Holtz Pottery - Handcrafted Chess Set

To celebrate our new product release - the handcrafted chess set by Holtz pottery - we're hosting a giveaway of the first set ever crafted by our talented artisans. Enter giveaway using the link above and share on social media for extra chances to win!

At the core of the game, Chess is a beautiful combination of skill and strategy with iconic pieces and memorable takeovers. There is definitely something to be said about the full experience of finishing a match with an old friend or a loved one. Especially if the board and it’s pieces are as one of a kind as the game itself!  

Here at Holtz, we repurpose and reuse all sorts of materials. Many of our wooden products are from Jack Daniel’s whiskey barrels. Our Babe Ruth line utilizes vintage baseball gloves. Even our debossing dies are from another lifetime. So we have decided to breathe new life into a Vintage Chess Set from 1965!

When we had the idea to laser engrave a checkers board on the top of a whiskey barrel, idea after idea started flowing in! We took some oak from the barrels and made checkers pieces. Not even a day later we decided that the barrel head should be a table, so we added legs! Just as soon as we thought we had figured it out, it hit us. We had the final touch hiding right under our nose. A handmade ceramic chess set that we can create right here in our shop!

After tons of brainstorming and research, we came across a vintage slip cast mold of a chess set from 1965. Finding a mold that has made a 50 year journey without any damages proved itself to be a challenge in itself to say the least. Once the mold arrived, our potters began refurbishing the frail and delicate plaster. Carefully sanding, carving, and rebuilding the molds of each piece so that you can enjoy these unique sets as they were originally created. 

Once our potters had a functioning mold they went to work! The attention and detail that each piece goes through is truly remarkable. Just think about it! These sets all start, quite literally, as liquid mud. After some time in the molds, they are removed and get trimmed and balanced before set to dry. A day later they are sanded by hand to create a smooth and seamless surface. They are then taken to their first firing in a kiln to temperatures approaching 2000ᐤ. After the first firing, they are ready to be individually hand detailed and glazed. One more trip to the kiln and 24 hours later, the chess pieces are almost complete and ready to send to their new home. 

Our potters quality check the finished pieces before applying a full grain leather pad to the underside of the bases followed by one last cleaning. After finishing the week-long process, the set is now ready to be a conversation piece in your home for years to come!

As if the process was not detailed enough, we added one extra step to give the white pieces an antique finish. Before these chess pieces make it to the kiln for their final firing, they have what is called a black underglaze painted into the crevasses and details. 

This underglaze is then wiped away, leaving recessed areas darker and most raised surfaces clean. By doing this, our potters can achieve the patina effect, giving the impression that this set has already stood the test of time. 

Every product should tell a story. That’s why we feel that the Whiskey Barrel Chess Board and Vintage Chess Set make a great combination. You’ll get the barrel head that held bourbon for up to 7 years along with a chess set that has been preserved over half a century. This set has a voice of its own and is sure to be remembered wherever it is played. The weight, the feel, the scent of the leather and bourbon lingering above the board. Never in our lives have we seen such a combination of these attributes and we absolutely cannot wait to build your new set.


Complete your game room, man cave, or even living room with this mid-century rustic  game board or table!


A stylish piece of history in a table lamp; Handcrafted from reclaimed wood from an American factory floor.

3 Responses

Jerred Pope

Jerred Pope

August 29, 2023

Is this ever going to be available for sale?

Noel O'Connor

Noel O'Connor

April 25, 2023

Are you still selling you chess sets?



July 02, 2022

I just picked up an original set! Great to know what they are. Mine are silver and gold.

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