My 1st Custom Chip Journey (Warning, long post, and contains Milano/China Clay. Opposers beware!)

cascadiapoker

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This is a long read over multiple posts. But since some people need help killing time at home, maybe this will help. For those that don’t like to read a lot, the reveal is not until the end so if you want to see it before or without reading, just scroll down to the bottom of my last post!

I wish I could edit my original post the way we can in the Classifieds section, or I’d just add this to that thread. But since it is titled under an old, aborted project name, here’s what the title should read. I have just finished my first foray into custom chips.

But before reading further, to the chip critics, be warned!!! I have chosen a VERY busy design AND Milano china clays! I know many here detest such a thing, but it suits my budget for a custom tourney set, emphasis on “tourney”. I’m emphasizing that word because that is the biggest key in why I chose Milanos as the best option for my budget. I’ve heard and seen a lot, and have also been heavily implored on seeking out Paulsons and why I shouldn’t do anything less other than ceramics. But I’ve also seen a TON of the frustrations in chasing down a proper chip and enough quantity for just one denomination. More importantly, I’m not rich in any way, and the frustrations I’ve seen alone, along with those heavily stressing that I only go Paulson, have been mostly with “cash” sets. The prices alone for a solid $1 chip in a decent quantity already exceeds the cost in what I’ve spent on where I’m at now, money I just don’t have and would need several years to build. The problem I face with building a tourney set over a cash set is once you get above a proper $5 Paulson chip, the cost for each color associated toward it’s intended denomination goes up EXPONENTIALLY, per chip! Yeah, I could probably find a deal on a good Paulson to use for a custom $1 chip at about $1 per chip, and maybe something close enough for a $5 chip. But with a tournament set with the lowest denomination starting at $25, once I get into 500s, 1ks and 5ks, I’ll be lucky to complete my set at under $10 per chip! If I had that kind of money, then I’d save over 2/3 of it by just going to CPC and having them make my chips my way. And I don’t have anywhere near that kind of money either! And that’s not to mention how stubborn and picky I am about used things or, especially in regards to Paulsons for personal use, how much they mist be as close to mint as possible, which only just raises the prices even more! So Milanos it is! Yes, I’ve tried Majestic's and other China clays, but somehow they just feel too plastic-like for me over Milanos, even after a proper oiling. Milanos on the other hand, have a really nice fluid clay like feel to me. I have tried ceramics too. I absolutely LOVE the Tiki Kings chips! And building a fully custom ceramic set isn’t that much more than the direction I went. It’s just, other than the Tiki Kings, I don’t really prefer ceramics as a chip. (I do intend to eventually get a Tiki King tourney set too!) So Milanos are what I went with.

Anyway, I knew before settling on a chip to customize, I needed a theme/inlay. So I immediately went to work on some concepts while I sampled chips in my budget. And this is really where my true journey began. When I first joined, I already had a concept in mind that I liked. And that’s also how I chose my name, Cascadiapoker. I really liked my initial concept, referring to the Oregon part of the Cascades mountain range, a place I love to visit as often as possible and hope to move to some day, but I was quite there yet on this being something I was most proud of. I knew something was slightly off. By the way, I had already mostly settled on Milanos so everything I came up with was with that in mind. Here’s where I started:

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For whatever reason, I didn’t like having green for a $25 chip, and the people I play with (poker that is, for all you jokesters!) very rarely gathered for cash games. If we did, we just used real nickels, dimes, quarters and dollar bills! So I chose blue over green. I also wanted to color match the text to the chip. As much as I liked this, when I printed out a 1 inch sample, the background just ended up being lost and jumbled together. I don’t have a high quality printer, but I can print at 500 dpi so it was clear that even the most professional printing wouldn’t work. So this was scrapped.

I still wanted to try to make something that referenced Oregon. Anyone who knows me, knows that’s my happy place and knows all the things I love and keen bringing back from it. So I then saw someone with a tattoo of a particular Oregon beer I’m always crazy for. Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale. This new concept also lead to my first post here, and this is what I initially came up with:

