Having a Rough Time – Announcement

Hi folks! I know I’ve been quiet for awhile. It’s been a hard time for me here. I had hoped that I could have the situation all resolved in a few weeks and then I wouldn’t have to post any kind of explanation at all other than “Been busy! Sorry!” But it’s not going to be resolved that quickly so I’ve decided to tell you about what’s been going on.

This is going to be reading-heavy. Sorry about that.

The workshop that I lovingly refer to as The Adamant Studio (or more recently Inkblade Studios as I move closer to incorporating my business) was located in the back room of my apartment. WAS. I had to decommission it, and this is why:

I’ve been making swords out of 1 inch thick (25mm) acrylic. I decided to move up to 2 inch thick (50mm) material so I could have wider hand guards and more 3D detail in general. Unfortunately, this thickness was too much for Nibbles my band saw to handle and it broke. The blade snapped. I tried to fit it with a new blade and discovered that the driving wheels inside the machine had been jarred out of alignment. What does that mean?

That means that the saw blade comes flying off the machine when I turn it on. That’s a bit of a problem.

I tried to complete the remaining 8 orders I had for the year with a table saw and my plunge cutter Jitterbug. Unfortunately, the table saw is much louder than Nibbles. The neighbours complained about the noise and the landlord forbade me from using the back room as a workshop anymore.

So what happens now?

Now, I must look for a workshop to rent where I can do my crafting again. This is not as easy as it sounds. I am a Canadian living in Finland and I don’t speak Finnish. Most of the inquiries I made received no response. One place I went to see is in the building’s bomb shelter two floors below ground. The air filtration is kind of … questionable. The “flooring” is made of old, loose boards that are not nailed down. Yeeeey. All this for the jolly price of 400 euros per month.

Yes, you read that right. 400 euros or $439.24 US per month. My swords usually sell for 200-300 euros depending on the model. I don’t get to keep very much of that money. Out of the price of each sword comes the shipping (about 41 euros depending on where it’s going), the materials (the acrylic, leather, paint, LED mechanism), and the saw blades, sanding belts, sandpaper … you get the idea. What actually goes into my pocket is a number much, much smaller than 200.

I usually make two swords per month because I’m carving thick acrylic by hand, and it’s slow work. I physically cannot work any faster because the machines I have just can’t chew through the material any faster.

“Hang on a minute,” you might think at this point. “If Ethan makes two swords a month and they cost us 200 euros each to buy … he gets 400 euros. But the workshop costs 400 euros to rent. That means …” 

Yes.

“Ethan is working for free.”

Kind of. I still have to buy the materials and pay the shipping fees.

“Ethan is working for minus dollars?! what?

You got it. Ethan is spending money to make swords. That’s not a very good business plan. So, is it all over then? Do I stop making swords? No. I don’t get to call myself the Iron Brother if I give up that easily.

I’ll keep looking. That’s what I’ll do. There’s a possibility that I may be able to get a work space for 180 euros a month. Yes, I know that’s still not very much money for me at the end of the day but it’s still better than losing money to do my job.

What I really need to make this work, though is better machines. I’ve been making do with little hobby saws and things that are just not made for any kind of industrial manufacturing. I need to make more than two swords per month and to make that possible, I need a CNC router machine. One of these:

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How much does that cost? Funny you should ask that … it’s about 3000 euros. Haaaaaa … *head desk* Yay. Yeah that’s quite the investment. But all is not lost.

The Finnish government has a wonderful program called the Startup Grant Program. It’s for people who are starting a new business in Finland and need a little extra cash to get everything up and running. I have to make a business plan, a budget, and then apply and cross my fingers, pray to the Angel that they say “yes” and give me funding.

This machine can cut several swords for me in a matter of hours. Instead of taking two to three weeks per sword, I could have one ready for you in less than a week. I would be able to keep some swords in stock so you could buy them whenever you need one and you would only have to wait for it to arrive. No more waiting in queue for a crafting slot. I could afford to lower the prices of the swords so more people could have them. It would change everything. It would allow my business to survive.

I’ll tell you the truth guys, because the Shadowhunter fandom received the award for the Best New Fandom. I feel safe telling you all these things because our fan community isn’t full of haters. It’s full of love and support and good attitudes. I don’t have to worry about being ridiculed or trolled for sharing with you when I’m having a problem.

For me, making these swords isn’t about the money. It’s about loving the Mortal Instruments series. It’s about loving Cassandra Claire for sharing her magical, imaginative world with us. It’s about creating beautiful things and sharing them with you. It’s about learning and discovery and pushing my skills to uncover new ways of crafting things.

Art is my life. And this … I don’t have words to tell you how much I want to finish the sword in my hands right now. It hurts my heart. I get a lump in my throat when I set foot in the back room of my apartment, mostly empty now. And silent. I sit at my computer and endlessly refresh the listings for workspaces for rent, hoping to see  a new one pop up that I can inquire about.

I feel like a Shadowhunter stripped of his marks: useless. Unable to do the task I was made for, despite how badly I want to.

So, yeah, I’m frustrated and sad and tired right now. I will keep trying. I appreciate how kind and patient everybody has been and I hope you will understand. I could really use a turn of luck right about now. Fingers crossed everybody.

Thanks for hearing me out. Much love, and stay safe out there Shadowhunters. ❤

Hey! What’s the Hold-Up?

No, I’m not dead. Yet.

Once again, I’d like to thank the Shadowhunters who have ordered blades from me for their stellar patience. You guys are the best!

