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. ūüôā

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

Little Wee Pokey

It’s so cuuuuute! This was a really good test of the new DIY paperclay stuff. Light, strong. mouldable, and sandable. I’m quite pleased!

This here knife is currently going by the name of Thorn, just so I have something to call it. It is double-edged for maximum utility (slashing or stabbing) and provides a little bit of protection to the hand while blocking another blade.

Yes, yes, panicking parents, it’s not actually sharp. I don’t make real weapons. I make art pieces. I do envision how a blade would actually work if it were real, though, so my designs at least make some logical sense. So many fantasy weapons just look … preposterous.

Like A: it’s half the size of your body; you’re never going to lift it, and B: if you managed to, you’re never going to successfully stick it in the other guy, and C: if you somehow managed to accomplish that (like if he was asleep or something) you would never be able to get it out again. Or quite possibly D: your dagger has six blades on it they’re all curved at an angle even a snake would find obscene and half of them are pointed back at you what are you doing with your life?

Much more practical.

What else have I got for you today? Well, I put some more reinforcement on the wings of the raven.

Cause a cross-guard needs to actually … guard. Yeah. This one is more decorative than anything else though if I’m perfectly honest. I’m okay with that. ^_^

Alright, off to the workshop. Wish me luck!

Clay Days

So! My vacuum pump has finally bit the dust. Poor thing. ūüė¶ I am going to try to get the filter cleaned and looked at and maybe something replaced but I wasn’t willing to take the thing apart until I knew I had a nice new pump on the way that I could be sure would work. Cause let’s face it, it’s better to have a pump that sort of works for a short period of time than a pump that doesn’t work at all.

I have ordered that new pump and I am awaiting its arrival. Hopefully it will come soon! What am I doing in the meantime? Some design work. Some experiments with clay. Annnd slowly progressing on that neato raven sculpture I’ve been working on.

I’ve been reinforcing the raven statuette with DAS paperclay. You might remember me mentioning that most of the sculpture was made with Sculpy. I got to the point with it that it was too wiggly to safely work on the details without smushing the back of the wings or vice versa so I just decided to bake it and finish the detailing in an air dry clay.

I’m quite pleased with how it’s going.

Behold! A rock!

It’s a lovely rock. I know what you’re thinking. Ethan’s finally snapped. Now he’s showing us his rock collection on his work blog. But before you stage an intervention, let me reveal to you that this rock has a secret!

It’s hollow! Remember that DIY paperclay recipe I said I was going to try out? Well, I did and it is fantastic for creating stone-like textures. It’s quite hard but I found I was able to hollow it out quite easily with a small carving tool. This is to be the beginning of my new witchlight model.

Betcha thought I forgot eh? Nope! I’ve just been struggling with the execution of the project. It’s a rather demanding thing to accomplish and I really want to get it right and make it look cool.

Here’s the video of the paperclay recipe I used. I followed it precisely. It turned out great! After five-ish days or so it got stiff and lumpy so I had to add some more water to it and beat it up a little to get it going again. It was still chunkier than it was when it was fresh so I’d very much recommend only making as much as you need and using it within a day or two. I’ll let you know how the rehydrated clay works, versus the fresh stuff.

So I mentioned design work! I’ve had a request for the tiniest little Seraph Blade I’ve ever made. 15.22cm (6″) total. I was stumped as to how I was supposed to make something that wouldn’t look ridiculous and end up with the handle being longer than the blade. But then my wife mentioned skinning knives to me. Those are short but wide and have a really nice curve to them.

I took some inspiration from various models I looked at and came up with this design. The middle, ring, and pinkie finger rest on the handle proper while the index finger goes through the hole in the blade. I added a thumb guard to keep the hand safe from sliding onto the edge of the blade when it’s all slippery with demon ichor. ūüėČ

Demons thinking they’ve caught a lucky break and found a Shadowhunter unarmed will be in for a nasty little surprise. It might be intimidating to get that close and personal with the infernal, but a hunter’s gotta do what a hunter’s gotta do. I know some of you will have the moxie to pull it off.

