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.

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.

 

What Happens When You Cross a Shadowhunter with a Slytherin?

Something really cool apparently!

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I had so much fun making this. I had never worked with wood before so carving the snake head on the pommel was an exciting new challenge. After carving the nightmarishly hard acrylic, my tools sliced through the solid pine like a piece of bread! I actually had to be careful not to use too much force.

The blade style itself was based on the Jahoel model. I made it longer, wider, and curved the spike forward instead of at a 90 degree angle with the handle.

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The crystals in its eyes are faux emeralds made from acrylic and the crystal ball trapped in the mouth is made of glass.

I know, I know. You’re asking: “Yes but does it glow?”

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Yessssss it does.

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Quite nicely, I might add. 😉

This is also the first time I have added a sheath to the bundle.

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This sheath has a hard spine of stiffened canvas to make sure it keeps its shape and allow the wearer to draw and return the sword easily. It’s fully lined with a fine, soft felt to protect the blade from scratches.

The sheath was actually the most difficult part of the whole piece if you can believe it! I had never used this kind of fabric stiffener before and I was so glad it behaved like I thought it would. Getting the it fitted precisely to the curve and the width of the sword was really challenging. If the sheath is too loose, the sword might slip out and that just won’t do! All the same, it can’t be too snug or it will be too hard to get the sword in and out of it.

Please allow me to share a pic of the fitting process because I think you’ll find it just as funny as I did.

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Behold! The giant chocolate fondue banana! I’m not sure if that would make me the most popular Iron Sister or get me kicked out of the Citadel immediately…

I’ve been thinking of doing a short photo series illustrating how to wear a sword and how to draw and put it back in the sheath. Essentially “How to handle a cosplay sword and make it look like you know what you’re doing.” Would anybody be interested in such a thing? I’m not a master at any form of martial arts but I have studied a few years in Bujinkan ninjutsu so I can at least draw and return a sword without dropping the thing. (most of the time anyway …) Super duper basics but better than nothing for folks who haven’t had any training at all? Maybe? I dunno, what do you guys think?

Let me know. I love hearing from y’all. ^_^

I’ve already got a new project clamped to the cutting table and I’m eager to get carving. I’ll plop one more pic here and dash off to work. See ya later Shadowhunters!

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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!

What’s on Ethan’s Table This Week?

Hi everybody! Here’s a quick update before I run off to the workshop. Man it feels great to be crafting again! I finished the cutting on this downsized Gabriel. (The pic still has some excess acrylic on the back but that’s all cut off now.)

It took me a couple days to get it cut as I’m using Jitterbug, my multi-tool to do it. I miss Nibbles, my band saw, but it just can’t handle the 50mm (2 inch) thick acrylic. I might see about getting a stronger multi-tool to see if I can shave off some time. Jitterbug has a bad habit of overheating and spitting black sludge on the table. How rude! We’ll see what I can do about it.

I’m still working out the specifics of getting my CNC machine. The one I was initially planning to buy is out of stock until March. The other one I’m looking at is in stock right now but it would cost roughly $2000 more. I must find out when the more expensive one would arrive (it’s made in the USA). Depending on the answer, I can move forward with my decision.

Bleh. I hate all this money and technical crap. I just want to art dangit! XD

That’s all from me for now. This sword isn’t going to carve itself! Stay safe out there Shadowhunters.

A Brand New Start – Workshop Pics

Today, I signed the lease and put the security deposit on my new workshop. I collected the last bit of paperwork I needed and submitted my application for the government Start-Up Grant. This is a proud day for me and it marks the end to months of stress and frustration.

You’ve all shown me the kindness and patience that the Shadowhunter fandom is known for and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.

I’d like to share with you the first pictures of my new workshop. It needs some cleaning and some care, but I can’t wait until then to show you! Besides, you see all my other works-in-progress so why not my work space too?

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On my floor, there is also a break room with a microwave, fridge, and a couple of coffee makers. Maybe I’ll see some of the other artists? Who knows! The building manager said he’s never seen anyone use it. I’ll be cooking myself lunch in there though so maybe it will encourage others to come and be social. 🙂

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Finally, after so much tearing my hair out and worrying myself silly, I can relax and enjoy my holiday. I still have to deal with tax registration and insurance and all that crud but for now, I’m just going celebrate my victory with my favourite beer.

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Whatever winter holiday you’re celebrating, I hope you have a good one! Me, I’m gonna eat a lot of food and be lazy. Probably visit with a bunch of friends while we all have a little time off.

I’ve got permission from the building manager to paint my workspace, by the way. Any suggestions about what COLOUR it should be? Feel free to comment! I’d love to hear what you think. 🙂

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