Back in Business

Hey guys! I’ve been out of commission for 6 weeks with this stupid surgery thing and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back in the workshop! As soon as the doc cleared me for active duty I hopped on the train, headed directly to the shop, and cast a brand new Clariel.

I like big clamps and I cannot lie …

I was worried about getting back into the swing of things. Would I need some time to get back in the game?

It looks like a creepy but happy fish.

The resin behaved. The vacuum pump behaved (even though I really should probably change that oil …)

Yaaaaassssss

This is probably the fewest bubbles I’ve ever had in a casting and they were all pinhole surface bubbles, easily buffed away with a little sanding. To say that I’m pleased with the results is a huge understatement.

Here it is all trimmed and with its first couple rounds of sanding. I’m starting to leave the handles rough so the adhesive and epoxy putty has a better surface to grip to. I can’t wait to see how it’s going to turn out!

Thanks for stopping by my page. Hopefully updates will be regular again.

Super brief Update

Things have been crazy. Haven’t had time to post. Sorry!

Here’s a sneak preview of the sea and sky sword I’m working on.

Added a little white froth to make it look like a cresting wave. I like it! We’ll see what the photographer’s schedule is like for this week and try to get everything ready. Still need to hook up the LED and do the wrapping.

Yes I am working on witchlights! I’m having problems getting the two halves to line up and not look super obvious. I want it to look real dangit!

Anyway, I have to get going. Work work work!

Pretty & Smelly: Solvent Paints!

This beauty is sitting in my workshop right now, all ready for a heat-cure on the green-blue lacquer you can see on the handle there. What is this wondrous paint that sticks to resin? It’s Deka Transparent Glass Paint.

It’s bold. It’s beautiful. It smells really bad. And nothing else works quite so well! So if you want to treat yourself to this rocking good fun that is painting on resin, you will need a protective mask that will guard against vapours. Yes. Specifically vapour. A regular dust-mask filter will not save you from the smell of this solvent-based paint. I tried just painting it on without any mask, thinking “oh it can’t possibly be that bad”. Yes. Yes it can. I got dizzy and my sinuses burned like I’d just snorted nail polish remover.

Yes, you can certainly do it outside. It’s currently 1C outside for me so … not an option. Vapour protection it is then!

Is it worth it? Ohhhh baby. Yeah. I mixed the greenblue translucent paint with the black translucent paint and then diluted it with acetone. You must use acetone and not water because Deka translucent glass paint is solvent based. It will not play nice with water. You’ll have to use a solvent.

I airbrushed the paint onto the sword hilt. Heavier on the back of the handle and lighter toward the hilt and blade because I wanted it to fade into clear. I wasn’t bothered by the uneven “waves” in the paint where I sprayed it (a little too diluted I think) because I was trying to achieve a water-like effect.

What else do you need to know about Deka Transparent Glass Paint? It needs to set for 72 hours. So if you’re in a hurry, uh … well don’t be in a hurry. After the three days have passed, you should give it a heat-treatment.

The instructions recommend putting the piece in an oven but there’s two reasons why I can’t do that: 1. My piece is made of resin and will deform at roughly 100C, and 2. My sword won’t fit in my oven. So I’ll be using a heat gun (carefully!) to do the heat treatment.

I’m really excited to finish up the handle and show you the piece! I’m not sure if I’m installing a light in this one or not. I kind of want to but I’m nervous of cutting into that pretty blue handle now that I’ve got it all nice … we’ll see.

Happy Little Accidents

So there I was in the workshop, mixing up the resin for a sword. The resin had gelled so I had to re-liquefy it. No big deal, right? Well, despite it being the same resin I used to make the sabre for the Arabian Nights pinball machine, this one did not turn out completely clear.

It has clouds in it.

Now, this would be a difficult task to achieve on purpose. To do it purposefully, I would have to mix up a separate batch of resin with white dye, then do some very skilful pouring to get this kind of effect in a completely opaque mould without being able to see what I’m doing.

What happened? I have no idea. I’ve asked Hardcore Craft and they haven’t responded. There is no dye in this sword at all. It just did this by itself. The white parts are fully hardened. They don’t take any impression from a fingernail as I’d expect if it wasn’t fully cured. I’m baffled, to be honest.

What will I do with it? Finish it of course! But I can’t really say that it’s a Seraph Blade. Every Shadowhunters fan knows that a Shadowhunter’s blades are made of adamas, which is a crystal clear metal with angelic properties. Looks like glass, hits like mithril.

It will be an art piece, for sure. I’m just going to let the blade suggest its personality to me and trust in the crafting process.

That’s all from me for now. See ya later!

Polishing Day

I have got some great news for you all. Check out my new baby!

What? You thought I had one of those stinking screaming mini-humans? Hah!

After I accidentally loaded my old vacuum pump with hydraulic oil instead of vacuum pump oil (oops!), it has never worked right again. Overheating. Loud banging noises. Foaming oil in the sight glass … It was bad. I needed a new one.

Thankfully, my buddies at Unicorn Tools had my back and got me a great price on a bigger, beefier vacuum pump. This one is getting pampered, I can tell you that much. They even sent along a spare container of the correct oil. Thank you guys so much! It takes about 3 seconds for this beast to pull all the air out of the vacuum chamber and it hums along like a champ under load. Love it!

