A handful of shiny beads. That’s what’s entertaining me tonight. Not really but that’s how I sometimes think of my dice collection as I’m rolling a few of them around in my hand. It’s not even fair to call it a dice “Collection”. I once heard a friend accuse a second friend of not having a comic book collection but a comic book accumulation. Or it may have been baseball cards or sports magazines. It was so long ago that I can’t remember which. Anyway what first friend was saying was that the second friend’s stuff had no order to it. There was no rhyme or reason to what he collected besides what he could get his hands on cheaply. The accumulator would just drag stuff home and put it in a pile. The stuff didn’t matter to him accept that he had possession of it.

My dice collection is kind of a dice accumulation. Back in the early 1990s when I was first starting to work on a photography style to call my own I decided I wanted to take some still lives of various little tiny colorful stuff. Small toys, marbles, toy cars, and dice were among the things I gathered. I’ve always been a fan of dice. I have no interest in gambling with them but I like dice as objects. I have an affinity for math and dice are very mathematical. They’re a nice square shape and if you toss them a random number from one to six will appear. I’ve always liked them on that basic level.

So in those days I used to work in Midtown Manhattan. There was a store a short walk away called The Complete Strategist. It was a gaming store that sold everything from Backgammon to Monopoly to Dungeons and Dragons. If it was a game that wasn’t a video game you could buy it there. As a bunch of my coworkers were gamers we often used to kill a lunch hour by walking over to the Strategist, as we called it for short, and check out the gaming stuff. We used to buy our Magic the Gathering cards there when we were into that game back in 1994. But before then it was dice. Since dice are an integral part of many a game the store had a lot of different varieties of them. They, of course, had ten-sided, twenty-sided, and all the other varieties of role playing game dice but it was really the regular old six sided dice that I liked best.

I ended up buying a lot of six sided dice over about a six month period. All sorts of colors. Solid, speckled, translucent, I bought them all. I wanted variety. I must have ended up with about one hundred to one hundred fifty six sided dice. I used them in my still life photos (which were pretty mediocre) and then put them in a box and put the box on a shelf. Over the years I’d pull the box off the shelf every now and then to look at the dice. I’d never do much with them because what is there to do with a hundred dice but I’d enjoy looking at them for a moment.

The only other time I bought dice was in 2002 when the Heroclix game came out. That was another thing we would do to pass a lunchtime. Play some Clix. For some reason since it was a new game I wanted some fancy new dice to go along with it. I ended up getting about twelve new dice. Even though the game only calls for a pair of dice I went overboard just because it was an excuse to get new dice. Now that I think of it in 1995 I did buy a game called “Dragon Dice” that I still have the dice from. That was a collectable dice game made of various-sided specialty dice that represented Dwarves, Elves, Goblins, and other monsters. Since they’re their own game I don’t really count them as part of my dice collection but they certainly are part of the dice accumulation.

All of this comes up because recently I’ve pulled the dice off the shelf so my seven year old nephew and I can play with them. We don’t even play real dice games but we do roll them. We also see how high we can stack them, build things out of them, put them in color order, or just line them up in shapes. With some imagination dice can be fun toys. For my birthday my nephew even got me a Chessex “Pound of dice” pack. I put it on my Amazon wish list knowing that he’d probably want to get it for me. I always wanted to buy one myself but could quite bring myself too. The pound of dice is exactly what It sounds like. For about twenty bucks you can buy a bag of around a hundred dice of random and various colors. Some are factory seconds but that’s okay. After getting that pound of six-sided dice I was inspired to buy a pound bag of the multi-sided gaming dice. So I did. Now I’ve got a lot of dice.

Soon after I got those new dice I knew I didn’t just want to stick them back on the shelf. I had gotten to enjoy looking at them and rolling them around in my hand. I find they ease my eye strain that comes from drawing or starring at the computer screen all day. Maybe it’s their color or three-dimensionality but they’re quite soothing to look at. Being me I had to come up with some sort of easy way to store them that also made them easy to look at. I didn’t want to line them up by color and put them back in their box. That was boring, cumbersome, and didn’t encourage me to pick them up.

I went to my local supermarket to scout out some storage boxes. I wanted the box to be clear and rectangular. On my first trip to the store I got nothing. Then I noticed something. The rectangular cardboard box I already had was bad for rummaging through. Since the dice were rectangles and so was the box the dice would fit in snuggly and were hard to pick up. This made me decide to pick up a clear rectangle-ish Rubermaid container that had round corners. I got it home, put it next to my recliner and dumped the dice into it. Beautiful. The dice are easy to see and rummage through.

Of course that wasn’t enough though. I now wanted to separate the various types of dice. I went back to the store and got some small containers. They were about a cup or cup and a half in size but they ended up being too big. But the Rubermaid pack I bought came with little five ounce containers too. I thought they’d be too small but they turned out to be the perfect size. I even went back to get more of the five ounce ones. I now have seven of the five ounce containers sitting inside the bigger thirteen by nine inch container. The small containers take up less than half the space. Each of the seven containers is dedicated to a particular type of die (twenty-sided, ten-sided, twelve-sided, etc.) with the six-sided dice in the main container. It’s a system that satisfies me.

So after all these years I finally found a way to appreciate my dice. As I sit in my chair I reach down, pick out some colors, and contemplate the universe. Or at least clear my mind a little. I’ve even learned a few new dice games. Farkle anyone?