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Now this, I was proud of, and so proud that as I said, this lead to my first post here. I shared these and waited eagerly . . . only to have my hopes and dreams crushed! Lol. I say that, but I want to preface from here on out, that I am truly, sincerely and forever grateful for ALL the feed back I’ve received on my ideas! It really all did help! A TON!!! Now I was briefly demoralized because I was still so proud of this, and yet no one else seemed to like it all, save for one, who knew the beer, and knew immediately what I was going for. The biggest criticisms I got were “too busy” and most of all, “text is too small”. I didn’t care about the text at all other than the denominations. The text in the banners was the only part of the Dead Guy Ale logo that was changed in the chip. Anyone who knows me, knows the beer (it sells country wide in the US so I still drink it regularly!) and therefore knows the logo. Despite the heavy criticism, this was still a go for me, when the funds would come over time. So I did my next step, a 1 inch test print out, thinking this was going to happen. And what do you know, there WAS a problem! But it wasn’t the text. It was the damn logo itself! The dead guy on the barrel is what makes the logo what it is, and because I did the full logo with him on the barrel, he was just too damn small!!! Ok, ok, a little reworking is all I needed so that lead to this:

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Now I was really happy, because I could color match the denoms to the chip again! You’ll also not the new 5k chip added to the mix. I realized that the only reason we haven’t done t25k starting stacks is because we haven’t had the chips to go that high. Now I was proud again, and still got a lot of criticism, but this time only for being “too busy” for their tastes with the caveat of, if it suits me then all power to me. This time, the test prints were much to my liking. The only problem was, that finds had become very tight, and I needed to wait several months before I could begin building. And then came my biggest adversary . . . time! The problem with time is not trying to stay patient, it’s that people change over time, and with that, tastes. A couple months or so later, as I look back on the design, I’m no longer liking it. Not because of the design itself, but because of the concept altogether. It’s too much beer, and not enough personalization to me.

So now I’m at square one, and no concept. During this time, I also decided that I could use the Milanos to build both a full 1000 chip tourney set AND a 1000 chip micro stakes cash set (which is all we can afford if and when we rarely do play cash games together). So, I toyed with joining the many here who have customized the Bellagio inlay, which like those many, is still my most favorite $1 chip to this day, despite admittedly knowing how drab that inlay actually is! Really, I just don’t know what it is, but I still can’t stop loving it! Maybe it’s that I’ll just never get over how amazing I thought the new chip was when my first trip to Bellagio was during the transition to the new chip. At the same time, it just does not work as an inlay for a Milano to me. I didn’t even have to print it to see that. Really it was as quick as I thought of toying with it, that I dismissed it. But . . . I can still pay tribute to the Bellagio with a little of my own flair, if I used their poker room tournament chips inlay as inspiration. So that got me thinking, and I came up with this:


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Continued on next post!
 
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cascadiapoker

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I had to break it up because you can only attach 20 images per post, lol.

So where was I? Ahh yes, a new concept! The Miraggio! With the Bellagio poker room tournament chips as inspiration. The name Miraggio is actually personal to me in many ways other than being a variation of my favorite Vegas casino and hotel. My friends can tell you how this actually relates to my car, movies I love and quote a lot, my ethnic background and my trips to Vegas without even being specific to the Bellagio. The only thing missing is a reference to my lifelong love for beaches/the ocean/waves, etc. which I always find a way to incorporate in things and spaces of mine. (Foreshadowing?) But all that takes too long to explain. Anyway, this really hit me in the heart, and I felt it would quiet those “it’s too busy” folk at the same time, not that I cared to in the past. The color choices were also a personal reference. I’m a die hard Arizona Diamondbacks fan with season tickets with my dad for over a decade now, and until 2020 this was their new road game colors! This design really spoke to me! This also helped with an issue that I have with the original Milano labels in that I always thought it was too light. I’ll be honest, the Milano chip colors aren’t all that bright or “popping”. But a proper oiling does wonders and I always thought a darker inlay helped the colors pop even more. And this looked to be dead on. The problem? Again, time! But really my change in taste was how dark. I wanted to keep the edges at that same darkness, but I felt everything in the middle just got too lost once you scaled it down. A quick, easy tweak lead to this:

