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!

Clariel is On Sale for Christmas!

I have two crystal-clear, LED-equipped Seraph Blades in my Etsy shop for only 370 Euros each! Is one of them for you? Regular price is 415 Euros so if you want reaaaally want one, this is your best chance.

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

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!

Lots of Sanding

Okay! Quick update before I go off to work: I’ve got all 7 heads and head caps casted for this beautiful boy.

IMG_3098[1]

They just need all the seams and whatnot sanded and an overall buffing so we have that nice skin-like texture overall. The whole surface of the doll should be an even matte texture so that any face-up or makeup jobs, tattooing or other detail work will actually stay put. If it’s too shiny, any kind of powders and most kinds of paints will just slide around on it and make a mess.

Also, the skin should be matte because … well, that’s what real, living skin looks like!¬† That means sanding/buffing the surface of the doll in gentle circular motions with wet sandpaper or sanding pads, and a lot of patience. I just put on some nice peppy tunes and set an alarm every hour or so to remind myself to get up and stretch. ūüôā Otherwise I kind of hypnotise myself and forget to move for like three hours and then feel like I’m sixty years old all of a sudden.

More sword-related news:

IMG_3104[1]

Sariel is probably ready for its plaster prototype casting! Probably? Yes, probably. I’m trying a new moulding method here. It might completely flop. And by “flop” I mean literally¬†flop. If the latex won’t hold its shape when I demould the foam prototype … well … I’ll have to re-mould it all over again. Let’s just pray that the demoulding process doesn’t destroy the foam prototype. If the latex mould doesn’t work¬†and the foam prototype is destroyed, it means I have to carve an entirely new sword from scratch and start¬†all¬†over again. I’m not gonna lie, that might result in some tears. I’ve spent over a month on this thing.

In other, other news: expired resin. Again.

IMG_3101[1]

This is delamination. It’s flakiness on the surface of the piece you’ve cast. There aren’t any bubbles inside the piece. I can tell because it’s transparent and I can look inside it. It’s just the surface that has this weird frosty/snowflake pattern look. This can happen if there is moisture in the mould. (There wasn’t.) Or — you guessed it — the resin is no good.

This is the third time in as many months that I’ve gotten expired resin. Twice from Hardcore Craft and once from Hobby Point. In fact, this very resin that I’m holding in the picture is part of a replacement batch for expired resin. It’s also gone off.

This is preposterous. I don’t care how expensive shipping is from the United States to Finland, I’m buying from the manufacturer from now on. I can’t afford the wasted time. Every day I can’t work due to faulty materials costs me money. I don’t get paid for working. I only get paid when someone buys something. That means I have to be constantly making stuff. When I buy a batch of resin, I¬†have to be sure that it’s a fresh batch that is going to work. I can’t afford to waste time making plastic waste to go in the trash.

Now, it’s time to get suited up and out the door. I’ve got some plaster to pick up on the way to the workshop so we can continue making magic! Wish me luck!