I’ll have some more progress pictures for you soon. Everybody cross your fingers for a quick shipping of my new vacuum pump so I can get that pretty Arabian sword cast in resin! Can’t wait to show you the completion of that project!

It’s Goo Time

No that wasn’t a typo. Goo! Sticky slorpy blue goo! It is time to pour silicone all over this beauty!

When you see something halfway buried in clay, you know the wacky wizardry is about to begin.

So right now I have Zaapiel sitting in its mould box (which I didn’t take a picture of because I was dead tired at the end of the day on Friday) awaiting my arrival this morning.

What else is afoot at the workshop? Well, I found a few DIY recipes for air-dry paper clay that I’m dying to try out. If it goes well, I’ll have a supply of much cheaper self-hardening clay I can use to sculpt my prototypes instead of using foam insulation. Foam insulation is not very good for the environment and is also annoyingly porous so it has to be sealed over and over again with layers of glue and paint before I can actually take a prototype mould of it. It’d be great if I didn’t have to do that! Let’s see if I can find those recipes for you and maybe we can try it together.

Yaaay! Let’s go get messy!

Back and in Black

Hello everyone! I’m so happy to be back from the holidays! I never know what to do with myself when I have time off. I’m kind of bad at relaxing, haha!

So what was I doing just before I ran away to sleep and eat sweets for a couple of weeks? I’m very pleased to present to you the new sleek shape of Zaapiel, my Arabian-inspired scimitar! Let’s take a look at how the sanding and refining process went.

Now careful with the belt sander, or the sword might …

Oops.

Well then! Time for some good ol’ Milliput to save the day. No worries. Good as new.

Now let’s … are you serious?

The other strap on my face mask broke so I was forced to stop and fix it again.¬†Well, now that that’s taken care of, let’s go back to the belt sander and …

Really? Okay Chewie is way too aggressive for shaping plaster apparently. Milliput to the rescue! Again!

I went out and got myself a set of metal files and used them in combination with my wood rasps to get the sword all shaped as I wanted it.

Then smeared Milliput all over any pin-holes, indents, or just anywhere I didn’t like the texture. Look at this thing! It looks like a troll sneezed on it. Ew.

Here we are all sanded nicely (by hand of course) and looking decidedly less sneezed-upon.

Now it’s time to get it all painted and sealed for the final moulding. The paint I happened to have on hand at the time was black. So we get a nice svelte-looking sword to feast our eyes upon.

Hurrah! Now it’s time to order some silicone and do the final layers of sealing. While I await the arrival of my goo, I will polish this beauty up to the best shine I can manage and¬† work on a secret sculpting project that I haven’t yet revealed. What could it be? This mystery item is not related to Shadowhunters nor is it a doll! Stay tuned for future reveals!

A Fine Mess Indeed!

No really, I’m quite pleased with myself. It is a gigantic mess and I have a lot of cleaning up to do in the workshop today, but this mess has resulted in a major breakthrough. This post marks the sum of months of trial and error, experimentation, swearing, epic messes, and more money than I’d like to admit. I’ve finally gotten something worthwhile out of it all. Let me share my joy with you!

Remember I was making the mould for the prototype of Zaapiel, that fancy Arabian Nights sword? Yesss, I got both halves of that mould completed. I made the mould out of alginate (a moulding compound that is essentially … well … algae), with a coating of wax in between to make 100% sure the sides wouldn’t stick to each other.

Which just might make it the grossest sandwich ever. It smells like washed-up seaweed. 

Now, the thing you have to know about alginate is that it’s only good as long as it’s moist. Once it starts drying out, it gets crumbly and it’s not much use for casting anymore. So you have to work quickly and if you’ve got to do the mould in multiple stages or something happens and you have to use it later than you intended, you have to protect it from evaporating off its moisture. Most people put it in a sealed container in the fridge. This … this is way too big for a conventional fridge or normal food container. I improvised with a combination of wax and wet plastic wrap. It was an ugly hack job, but it worked.

Snazzy! Algnate is nice and soft, kinda like tofu in texture. So it’s easy to cut the sprue and the air traps in it. The downside is you have to be gentle when handling it or it will crack or rip easily!