Bask in its beauty.

And now that I have a working vacuum pump once again, I can cast things! Woo! Back to making swords!

Speaking of making swords …

Oh yes I did. Those of you familiar with my models will recognise Zaapiel, the exotic ring-sword inspired blade. The funky “spikes” sticking off of it are simply the little tabs that are created by the bubble traps in the mould. They get trimmed off before sanding and polishing happens.

Now this sword has some bubbles in it due to a resin issue I had, but the person it’s for said it looked cool as-is so we’re going with it. If you look closely, it looks like they’re some kind of magic spell firing down the length of the blade from the hand of some powerful magus.

ZAP!

That’s going to look really cool when it’s lit up. 🙂

The issue I was having with the resin was that I was using Alumilite Clear Slow and this resin tends to “gel” up after a few months of not being used. If this happens to you, do not panic and do not throw it away. All you need to do is put it in a water-tight container and give it a hot water bath for a few hours and it will be liquid again.

I portioned out about 500mL of resin, stuck it in a Ziploc container, sealed it, and popped it in a hot water bath. Every now and then I took it out, dried it off really thoroughly, opened it up, and stirred it until it was the liquid consistency I wanted. Now, you’ll notice I emphasised “dried it off really thoroughly” and that’s because resin is really, really finicky about moisture. Even a little dampness. So you can imagine what a drop or two of water in the mix would do to it. Be careful when you’re handling it.

So I re-liquefied it, vacuumed it, and still got bubbles in the finished product? Yep. That was my fault. You see, resin cures faster when it’s warm. Annnnd I forgot to cool the resin down after its hot water bath. I just went straight to the degassing and mixing and pouring. Whoops. I got a little too gung-ho and eager to try out this new sword mould. So I should have gotten twelve minutes of working time with the resin but I had slightly less than that because it was quite warm and the bubbles couldn’t escape as well before it hardened.

But we still ended up with a really cool result so I guess I’m learning stuff about mould-making and handling my materials effectively. Yay for learning!

Today, of course, I move on to the next stage of the build and that means wet-sanding the whooooole surface and getting a consistent overall clarity and shine. And that means I’m working from home today where I have running water. Yup. Picture me standing in the bathroom with my hands in the sink for … let’s not think about how many hours. That’s my work day today. LOL

As a little bonus on the end here, check out where we are on the raven statuette!

Sorry it’s a little hard to see its features on camera. In person, though, the black paint makes it easier for me to see imperfections and correct them. I noticed that the angle of its beak was a little off on its right side so I had to do some sanding and filing and a little carving to get it the way I wanted it. This piece will be getting some more smoothing, re-painting (to check again for errors), and sealing before I move on to the next part of the project.

As a bonus-bonus, here is the current state of “Thorn” (working name). It’s so comfortable to hold.

When can we expect to see it appear in my Etsy store? Well … that depends on when the person who asked for it gets back to me. LOL

Okay, time for me to stop yammering and go pick up some more sandpaper. It’s sleeting outside so uh … wish me luck. XD

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

Introducing Heosphoros!

Hm, does that shape look familiar? I sure hope so!

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This blade is a re-imagining of what the Morgenstern short sword might look like if it had been crafted from adamas. The Shadowhunter who ordered it specified which runes she liked and we put our own spin on the piece. I think it came out rather well.

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So exactly how hard is it to engrave on a curved piece of acrylic with no router or CNC milling machine? Well, on a scale of 1-10 it’s somewhere between 12 and crying in the fetal position. See, the lovely thing about automatic machines is that they are very stable and they don’t get tired. Hand-engraving with the Dremel tool requires the craftsman to hold his body and arms perfectly rigid and force the tool to stay in one place when all it really wants to do is skitter off into Narnia.

The other challenge was cutting 90-degree angles and sharp corners. I have a Dremel tool, a Bosch multi-tool, and Chewie my faithful belt sander. So how do we get these kind of angles?

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30% creativity, 70% tenacity, and 112% profanity.

Needless to say, Heosphoros challenged me and pushed me to my limits.

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I think it came out pretty nice though. 😉

The pommel is actually made of pine but thanks to the wonders of paint and a really nice high-gloss sealer it not only looks like metal but also feels like it too. It’s pretty fun to watch people run their fingers over it and then, perplexed, ask “what’s it made out of?” I figure that if you can’t really tell even after touching it, I’m doing a decent job.

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The runes themselves are inlaid with liquid acrylic (yes the stuff that smells like Satan’s personal urinal when it’s curing) and then inlaid again with a semi-transparent lacquer. I had to do this for two reasons: #1 It’s impossible to smooth out the tool marks from the engraving without using the acrylic because I don’t have a CNC milling machine or laser cutter, and #2 the acrylic is so clear that they were too hard to see without adding some opacity.

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Without the inlay.

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With the inlay.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this post. Sorry it’s been a long while between updates. I’ve been pretty busy and now you can see what I was working on!

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Haha take that demons!

Hopefully, it won’t be so long between posts next time. I’d like to give you a wee presentation on some product testing I’ve been doing and some neat ideas I have for future creations.

That’s all from me for now. I’ve got to dash off to the workshop and get started on the next sword. Until next time, stay safe out there Shadowhunters.