Forward!

All right! I’ve got a very busy week ahead of me guys! I’ll be finishing these two beauties; the first of my resin cast Clariel model swords. And I have a new shipment of moulding silicone coming in from Materialshop.fi . I’m going to be re-moulding my Clariel model sword with a higher quality silicone so I can have a more perfect mould that will last me much longer than the previous one.

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Have no fear, though. The swords I’ve made from the first mould are just as high quality as you expect them to be. Errors in the mould simply means I have to spend more time and effort in the finishing stages, sanding and buffing by hand. I want each sword to come out of the mould as perfect as possible so we can have a nice, consistent result every time and minimise the amount of time it takes for me to finish your sword. My goal right now is to take your order and have it finished for you in a week. A better mould will get me closer to that goal.

I still have a long way to go to get my crafting process where I want it to be, but I’m determined to get there! Thank you all so much for your support and encouragement!

That’s all from me for now. Wish me luck!

Ooh Shiny!

So I played with my new silicone mould last week as I continue my witchlight experimentation. I thought you might like to see the results. I was delayed a little bit at first since the plaster mould jacket I made broke.

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Whoops.

So I had to make a new one out of wood. That whole incident took a couple days more than I was expecting but I bounced back fairly quickly. And of course, I learned things! Time spent learning is never wasted. 🙂   (and my clamps may have learned a few new curse words …)

Aaaaanyway. Look! A shiny rock!

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Yaaaaay!

It’s flat on the bottom so I can more easily work on the whole internal electronics stuff. The resin is so clear, it looks like it’s hollow, but it’s actually solid!

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So next for this little treasure? I’ll be messing about with tiny electronics and figuring out how I’m going to hide a light inside a clear object. I’m thinking it will probably be similar to the witchlight you saw in The Mortal Instruments film that was kind of cloudy inside with some imperfections like a natural stone would have. Kind of like quartz?

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You know the one I mean.

It’s fairly safe to say that adamas would look something like this before it’s refined and worked by the Iron Sisters. At least as far as we can estimate by looking at how mundane metals and crystals behave. I’ll be playing with pigments, dyes, and different kinds of inserts to see what yields the best and most natural looking crystal, while still being able to light up. Y’know just … the usual high wizardry.

I’m sure I’ll figure it out. My superpower is stubbornness.

But! I didn’t spend my entire week on a rock. Nope! I was levelling up my crafting skill finishing off the first ever cast resin Clariel sword!

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Super DUPER shiny. 😮
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The hilt is a combination of polymer clay and leather.

I’m working on making the seams smoother so it’s more difficult to see where the handle opens up. This sword, like the ones before it, has an invisible light switch. Wait, it lights up?

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Of course it does!
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We must have the very shiniest! 😀
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Also functions as a flashlight. Y’know. Just in case.

So does this mean I’m taking orders now? Kinda? I have a mould but I want to make a better quality one since this one has some imperfections in it that I have to spend extra time buffing out when I finish each sword. Rawr! Since silicone is quite expensive, I’ll be selling the three Clariel blades I currently have so I can actually afford to do that.

Of course, those who have been waiting patiently on the contact list get first dibs on the blades up for sale cause that’s only fair. BUT! I can add your order to the list and let you know when one becomes available. I can’t give actual dates quite yet as to when I can complete those orders but I am definitely working on that. And no, you don’t have to put down any kind of payment on the order before I have a completion date for you. I’ve done that before and it’s really stressful on both me and the nice Shadowhunter waiting for their sword!

This whole ordering process thing WILL get easier in the future. Once I’ve got things the way I need them to be (ie: a quality mould I’m happy with and reliable crafting times from start to finish) I will be opening an official web shop for you to find my stuff and buy what you want. I’ll still be taking custom orders, of course. I just need to streamline the crafting process so I actually have time to make custom pieces again.

Enough blathering from me! I must go to the workshop and get busy finishing those other two blades. See you later!

Let there be light!

Last week I finished up the electrics in the Clariel I’m working on. Yay! My customers have given me really valuable feedback and yes I absolutely have been listening. (Thank you! <3)

People are keen to have their Seraph Blades’ light stay on without holding onto the handle so they can take pictures of it. (Previously, I just wrapped a band around the light mechanism to take photos.) Since I was unable to find a pre-made light and switch combo that was low-profile enough to fit in the sword handle, I had to design and make the electronics myself. I’m happy to say that it worked beautifully.

What’s next for this lovely blade? I’d just like to place a small, light insert into the slot with the electronics to make sure the mechanism sits snug and secure in there and doesn’t rattle around. (That kind of ruins the magic.) And I also want to make a small adjustment to the way the flap closes on the handle so no extra light peeks out of any gaps between the leather and the blade.

