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. @_@

Quick Update

Hi everyone! Yes I know I didn’t post last week. I’ve been crazy busy with some research & development, working on that sea n’ sky sword, and also doing a writing gig that I got with a local games company. Yay!

A bunch of stuff that’s within my skillset but never done it before. That leaves me with not much to show you but soon I will have stuffs I can take pics of. (Nobody wants to see my random pieces of clay and paint smears. LOL)

Today I will be testing out some new translucent silicone from SEMOST. They were kind enough to send me a sample of their product so I can see how it performs. I am going to be moulding the artificial stone that I created to make my new witchlights. Might as well do something practical with it!

I wanted to try a translucent silicone so that I can see at least some of the voids and bubbles that sometimes mess up my projects and be able to tilt or apply vibration to the right spots to get them out before the resin solidifies.

What’s more: it seems to be cheaper than the Zhermack 22A I’ve been buying from Materialshop. It may be a different story when I buy a bigger quantity of the SEMOST and have to pay customs fees on it … Either way, I’m trying my best to push down the cost of my products while keeping the quality high. This is not an easy thing to do.

Wish me luck!

Pretty & Smelly: Solvent Paints!

This beauty is sitting in my workshop right now, all ready for a heat-cure on the green-blue lacquer you can see on the handle there. What is this wondrous paint that sticks to resin? It’s Deka Transparent Glass Paint.

It’s bold. It’s beautiful. It smells really bad. And nothing else works quite so well! So if you want to treat yourself to this rocking good fun that is painting on resin, you will need a protective mask that will guard against vapours. Yes. Specifically vapour. A regular dust-mask filter will not save you from the smell of this solvent-based paint. I tried just painting it on without any mask, thinking “oh it can’t possibly be that bad”. Yes. Yes it can. I got dizzy and my sinuses burned like I’d just snorted nail polish remover.

Yes, you can certainly do it outside. It’s currently 1C outside for me so … not an option. Vapour protection it is then!

Is it worth it? Ohhhh baby. Yeah. I mixed the greenblue translucent paint with the black translucent paint and then diluted it with acetone. You must use acetone and not water because Deka translucent glass paint is solvent based. It will not play nice with water. You’ll have to use a solvent.

I airbrushed the paint onto the sword hilt. Heavier on the back of the handle and lighter toward the hilt and blade because I wanted it to fade into clear. I wasn’t bothered by the uneven “waves” in the paint where I sprayed it (a little too diluted I think) because I was trying to achieve a water-like effect.

What else do you need to know about Deka Transparent Glass Paint? It needs to set for 72 hours. So if you’re in a hurry, uh … well don’t be in a hurry. After the three days have passed, you should give it a heat-treatment.

The instructions recommend putting the piece in an oven but there’s two reasons why I can’t do that: 1. My piece is made of resin and will deform at roughly 100C, and 2. My sword won’t fit in my oven. So I’ll be using a heat gun (carefully!) to do the heat treatment.

I’m really excited to finish up the handle and show you the piece! I’m not sure if I’m installing a light in this one or not. I kind of want to but I’m nervous of cutting into that pretty blue handle now that I’ve got it all nice … we’ll see.

Happy Little Accidents

So there I was in the workshop, mixing up the resin for a sword. The resin had gelled so I had to re-liquefy it. No big deal, right? Well, despite it being the same resin I used to make the sabre for the Arabian Nights pinball machine, this one did not turn out completely clear.

It has clouds in it.

Now, this would be a difficult task to achieve on purpose. To do it purposefully, I would have to mix up a separate batch of resin with white dye, then do some very skilful pouring to get this kind of effect in a completely opaque mould without being able to see what I’m doing.

What happened? I have no idea. I’ve asked Hardcore Craft and they haven’t responded. There is no dye in this sword at all. It just did this by itself. The white parts are fully hardened. They don’t take any impression from a fingernail as I’d expect if it wasn’t fully cured. I’m baffled, to be honest.

What will I do with it? Finish it of course! But I can’t really say that it’s a Seraph Blade. Every Shadowhunters fan knows that a Shadowhunter’s blades are made of adamas, which is a crystal clear metal with angelic properties. Looks like glass, hits like mithril.

It will be an art piece, for sure. I’m just going to let the blade suggest its personality to me and trust in the crafting process.

That’s all from me for now. See ya later!

New Sword Model!

Yep, you read that right. The beautiful, exotic Zaapiel is coming to my Etsy shop. Possibly as early as this week!

The person who ordered this beauty requested a frosted look for a brighter glow.

Does it light up? Pffft, guys. You’re at Inklbade Studios. Of course it lights up!

Shiiiiney *o*
Obligatory sauna pic. LOL

Why does the sword have a couple wires sticking out of it? This beauty is a custom job, designed to be decorate a pinball machine, so it needed to be modified to hook up directly to the machine. If you need any kind of custom modifications for power sources, you need only ask. I’m quite flexible.

