Making Headway

IMG-2914

Here’s the back of Malachai’s head with Lost Chronicles’ logo loud and proud. Isn’t it a lovely design? The edges are rough cause it’s popped fresh out of the mould with no sanding just yet. That comes later. Busy busy busy!

IMG-2917

They’re multiplying … o_o Taking over the workshop! Somebody help before they —

Hehe just kidding. They’ve been mostly well behaved. Mostly. I’ve had some odd bubble issues to the degree that I actually had to alter the mould and give more room for the gas to escape from the resin. All of the bubbles occurred right at the top of the mould so at least fixing them should be reasonably easy. Well … as easy as manually filling the tiny voids with tiny amounts of mixed resin and then sanding it back down flat so no imperfections remain.

In fact, I was just about to start that process when …

IMG-2924

What the heck is this?! This is the Part B jug of my white resin. It has chunks in it like orange juice pulp! How? Why? Dammit I can’t use this! I will have to contact the seller and figure out what’s going on. Ugh!

In the meantime, I will be exploring other options. This resin sets in only two minutes. That’s clearly not enough time for all the air to get out despite the mould being very well vented. I’m looking at the very real possibility of having to use a different resin that sets more slowly … which probably means casting all those heads over again. -_- But if that’s what I have to do, I will do so at my own expense, as per usual. I have a policy of not making customers pay for my mistakes.

Now, despite my adventures in Doll Land, yes I do still make swords everybody, don’t panic. In fact, I have two lovely Clariel swords waiting to be purchased on my Etsy shop.

IMG_2788

Now I’ve got to poke my resin seller to see what’s wrong with the stuff they sold me and get to the workshop to do some more experimentation. Wish me luck!

Dolls? Dolls!

Yay! Ethan what are you talking about? I’m talking about my current project in partnership with Lost Chronicles BJD!

unnamed (2)

Remember this fella? Well we’re continuing to do the silicone moulding of our lovely Malechai’s head.

IMG-2870

The paint-on technique with the silicone didn’t quite work in a way I was satisfied with so I decided to go the old-school way of pouring instead. Yes, I treated myself to Legos. I got tired of having to cut a new mould box every time I wanted to make something only to have to throw out the used foam board. Very harmful to the environment!

IMG-2871

Somewhere under this blue goo there lurks a Malechai … What’s with the UFO sitting beside him? That’s a back massager that I use to vibrate out the last little bubbles from the goop before it solidifies. I do everything I can to get that perfect mould!

IMG-2874

The Legos make a funny pattern on the outside of the mould.

IMG-2879

Here’s the front side of the mould all cleaned off and ready to be re-boxed, sealed and have the second side poured! I did all that on Friday but forgot to take pictures … yeah. I’m professional like that. Ha!

What’s with the funny yellow antennae thing on his ears? Those are “vents” for air bubbles to escape into when I pour in the resin. You see, when you make a mould, you have to consider the rising level of liquid inside it and try to guess where air bubbles can become trapped. This will be all the high points. You can either make little shafts or an extra “tag” or two here and there or you can make a full vent that will come right to the surface of the mould.

Here, I decided to just make a shaft on each side. To save a little bit of resin. The air bubbles will rise into the shaft as the level of liquid resin fills up the mould. The tips of those little antennae will have a bunch of bubbles trapped in them, making them ugly and full of holes. But that’s okay! Because the antennae simply get snipped off and the ears sanded smooth where they were attached. And nobody knows they were ever there! Except you, because you’re a cool person who reads my blog. ❤

Well I gotta get to work and unbox this lovely fella! Then it’s time to make a mould of his head cap (the back side of his head that can be removed to adjust his strings or replace the eyes with a different colour). Are you excited? I’m excited! Let’s go!

Almost finished cleaning!

Yup. I just have to get a bit of paint off the floor and a spot on the wall cleaned up and I can be all done with cleaning the old workshop. Then I can tidy up my new workshop (because I pretty much just stuffed everything in there wherever it would fit) and get back to making cool stuff!

It’s been an absolutely gruelling week and I am glad for the weekend rest I had so my muscles could stop complaining at me.

In other news, I wasn’t quite able to get to sleep last night for some reason and this morning the water is shut off for repairs. So, no sleep and no coffee either. I’m surprised I’m writing in full sentences. I think. Maybe I’ll look at this later and it will all be gibberish. Ha!