I’ve plopped a sneak preview of the sword lit up sitting on my office chair. Sorry it’s not a gorgeous and well-composed shot. I intended to take some more shots on Friday but there was some sort of accident in one of the washrooms involving a couple of the toilets backing up and exploding and … stuff going everywhere. (You don’t wanna know.) It was all cleaned up by the time I got to work on Friday so thankfully I didn’t have to actually see what happened but the smell was so horrific I had to leave a couple hours early.

But don’t worry! If they haven’t managed to de-stink the place over the Easter long weekend, I’ll just bring the sword home with me and do the final photo shoot here. Just like in the old days!

That’s all from me for now. Have an awesome day everyone!

Oh, Hi there Clariel!

Sorry this post is a little late. I got lots of pics for you. Forgive me?

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Last week was a flurry of painting, engraving, sculpting, sanding, gluing, sewing, and spraying. I think it was worth it.

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You might be able to see a slightly different “texture” to the surface of the blade than previous carved models. That’s because I’ve added a UV-resistant spray (several coats!) to protect the resin and leather from fading or yellowing in the sun, and also to protect the resin from scratches.

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Still just as see-through though! ^_^ So what’s next for this sword? I got my shipment of push-button switches yesterday evening and today I’ll be toting them to the workshop. I’ll be designing the interior circuitry for the lighting. I’m sticking with the concealed light switch design (that’s the plan anyway) to give the illusion of magic.

Well, writing about it isn’t going to get it done so off I go to the workshop! Wish me luck.

Chuggin’ Right Along

Last week was quite productive. IMG-2383

Got the leather measured, cut, and shaped for the handle. And I also got all the runes engraved. The leather shrunk more than expected as the leather paint dried so I decided to smooth and bulk out the edges with an air-drying polymer clay.

Clariel leather

It’s messy at the moment but I let it be so that it would dry nicely. I can sand the edges today and get it all prettied up. I liked working with the clay so much I think it might be the beginning of a new way to do the handles! We’ll see what the end result is to know for sure. I keep working toward my dream of a beautiful seamless sword.

There’s no such thing as impossible; only things we haven’t learned how to do yet.

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First Resin-Cast Clariel!

I waited until today to show you guys this because I wanted to have a full set of photos from start to finish. It was a tough wait! This is so unbelievably exciting for me! A lot of you know how very frustrated I was with this project because there was just so very much to learn.

The fact is: you can read tutorials and articles and watch all the videos you like, but when it comes right down to it, practice is the most essential part of learning any skill. How firm or squishy will the silicone be when it’s fully cured? How warm does the container of mixed resin feel when it’s beginning to catalyse? How fast will it cure with the temperature and humidity of the room I’m working with? How does a vacuum pump sound when it’s running well versus running poorly? All these questions can only be answered by getting your hands on the materials and working with them.

Every mistake is a learning experience, but when your materials are this expensive, every mistake is costly. I’ve ‘wasted’ about 80-100 Euros worth of silicone to get where I am now and I have a lot more learning to do.

So you can imagine, after weeks and months of materials not arriving on time, machines not working, chemicals doing weird unexplained things, how overjoyed I was to open up the mould and see …

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Perfect. It looked perfect. I couldn’t believe it. I had expected to fail, yet again, as I had failed so many times before. Expected it with such certainty that I could not accept that it had actually worked. I had convinced myself, with every heartbreaking flop that I was too stupid to get it right.

I poked the little side tubes where the air vents are because I was so afraid of messing up the sword after all this struggle. It was solid. No stickiness. No softness.

I put my fingertips on the blade of the sword, expecting to encounter a gummy, gluey surface. It was completely smooth. It was still warm from the exothermic catalysing process and it felt like a living creature.

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Honestly, I teared up. I was so exhausted from fighting with this project and now it was finally here. All I could do for several minutes was just run my hands over it and marvel at how a bucket of thickish goo could become something like this.

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I had been worried about clarity, unsure if this resin would be as beautifully transparent as the PMMA resin I’d been carving. Well, I snapped a photo straight down the pour-spout. I think I have nothing to be worried about. It’s so clear it looks hollow.

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After nipping off the extra resin from the air vents and the spout (I affectionately call them ‘umbilical cords’ since that’s really what they looked like!) I buzzed off the seams around the edges with the Dremel tool. In this shot, I haven’t even started polishing it yet.

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The edges are still scratchy from the Dremel. Can’t have that! The finish must be even!

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This is polished. I gave it my favourite frosted finish (800 grit polish).

