Ooh Shiny!

So I played with my new silicone mould last week as I continue my witchlight experimentation. I thought you might like to see the results. I was delayed a little bit at first since the plaster mould jacket I made broke.

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Whoops.

So I had to make a new one out of wood. That whole incident took a couple days more than I was expecting but I bounced back fairly quickly. And of course, I learned things! Time spent learning is never wasted. 🙂   (and my clamps may have learned a few new curse words …)

Aaaaanyway. Look! A shiny rock!

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Yaaaaay!

It’s flat on the bottom so I can more easily work on the whole internal electronics stuff. The resin is so clear, it looks like it’s hollow, but it’s actually solid!

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So next for this little treasure? I’ll be messing about with tiny electronics and figuring out how I’m going to hide a light inside a clear object. I’m thinking it will probably be similar to the witchlight you saw in The Mortal Instruments film that was kind of cloudy inside with some imperfections like a natural stone would have. Kind of like quartz?

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You know the one I mean.

It’s fairly safe to say that adamas would look something like this before it’s refined and worked by the Iron Sisters. At least as far as we can estimate by looking at how mundane metals and crystals behave. I’ll be playing with pigments, dyes, and different kinds of inserts to see what yields the best and most natural looking crystal, while still being able to light up. Y’know just … the usual high wizardry.

I’m sure I’ll figure it out. My superpower is stubbornness.

But! I didn’t spend my entire week on a rock. Nope! I was levelling up my crafting skill finishing off the first ever cast resin Clariel sword!

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Super DUPER shiny. 😮
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The hilt is a combination of polymer clay and leather.

I’m working on making the seams smoother so it’s more difficult to see where the handle opens up. This sword, like the ones before it, has an invisible light switch. Wait, it lights up?

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Of course it does!
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We must have the very shiniest! 😀
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Also functions as a flashlight. Y’know. Just in case.

So does this mean I’m taking orders now? Kinda? I have a mould but I want to make a better quality one since this one has some imperfections in it that I have to spend extra time buffing out when I finish each sword. Rawr! Since silicone is quite expensive, I’ll be selling the three Clariel blades I currently have so I can actually afford to do that.

Of course, those who have been waiting patiently on the contact list get first dibs on the blades up for sale cause that’s only fair. BUT! I can add your order to the list and let you know when one becomes available. I can’t give actual dates quite yet as to when I can complete those orders but I am definitely working on that. And no, you don’t have to put down any kind of payment on the order before I have a completion date for you. I’ve done that before and it’s really stressful on both me and the nice Shadowhunter waiting for their sword!

This whole ordering process thing WILL get easier in the future. Once I’ve got things the way I need them to be (ie: a quality mould I’m happy with and reliable crafting times from start to finish) I will be opening an official web shop for you to find my stuff and buy what you want. I’ll still be taking custom orders, of course. I just need to streamline the crafting process so I actually have time to make custom pieces again.

Enough blathering from me! I must go to the workshop and get busy finishing those other two blades. See you later!

New Silicone Test

Woo! I got some new platinum based moulding silicone from Materialshop.fi and oh my gosh it is the best stuff I have ever worked with. I wish I had started working with this from the very beginning. It would have saved me so much time and money!

I got a small test batch to see how it would work since I’ve only ever worked with tin based silicones before and I was nervous about messing it up. I decided to try casting a stone that has about the size, shape, and texture that I want for the much-requested witchlights. (I know you guys have been asking for them and I promise they’ll be available as soon as I get through all the design challenges!)

Enough jabbering. Let’s have some pictures!

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Step 1: Seal object to be moulded.
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Step 2: Cover object to be moulded in clay up to the halfway mark.
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Step 3: Pour in silicone. Wait. Take out finished mould.
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Step 4: Flip it over. Seal the completed half of the mould. Pour in more silicone. Wait. Take out your finished mould!

What’s next for this week? Well, I will be testing out this baby with some resin and fiddling with some light fixtures. (Have I mentioned how freaking hard it is to hide electronics inside a transparent object? AAAAHHHHH!) And I will also be finishing the closure on the Clariel sword I have almost ready to go. Then some very patient Shadowhunter will be getting an email they’ve been awaiting for a long time!