So! I cleaned off all the wax as best I could, put both halves together and strapped it between two wooden boards. Then I mixed up a batch of Artestone (a special gypsum plaster with hydrophobic properties) and poured it into the mould. And that’s when the mess happened.

A puddle of white began expanding from beneath the mould and I realised that there was a leak. I had a problem. I couldn’t just stop the whole thing and open up the mould at this point because then¬†all ¬†the plaster would pour out onto the floor and I’d have wasted the whole thing. So all I could do was grab the closest thing at hand–a large stirring spoon–and frantically scoop the goo back into the mould until it hardened enough to stop pouring out.

There I was, on the floor, scuttling like a crab from the back of the mould to the front of the mould back and forth, scooping at the puddle expanding on either side of it with a spoon of all things. A stream of plaster coming out of the mould, a stream of profanity coming out of me, and by the time the goo hardened enough to form a seal and stop going everywhere, I was laughing my head off. Really what else can you do at that point?

Seriously, it looks like I got bombarded by a gigantic seagull who ate¬†way¬†too much curry. I had to mix up about 200mL more artestone to replace what was lost out the bottom, but I did manage to complete that pour with no further disasters. My neighbour probably thinks I’m insane now. … He’s probably right. LOL!

Now this looks blobby and weird right now but that is completely what I expected it to be. What I need this prototype sword to be is roughly the right shape and a little larger and chubbier than the finished product is going to be. This is so I can do all the final shaping, sanding, and polishing without it ending up too thin or shorter than I wanted. Basically: It’s way easier to sand things off than it is to add things on. So this baby gave me exactly what I wanted. Woohoo!

That was an adventure!

I am sad to report, though, that we had one casualty during this adventure. One of the straps on my protective face mask broke. That’s the third breakage I’ve had on this mask and there isn’t enough strap left to cobble it back together so I have to replace the strap entirely. That’s going to take a little time that I’d really rather be spending on crafting. But it needs to be in proper working order because there is NO way I am sanding any of the materials I work with without respiratory protection.

Safety gear is NOT optional!

So! If anybody needs me, I’ll be scraping uhhh … 300ish mL of extra-hard water resistant plaster off the floor! ūüėÄ … Pray for me. LOL

Big Changes Ahead

Hi guys! I have to try to show and tell you lots of stuff while being really quick cause I have to go move my workshop. YES! I am moving. From the 3rd floor to the 4th floor. LOL

Why?

My previous space was too expensive for me. Almost 600 euros a month. That, coupled with the cost of materials to make my shinies (silicone is ridiculously expensive, I’m not even kidding), and my vacuum pump dying and needing replacement (I’m degassing things in a couple stages as it limps along with its last gasps of life) I could not afford to stay there.

So: we’re going from 37 square meters down to 15 square meters. This is okay because I had way too much space to begin with. But … the new room also doesn’t have access to water. So I have to schlep a water reservoir from the bathroom to my workroom when I run out. Booo. Well, I guess I’m about to become very strong? Yay.

My wife helped me move all the things that needed two people to move yesterday (Sunday). Bless her heart for sacrificing a day off lifting and lugging with me.

Now, on to the stuff I’ve been working on! Quick quick GO!

I made a witchlight! Yay!

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It didn’t work! Boo.

I shaved it down.

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It … kinda works! Yay? Not good enough. I’ll keep trying!

Next thing GO!

Doll head made by Lost Chronicles prepped for moulding!

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Covered in blue goo!

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Mmmphhhrrmmph!

How did the moulding go? Don’t know! Not finished yet. Not touching it until it’s safely settled in the new workshop!

Next thing GO!

More carving done on Sariel!

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Yes! In about a month you will be able to get your hands on a glorious longsword like the one that Isabelle Lightwood wielded in The Mortal Instruments movie! Woo! Send thoughts n’ prayers that everything goes smoothly.

Okaygottarun wishmeluck! Aaaaaah bye!

Wait! I forgot.

Don’t forget I have a Clariel for sale on my Etsy! It could be yours! Grab it!

Okay now bye for real gotta move stuff!