Now everybody likes to see the insanity of my crafting process so let’s have some pics!

Draw!
Carve!
Carve more!
Box it!
Mould in alginate!
Smells gross!
Make a huge mess!
Crappy plaster prototype!
Break it while sanding!
Fix with Milliput and swearing!
Break it again!
*censored for profanity*
Start a religion worshipping Milliput!
Finish sanding!
Cover your trauma in black paint!
Box it!
Make a silicone mould!
Pour in resin and pray!
Sand it and fit in the lighting!
MORE MILLIPUT! *_*
Paint it! Wrap it! Act like you knew what you were doing the whole time!

Yeah! Never had a doubt. ūüôā … Not for a second. Nope.

So I’ve got one of these Zaapiels in the mould at work. I just have to go get it out and start sanding. The next question is: who would like a lovely glowing scimitar?

In other news, I am still working on the witchlights. The thing that I’m having problems with is getting the lid to line up properly and look like it’s part of the whole rock. I know how I want it to work but how to get it to that point is a real brain-twister.

Here’s what the underside of the witchlight looks like right now on my prototype. The lid at least sits flush on the opening and extends a few millimetres into the body of the rock so it doesn’t rattle around. But how to get it to look like there isn’t a seam? Hmm … still working on it. Thanks to everybody who’s been patient so far! I’m close to the solution.

Cool Kevin: Getting What You Pay For

Let me share this magical experience with you. This is a quintessential moment of “you get what you pay for”. Yes, I absolutely knew what I was getting into when I picked this gem off the shelf.

You know it’s cool when you have to be told it’s cool.

It was half price, and cost me a whopping 6.50 Euros. Now, why¬†did I invest in this piece of cra … plastic? Those of you who have been following my blog for awhile have seen my adventures in the ball-jointed-doll making world. I really do enjoy dolls and miniatures and all things “mini”. I don’t know why it’s so much fun to see every day items made tiny; it just is. So I embrace my crazy little hobby with joy. ūüôā

Part of that hobby is getting down to the nuts and bolts (sometimes literally!) of how a doll is constructed. Awhile ago, I bought for myself a Made to Move Barbie so I could study how that particular doll moves and poses.

So much more flexible than they were when I was a kid!

I’ll do an actual review on this type of doll later on for those of you who are interested. But for now, I can tell you that I was quite impressed with the quality of the Made to Move Barbie and the range of motion that she has. Excellent pose-ability. She can even sit with her legs crossed! I really hope whoever designed her joints got a promotion.

I was curious to see what Mattel had for us in terms of flexible dolls with a male body type. And that’s where I ran face-first into disappointment. There are no Made to Move Ken dolls. That’s right. Barbie can’t do yoga or go cycling with her boyfriend because his joints are woefully inadequate to the task. (Note:¬†The¬†Fashionista¬†Ken¬†doll¬†line¬†used¬†to¬†have¬†flexible¬†joints,¬†however,¬†the¬†current¬†generation¬†has¬†the¬†old¬†stiff¬†joints¬†and¬†immovable¬†arms.¬†Why¬†Mattel?)

Now, in order to check out the joints of a “Made to Move” Ken type doll I could either shell out for something like this:

It’s brutally obvious who this is.

And wait for him to arrive in the mail just so I can peek at his joints. Or I could grab this hunk right off the shelf at Hong Kong.

Kevin wears a beautiful spring shade of ‘why even?’. The hot new look this season.

So, without further ado, let’s get acquainted with Mr. Kevin, first name “Cool”.

Cool Kevin’s hobbies include imaginary skateboarding. Imaginary skateboard not included.

There is literally no text on this box other than what you see here. No explanation. Kevin has been cast adrift in this world with no idea of why he was made or for whom. Kevin will have to make his own meaning, just like the rest of us. (Okay so there’s a warning at the bottom telling you not to let your 0-3 year old eat it.)

Kevin’s left leg comes wrenched at an agonising 90 degree angle with his pelvis.

Yes, his leg returns to that position if left unattended, in case you were wondering. Kevin has no idea what “socks” are. What are you talking about?

Kevin can almost cross his arms! Almost.

So that’s how far his elbows bend. On the upside, he actually has his fingernails sculpted in which is more than I can say for most Barbie dolls.

Kevin kneels for no one. Not even his manufacturer.

He can almost kneel.

He’s completely comfortable. Yep. Very chill.

He can almost sit. I had to put him on my leg to take the photo because he can’t quite get his legs at a 90 degree angle. Needs to be tilted forward a few degrees or he falls over backwards.

Okay his ankles are actually slightly more flexible than mine. Not bad.

Kevin didn’t choose the thug life. The thug life didn’t choose Kevin either.

His sleeveless sweater has a hood. Okay.

