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Christmas Gift Guide

Started from 'fudge'

Bloodwood Druid's Dice

Carbon fiber Alchemist's Dice

Titanium Dragon's Dice

White marble Elemental Dice

Gator jawbone Necromancer's Dice

Built from barrels

When Charlie Brumfield's gaming group found itself at a loss for fudge dice in its neighborhood, he headed to the local wood shop and made some himself from exotic hardwoods. (Fudge dice are dice that have an equal number of plus, minus and blank sides on them and are often used for determining character traits in role-playing games.) His fellow gamers were so impressed with his work they convinced him to go into business.

"Twenty-four hours later, Artisan Dice was launched, and successfully funded through our first Kickstarter in March of 2012," says the company's website.

Since then, Artisan Dice has made a wide range of dice from exotic materials, like these that come from the tusks of woolly mammoths -- an animal that largely went extinct 10,000 years ago. While the first batch of these beauties sold out in a day, Brumfield says the company has just gotten its hands on more mammoth material and will be releasing more soon. They are available for preorder on the site now.

Caption by / Photo by Artisan Dice

Bloodwood certainly sounds like it belongs in a fantasy game, doesn't it? (Maybe as material for a wand?) But the wood is actually real, and makes for some striking dice, as you see here.

"Native to Central and South America, bloodwood can range from a burnt orange to a deep red color," Artisan Dice says. "It has a pleasant smell and is quite dense. Is also has an extremely consistent color and grain. The chatoyance, or shimmer, is, quite frankly, amazing. It’s also one of the heaviest woods we use, making for an excellent set of dice."

The bloodwood dice are from the Artisan Dice series called "Druid's Dice." It includes dice made from a range of exotic hardwoods like ancient bogwood, blonde mahogany and black limba, a wood native to Africa and once used by Gibson to make guitars.

Caption by / Photo by Artisan Dice

It's used in everything from fighter jets to hockey sticks, so why not dice as well?

The problem is that carbon fiber is a filament that's usually turned into tubes or sheets. Finding something thick enough to make these d20s from was a challenge. Charlie Brumfield and his team persevered though, and finally found a supplier who was making carbon fiber rods in excess of one inch, from which these dice are hewn.

The carbon fiber dice are from the Artisan Dice series called "Alchemist's Dice." It includes dice mostly made from polyester and acrylic polymers, which makes for some enchanting translucent rollers.

Caption by / Photo by Artisan Dice

In creating these superstrong dice, Artisan Dice uses what it calls "a dragon's breath finishing process," a heating process that causes the dice to form captivating colors.

"Titanium is nearly as lightweight as aluminum but is more than 200 percent stronger," the site says. "It's also insanely hard to cut and very stable at high temps. So much so that an alloy of titanium called 6Al4V was used in the construction of the vaunted SR-71 Blackbird (the world’s fastest airplane) to withstand the extreme temps created by the friction of the airflow and high supersonic speeds."

The titanium dice are from the Artisan Dice series called "Dragon's Dice." It includes dice made from metals such as aluminum, brass and copper.

Caption by / Photo by Artisan Dice

These weighty dice are hewn from white marble quarried in Vermont. While they're great to look at and come in a walnut-wood dice box, they could do some serious damage if thrown on a fragile tabletop with any gusto -- like when you're trying to deliver that killing blow to a red dragon.

The dice are from a series called "Elemental Dice." It includes these, as well as dice made from two types of soapstone.

Caption by / Photo by Artisan Dice

Artisan Dice says it's been asked to produce a set of dice made from bone since the day the company started.

"For those that aren’t aware, bone makes for horrible dice. It’s porous, oddly shaped, prone to chipping, and the larger pieces we need to make dice from are hollow and spongy in the middle thanks to that wonderful thing called marrow," the company says. "So, for the longest time our standard answer was, 'Nope sorry, we don’t make bone dice.'"

The company overcame the issue by combining bone with urethane resin. In this set, the white parts of the dice are bone from an alligator's jaw and the colored part is the resin. There are a wide range of colors in the series; this one is called Southern Citrus.

The jawbones come from a gator farm in Louisiana where the animals are raised for meat and leather.

The other set of dice in the Necromancer series (because they're from dead things -- get it?) are made from bison horn.

Caption by / Photo by Artisan Dice

Falling under the category of Artisan's "specialty dice," these rollers are made from the staves of Jack Daniel's barrels that held a batch of the whiskey for seven years. Staves are the strips of wood that are laid next to each other to make the barrel.

If you order a six-sided die, you'll see a dark side, which comes from the charred inside of the barrels.

Caption by / Photo by Artisan Dice
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