Clariel Model Prototype

Ahhh yeah. It took me a couple days to carve the prototype for Clariel. Now I can take the first mould of it. After that, we move on to the second prototype which will be made of plaster. I’ll be able to get a much, much smoother surface with higher detail with plaster.

Also! Special news!

I’m moving to a new workshop! Don’t panic. It’s in the same building on the same floor so it won’t take long. Probably a day or two. This new room is a bit more expensive but it’s also a bit larger and has a couple windows.

I decided to take on this added expense for the sake of having a window so that I can have fresh air and natural light to work with. Alumilite is a very low-smell resin but it’s still recommended to have fresh air when working with it. I’ll post pics as soon as I’m able.

Until then, stay safe out there Shadowhunters.

Forgot to Say I Went on Vacation Whoops!

Hi folks! I logged in today to say I’m back from my trip to Canada and realised I didn’t make a post to say I went away in the first place. Duuuuuh good job Ethan. XD Sorry about that everyone.

To the people who have been waiting patiently for me to get back to their emails, thank you so much and I will respond as soon as I can. I’m still really jet-lagged and I want to give you a response when my brain is actually working.

The finger I accidentally chopped is healing up nicely. I still have a lot of numbness in the tip of it but the feeling’s gradually coming back. There’s one spot that’s rather sore that I think I damaged the nerves there. Feels kind of like when you bang your elbow on something whenever it touches a hard surface the wrong way. Typing is still annoying but getting better slowly.

Even on vacation, I was still thinking of y’all. In fact, I spent an afternoon chattering with an engineer friend about manufacturing. He also does resin casting and moulding projects though on a much larger and more industrial scale than me. But whether you’re casting machine parts or art, it’s the same principal.

In short, I got some really valuable knowledge on rapid prototyping, moulding, casting, saving money on my development stages while still producing quality stuff. He wants to have a look over my sketches and schematics as I launch into resin casting my swords so he can give some feedback as I go.

To tell you the truth, it feels great to have a bit of practical support in this crazy endeavour of mine. I don’t need much. Just an occasional glance over my shoulder and a comment or two steering me away from pitfalls and letting me know that there’s an easier way to do something. I’ve been doing this alone for more than two years now and it’s been hard. It’s been lonely. And I’ve had to learn everything the hard way by trial and error. But, like the Iron Sisters, I’m too stubborn to give up.

“A Shadowhunter must behave as though victory is assured,” as the Codex tells us, and I haven’t forgotten that. Quitting is not an option for me, and never has been.

What’s coming up in the near future? You can expect to see in-progress photos of my planning, prototyping, and casting phases as early as next Monday. I’ll be answering your emails as early as today. I will be continuing development on witchlights and steles and you can expect to see my progress on that too. (So far I’ve got silicone boogers that were not the density I wanted so I’ll be making resin versions of the witchlight instead. LOL )

After I’ve moulded and cast a Clariel model I’m satisfied with, I will be putting up a poll for you to vote on the next model to be put into production. I have a feeling I know which one it’s going to be but I want to hear from you all! Your input is my guiding light and steers what I create in my workshop.

As soon as I have a reliable system of production, I will be putting up an Etsy store for a much easier ordering process. So far, I’ve been hiding out in this remote corner of the internet because I’m totally overwhelmed by orders as it is. XD Once I know that I can keep up with demand, I can put my fuzzy face out there for all to see and get Seraph Blades out to all the lovely Shadowhunters who need them.

Before I trundle off to the workshop, I want to let you all know that I’m so very grateful for your support. The emails and comments that pop up in my inbox every morning put a smile on my face and remind me of what all this work is for. I feel super lucky to be making cool stuff for other Shadowhunter fans. You inspire me to create, forgive me when I screw up, and give me courage to keep going when the going gets tough. We have such a great fan community. Love you all. ❤

OOOOWWWWW! Darnit!

Yes, I know. I went quiet again. Thing is: I cut the tip off my left ring finger by accident. Well, of course it was an accident. I’m not that bonkers.

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Now, it’s healing quite well. Got some nice pink new skin coming in and I should have full function of my finger, but the wound is still fresh enough that I still can’t do any carving without it … uh … well, leaking. Ewwwww. No I’m not gonna show you any pics of the boo boo itself. That’s gross.