This sword is one I’m going to keep for myself and not just because it’s the first and very special because of that. There are some tiny air bubbles in it. I think it’s from when the mould started leaking because it wasn’t clamped tightly enough during the pour. The bubbles are only in the handle, mostly in the pommel which is exactly the point during the pouring that the resin started seeping out at the seams.

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You can tell that these little imperfections are barely the size of a needle-point but you know what a stickler for perfection I am! I will be experimenting on this sword to see if I can get the bubbles filled with epoxy or other type of liquid resin and get the surface totally flawless. The bubbles that are encased in the resin I can’t do anything about, but that’s okay. I’m pretty sure no one but me can see them.

I want to make an even better quality mould with this sword since it’s smoother than the plaster prototype and I would have even less work to do with the polishing. That means better quality swords straight out of the mould, and less time taken with buffing so they can be in your hands sooner. Yay!

So what’s next for Clariel and when will I have swords available to sell? Well, technically, I could start putting out unlit blades right now, but for everybody wanting their swords with LEDs equipped, I’ve got to cast another sword, decide on the light mechanism I want to implant, mill out a slot for the light to go in, check and make sure the electronics work the way I want them to, make a mould for all the swords that will have lights in them.

Easy … peasy? Man I hope so after all this but I fully expect a “Mistakes with Metal” photo series to be coming up. Haha! Wish me luck okay?

Before I scamper off to the workshop, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being so supportive through all my frustrated yowling. Those of you who have commented on my page, in person, here on my website, the hugs, the suggestions, the shares, the likes, the kitten pictures, the coffee … it all helped so very much to keep me somewhat sane … okay functional while throwing myself at this project. The demon Depression is the scariest of all; it steals your will to fight, to even try. It needs a full team to defeat and it’s great to know you’re all part of my posse.

Stay awesome everybody. I’m off to make cool stuff.

Final Moulding: Clariel

Hey guys! I am really excited and nervous today. I’m using my brand new vacuum pump and taking the final mould for the Clariel model sword. (I hope.) It has taken way longer than I thought to get that plaster sword prototype as smooth and shiny as I possibly can.

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The glossy varnish I have needs about 12 hours to fully set before I can put on a second coat so you can imagine how long it took to get multiple coatings on and then polish the thing.

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I think it was worth the extra effort. 🙂

Now, the next step is getting it fitted into the moulding box nice and snugly. That took a long time as well. Why? Because you saw how sloppy my first mould was. Let’s not have a repeat of THAT nonsense! We want the two halves of the mould to line up all straight and smooth and beautiful so that I can easily clamp them together with no leaks or weird seams.

To do that, I have to find the exact middle of the object I’m taking a mould of. That’s tricky when it doesn’t sit flat on the table. It’s chubbier in the middle than it is at the point of the blade or the pommel (butt end). So that makes it do a see-saw thing when I try to lay it flat. To compensate for that, I have to put a cushion of clay under the blade and the handle to make it sit perfectly level. Then, I have to cut a piece of laminated foam (or anything else that’s flat really … could be wood but I used foam) to fit in the space between the sword and the edges of the box. That’s so the silicone doesn’t fall down through any gaps and fill the whole darned box. That would trap the sword inside and I’d be really sad. (Hey! Give me my sword back!)

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And that gives us exactly one half of Clariel to make exactly one half of a mould. Yaaaay!

But what’s all that green stuff in there? No one said there would be green stuff aaahhhh! Don’t worry. that’s just clay. Some of those clay noodles are touching the sword and some aren’t. The ones that are touching Clariel are air vents. Those allow the bubbles to escape from the resin when I pour it into the mould so (hopefully) they get out of the sword and don’t get stuck in there.

The noodles that aren’t touching the sword are what we call “findings”. You know when you’re closing a plastic container of leftovers and putting it in the fridge for later? Take a look at the lid sometime and you’ll see there’s a trench all the way around where it fits over the edge of the container. That makes a nice snug fit so air doesn’t get inside and so you know the lid is in the right spot before you push down on it for that nice satisfying “click!”. Container closed and ready to go. Like your plastic sandwich box, the two halves of the mould need to fit together nicely and the findings help you figure out when both sides have lined up just right.

And then I pour 300 Euros of silicone into it. Haaaaah … yeah send me Luck runes guys! You can probably see why I’m a little nervous of screwing up! Haha!

Well, that’s enough procrastinating for me. I’d better go Iron Brother it up in the workshop. (I’m just kidding. I love talking to you guys. LOL) Oh, and if you’re a Matthew Daddario fan like me, don’t forget to wish him a happy birthday if you haven’t already!

Ciao for now!