Yep. I’m still hacking away at this project. I’m frustrated, but also very, very stubborn. I managed to mess up my first casting of the year and ended up having to clean uncured, sticky resin goo out of my mould. Hopefully that was just a derp in measuring the quantities of part A and B.
Yesterday, I had a bit of excitement while re-doing that casting. When I started pouring in the resin, it began leaking out of the mould. I realised I had not tied the cord around it tightly enough. Now, because the resin had already been mixed and I had only about 10 minutes left before it gelled, I couldn’t go pull the box of ties down from the shelf, fish out the ball of string, wind it around tight and cut it before the whole operation was ruined.
I stood there, holding onto both sides of the mould, pressing them together, trying to problem solve on the fly. Aha! If I could run into my dust tent, grab a clamp, and get back before too much resin leaked out, I could save the casting! So I did. I dashed into my dust-containment tent, grabbed the first clamp I could get my hands on and ran back to the mould.
Yes, the first clamp I could get my hands on … was about 3 times bigger than the mould itself. LOL! You gotta do what you gotta do eh?
Well, it stopped the leakage sure enough! Today, we will see if the resin cured and, if it did, if the casting will line up correctly with the other half of the witchlight. If it does, I can install the magnets and get to work on the electronics!
If it doesn’t … uh … well I learned something from the experience? Yeah, it will be back to the drawing board for the witchlight project. Well, if it was easy, it would already be available on the market. It isn’t. I know because I want one and I’ve hunted everywhere. I think my company motto is going to be: “Screw it; I’ll do it myself.” Hahaha!
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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:
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.
So, without further ado, let’s get acquainted with Mr. Kevin, first name “Cool”.
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.)
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?
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.
He can almost kneel.
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.
His sleeveless sweater has a hood. Okay.
Yes, his Velcro “fly” is in the back. His pants conveniently fit over his adult diapers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The leg joints are reaaaally loose.
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.
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.
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.
No really, I’m quite pleased with myself. It is a gigantic mess and I have a lot of cleaning up to do in the workshop today, but this mess has resulted in a major breakthrough. This post marks the sum of months of trial and error, experimentation, swearing, epic messes, and more money than I’d like to admit. I’ve finally gotten something worthwhile out of it all. Let me share my joy with you!
Remember I was making the mould for the prototype of Zaapiel, that fancy Arabian Nights sword? Yesss, I got both halves of that mould completed. I made the mould out of alginate (a moulding compound that is essentially … well … algae), with a coating of wax in between to make 100% sure the sides wouldn’t stick to each other.
Which just might make it the grossest sandwich ever. It smells like washed-up seaweed.
Now, the thing you have to know about alginate is that it’s only good as long as it’s moist. Once it starts drying out, it gets crumbly and it’s not much use for casting anymore. So you have to work quickly and if you’ve got to do the mould in multiple stages or something happens and you have to use it later than you intended, you have to protect it from evaporating off its moisture. Most people put it in a sealed container in the fridge. This … this is way too big for a conventional fridge or normal food container. I improvised with a combination of wax and wet plastic wrap. It was an ugly hack job, but it worked.
Snazzy! Algnate is nice and soft, kinda like tofu in texture. So it’s easy to cut the sprue and the air traps in it. The downside is you have to be gentle when handling it or it will crack or rip easily!
So! I cleaned off all the wax as best I could, put both halves together and strapped it between two wooden boards. Then I mixed up a batch of Artestone (a special gypsum plaster with hydrophobic properties) and poured it into the mould. And that’s when the mess happened.
A puddle of white began expanding from beneath the mould and I realised that there was a leak. I had a problem. I couldn’t just stop the whole thing and open up the mould at this point because then all the plaster would pour out onto the floor and I’d have wasted the whole thing. So all I could do was grab the closest thing at hand–a large stirring spoon–and frantically scoop the goo back into the mould until it hardened enough to stop pouring out.
There I was, on the floor, scuttling like a crab from the back of the mould to the front of the mould back and forth, scooping at the puddle expanding on either side of it with a spoon of all things. A stream of plaster coming out of the mould, a stream of profanity coming out of me, and by the time the goo hardened enough to form a seal and stop going everywhere, I was laughing my head off. Really what else can you do at that point?
Seriously, it looks like I got bombarded by a gigantic seagull who ate way too much curry. I had to mix up about 200mL more artestone to replace what was lost out the bottom, but I did manage to complete that pour with no further disasters. My neighbour probably thinks I’m insane now. … He’s probably right. LOL!
Now this looks blobby and weird right now but that is completely what I expected it to be. What I need this prototype sword to be is roughly the right shape and a little larger and chubbier than the finished product is going to be. This is so I can do all the final shaping, sanding, and polishing without it ending up too thin or shorter than I wanted. Basically: It’s way easier to sand things off than it is to add things on. So this baby gave me exactly what I wanted. Woohoo!