I go on vacation to Canada to see my friends and relatives that I haven’t seen for two years. I had hoped to have the sword model finished and moulded in silicone, ready for resin casting when I got back. Needless to say, that’s gotten pushed back.

It’s frustrating. I get a new request for a sword pretty much every second day and I really, really want to be making all those pretty shiny things for y’all right now! This is just rotten luck I tell ya. I’m super duper bored cause, well, it’s my finger. Everything I do requires the use of both my hands. Even typing is weird and slow because I can’t push the W, S, or X button with the finger I’m supposed to.

Anywho, grump grump grump, pout pout pout, rawr. I swear I’m not being lazy. I’m just full of OUCH. Yes I will get to your emails. Thank you for being patient with me. Stay awesome. ❤

Breaking New Ground

Yeah, I’m still healing. Yeah, it’s taking a frustratingly long time. But! I have enough stamina to do a little light work each day so I’ve been whittling away at the model I’m going to be casting.

Wooden Sword

Recognise the model? It’s Clariel! This is the sword type that most people request when they email me so I decided to make it the first mould I do for the resin casting.

It’s still looking quite chunky because I’ve only got the outline cut out so far. The next step is to shave down the sides into the right shape.

I’ll try to keep y’all updated as I go. Sorry I’ve been quiet. I’m trying to save most of my energy for actually making the thing. That’s the important bit after all!

I’m hoping to have this model completed and moulded before I leave for summer holidays at the end of this month. I haven’t seen my friends and family in Canada for a couple of years so I figure you’ll forgive me a little break eh? Heheh!

Wish me luck everybody! I can’t wait to be back to work full time.

Still Healing …

Yep … I’m still recovering from surgery. I desperately want to be back in the workshop creating things and the boredom is driving me bonkers. I was able to visit the workshop on the weekend to bring some small crafting stuff home with me; paints and such.

The trip was really painful. I needed to stop partway there and take some painkillers. Thankfully my wife was there to help me. It made me happy to at least see the place just as I left it. All my tools waiting for me to come back. Right now, it’s pretty much all I can do to get there and get home. It’s progress.

There’s some good news in the mix though and I want to share it with you. 🙂 I’m just about ready to place my order for a big batch of silicone and liquid resin from a Swedish distributor. They’re quite close to Finland so the shipping won’t be ridiculous and they sell the kind of resin that I want to work with. They’ve been really helpful in assisting me to choose the right kind of resin for the job.

Casting things that are as large as a seraph blade can be tricky! There are so many things that can go wrong. Overheating during curing (which leads to cracks). Bubbles trapped in the resin (usually we would use a pressure pot to prevent this but there’s none big enough for a sword!). Resin in the thick parts not hardening all the way through. All these things can be overcome with the right ratio of hardener, careful mixing, patience, and practice. My Iron Sister (… Brother?) skills are about to be put to the test once again. Wish me luck!

In response to the many email inquiries I’ve gotten:

While I’m not taking orders right now, you absolutely CAN send me messages to tell me what kind of sword you want to buy! This is super helpful to me so I know which style of blade to make first when I get back in the shop and how many of them I need to make.

I will bookmark each and every email I get about swords, steles, and witchlights and do my absolute best to get back to all of you as soon as I have something for you. I will be sure to make lots of noise and fanfare here on my site when I’m back to producing Seraph Blades.

Until then, send me iratze’s guys. I need ’em! Heal faster dangit!

No I’m Not Dead Yet

Hi everybody! Just a quick update to let you know that I haven’t vanished. Yes I am still making swords and shiny things. I was in the hospital for a bit and I’ve been recovering from surgery. There’s nothing to fret about. It was all planned for and not an emergency of any kind. I’m not sick with anything.

Just getting that out of the way. So, if you’ve sent me an email, I’m not ignoring you and I’ll reply as soon as I have some time. I plan on digging though my inbox tomorrow.

I have now completely finished chewing through my backlog of orders from last year when I had to go workshop hunting on short notice. Big thanks to all the Shadowhunters who waited so patiently for their swords! You guys are the best. ❤

So what’s next? Next is going to be a big research and development phase for me. I have some exciting new ideas about witchlights and I need to nail down exactly how I want to do the electronics. I’m also going to be doing some experiments with resin casting in hopes that I will be able to make more swords more quickly.

I hate only being able to make roughly 24 swords per year. It’s just not fair to all the people who want them. It’s also not fair to me because … well that’s just not enough sales to keep my business up and running. But because I literally cannot make them any faster carving them one at a time with my power tools, my strategy and techniques are going to have to change.

