Henry

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Marmot Chess, like most projects, has a chance of unexpected events or problems that may occur during production. If there are any delays, I will be sure to send everyone updated release schedules as soon as possible.

If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, I will have 3 weeks to create the molds that I need before I have to ship the prototypes to Portland, OR. I should have all of the resin casting done in this time. If for some reason I don't, I can still use the molds after I ship the prototypes and there will be a short delay.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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    Woodchuck Style Thank You: Thanks bud, your name gets a spot on the Marmot Chess website(You can even make up a name if you want... well, within reason.) AND you'll get kickstarter exclusive updates and previews.

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    Pasture Pig with a Postcard: On top of a thank you credit and updates, you'll get a handwritten postcard with Marmot Chess all over it.

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    Printed Pawn: You get a thank you, a postcard AND a limited edition pawn print of your choice (16 different options. 5"x7" print on 6"x8" paper. Signed and numbered).

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    Printed Rook: You get a thank you, a postcard AND a limited edition rook print of your choice (4 different options. 8"x10" print on 10"x12" paper. Signed and numbered).

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    Printed Knight: You get a thank you, a postcard AND a limited edition Knight print of your choice (4 different options. 9"x12" print on 11"x14" paper. Signed and numbered).

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    Printed Bishop: You get a thank you, a postcard AND a limited edition bishop print of your choice (4 different options. 11"x14" print on 14"x17" paper. Signed and numbered).

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    Printed King or Queen: You get a thank you, a postcard AND a limited edition King or Queen print of your choice (4 different options. 12"x16" print on 16"x20" paper. Signed and numbered).

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    Prairie Dog Peon: Your choice of one of the 16 different blank Pawn resin sculptures. Thank you, postcard and matching print included.

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    Courtly Varmint: Your choice of one of the 12 different blank Rook, Knight and Bishop resin sculptures. Thank you, postcard and matching print included.

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    Land Beaver Wearing a Codpiece: You get Dark Rook. This is 1 of 2 remaining original first generation character studies left. You will also get a thank you and a postcard.

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    Original Drawing: You get the original drawing I did as a proportional mock up for the Marmot Chess sculptures. Includes a thank you and a postcard.

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    Whistle Pig Royalty: Your choice of one of the 4 different unpainted King and Queen resin sculptures. Thank you, postcard and matching print included.

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    Dark Marmot of Old: You get 1 of only 2 remaining first generation character studies. You will also get a thank you and a handwritten postcard from me.

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    Painted Pawn: You get a hand-painted resin pawn sculpture (2" base, 4" tall). Your choice on any of the 16 pawn models. Includes matching print, thank you and postcard.

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    Painted Rook: You get a hand-painted resin rook sculpture (2.5" base, 5" tall). Your choice on any of the 4 rook models. Includes matching print, thank you and postcard.

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    Painted Knight: You get a hand-painted resin knight sculpture (2.75" base, 5.5" tall). Your choice on any of the knight models. Includes matching print, thank you and postcard.

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    Painted Bishop: You get a hand-painted resin bishop sculpture (3" base, 6" tall). Your choice on any of the 4 bishop models. Includes matching print, thank you and postcard.

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    Painted Queen: You get a hand-painted resin queen sculpture (3.5" base, 7" tall). Your choice on either of the 2 queen models. Includes matching print, thank you and postcard.

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    Painted King: You get a hand-painted resin king sculpture (4" base, 8" tall). Your choice of either of the 2 king models. Includes matching print, thank you and postcard.

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    Marmot of Momentum: Lets get this ball of fur rolling. This is the whole set of 32 different black and white Marmot Chess pieces at a crazy (Early bird) price. Print of your choice, thank you and postcard included.

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    Marmot Chess: You get all 32 different pieces that make up the complete black and white Marmot Chess set. You also get a print of your choice, postcard and a thank you credit.

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    The Ground Squirrel: I'll make a unique chess piece and an 8" x 10" painting of your character. This does not include the full set, but I will throw in a print, a thank you and a postcard.

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    The Groundhog: I'll hand paint a whole set of resin Marmot Chess figures just for you. Includes print of choice, postcard and thank you.

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    Gopher Glory: I'm crazy, you're crazy... Lets cast a set of these suckers in bronze!

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