Thanks everybody for sticking with me and supporting me while I go through the hurdles of designing, improving, and crafting. I’m doing my best to make my art works available for everybody. It has forced me to make big changes, innovate, learn, and step so far out of my comfort zone I’m not sure where it is anymore. HA! But seeing the results makes it all worth the blood, sweat, and tears.

Wish me luck everybody! Off I go to make some more magic.

 

Let there be light!

Last week I finished up the electrics in the Clariel I’m working on. Yay! My customers have given me really valuable feedback and yes I absolutely have been listening. (Thank you! <3)

People are keen to have their Seraph Blades’ light stay on without holding onto the handle so they can take pictures of it. (Previously, I just wrapped a band around the light mechanism to take photos.) Since I was unable to find a pre-made light and switch combo that was low-profile enough to fit in the sword handle, I had to design and make the electronics myself. I’m happy to say that it worked beautifully.

What’s next for this lovely blade? I’d just like to place a small, light insert into the slot with the electronics to make sure the mechanism sits snug and secure in there and doesn’t rattle around. (That kind of ruins the magic.) And I also want to make a small adjustment to the way the flap closes on the handle so no extra light peeks out of any gaps between the leather and the blade.

I’ve plopped a sneak preview of the sword lit up sitting on my office chair. Sorry it’s not a gorgeous and well-composed shot. I intended to take some more shots on Friday but there was some sort of accident in one of the washrooms involving a couple of the toilets backing up and exploding and … stuff going everywhere. (You don’t wanna know.) It was all cleaned up by the time I got to work on Friday so thankfully I didn’t have to actually see what happened but the smell was so horrific I had to leave a couple hours early.

But don’t worry! If they haven’t managed to de-stink the place over the Easter long weekend, I’ll just bring the sword home with me and do the final photo shoot here. Just like in the old days!

That’s all from me for now. Have an awesome day everyone!

Chuggin’ Right Along

Last week was quite productive. IMG-2383

Got the leather measured, cut, and shaped for the handle. And I also got all the runes engraved. The leather shrunk more than expected as the leather paint dried so I decided to smooth and bulk out the edges with an air-drying polymer clay.

Clariel leather

It’s messy at the moment but I let it be so that it would dry nicely. I can sand the edges today and get it all prettied up. I liked working with the clay so much I think it might be the beginning of a new way to do the handles! We’ll see what the end result is to know for sure. I keep working toward my dream of a beautiful seamless sword.

There’s no such thing as impossible; only things we haven’t learned how to do yet.

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Making Some Magic

Hi everybody! Just a quick update to let you know I’ve got a couple swords all polished up and ready to be fitted with handles. One more is awaiting polishing.

After this step, I get to wire up the electronics for the lighting and then they’ll be ready to be sold. Yay!

Good news!

It has been decided that I will have a new residency permit given to me and I can continue living and working here. That’s a big relief for me. I was afraid I’d have to go somewhere else and start all over again.

Where does that put us in terms of sword-making? Today I am making some alterations to the mould I have in hopes of reducing the bubbles that I’m still getting in the finished product. I feel that you deserve professional quality in your sword and and I’m determined to get it just as perfect as I can.

While I’m waiting on resin to cure, I’ll continue testing the resin polishing paste I bought in the hopes that it will reduce the amount of time I have to spend on the surface of the swords and result in a smoother, glossier finish. I’m still not sure if it’s as good as the wet/dry sandpaper. So I’m buffing up one sword with the polishing paste and another sword the “traditional” way with the sandpaper to see which yields a better finish.

After that, we move on to the electronics. I’ve already got the LEDs, batteries, and casings to play with but I’m still hunting for just the right kind of switch.

First Resin-Cast Clariel!

I waited until today to show you guys this because I wanted to have a full set of photos from start to finish. It was a tough wait! This is so unbelievably exciting for me! A lot of you know how very frustrated I was with this project because there was just so very much to learn.

