What To Expect When Building Your Own Casino Chip Member Article by: Leonard DeCarlo – jldecarlo on chiptalk, fredcgarvin on Poker Stars Manufacturer: Chipco Retailer(s): Home Poker Chips Average Price: Appx $1.20/chip total Material: Ceramic This article should really be considered a review of the process of ordering custom Chipco ceramic chips from Home Poker Chips. The initial order was placed on 3/22/05 and the chips arrived at my door on 5/4/05. Price My chips cost 93¢/chip for 1000, plus artwork charges. There are several artwork packages available: $129 Bronze Package to put your name on a stock package, $149 Silver Package to further modify stock artwork, $199 Gold Package for a one-sided full custom chip, $374 Platinum Package for a two-sided custom chip. There is also a $40/hour option if you supply nearly ready-to-go artwork, but that is not well detailed on the website, and I have no personal experience with it. Finally, there is a charge of $30 for each additional color/denomination over the standard four, and $30 for special edgespots (printed or graphic). I ordered 1000 chips ($930) with the Gold Artwork Package ($199). The Gold Package is a full custom chip with the same design on both sides. I wanted five colors (red, green, black, purple, and yellow) instead of the standard four, and there is a $30 charge for each additional color. Shipping is the last item ($42 for 1000 chips). My initial total was $1201. I later decided to go with a two-sided design, which increased the price to $1376 or just over $1.37/chip. Initial Design Process After deciding to order custom chips, I initially was planing on going with a traditional clay design. My first designs were pretty crude, and lacking a "theme." I centered the design around the DC in my last name. I tried to use Paint, the primitive graphics program included with Windows, but it was clearly inadequate. I switched CorelDRAW Essentials 2, a vector-art program for this. Adobe Illustrator is the standard, but it costs about ten times as much as Essentials ($69). Developing a design took a lot of time because I have little artistic ability and I also had to learn CorelDRAW as I went. I wasn't very happy with my efforts, and soon decided to switch to a custom chipco design from Home Poker Chips. The graphics available on ceramic chips allow for much more detail in a design, something I felt was very important in a custom chip. I kept looking at chip designs, especially on the (free) members' area at hpc.com. After seeing the design for Finnegan’s chips on the members’ area, I worked a Club into the design. This worked well since I didn’t want to use the phrase “DeCarlo Casino,” which is just too easy IMO. The members area is an excellent place to see many other designs, and is a great place to get ideas. I received good feedback from several forum members, including a link to a site with a TrueType font for playing card symbols which was very helpful. Later on in this process, I decided to add a wine theme. I used the Google image search feature to look for wine logos. Using these for inspiration, I then drew my own logo, scanned it, and traced it in CorelDRAW. This allowed it to be converted from a bitmap (.jpg) file to a vector drawing, which is much easier to re-size and color. The input and encouragement I received on the forum was very helpful, and I would encourage anyone designing their own chips to make use of this advice. Maybe we need a ChipTalk.net section devoted to chip design, moderated by one of the more artistic members of the forum? Some of my other early designs can be seen at ImageShack. It is also worth mentioning that this much design effort isn't mandatory. Several people have had excellent results with only a theme in mind and no actual artwork prior to the order process. Others have submitted virtually complete designs. Ordering Process & Time Line 3/22: I placed the order and sent two possible designs to Home Poker Chips: with a short note telling them that I preferred the second design. I received an automated email immediately. 3/24: I received an email from Dave Harber at Home Poker Chips apologizing for the delay in responding to my order (he was on vacation). I was given the url for a page to specifically track my order. Later that day an email from Patrick Milligan (the graphic artist) arrived. Unfortunately, he could not open my CorelDRAW files, and asked for them to be sent again in Adobe Illustrator format. This was easily done. 3/25: Another email from Patrick with more questions: fonts, colors, edge spots, etc. I sent a response after business hours. 3/27: Email from Patrick. More discussion about exactly what I wanted with emphasis on the color palette. Since Home Poker Chips has a limit on the number of revisions, I was happy with Patrick's attention to detail BEFORE he produced the first draft. 4/2: Received the first draft. 4/6: Second draft. About this time, I decided to go with a two-sided chip design with the DC logo on one side and the wine logo on the other. This cost me an extra $175. 4/7: Third draft. Later that day the fourth and final draft: 4/8: Received an email from the manufacturer stating that my chips would be delivered no later than 5/6. 4/22: The order status webpage changed to say my chip case & cards have been mailed. 4/28: Received an email from Dave Harber. My chips were on the way! They were to arrive 5/4. He requested that I let him know when the chips arrive: “I sleep better at night that way.” 5/4: My chips arrived. I received the exact number of chips that I ordered. There were no extras (like some manufacturers send). However, there were zero defective chips, so I didn’t really need any. I noticed that my invoice listed three extra chips of each color. When I asked about these, Dave said they were for their records and for Patrick’s portfolio. He added: “Of course we don't charge you for these extra three chips nor would we ever jeopardize the security of your chips by making them available to anyone.” Reviewers Comments I am not going to say a lot about the quality or feel of the chips because this article is about the “ordering process” and not about the chips themselves. You can find more comprehensive reviews of Chico chips themselves here at ChipTalk.net. I will say that I really like the chips. They are beautiful with dramatic graphics that you could not get on a clay chip. They stack well, sound good, and look great on my table. The design phase of the ordering process went virtually without a hitch. I found the artist at Home Poker Chips (Patrick) to be attentive to detail and easy to communicate with. Sixteen days elapsed from the date I placed my order on the web until the day I finalized my order. I received 19 emails relating to my order and the design progress. I added several extra-cost options (for example, a second side to the chips), and I was made aware of the cost of these options before I decided to buy them. I always felt like my order was important to Patrick and Home Poker Chips. It was also very helpful to post preliminary images on this forum and 2+2. The comments I received were helpful and encouraging. In some cases, they contained technical suggestions that I doubt I would have ever discovered on my own (I'm thinking Johnny5 here). The chips were delivered to me without problems. They arrived earlier than promised, although not as soon as I wanted (that was about five minute after I ordered them). The order was complete; there were no missing, damaged, or defective chips. $1.37 per chip isn't cheap. Custom clays can be purchased for much closer to $1/chip. However, the quality of the graphics and the chips themselves was worth it to me. I should also comment that I ordered the most expensive art package available from Home Poker Chips, and that a one-sided design would be over $0.17/chip less expensive. If you ever want to re-order the chips, there are no additional artwork charges (unless an additional denomination or color is added) - you only pay the per chip charge and shipping. In summary, I would not hesitate to recommend Home Poker Chips. In fact I have already referred one of my friends at work. I have even re-ordered a few extra chips. I discovered that the American Oak Poker Chip Chest, which holds 1200 chips, doesn’t look right with only 1000 chips. I have ordered 250 more chips to fill it completely.