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Great Bend Artist Jeremy Cale Creates Medieval Chess Set

To most people, chess represents a popular two-player strategic board game. But to Great Bend artist Jeremy Cale, chess represents art. He’s created a medieval chess set, inspired by an ancient European version.

“I did start out with the idea of doing mine as close to a 500-year-old European chess set as possible,” explained the 36-year-old nature artist. “Obviously, ivory isn’t available to me in today’s world and there are other limiting factors, but this is my interpretation of a classic. I’ve given my pieces some modern twists. They probably didn’t have wizard chessmen back then and those have become my bishops, but there are similarities to the original with all my other pieces.”

Art of Chess -  Great Bend artist Jeremy Cale sits in front of his recently created chess set at Rosewood Furniture Gallery. Cale said it takes two days to properly cast each piece from Sculptcrete, then each piece is stained to the desired color.

“Today’s chess pieces have become really simple with very little detail; I wanted to create something with more finesse and more shape,” explained Cale about why he designed his medieval chess set. “I’m happy with the way mine turned out. It has been a major adventure for me as an artist.”

Another twist to Cale’s work is that he has created his chessmen from prototypes. He carved representative stone pieces and then created epoxy molds from those pieces. He has produced enough molded pieces to create three chess sets so far.

“I am still working on a set where the pieces are made completely out of stone, but it will take me two years to carve every piece,” explained Cale. “With these sets, my pieces are all made from an original stone version, but these are cast and then I just clean them up after removing them from the mold. Each piece is still hard as stone and extremely difficult on my bits. I go through diamond bits like crazy when I’m making the chess pieces from molds.”

Cale hand-crafted a chess board to go along with his first set and he is preparing to build more boards to go with the remaining pieces that he has created. His original board is made of pine with laminate. The board, which can fold in half, is painted and stained. Match sticks are layered and glued on portions of the board to give it a parquet effect. The inside of the board is lined with heavy-duty mull fabric to carry and protect the chess pieces.

“My project was about six months in the idea stage, but it’s taken almost three years to create what I have done,” said Cale. “A lot of materials aren’t available to me that are good for casting, so I have come up with alternative ways to accomplish the desired result.”

Cale’s challenges in completing his art are even more difficult than the typical starving artist faces. While paying for quality art supplies and materials is always a hurdle, Cale faces greater challenges as an artist. He lives with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism-related developmental disorder, characterized by sustained impairment in social interaction and nonverbal communication. He says that his condition doesn’t have any bearing on his natural abilities as an artist, but he recognizes that he focuses on his art because of Asperger’s. Quite simply, his world revolves completely around creating art, making it impossible for him to function in a regular environment.

For the past 16 years, Rosewood Services has been with Cale, helping him to balance his life with his focus and passion for art, so that he can live independently. It’s an arrangement that Cale said saved his life when he was living hand-to-mouth as a young man in Dodge City, prior to moving back to his hometown of Great Bend.

“I was going days without eating before Rosewood came to my aid,” remembered Cale. “Even today, they have not only allowed me to exist as an artist, but to exist period. I am grateful for everything they have done for me.”

Those interested in seeing Cale’s chess art can view his display at Rosewood Bargain Barn through mid-April. Cale said he will reproduce a limited number of chess sets, if people are interested in purchasing them. Though Rosewood will help to facilitate the arrangement, all purchases of Cale’s work will go to the artist.


Asperger’s and Antlers, Artist’s Passion Helps Him Overcome Challenges of Disorder - Read more about Great Bend nature artist Jeremy Cale.

Find more about Rosewood Services online,

Jeremy Cale's chess board and other artwork are featured at Rosewood Bargain Barn through April 15, 2017.

For more information, contact Michael Dawes, director of marketing Rosewood Services,, 620-796-2242

March 8, 2017
Story by: Michael Dawes, Rosewood Marketing Director, 620-796-2242