Friday, November 26, 2010
Hey everyone! It’s Lu here and… did you know it was National Game & Puzzle Week? And what a wonderful week to celebrate this, as many families gather together for Thanksgiving. There are lots of family traditions during the holiday season, and inspired by game week, I’m hoping to start a new one this year! I did a post on a checkerboard in July, but the game I really enjoy is BACKGAMMON. I first learned how to play a few years ago when teaching my oldest daughter. But we learned on a small travel size set & I wanted to play with something a little more comfortable. I also wanted a side table, so one thought led to another and I decided to make my own backgammon table. I started looking online for unfinished tables, but really couldn’t find what I had in mind. I needed to take into account the game design size that I would create, and knew that it would be a rectangular shape rather than a square shape. The height of the table was something I considered as well~ I didn’t want it to be too uncomfortably low for hovering over & moving pieces. A trip to a local “junk store” provided me with just the perfect sized accent table. As I was planning to refinish it, I wasn’t too concerned with the appearance… it just needed to be the right size & relatively good shape! I loaded it up, brought it home & pulled out my sanding tools.
Before I go any further on the refinishing details, I’ll give a bit of info on the game itself. Each side of the game board has a “row” of 12 long triangles, called points. The object of the game is to remove all of one’s game pieces (checkers, draughts, pawns, chips, etc) before your opponent does. To ensure that I designed the game correctly, I studied my little set, as well as did an online search of game sets. It was a bit more tricky than I had imagined (it always is)… so I’d recommend starting with a small sketch first, labeling the papers, embellishments that you’d like to use. When it comes to projects of this size, it’s good to keep in mind the motto: “Plan your work & work your plan”. There will probably be revisions, but it’s nice to have a “game plan”, lol (pun intended). Once I had my table, my overall design dimensions were set for me. And here is what I did:
First, I created my new document size considering my table dimension as well as my printer’s paper size options. The largest paper size I could print (with Fed Ex Office) was 11″ x 17″. My table top was 15-1/2″ x 17-1/2″, so I knew I’d need to print (2) pages separately, then join together. I created my new document at 5100 x 5100. I know this sounds large, but the final step will be to create duplicates of this master working psd file, then crop in half for the top & bottom of the game “board”. It’s also a good idea to turn on your grid & snap, as well as rulers, to make sure everything is even. (Before placing even one item, remember to consider your printer’s bleed area. You do not want anything too close to that perimeter space & have it cropped off in printing). I wanted to establish the overall size of my game layout, so I drew out a background rectangle, sized 15-1/4″ x 17- 1/4″ (I sized it down 1/4″ overall from the table top dimension. This allows a 1/8″ perimeter of “wiggle” room” around the entire game, for placement). After that, I needed to determine the height & width that I wanted to assign my twelve alternating points (triangles), as this would affect how much space I’d have for the middle & borders. I planned to use the 1″ round chips, so that pretty much determined my triangle base width. I made the base of the triangle just over 1″ and the overall height approximately 6-1/2″ , to accomodate 5-6 chips at once on one triangle. I duplicated my original triangle & changed it’s color (remember, the triangle color alternates). After that, it was just a process of duplicating & alternating the triangles until I had 12. I made sure that they all lined up (holding down the shift key when moving) & then I linked them all together (so nothing would shift as I worked). Next, I duplicated the triangle layers, rotated (flipped) vertically & moved above my bottom triangles (again, holding down the shift key to keep them aligned), then with everything still linked, rotate them horizontally. This will keep the triangle colors alternating. Then I went through the “copy triangle” layers & renamed them to “top triangles”. For me, the most difficult part is finalizing the triangles, as everything builds around them. But from here on, it’s easy-peasy!
With my triangles completed, I now knew how much space I would have for the background & borders. I drew another rectangle out, layered underneath the triangles but above the “background” rectangle. This is the “field”, so to speak, and I inset approximately 3/4″ from my background rectangle (this can vary according to your design preference). At this point, I started to layer on my papers & add embellishments. However, since my “clipping masks” were so large I needed to increase the size of my papers. I couldn’t just enlarge them, as that would cause them to print out blurry. I’m certain there are different ways to approach this, but this is one way I “enlarge” papers when doing oversized projects. First, I place my paper in one corner, then I duplicate that paper, flip it horizontally, move (holding down the shift key) & align with my original. If all looks good, I merge the two layers. Then I create another duplicate (of the now-joined papers), flip it vertically, move (hold down the shift key) & align with the bottom copy. If all is properly aligned, I then merge down again. Now I have a large piece of “paper” that I can clip onto my field rectangle shape. I do the same thing with any other large expanses (such as the inner border & background rectangle). With your perimeter borders now determined, you can now move the triangles into their final position (keeping the top set linked together & the bottom set linked together) and clip on their papers. As they are already in alterning colors, it’s easy to just clip on alternating paper patterns. Basically, your board is now complete, just add borders or embellishments until your heart’s content (staying within the background rectangle perimeter, of course). For my board, I used a combination of Autumn Medley & Bountiful, as those kits work best with my home’s color scheme. It’s perpetually fall at my house, lol! It’s up to you how much detail you want to give your board~ I’d say I was in the middle. Just enough detail & definition to see clearly, but not too much that the design would be a distraction. I added the “Family Traditions” tag from Autumn Medley, as I feel games are just that… a wonderful family tradition!
