Sand Filled Icehouse Pieces

Heavier is Better

Plastic pieces filled with craft sand.

February 2002

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At the 12th International Icehouse Tournament in 2001, Ryan McGuire had a stash of clear plastic Icehouse pyramids that he'd filled with colored craft sand, sealing the bottoms with hot-glue. I thought these looked really cool, but the real kicker didn't come until I played against one of these stashes in the tournament Ice-Offs. At one point I captured one of these sand-filled pieces as a prisoner, and when I picked it up I was immediately impressed with its heft.

In Icehouse, the heavier your pieces can be, the better. They're easier to let go of when you're placing them, harder to crash out of place when they're on the field, and more difficult to pick up during capture. Heavier is better.

It took me a few months to get around to making my own stash of sand-filled pyramids, but here they are. I call these pieces my "Rust Dust" stash, since they're filled with red and brown sand to approximate Martian dust.

When I finished, I weighed the stash along with a bunch of other stashes, and came up with the following table.

Skeleton Crew  1.0 oz Stackable plastic pieces reduced to skeltons
Solid Pine 1.3 oz Solid wooden pieces made of Pine
MinimIce 1.5 oz Minimal pieces made of sheet brass
Stackable Plastic 1.5 oz Stackable hollow plastic pieces
LaminIce 1.8 oz Solid wooden pieces made of laminated wood
Solid Red Oak 2.0 oz Solid wooden pieces made of Red Oak
Hot-Glue Filled 3.0 oz Stackable plastic filled with hot-glue
"First 100" Resin 3.2 oz Solid poured polyester resin
Glitter Resin 3.2 oz Solid resin with glitter mixed in
Glitter Glue Filled 3.2 oz Stackable plastic filled with glittery hot-glue
"Unbreakable" 3.5 oz Poured high-impact plastic
Gravel Filled Paper 4.0 oz "Origami" pieces filled with aquarium gravel
Sand Filled 4.1 oz Stackable plastic filled with sand
Solder Filled 5.5 oz Molded plastic filled with chipped solder and hot glue
Solid Black Obsidian 6.5 oz As cut by the extraordinary folks at Crystal Caste
Lead Filled 7.2 oz Stackable plastic filled with lead powder
Solid Blue Jasper 7.6 oz Crystal Caste has four different sets available
Solid Green Aventurine 7.9 oz Another fine Crystal Caste product
Solid Rose Quartz 8.4 oz Crystal Caste cut these, but does not sell them
Solid Hematite14.3 oz These final Crystal Caste pyramids are the heaviest I can find

As you can see, sand-filled pieces are reasonably heavy, if you compare them to anything besides solid rock.


You'll need a stash of clear plastic pyramids, some craft sand in the color(s) you want, some hot-glue and a hot-glue gun, and one of those pads that hot-glue doesn't stick to. You don't need a lot of sand. A single ~0.5 cup package is more than enough.

The Process

  1. Fill the pieces to within about an eighth of an inch of the base.
  2. Fill the remaining space with molten hot-glue.
  3. Quickly flip the piece over and press it down to the pad as hard as you can manage.
  4. Leave the piece on the pad until the glue is completely cooled off.
  5. Repeat for every piece in the stash.

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