CONNECT TO YOUR CHARACTERS: Dungeons & Dragons Dice Maker Brings Creativity to Craft
Jessica VanHouten knows how to take a chance. After all, she rolls and molds dice for her Etsy business, Algadrian Orders
If Jessica VanHouten were to describe her experience overseeing Dungeons & Dragons campaigns from the original First Edition game, she would say she’s kind of like an old grandpa who says, “That’s not how I did it in my day.”
Though she has an old soul for the original fantasy game, she brings creativity and innovation to the game through her custom resin-acrylic dice, which she creates for her Etsy shop Algadrian Orders.
“Whenever I had a character, they had to have their specific dice set,” VanHouten said. “I could only use that dice set for that character. Everybody had a different set of dice. And then I got tired of buying dice because I couldn’t find ones that would fit the character just right. So then I was like, what if I make my own dice?’”
... so then I was like, what if I make my own dice?
She developed her brand, Algadrian Orders, based off of the name of the main fighters guild in her campaign, which was dubbed the “Algadrian Order.” And, since you can order her dice from Etsy, she thought the pun was pretty apt.
Since opening her business three years ago, she has mastered her style of half-resin, half-acrylic dice, using literal dental equipment (the same kind she uses as a dental technician at APEX Dental Lab) to create the beautiful dice that appears on her Etsy page.
“I’ve fine-tuned what makes my job easier when doing it,” she said. “My first dice, they were so rough. I had no concept of what I was doing.”
She offers dice with metallic leafs in blue, green, red, pink, violet, silver, gold, rose gold, and black; glitters in black, silver, pearl, copper, moca, rose, pink, berry, violet, dark lavender, cerulean, blue, navy, indigo, gold, green, lime, lemon, yellow, red, crimson, pumpkin, and orange; micas in gold, light gold, moca, copper, lemon, orange, crimson, red, orange-red, navy, blue, violet, rose, indigo, black, charcoal, white; and resins in green, yellow, blue, pink, red, orange, brown, black, and white.
Overwhelmed by options? VanHouten makes every order a conversation about individual characters, so she can help create a dice set that matches the monsters and creatures of any given campaign.
“I always ask for a description of what you’re imagining,” she said, “so I can try to capture that just in case I need to tweak our ingredients list.”
In addition to creating custom resin-acrylic dice, she is also a master of digital monster concept art. She is currently studying graphic design at Chippewa Valley Technical College to fully refine her artistic skills.
“It’s really about finding my passion for part of that character or part of that art piece,” she said. “It’s finding that little thing, something that I can relate with, something I can find a passion for, and that really makes it easier when I’m creating my art or creating my dice. … When I find something about it that I can push my passion toward, suddenly a job doesn’t feel like a job anymore.”
This is your story to write. So when you go into a project, go in with confidence because if something doesn't work out, remake it; tweak it; try again the next time. ... It's just going with the confidence to just dive into it, give it your best shot, and then try again if it doesn't work out.
When it comes to creating her character art, her custom D&D dice, or DMing a campaign of D&D, it’s all about having confidence.
“This is your story to write,” she said, “so when you go into a project, go in with confidence because if something doesn’t work out, remake it; tweak it; try again the next time. … It’s just going with the confidence to just dive into it, give it your best shot, and then try again if it doesn’t work out.”
Jessica's custom dice creations are available now at etsy.com/shop/AlgadrianOrders.