Back from Vacation

So I’m back from Estonia! I don’t think I mentioned I was going on vacation. Sorry. I was so excited to visit Tallinn for the first time that I just kind of ran out the door.

I finished off another lovely Clariel sword. It arrived in Germany safe and sound and now has a loving home.

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I’d like to take a brief moment to talk about my packaging methods just in case anyone is curious. My blades are always packaged in materials that are bio-degradable, recyclable, or re-usable because I am committed to making my company as eco-friendly as possible.

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When you open your package, you will find unbleached brown paper used for filling voids in the box (so the contents don’t rattle around inside). The sword is wrapped snugly in a fleece baby blanket, all tied securely with a ribbon. The colours of the blanket and ribbon may vary but my wrapping method is always the same.

Even though I work with plastics and craft things with plastics, I don’t want any plastic waste products. The way I see it: you’ll want to keep the sword forever, but not the packaging. So why should the packaging last forever? It shouldn’t! It should go back into the earth and continue the natural cycle of the environment.

Okay, enough jabber about tree-hugging stuff LOL! What’s up for this week? Well, I made a new mould jacket for my Clariel mould annnd … it doesn’t quite fit snugly enough so I have to trim it down a bit. I have to go find out how badly it leaked. Not looking forward to it. Yuck. But at least I had it wrapped up in plastic just in case it failed so it didn’t go all over the floor. It shouldn’t take too long to fix. Hopefully. Wish me luck!

Another Lovely Clariel

I’m almost finished crafting the third Clariel I made with my first mould. I’m very pleased with how this beauty came together. Gave me no trouble at all. My crafting technique is getting smoother and faster. Yay for practise!

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What’s next from the Inkblade Studios? Well, I continue to work on my crazy bucket experiment. Once I’ve confirmed whether or not it works, I can move on to creating a brand new model of sword! Or … will it be a witchlight? Or maybe a stele?! Ahhh help me decide!

Blue Goo; What Do?

Hey guys! I’ve got a lot of new stuff coming up that I’m really excited to share! First, I’m pleased to announce that the third resin-cast Clariel has been purchased by a lucky Shadowhunter in Germany. I’ve already got the flap moulded, underside painted a nice reflective white, and adhered to the hilt. If all goes well, I’ll have it finished and on its way by the end of the week. Yay!

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Secondly, I’ve been doing some weird silicone experiments in an effort to make my moulds with less silicone. That would cut down on my expenses and allow me make things for everybody at a lower cost. Yay! I really am trying, guys. I know cost is a factor for most of us.

If I had a big ol’ factory with assembly lines and million dollar injection moulding systems, I could be making stuff in bulk and charging less but … nope. It’s just me. Me and my own two hands doing the best I can.

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So what’s this stuff? Same silicone, just thickened and painted on.
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The thickener didn’t work so great so a lot of it oozed across the table.
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Still, I got a decent mould of the rock I was using with a lot less material.

Clearly, more experimentation is needed. The mould ends up quite a bit thinner and it might be more flexible than I want it to be, but that’s okay! I remain stubborn and I will find a way to do this just the way I want it. 🙂

Lastly, I have a strange experiment in the works. I want to try a new way of creating a support structure for silicone moulds. Usually, moulds are clamped between two boards or a ‘jacket’ is created around it with either fibre-reinforced plaster (like a cast on a broken leg), or fibreglass.

I’ve experienced some problems casting smaller objects in resin when the mould jacket is made of plaster. Since plaster is made of gypsum, and gypsum has a verrrrry low thermal conductivity it takes a really long time to heat up or cool down and usually feels cold to the touch. My resin needs a certain amount of warmth to set properly, otherwise I get uneven curing.

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Like this. 😦
I would happily make my mould jackets out of fibreglass, but I don’t want to work with glass fibres. They’re nasty things. Irritate the lungs, irritate your skin, and just generally get everywhere and make a nuisance of themselves.

