Castle Makeover Project Part I

Castle what? Ethan has a castle? Since when? Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes upon this!

You’re squinting. I know you are. What are we looking at? This is the original MGA Storytime Collection Princess Castle Playset and this is the ONLY photo I can find of it. Anywhere. I can find its newer incarnation, the Storytime Princess Collection ICE CASTLE Playset all over the place but you can very quickly spot the differences.

Deep breaaaaath: No dome on the left side, no mirror, no other half of the tower, no stained glass window, no supports under the flip-down bed, no balcony, no handle, no stickers, no rose and filigree decorations, no stairway to the second floor, and it’s blue. They took a lot of stuff off of it to make it cheaper. It shows.

So, how did I get my hands on the original? Well, I got it second hand for 10 euros from a nice lady whose children had outgrown it. It has been very well loved. Very VERY well loved. Personally, I am absolutely fascinated by the ageing process of toys and other frequently-used items. Hopefully you’ll be interested to see what happened to it over time.

So you can see what colour the sun bleached the plastic. In the most protected areas, you can still see the original purple. The most UV-damaged area, the rounded side of the tower, has had all the blue leeched out of the purple dye leaving only a peachy-pink behind. The outside of the castle has turned mostly brown for the same reason while the inside is still struggling to hold onto its purple.

The window frames and the top of the tower which used to be a periwinkle blue are now beige where the blue dye has been totally destroyed. By this damage we can determine that the blue dye they used in their plastic was not very durable and did not stand the test of time.

So what is Ethan going to do with this poor abused structure? Well … when I’m done with it, it’s going to look a lot different than what the original designers had in mind. You’ll just have to wait and find out!

BIG update (many pics!)

Hello everyone! Sorry I’ve been quiet. I’ve been struggling with various things. Briefly: illness (I’m better now!), research (you don’t wanna see pics of me reading; BORING), annnd finding out that my new tiny workshop is too hot in the summer for me to do my work properly or be at all comfortable.

I’m hunting for solutions to that last problem there. Looking for a new workshop, or a house to rent that has a garage or some outdoor space I can work in, or an air conditioner at a reasonable price, or a refrigerator to at least keep my silicone and resin at a proper working temperature. It needs to be about 21 to 23 degrees. My workshop is currently 27 degrees so everything is curing way too fast.

I have a wee electric cooler, but it drips water continuously from its cooling fins inside. So much so that it actually grew mold on the wooden backing of my thermometer that I had in it.

Ew.

That’s no good. 1. I’m allergic to mold, and 2. urethane resin is really really sensitive to moisture. It can’t sit in a puddle and then be expected to work.

NEXT! I am currently moulding a brand new witchlight model.

It’s a rock!
Or is it?
Into the moulding box it goes!

At this point, I have the silicone done and an outer jacket made of the usual burlap and plaster. I’m practising the brush-on method of silicone moulding even though this piece is clearly small enough to get away with a pouring mould. Practise is important to refining technique and I can’t let the opportunity go to waste!

The benefit of the brush-on method is that you can use less silicone which is crazy, crazy expensive. The downside is that you have to make a hard jacket to keep the mould stable because it’s going to be thinner and clamping it can squish the mould. The other downside of brushing on is that there’s a risk you won’t get the silicone into all the little details of the piece you’re working on, especially if there’s undercuts or weird textures.

I will find out today if it worked all right! I’d show it to you now but someone forgot to take a picture of it. I blame Cool Kevin.

Dammit Kevin!

NEEEEXT! I’m conducting experiments on different types of resins and epoxies in an effort to find a cheaper material to make my swords. I’m using a little silicone skull mould for the test.

Let’s see what we ha … ew.
He’s having a real bad day.

Okay so this is TFC EP Casting Resin Epoxy from TrollFactory. I have tried casting witchlight parts, roses, and this skull here with it. All of them had at least part of the casting fail to cure. This test actually damaged my mould. It will be disposed of. Maybe some people can get it to work but I find it far too finicky. That, and it comes out a pale pink, making it unsuitable for swords or witchlights.

Well … it LOOKS cool but that’s not what I wanted.

This little fail is made of ZDS epoxy resin. I discovered that I accidentally added the wrong amount of hardener so while it did harden completely, it also went bonkers all over the outside. I tested it again adding the correct amount of hardener this time!

Well! What do you know? It works better when you follow the instructions! The better version still has some bubbles and flaws in it though and this presents a problem. In order to ensure that there won’t be bubbles, I’d have to put it into my pressure pot while it’s curing. But it needs to be kept at 70 degrees while it’s curing or it won’t harden fully. How to keep it warm while under pressure? I don’t know! And that really won’t help with the swords because I don’t have a pressure pot big enough to fit a sword inside it.