The fact is: you can read tutorials and articles and watch all the videos you like, but when it comes right down to it, practice is the most essential part of learning any skill. How firm or squishy will the silicone be when it’s fully cured? How warm does the container of mixed resin feel when it’s beginning to catalyse? How fast will it cure with the temperature and humidity of the room I’m working with? How does a vacuum pump sound when it’s running well versus running poorly? All these questions can only be answered by getting your hands on the materials and working with them.

Every mistake is a learning experience, but when your materials are this expensive, every mistake is costly. I’ve ‘wasted’ about 80-100 Euros worth of silicone to get where I am now and I have a lot more learning to do.

So you can imagine, after weeks and months of materials not arriving on time, machines not working, chemicals doing weird unexplained things, how overjoyed I was to open up the mould and see …

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Perfect. It looked perfect. I couldn’t believe it. I had expected to fail, yet again, as I had failed so many times before. Expected it with such certainty that I could not accept that it had actually worked. I had convinced myself, with every heartbreaking flop that I was too stupid to get it right.

I poked the little side tubes where the air vents are because I was so afraid of messing up the sword after all this struggle. It was solid. No stickiness. No softness.

I put my fingertips on the blade of the sword, expecting to encounter a gummy, gluey surface. It was completely smooth. It was still warm from the exothermic catalysing process and it felt like a living creature.

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Honestly, I teared up. I was so exhausted from fighting with this project and now it was finally here. All I could do for several minutes was just run my hands over it and marvel at how a bucket of thickish goo could become something like this.

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I had been worried about clarity, unsure if this resin would be as beautifully transparent as the PMMA resin I’d been carving. Well, I snapped a photo straight down the pour-spout. I think I have nothing to be worried about. It’s so clear it looks hollow.

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After nipping off the extra resin from the air vents and the spout (I affectionately call them ‘umbilical cords’ since that’s really what they looked like!) I buzzed off the seams around the edges with the Dremel tool. In this shot, I haven’t even started polishing it yet.

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The edges are still scratchy from the Dremel. Can’t have that! The finish must be even!

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This is polished. I gave it my favourite frosted finish (800 grit polish).

This sword is one I’m going to keep for myself and not just because it’s the first and very special because of that. There are some tiny air bubbles in it. I think it’s from when the mould started leaking because it wasn’t clamped tightly enough during the pour. The bubbles are only in the handle, mostly in the pommel which is exactly the point during the pouring that the resin started seeping out at the seams.

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You can tell that these little imperfections are barely the size of a needle-point but you know what a stickler for perfection I am! I will be experimenting on this sword to see if I can get the bubbles filled with epoxy or other type of liquid resin and get the surface totally flawless. The bubbles that are encased in the resin I can’t do anything about, but that’s okay. I’m pretty sure no one but me can see them.

I want to make an even better quality mould with this sword since it’s smoother than the plaster prototype and I would have even less work to do with the polishing. That means better quality swords straight out of the mould, and less time taken with buffing so they can be in your hands sooner. Yay!

So what’s next for Clariel and when will I have swords available to sell? Well, technically, I could start putting out unlit blades right now, but for everybody wanting their swords with LEDs equipped, I’ve got to cast another sword, decide on the light mechanism I want to implant, mill out a slot for the light to go in, check and make sure the electronics work the way I want them to, make a mould for all the swords that will have lights in them.

Easy … peasy? Man I hope so after all this but I fully expect a “Mistakes with Metal” photo series to be coming up. Haha! Wish me luck okay?

Before I scamper off to the workshop, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being so supportive through all my frustrated yowling. Those of you who have commented on my page, in person, here on my website, the hugs, the suggestions, the shares, the likes, the kitten pictures, the coffee … it all helped so very much to keep me somewhat sane … okay functional while throwing myself at this project. The demon Depression is the scariest of all; it steals your will to fight, to even try. It needs a full team to defeat and it’s great to know you’re all part of my posse.

Stay awesome everybody. I’m off to make cool stuff.