I could use burlap or similar cloth instead of glass fibre and I actually tried to do that last week. However, the epoxy or resin you typically use for this kind of thing is the most foul-smelling chemical I have ever worked with. Most of them require you to work outside with a respirator on. It’s that bad. So, I would either need to use a resin that is less stinky (and way more expensive!) or …

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Is that … is that a garbage can? Ethan, you’ve lost your mind this time.

Yes, that’s a couple of enormous trash cans with bags of fine sand inside. Sand? Trash cans? What kind of crazy plan is this?!

You’ll have to find out later. I’m off to the workshop to finish a sword! Wheeeee!

The Mothermould!

Woohoo! This has been a crazy exciting week. I stubbornly went back for another try at the mother mould for Clariel. I was terrified that I’d fail once again and have wasted over 100 euros on silicone.

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Well … it’s smooth, but is it cured?

I was especially nervous because one spot was a bit of a different colour and firmness than the rest.

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Poke poke. Hello? 

But it wasn’t sticky and my finger didn’t sink into it soooo, let’s get it out of the moulding box.

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A fine looking silicone sandwich!

Well it looked like it was all okay. But I would only be able to know for sure by separating the two halves. This was the moment of greatest tension. The moment of truth! Would it be sticky inside? Would it have somehow cured to the other half, trapping the model sword inside?! I didn’t know. I’d have to open it and find out.

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Here goes nothing …
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SUCCESS!

It cured! It cured all the way through and didn’t do anything crazy! I can’t tell you the relief I felt. That was so much work to get it right and my mistakes were not cheap but it all paid off.

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All cleaned up and ready for a mould jacket!

Ahh, there it is. That’s exactly what I wanted. I really needed that win. it fits together just perfectly. No weird gaps. No bubbles. No cracks. Hurrah!

Now on to the mould jacket! This mould is too wobbly to support itself indepedently so it needs a “cast” around it to keep it from popping open or deforming when I pour the resin in. Imagine it like a body; right now, it needs bones so it can stand up. 🙂

I tried some really gross-smelling plastic stuff.

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Uhhh …

And it hardened before I was done working with it! well that’s useless.

So I gave my dear mould a nice, relaxing mud-mask.

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I thought it looked stressed out. This’ll help.

Really, though, that’s hobby concrete smooshed into layers of burlap cloth. I’m hoping it will be strong enough when dry to not crack or crumble. We’ll have to see! This is how I left it last Friday night so this morning I will check on it and see how my experiment went. Don’t worry! I’m not out of ideas yet!

I have determination! I have sisu! And if that doesn’t work, I have coffee.

Silicone Sandwich

Otherwise known as the two-part mould. It’s half finished guys! Actually, it might be all finished right now; I have to go to the workshop to check. But I wanted to share with you the progress shots from last week because playing with goo is exciting!

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There’s the mould design sculpted in clay.
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And placed in its box for silicone pouring!
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Some kind of strange Ikea cake …
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Now to clean of allllll that clay. It took hours.
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Then a quick re-sculpt of the spout and air vents.

And it was all ready to go back in the box for the second half! Then I hit a few snags. First, since it’s the other side, the bendy part around the blade had to be put on the other way and when I did that, it somehow ended up about one centimetre shorter. I have no idea how this happened. Oh well! I just added some more corrugated plastic on the end.

Then, I noticed that the straight pieces of foam board I had used for the upper parts of the sword had become badly warped overnight! I tried to patch the gaps with extra hot glue but it just wasn’t working. I had to cut some MDA board instead and use that. That sucked up some extra time.

Then, as I was degassing the silicone for the second pouring, I realised something: it was really hot in my workshop. I thought it couldn’t be more than 24C or so in there and I was really focused on my work, not my comfort. BUT, with this silicone you can accelerate the curing time by increasing the temperature. Handy right? Except when all the bubbles aren’t out of it yet and it’s starting to set! AHHHHH! By the time I noticed what was wrong it was already as thick as cookie dough. I had to stick my gloved hand INTO the bucket of silicone and pull it out glob by glob. It even started curing to my glove and I had a big hand-sized blob of blue slime dangling off my fingers as I desperately waggled it, trying to get it off. It eventually plopped into the mould box with the rest.

