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!

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.

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.

 

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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

Hey! What’s the Hold-Up?

No, I’m not dead. Yet.

Once again, I’d like to thank the Shadowhunters who have ordered blades from me for their stellar patience. You guys are the best!

I’m currently doing my best to cut through the two-inch acrylic with Jitterbug and the newest member of Inkblade Studios: Hellscream.

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Hellscream is a circular table saw which, much like Nibbles before it, only cuts in straight lines. It is even more adamant about this policy than Nibbles was, in fact and will SHRIEK LIKE THE SOULS OF THE DAMNED at the slightest provocation. Hellscream’s favourite things include: lurking under the work table, screaming, biting anything that comes close enough, and flinging bits of hot melted plastic at me.

Jitterbug and Hellscream make for an awkward duo to accomplish the task of cutting the sword outlines. It’s rather like hunting demons with a box-cutter and a cannon. I either have to chip away at it with many small cuts or make big, not spectacularly accurate cuts while trying not to damage anything I want to keep intact.

It’s getting done it’s just … slow. And quite frustrating. Boo. Wish me luck guys! We’ll git ‘r done one way or another.

What’s on Ethan’s Table This Week?

I made a thing!

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It’s a nice thing. ^_^

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Shiiiiny.

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So very shiny!

If you think you’ve seen this thing before, it’s probably because it’s based on that thing.

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We couldn’t tell what the rune in the middle was so we guessed.

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I like this thing. 🙂

If you want your own thing, you’d better hurry. I’ve only got one more crafting slot left for this year!

That’s all from me for now. I think I earned a nap.

What’s on Ethan’s Table This Week?

Holy crap I broke it.

Wow! That’s the second time I’ve busted a saw blade on Nibbles. Even though the acrylic slab I was working on is only an inch thick, it is a super dense material that means business. Don’t worry! No one was hurt. I’d like to thank the fine people at Cotech for designing a band saw that keeps the blade inside the machine when it snaps so it doesn’t come lashing out like Izzy’s whip. o_o Still scared the pants off me though.

Anywho, after about a half hour of farting around with a new blade, I was back to work.

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Here’s a brand new short sword I’m working on. Yes it’s the one who broke Nibbles’ teeth LOL Remember, it’s not the size of the blade in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the blade! This beauty is feisty and takes no crap from anybody. It’s modelled after … well, can you think of anybody short, feisty, and take-no-crap who might wield it?

So what about that long sword I was working on last week? I’m so glad you asked hypothetical person!

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Whoa! What’s that on the hilt?

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I can put metal studs on the handle? Sure I can! When we design a blade, you’re free to let your imagination run wild. Each Shadowhunter is a unique individual with their own preferences. It makes sense that their seraph blades are too, eh?

Enough jabbering though. More shinies!

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Hello darkness my old friend … I’ve come to light you up again …

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Demons despair; your end has come!

Yay shinies! … kay that’s a slightly less intimidating battle cry. Anyway! I just want to leave a small note here to let you know that I have two crafting slots left for November. Yep. All the Halloween slots are taken. As you can guess, they’re very popular and are grabbed up pretty quickly. But there’s still a chance to get some sweet seraphy (that’s not a word) goodness for the Holiday Season. 

That’s all from me for now. Stay safe out there Hunters. 😉