Wish me luck everyone! I’m gonna give it my best!

Big Changes Ahead

Hi guys! I have to try to show and tell you lots of stuff while being really quick cause I have to go move my workshop. YES! I am moving. From the 3rd floor to the 4th floor. LOL

Why?

My previous space was too expensive for me. Almost 600 euros a month. That, coupled with the cost of materials to make my shinies (silicone is ridiculously expensive, I’m not even kidding), and my vacuum pump dying and needing replacement (I’m degassing things in a couple stages as it limps along with its last gasps of life) I could not afford to stay there.

So: we’re going from 37 square meters down to 15 square meters. This is okay because I had way too much space to begin with. But … the new room also doesn’t have access to water. So I have to schlep a water reservoir from the bathroom to my workroom when I run out. Booo. Well, I guess I’m about to become very strong? Yay.

My wife helped me move all the things that needed two people to move yesterday (Sunday). Bless her heart for sacrificing a day off lifting and lugging with me.

Now, on to the stuff I’ve been working on! Quick quick GO!

I made a witchlight! Yay!

unnamed

It didn’t work! Boo.

I shaved it down.

unnamed (1)

It … kinda works! Yay? Not good enough. I’ll keep trying!

Next thing GO!

Doll head made by Lost Chronicles prepped for moulding!

unnamed (2)

Covered in blue goo!

unnamed
Mmmphhhrrmmph!

How did the moulding go? Don’t know! Not finished yet. Not touching it until it’s safely settled in the new workshop!

Next thing GO!

More carving done on Sariel!

unnamed (1)

Yes! In about a month you will be able to get your hands on a glorious longsword like the one that Isabelle Lightwood wielded in The Mortal Instruments movie! Woo! Send thoughts n’ prayers that everything goes smoothly.

Okaygottarun wishmeluck! Aaaaaah bye!

Wait! I forgot.

Don’t forget I have a Clariel for sale on my Etsy! It could be yours! Grab it!

Okay now bye for real gotta move stuff!

Back from Holiday

Wait, didn’t you just have a holiday Ethan? I did, a bit earlier in the summer, yes, but I had to chop my holiday time in half and take it in two parts because of my wife’s work. So I finally got to have the other half of my vacation.

What’s been going on at the workshop?

clariel

I’ve been putting the finishing touches on a couple brand new Clariels!

IMG_2788

Want to grab one? My Etsy shop is right here. 🙂

I’ve actually managed to significantly lower my shipping costs by switching to a different carrier. For example, if you live in Australia, you can now pay about 40 euros for shipping instead of a whopping 103 that FedEx was charging me. Whew! I told you guys I’m always working hard to make these things more affordable. It’s tough when you’re talking about hand-made commission artwork but I try my best to find some more wiggle room and put things in reach for more people. I understand tight budgets, believe me.

What else am I working on? Witchlights! I’m trying to put the photo here but my phone is being weird. Darn it. I’ll have to do it later. Anyhow, it doesn’t look very exciting at the moment since I’m just working on the mould and figuring out the circuits. Expect pretty things later!

One more exciting announcement before I head off to work. I’m starting on a new project that has nothing to do with Shadowhunters! I know, I know. Bizarre right? But yes I do do other things! One of my interests is ball-jointed dolls. For those of you who don’t know what that is: they are pose-able art dolls.

Inkblade Studios will be partnering up with Lost Chronicles BJD to cast dolls in resin. Our first project will be a small run of head parts for the nice folks who pre-ordered and made this project possible. Here’s a sneak peak at the 3D printed head I’ll be making a mould of later this week.

Malechai

I’m pretty excited to be working on this fella! It will be a relief to get to deal with a small amount of resin for once instead of something the size of my arm haha! Wish me luck everybody!

Trying New Things

Hi guys! In spite of the heat, I’m still trying to get stuff done. I managed to get most of the way finished one of the Clariel swords on my table. It just needs its protective glossy sealant and the strap around the handle.

IMG_2784[1]

 

That’s a handle made of Milliput. Milliput is a two-part epoxy paste. You smoosh it together, knead it thoroughly, and do whatever it is you want to do with it. It’s a lot like modelling clay in consistency. After 3-4 hours it sets hard as a rock. Much more solid and robust than the polymer air-dry clay I’ve been using before.