That was an adventure!
I am sad to report, though, that we had one casualty during this adventure. One of the straps on my protective face mask broke. That’s the third breakage I’ve had on this mask and there isn’t enough strap left to cobble it back together so I have to replace the strap entirely. That’s going to take a little time that I’d really rather be spending on crafting. But it needs to be in proper working order because there is NO way I am sanding any of the materials I work with without respiratory protection.
Safety gear is NOT optional!
So! If anybody needs me, I’ll be scraping uhhh … 300ish mL of extra-hard water resistant plaster off the floor! 😀 … Pray for me. LOL
Okay, so I was trying out some resin from my local hobby shop. This resin is from Artidee, a German company. Cool. I like buying within the EU.
First thing I notice is that the hardener seems to have solidified? Oh, the package says it needs to be shaken if it’s been sitting for awhile. Okay. I shake it. Still has some flakes in it but I hope that will integrate when I mix it.
I go a head and pour it into the mould.
It FOAMS. It foams up out of the sprue, up out of the vents, out from between the mould seams. I had to tape down the central part of the mould there because it was LIFTING it up out of the socket! I have never seen a resin do this before. It wasn’t even hot! No steam. No weird smells. Just foaming like a maddened animal.
Naturally (or unnaturally), the doll head it produced was uh … interesting. What was happening? I thought maybe it was the bit of white dye I put in the resin so I tried casting it without the dye and putting it in the ComposiMold transparent mould just to see what it was doing. Well, it still foamed, and …
AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Kill it with fire! WAIT NO RESIN FUMES ARE TOXIC DON’T KILL IT WITH FIRE AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! WHERE IS THE ACETONE? THE POWER OF CHEMISTRY COMPELS YOU! THE POWER OF CHEMISTRY COMPELS YOU! GET OUT DEMON!
It’s crackling! It’s snap-crackle-popping like Rice Krispies! It continued to pop and crackle for HOURS after it cured. Sitting there … staring at me … asking “Why was I made … why … brought into this … eternal torment … what have you … done?”
Nope. Nope nope nope nope. Screw this. I’m going back to the Alumilite where it’s safe!
I’ve contacted the hobby shop in hopes that I can get an exchange or refund. The resin has obviously expired. I’m getting awfully tired of being sold expired products. I think I might actually write to Alumilite directly and ask them if there’s a way to tell how old a particular batch of resin is and, if there’s no reliable way to determine if its spoiled or not, buy directly from the manufacturer and just eat the shipping costs from America like a chump.
What else did I play with last week in the world of goo? Well, I used Alumilite Water Clear (my favourite resin) with some white resin dye. My hope was to make use of the Water Clear’s 15min pot time to get alllll those evil air bubbles out of the cast. Now, this worked well with a wee bit of dye. (Less than 1 gram.)
The one on the right there is how it came out. A kind of ghostly, ethereal whiteness. Slight translucence at the tips of the ears and just around the thin parts of the eye sockets. Cool! Buuuut not what I was supposed to make. I’m supposed to be making opaque white heads! Okay so I tried it with about 2-3 grams of dye.
Annnd it didn’t cure. See that sticky, goopy, melted-marshmallow stuff? Yeah. Uncured resin. And it’s exactly as sticky and messy as it looks. I have used a total of 3 litres of acetone cleaning up my experiments this past week.
It’s been a frustrating week guys. A very frustrating week. I ‘m just going to muck with my Sariel sword and witchlight prototype until my new shipment of white ALUMILITE RESIN comes in. No more messing around. We’re going to do this thing right.
Oh, uh, if I don’t post again in a week, please send an exorcist. The doll head probably got me…
Okay so … I was testing out a new brand of polymer clay for making sword handles. Sadly, it doesn’t quite work the way I’m used to so this particular version of the handle didn’t really work out the way I wanted it to.
No, you don’t understand. It REALLY REALLY DIDN’T WORK OUT THE WAY I WANTED IT TO.
I was not pleased.
Oh well. I’ll just have to experiment some more. I guess I’ll just … make this into a pencil holder … or something …
Owie! For some reason, the Azrael model likes to take blood sacrifices from me when I’m working on the hilt. I’d best change the way I do that unless I want Chewie the belt sander on a high-protein diet. Who knows what it will do if it gets a taste for human flesh! Dooooooom!
Yeah, Chewie pretty much just took a layer or two of skin off my finger when I looked at the clock for a second. Remember guys: never look away from your machine! It waits for you to let your guard down and then … chomp!
Anywho, I’m a big boy. I’ll be fine. I just have to wear gloves for a bit to keep the plastic particles out.
In other news, I have filled my last crafting slot so we are currently at capacity in the Studio at the moment. All the same, feel free to send inquiries. You can still nab the first spot in line. I should have a slot open next week when I finish up this looooovely LED equipped Azrael. Pics coming soon. 😉