I’m currently doing my best to cut through the two-inch acrylic with Jitterbug and the newest member of Inkblade Studios: Hellscream.

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Hellscream is a circular table saw which, much like Nibbles before it, only cuts in straight lines. It is even more adamant about this policy than Nibbles was, in fact and will SHRIEK LIKE THE SOULS OF THE DAMNED at the slightest provocation. Hellscream’s favourite things include: lurking under the work table, screaming, biting anything that comes close enough, and flinging bits of hot melted plastic at me.

Jitterbug and Hellscream make for an awkward duo to accomplish the task of cutting the sword outlines. It’s rather like hunting demons with a box-cutter and a cannon. I either have to chip away at it with many small cuts or make big, not spectacularly accurate cuts while trying not to damage anything I want to keep intact.

It’s getting done it’s just … slow. And quite frustrating. Boo. Wish me luck guys! We’ll git ‘r done one way or another.

Having a Little Trouble

Wow look at that awesome sword! … what? You can’t see it? It’s inside that block of plastic there. It’s going to be spectacular as soon as I can get it out. When? Um … well, the thing about that is …

Nibbles is broken. My band-saw, Nibbles, is doing poorly at the moment. Something’s happened to the alignment of the wheels and the saw blade keeps popping off them. I’ve tried everything I can think of to fix it but the fact is, I’m an artist, not a mechanic.

So, I have six orders left to complete before the year’s end … and no band saw. This makes Ethan sad. Sad and quite frustrated. Making people pretty things and bringing them joy is my happiness. Kind of like Santa Clause without the awesome beard.

I’m working with slabs of two inch (5 cm) thick acrylic instead of my usual 1 inch in hopes of being able to do more 3D cross guards and generally have more freedom of design. I didn’t take into account that Nibbles would not be on board with my decision.

Nibbles is NOT on board with my decision. Nibbles chewed on that bit of acrylic for about twenty minutes and had a breakdown. It’s now packed away in the corner of the workshop questioning its life choices. I may just join it there cause holy cow I am super frustrated.

What am I gonna do? Well, my current game plan is to visit the hardware store tonight and search for something a little bit more robust than a hobbyist band saw. Maybe a chainsaw. No, I’m not even remotely joking. I just need something to strong enough to strap the plastic to and I will take a fracking chainsaw to it if that’s what I have to do.

No, I don’t think you quite understand.

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This slab of plastic weighs as much as I do. The tablesaw I bought specifically to cut pieces off of it is too small to handle it. The chunk I removed to make the sword I’m working on (stalled on) right now took over 3 hours of sawing with that big beautiful wood saw you can see there. I’m going to have amazing shoulder muscles when I’ve finished my commissions for the year.

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You can see where the table saw started crying for mercy.

So uh, that’s my update for now. What will happen next? Not even I know. Stay tuned for more insanity from Inkblade Studios!

Commissions Closed for the Year

Yes, it’s true! My last crafting slot for this year has been bought this morning. Thank you all so very much for your support and for cheering me on as I push myself to better my skills. I will continue updating the site weekly with my progress on the commissions in my queue.

I have to take some time off for medical reasons this December. I’ll probably be back in the workshop for February of 2017. I know it’s a long time to wait but I’m sure you’ll understand the need to put health first. 🙂

Changes for 2017 Commissions

The requests and orders that I’ve gotten this year have given me some data to work with. The most desired swords are always:

Gabriel

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Azrael

Azrael Shiny

Jahoel

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and Sariel

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Though, I think the new TV show replica, Clariel (that you can see in the featured image at the top there) will also be wanted in a decent quantity. Most people prefer to have them equipped with an LED.

I’ve also had many requests for witchlights.

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So, I will be making these styles to keep in stock. Hopefully, this will mean you won’t have to wait as long to get a sword in your hands. 🙂  In the beginning, I didn’t know what you fine Shadowhunters wanted, but now I have a good idea and I’m reorganising my methods to serve you better. I really do take your feedback seriously and I make changes that people suggest.

At the moment, I’m considering opening one commission slot per month so that people who want something special and different can still have their needs met.

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As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m in the process of applying for a start-up grant. If I get one, it will allow me to get a larger workshop. That  means more storage space, room for more machines, the possibility of hiring people to help me out with the crafting, answering emails, and taking orders, and it also means the possibility of longer work hours. At present, my workshop is in my apartment so I have to be very courteous and not run my noisy machines at all hours.

A larger workplace would also allow me to have a fume hood for working with resin. It’s important not to breathe the fumes of resin while it’s curing. It’s really stinky and generally not good for you. Crafting swords from resin would allow me to skip the whole carving process and go straight to the polishing. Hopefully, it will allow me to bring you more swords more quickly, while still maintaining the quality you want and deserve. 🙂

The other reason I want to free up more of my time is research and experimentation. Some of you may know that I make more than just Seraph Blades.

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I’m a big fan of elves, vampires, dragons, and many other neat fantasy elements. I think that’s why we like Shadowhunters, isn’t it? This fandom really lends itself well to imagination and possibilities.

I love costuming and that love expands beyond props. I also make …

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custom prosthetics,

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and clothing items.

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All these things need time and practice. My goal is to bring you more cool stuff and I really appreciate your patience while I figure out how to cram more hours into a day. Ha!

Now I’ve got to stop blathering and get back in the Studio. I’ll do an update on what’s on my table later. Ciao for now guys!