The Lewis Chessmen…Embroidered Knight Part 1

A few months ago, I started a group on Facebook for people who couldn’t make it to events due to money, medical issues, time, jobs… you know the drill. Last month, I got a weird idea: what if we found a piece of period artwork and recreated it in as many different mediums as possible? Boom! Art of the Month was born (join the group, you won’t be sorry!)! We held a vote and decided on one of the Knights from the Lewis Chessmen to recreate.


This one, to be precise.

In order to give this guy the attention he needs, let’s explore the Lewis Chess set and get the nitty gritty details on them, first! We need to know where we’re starting, after all!


The Lewis Chess Set is a collection of 93 pieces of carved walrus tusk and whale teeth that were found on the Island of Lewis in the 1830’s. The specific history of the set is unknown, though some believe they belonged to a traveling merchant, since there are nearly enough for 4 sets of pieces. The British Museum acquired the full set in 1831 or 1832 and they’ve been on display, through the Museum and the loan programs, ever since. Eleven pieces, including our Knight here, are on permanent loan to the National Museum of Scotland and on display there.


The other pieces are really cool, too…


Of this set, which I believe is the set on display at the Museum of Scotland, we have really interesting pieces! Our knight is in this picture (top right), and just under him is a Rook in the form of a Berserker, who is so excited about the battle to come that he’s chewing on his shield! What I love about this set is that each piece has it’s own personality. That Berserker and the other one (just behind the King) are completely different people! The Queen looks worried, the Bishop is bigger than all of them, and each of the Knights has a different look! Longer beards, wider eyes… even the horses are different! I want a set, just because they’re so neatly individual!


BUT WAIT! I can have my own set! You see, there’s an initiative called Scan the World that is presently being housed at where famous statues have been 3D scanned so you can print your own versions at home! Now, I know the first thing you’re thinking is all about stealing and passing off reproductions as the real thing, but please keep in mind that we’re talking about 3D printing in PLA. I can’t print walrus tusk!

Of particular interest to this post, is that the Museum of Scotland has scanned their collection of the Lewis Chessmen! You can download the .stl files and print your own set! So I did!


Now I just have to figure out how to get the layers smoothed out! These are both printed in standard white PLA, by the way. My goal is to paint them ivory and weather them to look like the originals. I do love them, though!


That’s all for this week, kids! I’m trying to decide what medium to do the Knight out of this month and leaning towards embroidery for obvious reasons. More on that next time, though!


Until then, my friends!



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