The downside to Milliput is that because it’s so much harder, it takes longer to shape, sand and polish. The paste is stiffer and harder to mould than softer clays so I have to do some shaping with the Dremel tool after it’s set and then sand those tool marks away before I can begin polishing. It’s also harder to engrave. It’s also a bit more expensive than the air-dry polymer clay.

In addition, any patching of gaps or fine details that I want to do with the Polymer clay (which is softer and easier to accomplish these things with) has to be done after polishing the Milliput. Milliput is hard enough that I have to wet-sand it to smooth and polish it if I want to work with any kind of speed. But the air-dry polymer clay softens with water and can become crumbly before its had its protective coats of paint and sealer put on it.

So the procedure has to go like: Mould handle with Milliput. Wait 4 hours. Shape with Dremel. Wet-sanding. Install leather flap for the light cavity. Smooth over any seam-lines with polymer clay. Dry-sanding. Install magnet closures. Engrave. Paint. Paint. Paint. Seal.

Do I like this procedure? Uhh … I’m still working on tinkering with it. But I do like the structural hardness of the Milliput and will definitely be keeping it on hand for anything that needs reinforcement. I totally recommend getting some to play with. It’s fun!

IMG_2781[1]

 

Here’s a different style of Milliput handle I also tried out. I wanted it to be all one piece so I could slide it on and off the sword to change the light battery when needed. Buuuut Milliput bonds with resin. On the one hand: that’s great! I can put stuff on my swords and be 100% sure it’s not going to come off. On the other hand: I wanted it to come off.

I even put a layer of liquid latex all over the handle before I started moulding the Milliput on. But Milliput forms itself absolutely perfectly to the object you’re sticking it on, so it formed an air-tight suction seal that I couldn’t pull free. I had to cut out a section of the front to do a conventional leather-flap for the light cavity.

IMG_2780[1]

Of course that broke the suction seal. And it came off just like I originally wanted to but far too late. I had already altered the design by slicing a section out of the front. GAH! That was a frustrating day guys!

But now it’s all epoxied into place and smoothed and patched. Ready to have its flap adhered in place

Will I be at the workshop today? I don’t know! I was supposed to have an air conditioner delivered to my apartment last week and they didn’t come. 😦 So I have to figure out if they’re coming today or not and if they are, I have to stick around and wait. But I won’t be doing nothing. I received my electrical components for the witchlights last week so I can begin tinkering with that until my AC arrives. (Hopefully.)

Wish me luck guys!

I’m Melting!

Okay, so, it’s really freaking hot in my workshop. Still. It’s been a couple weeks or so of 30C, in Finland. What the crap?! I didn’t move within spitting distance of the Arctic Circle for this garbage! Rawr!

IMG_2765[1]
Pls send ice cream.
I’m going slightly bonkers. Still trying to get work done. Somehow. I stand directly in front of the fan and wear a cooling vest so I don’t lose quite as much water via sweat but it’s a daily struggle. Just trying to keep my head clear enough to work without messing things up. Gah!

But the good news is I am well on my way to completing my latest couple of swords (the ones I saved and made gorgeous with the crazy resin glaze experiment). I’m also trying a new product (new to me anyway) called Milliput for the handles. It is a two part epoxy paste that hardens into a very strong plastic in about 4 hours. I absolutely love it so far! Today I’m going to be sanding off all the lumps and bumps and smoothing it into the shape we all know and love. 🙂

More exiting news! I have just ordered the electronic components for the new witchlight design I’m working on! I have many hurdles to overcome with this project which is why it has taken so long. Several of you have requested witchlights and I have not forgotten you! Let me just run over the problems I’m trying to solve:

  • How to hide the electronics inside a transparent substance?
  • How to make the electronics as small as possible?
  • How to conceal the on-off switch?
  • How to conceal the opening? (You’re going to have to change the battery sometime…)
  • How will it open and close?
  • How will the on-off switch work? (Touch? Click? Slider?)
  • How can I keep costs as low as possible so people can afford them while still managing to pay rent on my workshop?
  • How do the Iron Sisters work in a freaking volcano when I can’t even concentrate at 30C?

All this and more on the next episode of What the Crap am I Doing?! Stay tuned.