Games People Play: Glyph Con and Packrat



Two Ceramic Games
Rear: “Glyph Con,” Ceramic and Metal, 2018 and Front: “Packrat,” Ceramic and Glass, 2018


I finished in time! Here are the final two of the seven ceramic games I will have in my March, 2018 solo show at Roscoe Ceramic Gallery in Oakland, CA. One is a 3D version of Concentration, the other is a fun ceramic faux log form for Mancala. Let’s check them out.


Glyph Con

You all know the card game of Concentration, right? Spread out all the cards face down and take turns turning over two at a time, hoping to get a pair. If you have a match, you keep those two and go again. If you don’t, you turn your mismatched cards back over in place and the others in the game take their turns trying to get the most pairs, maybe remembering where the other viewed cards are to help them. Good for fun and mental exercise at any age. Sometimes the relatively unfettered younger players clean house.

This 3D version of Concentration, which I call Glyph Con, follows the same basic gameplay, but adds a few tangible and conceptual extensions. In the metal wall cubbie there are 25 small black cups: 12 pairs with sgraffito’d typography symbols (glyphs) and one blank wild cup. Not seen in the photo are the other sides of the cups which feature a variety of gold bee decals, a nod to Bee playing cards. 

Mix up the cups and place them bee decal sides out and take turns turning them round to make pairs. The blank/wild cup matches any other glyph, of course, and adds a twist like the Jokers in a card deck can. Another game extension could take advantage of its 3D-ness: put something valuable in those cups before the start of the game! Could be a sip of something wonderful, treats, love notes, money. Could be in each cup or only random ones. Whatever you’re moved to include, whoever wins the pair, wins the prize inside, too.

Curious about some of those glyphs? I bet you recognize the Octothorpe (hashtag), Asterisk, Ampersand, At symbol, Paragraph sign and Manicule (pointing hand.) Maybe you’ve seen the Section symbol, Daggers and Fleuron (ivy leaf), but didn’t know their names. And I’m guessing these three are completely new: the Interrobang, Point d’Ironie, and SarcMark, but rest assured they are all legit. Some made it to the typeface families and keyboards of the world and some didn’t, but they make my inner glyph nerd SO happy! Hopefully they tickle your fancy as well and they certainly will be good for scintillating conversation, too (insert SarcMark here.)



Mancala is a generic name for a very old game family with at least 800 more specific names and over 200 known modern versions. It doesn’t really need a game board as it can be played with holes made in dirt and a handful of stones or seeds, but if you want to save or move your game, a dedicated foundation and playing pieces for it helps. So why not make it an artful sculpture too?

The history museums are full of Mancala-type games fashioned from all sorts of materials, roughly carved wood being common. For this Packrat version I took a 25# lump of clay and wrangled it whole into an organic log shape, created the depressions for the playing sides and the larger end nests,  and when it had set up, carved it out and compacted it from the bottom side. It took a long time to dry, but came out of the firing in one piece, which is always a concern with bigger, thicker and more uneven pieces.

While the log was drying and baking off, I found clear glass “stones” and decalled some gold flower images to their bottoms, which let their smooth clear domed tops magnify the decal images and spread the bling. To further emphasize the shiny, the log was finished in a dimensional black stain and a smooth white satin overcoat. Mancala’s a very tactile game to begin with and this version feels elegant and silky and would make any hoarding packrat proud to scoop and stash those playing pieces in their midden.

For general game play, check out Concentration and Mancala links. Or better still, go to my brand new webpage dedicated to this exhibit and see everything in one place: Games People Play!


–Liz Crain, who’s already thinking of other possible clay/found object games. What about a 3D Snakes and Ladders? Mouse Trap? Even a Chess Set (insert Point d’Ironie here.)  Suggestions welcomed!


“Games People Play” a solo exhibit

March 2 – 31, 2018, Roscoe Ceramic Gallery, 473 25th St. Suite 5, Oakland, CA,  94512.  415-515-3174.

Reception: Oakland First Fridays, March 2 from 6-9. I will be there to play games with you!


Previous Posts About the Games In This Series

Games People Play: Intro and First Game

Games People Play: Color Theory

Games People Play: Gummo

Games People Play: Toss It Off and Gear Train


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