Just in case you forgot he was cool.
Straight outta the nursing home.

Yes, his Velcro “fly” is in the back. His pants conveniently fit over his adult diapers.

Kevin’s pants on their eternal journey toward his chest.

So … I’m fairly certain that whoever sculpted Kevin’s chest has never seen a man without his shirt on before. Pectoral muscles actually have connections under the arm and do not come to a point near the diaphragm unless you have your arms above your head. Thus, I can only conclude that Kevin’s chest is an artistic representation of surrender that the artist felt when the realised they weren’t getting paid enough for this.

Kevin ALWAYS skips leg day.

I … well I would give a warning for nudity but Kevin is incapable of being naked. Ever. And it looks like it wouldn’t matter even if he was.

Kevin’s leg transplant was mostly a success.

The only thing I can conclude is that these legs were actually sculpted for another doll who was smaller.

Well, that’s better than I can do. Good job Kevin.

We can rebuild him. Crappier and weirder, but yeah basically we can.

Kevin’s bionic legs. No attempt made to conceal the pins of the hinge-joints that let his legs and ankles bend. Or trim the excess plastic left behind.

Don’t try this at home. Or do. Whatever it’s your knees.

The leg joints are reaaaally loose.

Painting? Ain’t nobody got time fo that!

The slapdash paint job on his hair is really noticeable. Parts of his hair are left uncoloured while there are flecks of blond paint are all over his ears and forehead.

Kevin does what he wants. Your rules mean nothing.

The moral of the story is: pay your artists what they deserve. It costs a certain amount of money to create and ship a piece of merchandise. If you’re not paying that price, someone, somewhere up the line is getting cheated out of their money. That will show up in the quality of the product.

You can tell when the person who made the product didn’t care about the result. You can tell when something was pumped off an assembly line by people who just wanted to earn a pay cheque and eat and pay the rent. Those aren’t bad people. They’re doing an honest day’s work and they deserve their earnings.

There’s a market for 6.50 euro dolls. Many children are perfectly happy to receive Cool Kevin and play with him. But if you want something of higher quality, something that someone put a piece of their heart into and sent to you with pride, you’ll have to turn to small, independent artists. And, yes, you’ll have to pay us. Our goods come out of closet-sized workshops where we work alone, using single moulds to produce one-of-a-kind items one at a time. The piece that you’re buying didn’t just zip past us on a conveyor belt. We literally spent hours looking at it, working on the details until we were sure it was up to our standards.

We can’t hope to compete with the manufacturing power-houses of China. Most of us don’t want to. So, please, if you can’t afford an item that you want from us, just be honest about it. We know our goods aren’t within everybody’s budget. They’re not “too expensive”. They cost what they cost and can’t be made for anything less without us taking a financial loss.

If you tell us “I could get that at Walmart for a quarter the price!” or “I could make that myself for less!” then please do so. If you’re asking us to match sweatshop-labour prices for custom-made art: you deserve a Cool Kevin.

Little Wee Birdy

Here’s what I’ve got so far with my Raven’s Landing dagger. The icicle part is developing nicely but … I have to admit that the bird is simply too small for the size of the knife. That, and one wing is up a little higher than the other. I can’t really fix that so I’ve been forced to carefully saw the bird off the dagger and I will now have to sculpt another (LARGER) raven.

Don’t worry, the bird survived the removal and is doing just fine. I’ll keep it for some other project. Probably a Halloween decoration. I learned a lot with the first sculpting so I really don’t count it as time wasted.

Now I’d like to introduce you to this little whoopsie. What happened to this thing? First I need to explain why there’s a balloon. When you have a container full of liquid latex for moulding, you need to be careful of it drying out on contact with the air. That includes the air inside the container! How do you preserve your latex for as long as possible?

You inflate a balloon a little bit and stick it in the container to take up space. That way, you get much less air touching the latex and it lasts longer.

That’s all well and good when you use your latex before its expiry date. I … didn’t. *sad trombone* So when the latex began to solidify inside the container, it bonded with the balloon (because it’s also made of latex!). It also gave the balloon several extra layers of latex, so now the air is trapped inside the very sorry looking thing and it can’t deflate.

I will keep this little abomination as a trophy of my failures. I shall call it “Garbage Heart” because it looks like some manner of artificial organ and can’t be used for anything but a paperweight.

What else have we got going on this week? I’m troubleshooting a problem I’m having with the Arabian Nights sword circuitry. (Can’t figure out where I flubbed up the circuit so I just have to do it again.

Annnd I have to go fight with Posti because they’re holding onto my carving cups until I pay them the duty fee. Which I already¬†paid¬†to¬†customs¬†directly. Have I mentioned lately how much I hate shipping? Get it together you guys. Seriously. It’s really hard to do business in a remote country when I can’t get my freaking stuff.

Wish me luck!