You have a rather unique shop concept with a somewhat specific audience…Can you explain a little bit for those who see your site and don’t immediately go “Oh!”?
Essentially, my shop is a destination for folks who play German-style board games, such as the wildly popular Settlers of Catan, Agricola, Carcassonne, and other such board games. For the most part, these games are economic in nature – there is a lot of dealing with other players, and your game play is greatly effected by what the other players chooseto do on their turns. Unlike great games like Monoply, it is difficult to be put out of the game early – everyone plays to the end., and many games aren’t scored until then, so it’s often a bit of surprise as to who wins. These board games are definitely geared toward adults, as there is a good bit of strategy and pre planning moves involved.
What are your figurines/items made out of and can you talk a little bit about the process to make them?
I make accessories and replacement pieces for these Eurogames out of polymer clay. Many people are familiar with the brand names Sculpey or Fimo. I use a clay made by the Sculpey company called Premo!, which is extremely durable and comes in a wonderful array of colors. Although I do some custom color mixing, any color you see in my pieces comes from the clay itself – I do no painting.
I spend a good amount of time sculpting the individual pieces which I will often do in steps (for example, with a set of cows, I will make all the heads, all the horns, all the bodies, and then attach them all), and then they bake in my home oven for 10-30 minutes, and they’re ready to play!
How did you arrive at this specific combination of subject matter and medium?
My husband and I have been playing board games together since we met, and several Christmases ago I got him the game Agricola as a gift. It is a wonderful game with hundreds of pieces; unfortunately the “animals” that come with the game are all very basic, boring colored cubes. It was at that point we sat down and started brainstorming ways to make our own animals for the game. We happened upon the suggestion of polymer clay by browsing the forums over at boardgamegeek.com. Polymer clay is perfect for game pieces because it is easily moldable, very colorful, but also extremely durable – important when you’re handling the pieces hundreds or thousands of times over the course of a year! We both sat down with a chunk of clay, and it just so happened that my designs were good enough to keep making. That’s both how Epicycle Designs got started, and how I got into the business of sculpting miniature animals out of clay!
Do you ever play with art of other mediums and/or subjects?
It’s funny, actually; I never considered myself an artist or even particularly crafty, but in truth, I always have been a bit of both. These days, I do a lot of sewing and crochet, with which I recently finished making a beautiful winter coat. I’m also rediscovering my love for counted cross-stitch, and recently relearned how to knit. I also started dabbling with fondant sculpting, when I realized that it and clay have a lot of similarities!
Based on your unique choice of art, I would think that perhaps your are a touch geeky… Other than board games, what are some of your geeky, nerdy hobbies?
Geeky, me? Not a chance!
Okay, you got me. I fell in love with Star Trek after I fell in love with my husband. He liked it a lot as a kid, and I had never seen it – so we started watching the series through shortly after we got married. Almost three years later, we’re partway through the second season of Voyager, which is on hold until he comes home from deployment!
I’m also a bit of a dork when it comes to baking bread. I’ve barely eaten store-bought bread in the last three years; I have a sourdough starter in the fridge, and take frustrations out on unrisen bread dough. I’ve gotten it down to a science.
What’s your favorite board game and why?
Favorite board game. . . well, that’s a hard one. We have about 30 games in our own collection, and I think Agricola and Boggle get the most play. I grew up playing Uncle Wiggly and The Game of Life with my Grandma, and I have deep affection for both of those games, as well.
Is there any upcoming board game, book, movie, etc. that you’re looking forward to?
I am so looking forward to The Hobbit coming out next Christmas!
What would you say to those of us out here who have our own geeky obsessions that we want to turn in to art?
Do it! You’ll probably be surprised to find out that there are others out there who are just as excited by the stuff you are – and who might even be willing to pay for it. And if you can fund your hobbies by making things tied into what you love, why not?
And finally, where can we find you are your art?
You can find my shop at epicycledesigns.etsy.com, on facebook at facebook.com/epicycledesigns, and on twitter @epicycledesigns.
Within a month or so we will also have our own website up and running, so be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook page to be privy to the launch!