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The only change needed was to brighten the middle background! Getting to this point was kind of funny and some times confusing, because looking at these original designs, up close and zoomed in, I like the first version better then the second. When you print them out in 1 inch scale however, It’s the opposite! The first one is just too dark in scale, while the second has the exact look I was trying for with the first! Essentially, I hate the second one when it’s large like this, but scaled down, I love it! So this was it! And I was happy! A couple months go by and this is still the one! And then time happens again, but this time, it has an ally that I discovered here in association with CPC . . . the poker chip design tool! Now by this point, I’m 100% settled on the Milanos, but having CPC set is the dream and future goal. I figure, maybe I can just take a couple to a few years and save up then go full CPC, and that actually sounds doable! In the mean time, I can still build and make the Milanos my secondary less fancy chip set, that sees the most action while preserving the CPC dream set when that dream comes. So now I’m shifting gears because I want this label to be secondary, not primary. And my newest design is my pride and joy, so I start mocking up chip colors and edge spots on the design tool, you know, just to starting planning ahead while I’m waiting. Now this design isn’t scrapped it’s just too good to use on Milanos, only to then use again on a CPC set, and still want to be able to use my Milanos. (I hadn’t yet considered that this would still be ok, I could just pretend it was a new issue, like a casino converting from Chipco to Paulson or something). So now I needed a new secondary concept. I’m liking the the concept of booty and Pirates and all and it does ‘t seem to be a common thing. (I hadn’t yet feasted my eyes on the legendary Pillage and Plunder set yet). But I’m not sold on it entirely. I toyed with one idea that I only made one label for which I still love, and may look into at a later date on a completely new set of some kind. (Maybe ceramic?)

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But while I love it and am definitely holding on to it, it wasn’t a concept I wanted to work with at this time. But after some more thought, I’m now thinking of things like how, while they don’t have casinos, the major Vegas casinos have secondary hotels, like Wynn has Encore, Aria has Vdara, and how the Delano is an annex of Mandalay Bay . . . Mandalay Bay! Another of my most favorite Vegas hotels! (That $1 chip though? . . . ehh. But that $2 drip chip . . . drool drool drool!) What if I had a concept that was also attached to my original Miraggio concept? So that lead to this. Oh and remember that comment earlier about not including my life-long love for the beach and the ocean?:

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The Bay! by Miraggio, as in presented by Miraggio, not next to Miraggio. I was oringinally hoping that “bay” had a really nice translation in Italian, that could go well with Miraggio and I’d call it “Il or La (insert fancy italian word for bay here” or “(fancy bay italian word) di Miraggio”, but unfortunately, the Italian word for bay is “bay” lol. So without being too much of a direct ripoff of Mandalay Bay, I got The Bay. Now, when I dropped this new concept in the old thread, I’ll admit, I kind of had hopes and dreams again like my very first post, that I this would be very well received and toted. I knew it was very busy, but I thought it was so well done that even most of the busy haters would even say something along the lines of “it’s a little on the busy side for my normal tastes but this looks really good”. Alas, that was not so, yet again, lol. The majority here are VERY set in their ways. But fortunately for me, so am I! I wasn’t going to let other’s tastes and preferences that are always going to be opposite mine lessen me. (Not that they were trying, they were all really nice and suggestive with their criticisms, but come one, we’ve all experienced being so proud of something here, only to feel alone and small when it doesn’t get reciprocated after showing). So this was it for me, I wanted busy because I can get away with on Milanos so not many even like the chips to begin with, and felt I could really change the chip with this. This time however, I was going to be more attentive in reading the criticisms because I knew I was closer than ever to actually pulling the trigger and I didn’t want to miss something that would take this concept from my new baby, to truly amazing, even for here. As it turns out, for me that surprisingly ended up being what I needed. I thought I had a finished product. I listened to some of the criticisms, and somehow, as stubborn as I am for what I want, a couple hit home, that I felt were 100% right. That was also combined with a suggestion about my overall concept that actually made a lot more sense. I only had to make some tweaks to the base design and to the text, but all in all, it was a simple rework and a slightly modified rebrand. Once I was done, I knew this was it, despite how busy it looked. It passed the 1 inch print with flying colors. I ordered a sample set from Gear, and realized just how vivid and clear this would be even on the thickest most textured laminate, which is what I went with, lol.

[The final concept reveal, the newly relabeled chips, the already made custom dealer button (that’s right!), and the bounty chip concept currently in the works all continued in the next post!]
 
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cascadiapoker

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I give you Miraggio Bay!
(I know many will still have criticisms and I know this will never be HoF worthy, but the pride is very real, very present, all mine, and all for me!)

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This stood the test of time. It was several months from finished concept to actually pulling the trigger, and the only time I was nervous was while waiting for the labels to arrive in the mail. This design hits me personally in so many subtle ways that my friends can see right away. I went with the textured laminate on glossy labels which is the thickest and most obscuring but @Gear does such great work that it didn’t even affect anything. The pictures I took don’t do it justice, nor does the lighting, but these really came out exceptional! I started off small since my main group is small right now, at only 300 chips, but also mostly just as a test custom set. I knew before I even put the labels on, that this is no longer a test. I WILL be expanding this to a full, dual 2000 chip tourney and micro stakes cash set over the next several
months (probably 300 chips plus 600 labels at a time)!