I have two choices: Carve them with a CNC router or cast them in resin. Both of these options have serious challenges and steep startup costs. CNC machines are rather high-tech. They’re also noisy and dusty. Resin, on the other hand can give off really stinky fumes and it’s hard to get the stuff to cure perfectly without any bubbles or blemishes.

First, I’m going to try the resin. I’ve got some experience with moulding and casting things so I’m slightly more confident in those skills than I am with my computer programming. I will be getting my hands on some Alumilite resin as I’ve heard it doesn’t smell like Satan’s personal urinal. If it cures nicely and the fumes aren’t intolerable, then AWESOME, we have our solution to the production problem. If it doesn’t work …

Then I’ll go ahead with my first plan of building a CNC machine and continue being the crazy, crazy weirdo who carves sculptures out of plastic.

Wish my luck with the rest of my recovery and explorations into new creative territory!

Stay safe out there Shadowhunters.

Testing Products & Trying New Things

Hi folks! As promised, I wanted to give an update on things I have in the works and talk a bit about how I do research.

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Here’s a peek at my desk where I’m testing new products I haven’t used before. This is a scrap piece of acrylic that I’ve milled a few grooves in the top and applied some different coatings to see how they behave.

I found while I was making Heosphoros that the engravings on the blade needed some more opacity to stand out from the rest of the blade. But I couldn’t just paint any old substance into the grooves without knowing if it would stay there or melt the acrylic or crack … You get the idea. As you can see, the different substances have different opacity, different thickness, and different texture.

The varnish didn’t work at all. It just rubbed off when I touched it. The faux snow was ridiculously hard to work with and ended up really chunky. The … Glitzershnee? Don’t ask me to pronounce that. I can’t speak German. Anyway #2 was pretty cool but dried kind of soft. #1 was a kind of lacquer for colouring stained glass but I accidentally picked up the crystal clear stuff instead of the white. (#5 is the white stuff which turned out to be too opaque)

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So what ended up working the best? The liquid acrylic (which smells like the Devil’s personal port-a-potty) and a semi-sheer nail polish with mica particles in it for a very fine glitter. Gosh, it would have been great to know that before I spent 30 euros and several hours poking a piece of plastic with weird goo. Ha! But that’s just the way it goes. I still have to test stuff before it goes on the final product. Even the nail polish. Different companies use different chemicals to produce their stuff so you can never be sure if something will play nicely with the acrylic. There are SO MANY kinds of plastic guys. o_o So. Many. And by the end of my life I’m sure I will have smelled them all.

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So I’m working on a witchlight… It’s more complicated than I thought it would be. It’s really hard to get the right stiffness so that it lights up when squeezed so I’ve been thinking of a completely different way of engaging the light switch. The one you see here is 100% silicone and there’s a big ol’ air pocket around the light inside so it’s a no-squeezy. I have to actually fish the light out of the thing to turn it on and off. Too inconvenient. Plus I hate that the light rattles around inside. It really takes away from the “magic” effect.

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Plus … WHY THE H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS DID THE SILICONE CURE TO THE ALUMINIUM FOIL?! Ugh. Maybe because some derpface forgot to give the foil a coating of petroleum jelly before plopping the silicone on it. Silicone is confusing guys. I’m just sayin’. Chemistry class did not prepare me for this.

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Anywho I do like how the opening is pretty well hidden until the silicone is squeezed and then it opens up like one of those rubber froggy coin purse things. It’s progress toward a witchlight I’d actually be pleased to sell. It’s not there yet, but the experimentation taught me a lot about the way silicone behaves and what it’s capable of.

I went out and purchased some actual powdered mica to mix into the silicone/plastic/whatever I end up making these things out of because I found that when the light is off, it doesn’t look so much like a rock as I would like it to. In fact, my first attempt at the silicone witchlight ended up looking like a big white booger or maybe somebody’s pet slime. … actually I might put googly eyes on it and just keep it as my shop mascot. Ha!

As I’ve said before and I’m sure to say it a hundred times more: art is about 90% problem solving. You get an idea, and then you have to figure out how to make it real. The other 10% is kind of a mix between stubbornness and insanity.

That’s all from me for now folks. I’ve go to get my butt to the workshop and polish up a Jahoel. See ya later!