The End

After struggling for a long time to make this business work, I realized that I needed a business partner. It’s just too much work for one person to do alone.

I and a friend of mine were set to team up and combine our talents to breathe new life into my studio. Unfortunately, when he arrived in Finland and we spent a few days together, it became clear that we were not compatible as business partners.

I had already closed my business, Inkblade Studios, in preparation to start a new business so now I am without a company.

I could start again with all the same problems as before, or I could just … not. I’ve decided not to. I’m very tired now. I hope you’ll understand. Thanks for all your support and encouragement.

Bye for now.

Why is it so expensive?!

Hi everyone! Yes I’m still not dead. I have moved, again, this time into a house. While I’m setting up my new and improved workshop, I would like to introduce you to this video by Kamui Cosplay. She is one of my heroes of the profession and today she’s talking to us about prices.

If you are commissioning a custom blade from me, please expect at least 800-1000 euros. That’s practically giving the item to you because I don’t get to keep anything but a tiny faction of that.

I’m able to do these prices because my wife works a good full-time job and I should probably respect myself properly and ask for more … but it’s heartbreaking when a customer simply stops responding to me when I tell them the price even though I’m offering it as cheaply as I can without actually losing money. 😦

How can we overcome this together my friends? I want to give you the pretty artworks but the materials are so expensive and I really can’t spend every day all day working for free. This is a fun job but it’s still a job you know?

I’m not going to stop doing commissions and I’m working all the time on new methods of crafting to make things more affordable. But the reality of the situation means that I’m going to have to offer you all some standard merchandise that nobody requested from me personally, but which a larger variety of people could use to complete their costume.

I’m talking about more “plain” styles that you could use for either a Seraph Blade or an elf mage in your LARP. Maybe a selection like this, for example. Things like custom runes or different shapes of blade would be more expensive, of course, because I would have to make the prototype for you individually instead of making a bunch of the same item over and over again. This way, more people will be able to have something cool and not have to pay the price of the sculpture work or the making of the mould. (Remember, silicone is ghastly expensive!)

This doesn’t mean that my work is about to get boring. I’m still going to make cool, stylish, unique stuff for you to buy. You can have a greater chance of me creating an item that looks like what you want if you engage with my blog, or <a href="http://<iframe src="; width="560" height="314" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="true" allow="autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowFullScreen="true">my facebook page, or, yes, my Youtube Channel (which isn’t set up yet because my freaking tripod broke and I still have to unpack my microphone from the moving boxes haha! have patience!).

Why? Well if 20 people say “Hey Ethan you should make the Herondale blades next!” then I have a good idea of what people want. I might get five or ten of those 20 people buy those swords right away and that would allow me to get back the cost of the prototypes I made. That way I don’t get stuck with a bunch of swords nobody wants to buy and you don’t have to pay for the mould and the sculpting work. Everybody wins!

You might think that your voice has no importance but that isn’t true. If I put up a poll asking people which sword model to make next and you’re the only one who responds … guess who gets to pick my next project? You do! So don’t hesitate to tell me your suggestions, even if you’re shy. 🙂

Alright, now I have to go unpack some more boxes. Wish me luck!

New Beginnings

Hi everyone! I managed to secure a small workshop in walking distance of my home so now I’ll be able to work again in spite of this pandemic. Yay! It will take a little while for me to get everything set up and working but at least there’s a light at the end of the tunnel now.

Here’s some pictures of the new place.

There’s a park across the street and on the other side of the building is the harbour. Quite a nice place. It’s close enough to my home that I can eat lunch in my apartment and walk back to work. I can also store a bunch of stuff in my apartment so hopefully the small size of the room won’t be a problem.

Tomorrow I’ll be working on the sound-proofing and the work table. Wish me luck!

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!

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.

Whoa! What’s with the new look?

Hi guys! I’m trying to make my site a little easier to navigate let me know what you think, okay? Can you find your way around? Are the colours nice or ugly? I hate white backgrounds cause they’re rather harsh on the eyes so I try not to do that to you.

Other than monkeying around with the site design, I’ve got a wee update for you all about the current project I’m working on. I’ve taken some more time with the details of this piece and I think it’s really paid off.


This is the first time I’ve ever carved anything out of wood. No, I’m not joking. I had a hypothesis though. I carve pretty shapes out of really, ridiculously hard material. (Acrylic.)  Couldn’t I apply that skill to something a bit softer like pine?


That looks like a “yes”! I was gobsmacked at how easy it was to shape wood after having worked on acrylic all this time. In fact, I had to be really careful not to go at it too aggressively as I’m not used to a material that can fray and chip at the edges. The other new experience was encountering harder and softer areas in the wood where the bands run through it. (The dark lines.) I’m accustomed to a material that is 100% uniform in density so I had to learn when to press a bit harder and when to ease off so I didn’t end up gouging the wood.


I’ve given the serpent head a base coat now though these pictures were taken before I painted it. Tomorrow will be a busy day painting, setting the eyes in the sockets, and other detail work. Stay tuned!

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 …” 


“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:


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. ❤

Artistic Accidents

So, I was trying to make a lovely smooth, flawless, transparent coating of red over a clear sword. I had to strip it all off and re-finish the blade completely three times before I realized that it was absolutely impossible to get a coating free of drips without an air-brush unit. Which I don’t have.

I tried giving it an extra thick coating and then sanding it down, hoping for an artificially-created flawless finish. But there was no getting around it; there were still drips and …

wait a minute …

That actually makes a really cool pattern!


I accidentally produced a lacy pattern much like Damascus steel on a semi-transparent blade. My wife, who is very much a fan of blacksmithing and adores the Damascus patterns told me on no uncertain terms to do the whole blade like that.

So here it hangs in the closet dripping bloody red into a bucket while it dries. Spinner isn’t even finished and it is already hands-down the weirdest sword I’ve ever made.


Of course, as a side effect of dribbling the glass paint all over the sword, it got other places too.


Paint. Yes … just paint. Ahem. *closes the cupboard*

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