So … will it be okay? I don’t know! The top of it won’t be as smooth and glossy as the top of the “Ikea cake” picture there. I’m afraid the silicone had already thickened so much that the last blobs that fell in will probably stay as they are and make the surface bumpy and weird. What does that mean for me? Well, it just means that I’ll have to do a fibreglass jacket around the mould instead of a wooden clamping box. Oh well! I have the stuff to do either one and I was on the fence about which way I wanted to do it anyway.

The real question is: did it cure nicely against the SWORD? Because if there’s bubbles or spaces against the sword, I have to do this part of the mould again. I’m making a pretty new mother mould for every Clariel model sword that will come from my shop. If there’s a mistake in that mould, there will be a mistake in every sword it produces! And I’ll have to take time to fix each and every one. That would ruin the point of making a better mould in the first place! It’s gotta be just as perfect as I can possibly make it.

Wish me luck! I have a feeling I’m gonna need it today.

New Mother Mould

Hi everybody! Quick update to let you know what I’m up to. I’m setting up the moulding box to pour the first half of the new Clariel mould. Yay! It doesn’t look too jazzy right now but cool stuff is coming.

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Why the new mould? Well, after casting 4 swords from the first mould I made, I realised that each of them had a slight bend toward the right near the tip. This was easy enough to correct with a trip to Chewy (my belt sander), but I didn’t want to have to do that for every single sword. That makes a lot more work for me and takes too much time to produce each sword. I’m working on getting high quality swords made for you faster so that more people can have access to the pretty stuff. Anything that stands in the way of that goal is simply no good!

So I went back to the plaster model sword and shaped and measured it with more accurate tools. Then I carved a light slot into it so I don’t have to do that freehand with each sword I make. (That saves about an hour per sword.) Then I re-finished the whole thing with several layers of sealant and gloss and buffed it all up to 2000 grit. My aim? To get it as smooth as possible so I have the bare minimum of sanding and polishing to do to each sword that comes out of the mould.

Well, off I go to the workshop! Wish me luck.

Quick Update & A Lot of Pics!

Hi everyone! I’m in a bit of a rush today. Lots of running around picking up materials, doing research for tools I’ll be needing in the near future, and trying to get the last bit of work done on the Clariel model sword to create the final perfected mould. Gah! It’s crazy!

And 25 degrees is WAY too freaking hot for me! I’m melting. Seriously, I moved within sneezing distance of the Arctic Circle to get away from being toasted by the evil fireball in the sky …

Stop talking about the weather and give us pictures already Ethan! Okay okay. Yesssss I finished the 2nd cast resin Clariel last week and she is awaiting word from her Australian Shadowhunter to ship out. Here’s the pics I promised.

Shiny in the suuuuun! 😀

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Ahh you runed it! Haaaah terrible pun … *ducks head in shame*

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I’ve been working on getting my rare-earth magnet closures smaller and tidier for a nice sleek look. How did I do guys? 🙂

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Oooooh shiny! Yes it’s in my sauna. LOL I currently have nowhere else that is dark enough to show you the full glory of the sword lit up. But you know what? I’m rather proud to be living and working in Finland so I think it’s kind of fitting that the quintessential Finnish element of the sauna plays a role in my work even if it’s a small one. 🙂

That’s it for me for the day everybody. I’ve got to get going. There is SO much sanding and polishing to do and OMG I almost forgot!

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This one. This one is not yet claimed! If you want this Clariel for your very own, I have an Etsy listing for you to pounce on right HERE. And since it’s not yet finished, YOU get to choose what kind of finish you want to have on it. Lit? Unlit? Runes? No runes? Some runes? Different runes?! It’s up to you. Your wish is my command! 😉

Have a great day everybody! I’m off to … everywhere, probably all at once. LOL