At this point, I save the master (well, I’d say save every 5 minutes, lol), then make a duplicate & rename it bottom. Then, duplicate this copy & rename it top. Merge visible these copies (don’t flatten yet). Now you are ready to separate them for printing. If you need to, since you merged rather than flattened, you can move your board around to line it up and use your rulers to measure. Then, draw out your crop tool around the portion you need to remove… then, delete! Remember to move the board back away from the bleed area, then flatten it & save. Now go on to the other document & delete the opposite section of the game board. Move the image away from the bleed area. Flatten & save. Now you should have (2) separate, top & bottom files to send to the printer.
Creating the chip “covers” was super easy. On a new document, I drew out a 1″ circle shape & made a copy. I then clipped on the alternating papers that I’d used for the triangles. I also layered on the circular stitch from Barefoot (resized) & the (2) different colored flowers from Bountiful. Once I had the chips designed, I saved the master. Then I created another 11″ x 17″ document for the game pieces. I duplicated the flower “masters” & flattened them. Dragging them over to the new document, I created the 30 (or more) of each color that I would need for the game. (You need 15 chip pieces of each color, but remember, you need to do both sides of the chips). I then flattened this document for printing.
Once you’ve printed your documents, it’s just a matter of trimming! However, I put this on the backburner & turned my attention back to the table. This refinishing step is basically the same as the checkerboard post. The only thing I did differently with this project, was to use spray paint instead of a latex paint. Typically, I would not spray paint furniture, lol, but you’ll notice there is a “pierced” design on the table’s side panels. I didn’t want to fight with a brush to get in & out of these spaces, nor did I feel a small roller would be the easiest route. So, using several even spray “strokes” with the can (I practiced on cardboard first), I was able to achieve nice coverage with no drips! Just a note here: it’s a great idea to apply a primer over dark wood before your paint color. But other than that, you can follow the finishing details on this post.
After I had the refinishing complete, it was now time to apply the backgammon game to the table top. I won’t kid you: this step makes me nervous. Anytime I use glue, I get nervous, lol. (It’s very helpful to have another pair of hands, as well). Before I glued anything down, however, I made guide marks in light pencil. I just laid down the top & bottom papers,aligned & made sure there was equal spacing around the perimeter. Then I lightly drew in corner guides. I applied my adhesive (I use Mod Podge), held my breath & placed each piece within those guides. I used this neato rubber “squeadgy” to smooth out any air bubbles. The rubber is awesome, it didn’t tear my paper! (I’ve also read that it’s a good idea to spray on an acrylic sealer prior to applying to Mod Podge to reduce wrinkles). Once everything was in place, I covered my tabletop with wax paper & then piled on some heavy books. I let it sit for several hours (although I did keep checking to make sure the air bubbles weren’t popping up). After everything had dried, I sprayed on Mod Podge clear acrylic sealer. For further protection, I had a piece of glass cut from a local glass company so that we could use the table when we weren’t playing on it. As for the chip pieces, I also spray painted those, then applied the covers with Mod Podge. When dry, I sanded the edges. And here’s the final outcome:
And because I never can remember how to set up the table, I also created a handy little “rules” book, with a thumbnail of my gameboard. It fits nicely inside the little round box that I put together to house the game’s checkers. So convenient!
Now, I know this was a rather detailed project. But I can truly say the most difficult part is getting the game design accurate. The most nerve-wracking part is gluing it down, lol! Just take your time & go for it! Remember, files can always be reprinted, furniture can always be sanded & repainted. Keep in mind the goal: a unique, custom piece of furniture that will also provide hours of wonderful family time. But whether or not you take on this project, try to fit in some “game time” this weekend! And if you’d like to learn more about backgammon, you can read about it here.
Thanks for checking out my project & I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! See you back on Monday for LOTW!