The next test is going to be using polyester resin. I really don’t want to, because it smells bad and wearing my respirator all day is stuffy and annoying. But I don’t really see another option at this point. I literally cannot afford to lower my prices any more than what they’re at now unless I turn to a less expensive material.

It’s a difficult situation. I want to make my stuff more affordable to more people so everybody can have the pretty things they want but ultimately, I also have to pay rent on the workshop, buy materials to make the art, advertise my stuff so people can actually find it, and also … y’know, eat food. Otherwise, none of this can happen at all.

Wish me luck with it eh?

Small reminder that I have a Clariel sword for sale.

Sword for Sale!

Sorry I’ve been quiet. I was ill for awhile. But I’m back now with a brand new Clariel to offer!

Super brief Update

Things have been crazy. Haven’t had time to post. Sorry!

Here’s a sneak preview of the sea and sky sword I’m working on.

Added a little white froth to make it look like a cresting wave. I like it! We’ll see what the photographer’s schedule is like for this week and try to get everything ready. Still need to hook up the LED and do the wrapping.

Yes I am working on witchlights! I’m having problems getting the two halves to line up and not look super obvious. I want it to look real dangit!

Anyway, I have to get going. Work work work!

Crazy Springtime

Yep! It’s that time again in Finland where we have holidays sprinkled here, there, and everywhere. I randomly have Wednesday off for Vappu. Okay then. So that makes it three 4-day weeks this month. I do appreciate having time off, sure! It’s just that it’s a little harder to get stuff done.

Enough complaining! Let’s see what’s on my table this week.

Here’s a sneak peek at a newly finished Clariel! This is probably the best handle I’ve ever done on a Clariel before and the new protective varnish I used on the blade is so smooth and glossy! Smells like a nail salon in Hell though. Blech.

This piece is going to be photographed by a pro before I sell it. A red light was requested for the photo shoot but can easily be switched out for my usual white light. (Seriously, all I have to do is pop out the light module and stick the other one in. Takes less than a minute.)

And a sneak preview of the ammonite shell I sculpted for the pommel of the coloured Zaapiel sword. Yep, I spent pretty much all of Friday making tiny clay bananas and sticking them on around and around in a circle. I think this one will also be photographed. Dunno! We’ll have to see what the photographer wants to do. 🙂

That’s all from me for now. I have a bunch of writing stuff to do today. I don’t even know if I’m going to get to the workshop today, but I’m going to do my best anyway!

Wish me luck.

Shiny Stuff!

The long weekend was nice and restful. I needed that. The photo shoot had to be postponed because of the paint-eating disaster. … No I didn’t eat the paint. The sealant ate the paint. I’m not that crazy. Yet.

So the transparent silicone from SeMost worked beautifully for the witchlight mould. I’m in the process of negotiating future orders. Hopefully we can get it all worked out for an agreeable price!

I did a kind of whitish one and then a kind of silvery one. I think the whitish one looks better.

Stuck a light under one to get a feel for how it will look once I can get the lighting rigged up properly.

And a red one just for fun. 🙂

Yes, that’s Cool Kevin in the background being too cool to appreciate my hard work.

I got some more green paint on the sword and got the initial sculpting done on the light cover in the pommel.

Don’t worry, it’s not going to stay white and marshmallow-looking. I just needed some initial structure to work with and support the design I want to do.

Now I’ve got to hustle off to the workshop and get the next stages going. Hopefully everything goes as planned and nothing breaks. Wish me luck!

Two Steps Forward One Step Back

So I have a photo shoot coming up with a photographer who just moved into my building this week. Cool! This will give me high quality photos of my stuff that I can use on my website. It’ll also give him more stuff for his portfolio and it will give the model stuff for her portfolio as well. All-around win right?

So the sealant that I put on the sword ate the beautiful solvent paint I had on the handle. The solvent paint that takes 3 days to harden fully. Yeah. That solvent paint. Photo shoot is on this upcoming Sunday. I still have to do the light fixture in the pommel and the seaweed wrap for the handle.

Did I mention I’m also working on these? Yeah. The Clariel there needs to be polished and have its handle sculpted, painted, light fixture in place and magnet closure installed.

Did I also mention the new witchlight mould I’m testing? Yeah. So this is gonna be a short update. I have to run this entire week or this all is not going to get done.

First stop: Hobby Point to get a sealant that won’t eat the solvent paint. Plus some casting resin if they have any on hand. Probably only the stinky crap but I’ll have my respirator on all day from the solvent paint anyway so I might as well. Then try to finish the light fixture while the paint is drying. When I come home, I get to look forward to wet-sanding the Clariel blade cause my apartment has running water and my workshop does not. Obvious choice there.

Tomorrow, will be sculpting the handle for Clariel. Hopefully I can get it done early in the morning so I can get it sanded in the same day. Then it’s on to carving the runes, painting, installing the light … you get the idea. It’s gonna be bonkers.

Wish me luck. Send coffee. Halp. @_@