Frosted Blades

Some of my customers order “frosted” blades, but what does that mean? And why is it cheaper than the crystal clear blades? Today, I will share with you the  answers to these questions and more. Stand back everyone! It’s about to get nerdy in here… as we discuss the secrets behind the movie magic.

First, let’s start with my signature crystal clear acrylic swords.

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This lovely Jahoel model short sword takes five hours of wet sanding to bring it to this level of clarity. Longswords like Azrael can take as long as seven straight hours of polishing! When placed on an open book, you can easily read through this blade.

This clarity comes at a price, and I don’t just mean money.

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Here is an Azrael sword lit up in pitch darkness. Do you see the swath of darkness up the middle? Why doesn’t it light up evenly? Hang onto your hats guys, it’s time for science!

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The beam of a flash light shines straight and true, illuminating the space you shine it on. The protective glass, or plastic protecting the light bulb inside is polished to 100% clarity to make sure all of that light goes where you want it to.

But you want a sword, not a flash light! How can we make the sword glow and not just let all that light pass directly through? We need to give the light something to reflect off of. That is why the edges of Azrael are so bright in the image. The curved surfaces of the sword meet in points and ridges and it is here that the light bounces off the acrylic in a way you can see it.

Here is a method for getting the sword to be brighter, though. Let’s take a look at Jace’s sword from The Mortal Instruments movie.

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You will quickly notice that the edge of this sword is frosted, unlike the rest of it which is crystal clear. Why did the movie’s prop team do this? To properly explain, we must see the blade in action.

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Yes, I know, we all need a moment to drool over Jamie Bower …

Okay! Moving right along. This sword has no light in it. So how is it glowing? Look carefully at where the shadows are on the actor’s body. He’s lit from underneath. By frosting the blade’s edge, the prop team cleverly gave the appearance of an inner glow by giving the light something to reflect off of! Pretty genius huh?

So what would it look like if the whole blade were frosted?

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Hands up everybody who recognizes this image! Yeah, I knew you would. This is a blade from the Shadowhunters TV show. The props team decided to opt for a handle that you can’t see through in order to hide a light inside. The style has definitely grown on me. There’s a lot of room to customize a sword just by its wrapping.

Ah but enough of my chatter about handles. It’s the blade we’re interested in here. Why is the frosted blade so much brighter? “Frosted” pretty much means “millions of tiny abrasions all over the surface” and it’s these tiny scratches that the light bounces off. Sometimes this effect is achieved by spraying a matte finish all over the sword, but this is not how I do it. Because my frosting effect is part of the blade itself, it cannot be rubbed off with wear.

Now, I mentioned that my frosted blades are cheaper than the crystal clear ones. This is because the frosted blades require only two to three hours of polishing.

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If you don’t care about being able to read through the blade, then not only can I cut the polishing hours in half, but I can also use a smaller LED like the one you see here. You wouldn’t think that it would make a big impression, being so tiny but …

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It sure does. With the light bouncing off millions of tiny abrasions all over the surface of the blade, it illuminates the pommel (butt end) of the sword even though the LED is pointed in the opposite direction!

Is there a difference in the smoothness of the sword? Yes. The crystal clear blades have a texture like satin, or glass. It’s a sort of liquid smoothness. The frosted blades feel more like silk or steel. Still quite smooth. The difference is a small one.

Any questions or comments about frosted blades? Scribble it in the comments and I will be happy to answer. I have a question for you, fellow Shadowhunter fans! Do you like the TV or movie blades better? And why?

I like the TV show blades better, personally. I love working with leather wrapped hilts!

These Five Words Are Making Your Writing Weak – Cut Them

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It’s tempting to “soften” our writing with words that weaken its impact. While it’s been said that writing is an act of baring one’s soul to the world and is thus inherently intimidating, we do ourselves no favours by being shy about it.

To that end, here are five words you can chop right now to strengthen your writing. Click to read more.

Why Are So Many People Snobbish About Fantasy and Sci-fi?

As a writer of fantasy, I often find people turning up their noses when I say I write about dragons and magic. I feel it’s unwarranted. But how did it get to be this way?

Check out this great article I read on WIRED:

Why Are So Many People Snobby About Fantasy Fiction?

Realistic Writing: Head Injuries

Your goody two-shoes hero doesn’t want to kill people, so he just knocks them out. Sounds pretty straightforward right? Except it isn’t. Do you have any idea what it takes to render someone unconscious with blunt force trauma? Before I read this article, I didn’t! What’s more, you might not want to. It’s all too easy to die from the after effects of being hit on the head.

