Wow So Much Stuff to Tell You!

Yep! I’m keeping my Clariel swords on sale for Cyber Monday. Was 415.00 Euros, now 390.00! 

https://www.etsy.com/listing/613227011/shadowhunters-inspired-led-sword-clariel?ref=shop_home_active_1

What else have we got going on for this week? Well I’ve got an open-house coming up on Friday. That means I have to tidy my workshop. Yey. Uh, wish me luck on that. LOL But I’ll be super happy to see people and show them my little corner of crazy!

If you’re interested and you happen to be in Finland this week, you can stop by at Sahaajankatu 22, Helsinki and ask for me. Liisa will show you where to go. The building is a bit of a maze.

What else is going on this week? Well here we have the newly re-carved Sariel. RE-carved because the experimental prototype moulding process failed and destroyed my original. I may have cried. Shush you! That was three weeks of work. *sulking*

It is reborn! Yay!

But before Sariel can be moulded again, we haaaaave …

What kind of cake is that?

No, it’s not cake. Don’t eat it! Ew. Plasticine doesn’t taste good. Neither does foam insulation. Or glue. Don’t ask how I know these things. All I will tell you is wash the plate before you eat off of it.

Now what happened to the doll heads? Did the shipment get found? It did! Annnd it seems there were a few too many micro-bubbles and sanding mistakes to sell them. *gasp!* Ethan don’t tell them that! Your customers will lose faith in you and think you’re a crappy artist!

Oh no! Microbubbles! How did I not notice these?! Ugh.

Listen guys, my business is small and new, but even so I want to start it off right. I want every part of Inkblade Studios to be ethical. I am constantly working to reduce waste and find environmentally friendly materials to use. I have to haul my plastic waste to the recycling facility myself every week but I do it because I have a responsibility as a manufacturer to clean up the mess I make. 

I want my business to be based on a principle of honesty. When I screw up, I will tell you I screwed up, and I will tell you how I am going to fix it. I could cover my mistakes with paint and glue and hope you don’t notice but you know what? That’s not the kind of person I want to be. Lazy and sleazy business practices end up costing more in the long run. You can recover lost money, but you cannot recover a lost reputation.

Thankfully, Juliane at Lost Chronicles BJD has been amazingly understanding and kind. We knew from the beginning that this would be a learning experience and that learning experiences are often frustrating. I’m issuing a full refund for the project, and I have bought a brand new compressor and pressure pot.

My new babies ^_^

Unlike a vacuum chamber which pulls air bubbles out of a liquid, a pressure chamber crushes the air bubbles down so small that they can’t be seen by the human eye. This makes a lovely smooth, clear cast. It also forces the resin into all the little small areas and undercuts so that air doesn’t get trapped and end up getting a giant bubble where the nose is supposed to be for example.

The Malechai project taught me that I need this kind of tool now in order to step up my game. I wanted to wait because I knew it would be expensive, but it turns out that not having it cost me more money in the long run. It was a costly lesson to learn but I’m grateful for it. This is not the end of my doll making career, but just the beginning. I’m looking forward to creating more beautiful things and sharing them with you all. ❤ 

Wish me luck!

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

Second Clariel

I’m so excited guys! I’m almost finished the second cast resin Clariel sword and it is gorgeous.

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The handle is all painted to simulate the look of weathered steel and the whole thing has been given three layers of high-gloss sealer. This sealer protects the sword from scratches and the yellowing effect that UV rays can have on resin over time.

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I’m committed to making items that stand the test of time so it’s very important to me that each sword has adequate protection against wear.

All that’s left to put on this sword is the handle strap and it will be ready to go to its new home! This Clariel is promised to a lucky Shadowhunter already but the 3rd resin cast Clariel is still unclaimed! Will it be yours?

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Forward!

All right! I’ve got a very busy week ahead of me guys! I’ll be finishing these two beauties; the first of my resin cast Clariel model swords. And I have a new shipment of moulding silicone coming in from Materialshop.fi . I’m going to be re-moulding my Clariel model sword with a higher quality silicone so I can have a more perfect mould that will last me much longer than the previous one.

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Have no fear, though. The swords I’ve made from the first mould are just as high quality as you expect them to be. Errors in the mould simply means I have to spend more time and effort in the finishing stages, sanding and buffing by hand. I want each sword to come out of the mould as perfect as possible so we can have a nice, consistent result every time and minimise the amount of time it takes for me to finish your sword. My goal right now is to take your order and have it finished for you in a week. A better mould will get me closer to that goal.

I still have a long way to go to get my crafting process where I want it to be, but I’m determined to get there! Thank you all so much for your support and encouragement!

That’s all from me for now. Wish me luck!

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!

Oh, Hi there Clariel!

Sorry this post is a little late. I got lots of pics for you. Forgive me?

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Last week was a flurry of painting, engraving, sculpting, sanding, gluing, sewing, and spraying. I think it was worth it.

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You might be able to see a slightly different “texture” to the surface of the blade than previous carved models. That’s because I’ve added a UV-resistant spray (several coats!) to protect the resin and leather from fading or yellowing in the sun, and also to protect the resin from scratches.

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Still just as see-through though! ^_^ So what’s next for this sword? I got my shipment of push-button switches yesterday evening and today I’ll be toting them to the workshop. I’ll be designing the interior circuitry for the lighting. I’m sticking with the concealed light switch design (that’s the plan anyway) to give the illusion of magic.

Well, writing about it isn’t going to get it done so off I go to the workshop! Wish me luck.

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!

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.

Well, Let’s Try That Again!

Okay, so the first moulding didn’t work out. The latex cured mostly okay. All the important bits dried all the way through but sadly, the rubber shrank and pulled away from the prototype.

Translation: It didn’t hold its shape and that sure doesn’t make a good mould! We want a beautiful, elegant sword, not a weird blobby stick.

But the good news is I learned a lot about the ratio of plaster and cloth to use for a nice outer shell. (The bit that keeps the wobbly, rubbery mould from coming open when you put the resin in.) And I learned that the latex I used isn’t good for the kind of mould I need.

So, I’ll be starting the first moulding again, this time with a cheap silicone. This mould doesn’t have to yield a stellar quality product. It just has to allow me to make a plaster model of the sword that I can polish to perfection. That’s the prototype that will give me my final mould which I will then use to make y’all some pretty Clariels. Yay!

Wish me luck everyone!