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If I had a better way to take pictures I would but this is the best I have to work with both camera and lighting wise, lol. I only have 25, 100, 500 and 1k denoms for this first batch. I will try to take more and better pictures over the weekend as I’m waiting for the last part of oil on the edges to dry. I’ll stack them up, and try a splash pic too. So if all goes well, see me by the holidays this year where at the very least, I hope to have the full tourney set done and a large chunk of the cash set done. Oh and for those remaining denominations and which color chips I’ll use, it will be as follows:
.5¢ = grey (currently the .50¢ chip)
.25¢ = orange (currently the $10k chip)
$1 = dark blue (currently the $10 chip)
$5 = red (currently the $5 chip)
$5k = pink (currently the $5k chip)

And did someone mention something about an already made custom dealer button?

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I had to do it! Lol. And when the tourney set is all done, I will have more buttons made but most likely in ceramic with only the one in crystal (just the one was $12 not including shipping!) I also already have a bounty chip in the works which will most likely be done on ceramics:

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During this whole journey, I’ve seen a lot other’s preferences and tastes and fully respect that. I know this won’t be to everyone’s liking and most likely, many will not prefer it, but it also because of those same voices and their advice that brought me to here to something I am so personally excited for. I don’t have the money do do something like a full CPC set and really let the wolves at it critically, and certainly not for a Paulson collection but this is definitely more than good enough for me! As much as I’ve gone against what other’s here have said, I wouldn’t be this happy today if it wasn't for here!
 
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cascadiapoker

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Lol. I had to kill some time, figured I could share my journey. This was long time in the making, and it’s really only just beginning for me. I’m just glad no one commented in between so that it really would be easy to scroll all the way through without getting confusing.
 

Ben8257

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They are fantastic brother!!! Being along side you through this journey no matter what Has been said you stayed true to what you wanted!!! I know the time and effort that has been put into these and could not possibly be more happy for you!! You are a picky SOB! Lol but you have fantastic taste and design skills, a very modern approach to inlay design world. If you go ceramic woth any parts of the set I would gladly piggy back and order some and proudly get some of your custom works in play! I know money is a major restraint for you but honestly it makes you love and cherrish each and every one of your chips that much more! Can't wait to see the finished set or what the future holds for you!!! Again CONGRATULATIONS ON A JOB VERY WELL DONE!!!!

Forever your chipping brother Ben!
 

cascadiapoker

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Thanks a lot @Ben8257 !!! Hahaha! I really am a very picky SOB, I know, but I’ve always admitted it since day one! On the other hand, if I wasn’t so picky I’d be homeless while trying to make a blanket out of nothing but all the chips I went broke on! And it’s always been a pleasure having you as my chipping brother the whole way! I came here not planning on staying once I got all the info I needed to make a custom set a go, but I’m now also a happy and very hungry collector (both for chips and for food, because of the chips, but mostly for chips, lol) on the side and the I owe all that to you in addition to all the continuous, sincere support! And as I said this is only the beginning! Not just for my custom chips, but me as a member here too! I’m still only just scratching the surface here!
 

cascadiapoker

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Great job! What is the story on the dealer button? Looks great.
There’s not really any story to the dealer button. I found this website. In my early days of sampling chips and seeing what’s out there, I found this website that does various custom poker accessory work as well as your run of the mill basic stiff too, pokerchiplounge. They also happen to offer custom crystal dealer buttons too with various stock buttons to buy as well. All they need is any image of your choice, and they put it on crystal. To my knowledge, it is only image printing and not any etching of any kind. They also advertise it as a great way to make a card guard. They offer 2 sizes, 2 inch and 3 inch. They say it is acrylic crystal, but this thing feels heavier than glass even! So it’s definitely some type of crystal, even if it is only acrylic. Depending on quantity, production to shipping to in your hand only takes 7-9 days total. Once I realized I should probably consider making a dealer button for this set, I immediately thought I might give this place a try and as soon as I felt confident enough to order through Gear, I ordered the button. I don’t work for them or know them i any way, lol. Just giving out all the details.
 

RivieraDanny

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Very nice. Indeed. I’ve been at the Bay since 2000. Started at the rivi. Love the wave! Not sure about the white letters. I might have outlined the denoms with a thin black line. And for sure would have ripped off the Mandalay Bay font. But they’re beautiful and as long as you’re happy it doesn’t matter what the rest of us jokers think!!! Great job. Have fun with them.

PS. how did you get by the center goober on the one side of the milanos? Mill, sand? Label over. I got a sample set from Apache and they have a raised goober on one side of the reds.
 
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