A word of warning: this is a frank account of the realities of head injury. If violence makes you squirm, you may not want to click.

Now brace yourself guys, this is gonna hurt.

Continue reading …

10 Misconceptions About Medieval England

A friend of mine stumbled on this gem and I have to say, as a fantasy writer, I totally slipped up on at least two of these. Looks like I had better buy The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century. More reading? Woe is me, what a terrible fate! Hehehe.

It seems a common thing to screw up on these ten details. Have a look-see! Perhaps you’re guilty too?

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Sacrificing Plot for Political Correctness

You know how you’ve always heard the advice that you should keep writing to the end of the manuscript before you even think of editing? Before you delete anything? It’s lovely advice when it works. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t. Writing the sequel to The Broken Prophecy has turned out to be just such an instance.

I stopped writing A Hollow Vengeance halfway through because I just wasn’t feeling it. After some exploration and the advice of my marvellous, patient, and very astute peers, I realized that it wasn’t working because I started writing it from a place of guilt. That’s right. I felt guilty for having focused so much on Damon in the first book. I worried that I hadn’t done enough for Phoenix.

The first draft of Blood of Midnight featured Phoenix as a character who was introduced halfway through the book and ended up just being the main character’s love interest. Thank the Gods that I didn’t stop there and instead took my time to learn more about character development, plot, cliché, and the frustrating lack of good female protagonists in fantasy and fiction in general. I committed to having a fully fleshed out character who could stand on her own, who was three-dimensional, had a personality, goals, hopes, fears, and is just generally not a sock puppet or a cardboard cut-out of a person. Continue reading “Sacrificing Plot for Political Correctness”

Ten Rules for Query Letters – By MAGGIE STIEFVATER

I stumbled across this post recently while browsing Maggie’s site and thought perhaps some of y’all who are interested in traditional publishing might like to take advantage of her advice.

I completely forgot to post about queries yesterday, after I promised. I realize this makes me a Bad Person and you have my permission to throw Virtual Tomatoes at me now.

Okay, that’s enough.

Here are my thoughts on query letters. Because it’s early and I’ve only had one cup of tea, we’re gonna go with numbers to organize things, because good holy pete, there is nothing like a numbered list to add order to a blog post. So.

1. People overthink queries. Okay, so they are the only thing that an agent or editor might ever see of your work. So they have to embody everything about your personality and your books personality in a single page. So you will get absolutely nowhere if your queries suck, no matter if you’ve written the Great American Novel. Still, people overthink them. And this is why. Because…

CONTINUE READING…

What to Study to Become a Writer

I stumbled upon this lovely article by Maggie Stiefvater. It is a common misconception that you have to go through a creative writing program of some sort in school in order to become an author. Well, this isn’t your typical profession and it likely won’t be reached in a typical fashion. But don’t take my word for it; she says it much more eloquently.

A Proper Education

Today, I’m going to answer a question I get asked a lot. Well, I’m going to combine a few variations of it into one blog post. This is the question(s):

1 – “Did you go to school for Creative Writing?”
2 – “Do you have to have a degree in writing to get published?”
3 – “Have you taken classes in writing?”
4 – “Will you be my mentor?”

Continue reading …

Does This Costume Make Me Look Racist?

So, I’ve had some really interesting conversations lately. The good kind of interesting. Around this time of year, I see a whole lot of debate going on as to what costumes are and aren’t acceptable to wear.

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I’m pretty sure no one thinks this is acceptable.

I have a few simple benchmarks for this kind of thing so I’ll just mention ’em here and you can see if you think it’ll help you decide what to wear:

1. Is it a specific character? (ie: An Indian VS Sitting Bull, or Pochahontas) If it is, and you’re sincerely dressing as that person because you like them, not to make fun of them, then that is not a caricature/racial stereotype. Go right ahead.

2. Is it something you’re actually afraid of? If so, go right ahead and empower yourself by putting on the face of your inner demons for a night. Samhain is the single most appropriate Holy Day for fear work. Do not let other people get in the way of your therapy or your expression of spirituality. They have no right to do that either.

3. Has someone told you your costume offends them? If so, ask them if they are part of the cultural/religious group you are portraying. If they are not, disregard their opinion. Oftentimes people who get offended on behalf of other people end up being wrong and members of the social group in question don’t actually care or think it’s funny too.

4. Does the costume have “Sexy” in the title? If so, it’s probably ridiculous. 

Just my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth.